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Practical Work From Home Tips – Telework 101

Telework is great in theory. No commute, focused work time, better work/life balance. But often times remote workers are too disconnected from the team, outcomes are too vague and oversight is too minimal.

Patty Azzarello is the owner of the Azzarello Group and the author of the book Rise: How to Really Be Successful at Your Work and Your Life.

Azzarello told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program her practical tips for teleworkers.

“It comes down to a very fundamental thing that I’m surprised more people don’t see or talk about, which is individuals can be more productive working from homes but teams can’t. So my way of managing this has been to do both of those things on purpose. Figure out where you need for individuals to be productive but be very purposeful about team time in the office. Don’t just let people come and go as they please. Be very structured about it,” said Azzarello.

Telework is a Reality

“There are very few teams that are sitting in the same office. But again it gets back to practical things. So when I am on a conference call with my team and the team is all over the world/country, what you are really missing is the physical space. So what you want to do is to substitute that with having every single person on the call say their name and what the weather is like in their part of the world. It is amazing how much better and more present the meeting goes when nobody is invisible,” said Azzarello.

  • No email during group time.
  • You are not allowed to mute your phone. We are going to respect each others time. You can police that but if you set the expectation is advance you will have a better meeting.
  • Do team building activities. Like create a template and have everyone upload a photo of them doing their favorite activity or song from iTunes.

Productivity comes from clearly defined outcomes.

“This is vital if you are a remote worker because it is basically all you have,” said Azzarello. “If you fail to create outcomes then you have no way of judging whether a person is slacking off or a great worker.

If you define clear desired outcomes for content, schedule, and quality, and employees deliver, it should not matter where they do the work. If you’ve given an individual clear direction on required outcomes and defined stretch goals, you never have to make a personal judgment about whether someone is working hard or slacking off. Clearly defined and measured results tell the whole story. But if you are vague on expectations, productivity will decline. You get what you measure.

Approve specific work-from-home days.
“Designate specific work-at-home days of the week, for specific people, to optimize the right people being in the office together at the right times. Require pre-approval for specific work-at-home days vs. people having the expectation that they can just send an email on any given day saying “I’m working at home today,” said Azzarello.

Avoid making Fridays work-from-home days.
“Here, I realize I am risking an unpopular point of view, but if you are a manager worried about general productivity, it can help to designate Friday as an in-the-office day. If people are getting the work done, you shouldn’t care if they stop early on Fridays. But if performance is suffering, you might want to consider treating Fridays as a team day. You can always separately offer to your top performers to go home early on a Friday,” said Azzarello.

Consider Mondays as work-from-home days.
Monday can be a great day for people to take advantage of undistracted thinking and planning time away from the office. If you have a staff phone call first thing on Monday mornings, you can kick off the week, and reiterate strategic priorities and specific expectations. Then people can get a less chaotic and more purposeful start to the week, instead of just getting swept into a stream of tactical activities,” said Azzarello.

If you want more tips on telework check out GovLoop’s new Telework Infographic.

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Profile Photo Karla Brandau

This is a great interview. I would add that the Google Hangouts and SKYPE area critical to the remote or virtual team. There are so many body clues to what people are thinking and how they are reacting that you can’t get in just a conference call. And – as you say, you can tell they are listening, not checking email. I also liked the idea of conference call on Monday. The comments on innovation were interesting. If teams are interested in innovation, there is a free webinar coming next week. Go to http://www.workplacepower.com/innovation

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Profile Photo Than Nguyen

Great tips. I’m a big supporter of telework.

A Stanford University study sought to compare a group of employees allowed to work from home with a control group of people who wanted to telework but were required to stay in the office. The study clearly showed that the telework group outperformed the in-office group by a wide margin — about 15% — and not just in aggregate work performed, but also in the overall quality of the output. Not only were workers more productive per unit time, but they worker longer hours, suffered fewer sick days, and even had less overall attrition.

Than Nguyen

http://www.insourcegroup.com

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