By this time, most of us would have already been working from home. While we do enjoy being in the comforts of our homes and attending online conference calls without our pants on, it may not be as easy as it looks.
Staying focused when there are no set routines and multiple distractions, from your kids to your bed, may be challenging.
Google, after interviewing 5,000+ employees across the company across different time zones and locations, came up with a few tips on how we can best tackle working from home effectively!
1. Get talking
A little rapport goes a long way. Get to know your distributed teammates just like you would if they sat next to you at the office.
Start your conference meetings with an open-ended, personal question such as “How are you doing?” or “What was something interesting you read recently?” to show that you are engaging with them.
Consider creating a group chat that is always “on” for work-related questions or fun, social messages.
2. Be present
On top of repeatedly asking “Can you hear me?” during your online meeting, some engagement signals are lost when working together virtually, particularly when we mute the microphone or focus intently on our laptops.
Unmute your microphone and validate contributions from others with a simple head nod, or other affirmations such as “mmhmm”, or “yeah, good idea!”.
Remain focused by keeping your phones facing down when you’re doing video conference calls, unless you’re using it to take notes.
Also ensure that you’re clearly visible on the video conferencing screen by zooming in, making eye contact, and expressing your reactions noticeably.
3. Reach out
When more than one person is in an online conference call, everyone has to overcome barriers to jump in and share their ideas. You can take the lead by creating a space for your teammates to speak up.
Ask for input from the most isolated meeting participant any time the meeting breaks into a discussion. If you see someone trying to enter the conversation, stop and invite their comments.
Being friendly or some humour works too! Say hi! Check in on a distributed teammate with an encouraging instant message, a project-relevant news article, or a funny photo - just because!
4. Set team norms
It’s important to set clear expectations for how your team works together. But they’re often assumed rather than explicitly stated, leaving opportunities for confusion.
Encourage team members to create communication and decision making norms (e.g., answering emails/pings off-hours, information-sharing across time zones). Also, set norms for when team members should and shouldn’t join meetings off-hours.
5. Have virtual meals
You may not meet them at the office café, but consider having virtual meals with your teammates just to catch up with no underlying work agenda over video chat.
Encourage your teammates from different locations to eat lunch or breakfast over chat, as a way to bond as a team.
According to Veronica Gilrane, manager of Google’s People Innovation Lab who led the research, she would arrange a 30-minute catch-up call once a week with her team with no agenda. Being able to see someone’s face - it’s not the same as being in person, but it really does help a lot. You can read their emotions. You can see how they’re doing.
We’ve got this, guys!
By: Siti Farhana Sheikh Yahya