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While working from home can be a privilege under normal circumstances, during uncertain times like these, it can come with some challenges. Learning how to work from home while balancing the responsibility you have for your job with the needs of your family can be difficult.
Diamond & Diamond Lawyers is a personal injury law firm that has seen its team grow to 40+ lawyers and hundreds of support staff across Canada in the last 7 years. Many of their staff members choose to work remotely full-time. Husband and wife team, Sandra Zisckind and Jeremy Diamond, the owners and operators of Diamond & Diamond Lawyers, have worked through the complexities of managing a remote team.
Sandra and Jeremy share their best tips to operate remotely, foster a workplace culture and strong camaraderie amongst their team across Canada.
Create a Schedule
Encouraging your remote employees to develop a weekday schedule is important, allowing them time to walk their dogs, prepare meals for themselves and their families, and more. Plus, many workers may be juggling their workday responsibilities with the challenges of homeschooling their children. Creating a realistic schedule helps set expectations and keep workers focused.
Understand That Kids and Pets Are at Home
Make sure that your team understands that kids may be at home, and might need a parent during office hours. Interruptions during calls or video conferencing will happen, so it’s important to be understanding of your team members who are in this position. “Any time a kid interrupts a call, we pause for 5 minutes if it’s our own child, or we encourage our team member to take 5 minutes to address the issue, no questions asked” shares Jeremy Diamond.
Determine “On” and “Off” Times
Working remotely gives online access 24-7, and can cause your employees’ personal and professional boundaries to blur. Encourage your staff to use calendars to set their “online” vs “offline” hours of availability. Being accessible online all the time can lead to burn-out, so it’s important to dedicate time to your personal life, and communicate this to your team. “My team knows that I am offline every day from 5-8 pm to spend time with my kids. If someone tries to book a meeting with me during this time, my online calendar automatically declines the invite” shares Sandra Zisckind.
Keep your Home Clean and Organized
You wouldn’t want to work in a messy office, would you? Ensuring your home is clean, tidy and pest-free will help to ensure you can work effectively. Clutter — whether it’s on your desk or on the floor – will distract you, so it’s best to ensure everything is tidy before starting your work day.
Maintain Professional Communication
Your remote team may be communicating on many different platforms, including video conferencing, email, phone calls, and other online communication. When you’re setting up remote communications, establish guidelines and boundaries, so that our entire team knows which methods of communication to use and when. “For anything urgent, my team knows to text me directly. Everything else goes through email” shares Sandra Zisckind.
Don’t Forget The Fun!
Social distancing can lead to people feeling isolated. “Employees want to feel values and intrinsically motivated” shares Jeremy Diamond. Encourage weekly virtual met-ups or happy hours to replace the “water cooler” moments your team may be missing. Keep a calendar of your employees’ birthdays and have virtual celebrations for them. Celebrate milestones that your team accomplishes, whether it’s a new business opportunity, successful completion of a phase of a project, or a satisfied client.
Invest In Quality Video Conferencing
It is paramount to invest in a good quality, safe video conferencing platform for group meetings. Lags and skips in video chatting can quickly become distracting and irritating, making it harder for your team to meet face-to-face and focus. Additionally, depending on the private nature of your needs, make sure you use a tool with advanced privacy settings, to ensure your communications don’t get hacked.
Ask Your Team For Feedback
Solicit bi-weekly feedback from your team, and ask them what’s working and what isn’t. Many companies are having to figure out how to transition from the office to working from home and not every strategy will work for each team. Ask your employees if they need certain supplies to be productive from home. Jeremy suggests, “Setup an anonymous suggestions box where employees can leave messages without fear of repercussions.”
About Sandra Zisckind
Sandra Zisckind is a lawyer who was called to the Bar in 2003 and practices in the area of Plaintiff personal injury litigation in Toronto.
About Jeremy Diamond
Jeremy Diamond is a lawyer and member of both Ontario and Florida Bars. Jeremy practices in the area of Plaintiff personal injury litigation. Click here to learn more about Jeremy Diamond.