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Tips for Employees Working from Home and Leaders

Barbara Larson, Professor of Management at Northwestern University and work from home researcher, has these recommendations for employees working from home:
  • Discuss specific expectations for “work from home” assignments with your manager, including the best ways to communicate progress;
  • Prepare yourself to be productive. Take a shower and get dressed.  Create a dedicated workspace to maximize productivity and minimize stress to your body;
  • Create boundaries within your home that your family members understand;
  • Bookend your day. The most cited “work from home” complaint is the inability to unplug;
  • Create psychological transitions that can help put you in the right mindset to open and close your day. Examples include eating a healthy breakfast and exercising right after work;
  • Avoid being isolated from your co-workers. Stay connected via phone and email. Try and sustain a sense of normalcy and comradery in unconventional ways, like throwing a virtual pizza party.
Gallup has published a Guide to Leaders for use during the COVID-19 event, titled “COVID-19 Has My Teams Working Remotely: A Guide for Leaders.” Takeaways include:
  • Individualization is Key. Leaders must exhibit greater intentionality. “Ask team members to describe the conditions in which they perform their best, their concerns about workflow, and their emotional response to the situation;”
  • Set expectations early and clearly. Define the work the employee is to do, including the quality standard and the due date. Provide higher level expectations and tie them to our organizational playbook; 
  • Be diligent about communicating productively. Good coaching requires frequent conversations. Your staff need to hear from you to maintain their trust in leadership. Send emails or post videos about your reasoning, intentions and expectations;
  • Provide practical and emotional support.  Affirm the situation and understanding about altered deadlines. Employees perform better when they feel more secure.
Renowned business expert Patrick Lencioni has several recommendations for leaders:
  • Be exceedingly human. Demonstrate your concern for the real fears and anxieties that your people are experiencing, not only professionally and economically, but socially and personally;
  • Be persistent. Send people updates and regular communication, even if there is not a lot of new information and the message is largely personal;
  • Be creative.  Try new things, including sharing information about sharing stories about what is going on with each individual employee and their families;
  • Avoid seeming cold or impersonal, or being absent or inconsistent in the name of “giving people space.”
Lencioni, P. (2020, March 13). A Few Thoughts for Leaders and Managers. Retrieved from The Table Group:
Lufkin, B. (2020, March 12). Coronavirus: How to work from home, the right way. Retrieved from BBC Worklife:
Robinson, J. (3020, March 12). COVID-19 Has My Teams Working Remotely: A guide for Leaders. Retrieved from Gallup Workplace:

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