The 7 Commandments of Working From Home for Leaders

We're getting back to basics with the 7 fundamental rules for successfully working from home, particularly for leaders who may be so busy managing others' success and productivity that their own can backslide.

In the ongoing new normal, there are countless executives worldwide managing their businesses and departments who need to organize themselves to remain efficient and successful.

Even though we are many months in to this reality, people are still struggling to maintain some of the basic best practices for working remotely.

Faced by numerous distractors and obstacles to productivity, it’s good to remind even these high-positioned managers how they can be more productive.

We’re getting back to basics with the 7 fundamental rules for successfully working from home, particularly for leaders who may be so busy managing others’ success and productivity that their own can backslide.

The 7 Commandments of Working From Home for Leaders

1. Create your working space.

Working in the office brings a certain level of expectancy that increases productivity. When you have to change the surroundings in which you work, efficiency and organization may deteriorate. Remote-working leaders need to create conditions that will ensure they have an equally inspiring workspace at home.

Managers living in apartments or smaller houses may not have a dedicated room just for work and will need to adapt their homes to set up such a space. Adding temporary dividers can help – or even building plaster walls for a sturdier and more permanent solution. Turning a pantry or a laundry room into an office is another simple and cost-effective hack.

It’s not easy to stay focused while working at home if you constantly keep leaving the working space. So, equip your workstation with all the necessities you might need during the workday, including a coffee machine and a water cooler (or at least bring a bottle of water). That way, you can stay in your working space for a longer period of time and ensure uninterrupted productivity.

Last, but not least: anybody working from home should invest in a quality pair of noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs, no matter how they set up their workspace.

2. Draw up schedules for effective work.

Experienced business leaders know that you can never overdo planning. Now, entrepreneurs and managers working from home need to add even more planning to their daily tasks.

Therefore, making your own daily, weekly, and monthly schedules, together with detailed tasks for every team, will improve the entire work organization. When each team member knows what tasks they’re obliged to complete by a given deadline, they can organize their workdays accordingly as well.

In terms of weekly schedules, it’s smart to plan and hold at least one team meeting per week. This will not only strengthen the team spirit, but it will enhance your supervision over the staff, as well.

Using apps for planning and managing remote teams will make things much easier. These solutions alleviate work organization and add to the general productivity of business executives and their employees.

3. Plan your workday ahead.

Once you’ve created general schedules on a monthly, weekly, and daily level for your managers and employees, you can start planning your own time.

It’s wise to plan every workday ahead. For instance, while you’re watching your favorite TV-show or listening to music in the evening, make a schedule for the following day. It needs to include the start time and the end time of the workday. Write down all the meetings and calls you need to make, together with all the core business tasks you want to complete that day.

When making your schedules for the following day, organize your tasks in the order in which you’re going to be performing them. A rule of thumb is to cope with complex tasks first, while you’re still fresh, at the beginning of your workday. The tasks should be simpler and simpler as you’re getting to the end of the day.

When you become tired or stressed during the workday, change the pace of the activities. You may read a few pages of a relevant book from your niche or watch a business video.

Going for walks during breaks is another beneficial activity for executives working remotely to let off some steam from work obligations and generate more energy for the rest of the day.

Home-based executives need to log off at the end of the day the same way they’d leave the work in the office. Getting proper rest and having some time for leisure will help you recover from stress, and get ready for new business challenges. It also sets a positive example for your team and leads to healthier, happier employees.

4. Maintain seamless communication with your workers.

We’ve already highlighted the benefits of collaboration apps and solutions. In that light, managers working remotely need to maintain seamless communication with their team leaders and managers.

communicating with remote teamFor starters, providing regular feedback will help them team members improve their output in both quality and quantity. Business leaders need to know how to address employees with care and understanding. If you’re always available and open to their requests, your managers and employees will keep developing at a much faster pace. In turn, your business will thrive, as well.

Since entrepreneurs need to communicate with various parties, such as clients, employees, and high-end managers, they need to use a variety of communication tools, such as Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Slack, and other similar apps. Different companies and teams rely on different communication tools. The more options business executives use, the more probable it is that all those parties will always be able to find them.

Finally, email is another convenient and practical means of communication, especially for executives whose teams work in shifts. To avoid overflowing inbox, dedicate a time in the day to read and reply to emails and stay on track.

5. State your expectations clearly.

Due to the COVID-induced crisis, professionals of all levels are more stressed than before. They don’t know how their projects will develop and what they can expect in the near future.

In that light, it’s important that managers and leaders state their expectations clearly. If you’re planning to accept new projects with the same number of workers, inform them in advance on the increased workload. In that case, home-based executives working with remote teams can encourage shift work if appropriate to ensure that all their workers and managers get a fair share of the workload.

In uncertain times, both business executives and their employees need to commit themselves to efficient work and timely completion of projects. And when all of them are working from home, efficient organization and tangible results are even more important.

Under these conditions, remote managers need to show understanding for their workers as long as they finish their work on time. The above-mentioned shift work, flexible work hours and option to swap shifts if needed are just some of the ways in which business managers working from home can inspire their employees to give more to the company and stay productive.

6. Set future goals and benefits.

In these turbulent times, workers are worried about their futures.

In that light, business owners and executives need to be transparent with their teams. Setting realistic business goals, highlighting benefits for employees, and supporting them is something that every remote executive needs to do.

The previously mentioned continuous communication, scheduling, and feedback to workers and team leaders will add to the feeling of security and loyalty among company employees.

Contemporary executives working from home shouldn’t succumb to the potential monotony of such work. Even in these times, rewarding managers and employees, both with financial assets and verbal support, is an important element of business success.

On the other hand, honest entrepreneurs will announce if they’re planning to introduce any austerity measures.

7. Insist on empathy and understanding among your team.

When business owners, managers, and employees within one business meet one another in the office, they can express and exchange their ideas and opinions.

Working remotely is stymying those exchanges and leaving people feeling siloed and isolated, both personally and professionally. That’s why business owners and executives need to show empathy and understanding to their employees. If necessary, introducing the above mentioned shift work or even a more flexible model is something to consider. By offering a flexible structure, employees can take ownership of their time and their output in a way that may come as a relief in such a stressful period.

Also, retaining an open-door policy while working from home is another important feature for remote workers. Whenever possible, team leaders should organize informal hangouts for their teams, either virtually or safely depending on the local circumstances and guidelines.

One way to keep your teams engaged and connected is by sending newsletters to your workers with the words of encouragement and notes that they can contact you at any time will add to their feeling of security and support.

While transparency is a desirable managerial trait, oversharing could affect productivity in a negative way, so business executives should write their own code of conduct regarding their employees.

Remote work is still the best option for many workplaces. Since the work environment is different, it’s necessary to organize business projects in a more flexible and productive way. From setting up a separate working space in your home to project management via online tools and effective daily organization, leaders can do a lot to remain productive while working from the comfort of their homes.

About the Author

Derek Jones is the VP Enterprise Strategy, Americas at Deputy, a global workforce management platform for employee scheduling, timesheets and communication. With a focus on Healthcare, Derek helps business owners and workforce leaders simplify employment law compliance, keep labor cost in line and build award-winning workplaces. Derek has over 16 years’ experience in delivering data-driven sales and marketing strategies to SaaS companies like MarketSource and Griswold Home Care.