Working from home can be beneficial for both employers and employees.
For starters, employees save on time and money that they would’ve otherwise spent on commuting. And employers need not spend on large office spaces, utilities, and other overheads.
But on the other hand, working from home can cause loneliness and isolation, leading to lower employee productivity rates. Remote managers may also find it challenging to analyze employee performance.
In this article, we’ll cover 20 work from home best practices for employees and employers to get the best out of the remote work arrangement.
This Article Contains:
(Click on the links below to jump to specific sections)
- 20 Work From Home Best Practices
- For Employees
- For Employers
- Create a Work From Home Policy
- Use Remote Work Tech Across The Board
- Maintain Consistent Communication
- Have One-on-One Meetings
- Recognize Effort and Good Work
- Provide Performance Feedback
- Keep Everyone Up to Speed
- Familiarize New Employees to the Remote Setup
- Digitize Training Materials for Virtual Learning
- Focus on Employee Engagement
20 Work From Home Best Practices
Here are 20 best practices for remote employees as well as employers to help them give their best while telecommuting:
Read our detailed article on remote work.
A. For Employees
Continuously working from home can be stressful for remote employees.
Let’s check out 10 remote work best practices that can help you manage your work and personal life:
1. Set a Work Schedule
A work schedule is a planned program that specifies which dates and times you will be working on a specific task.
Creating a work schedule keeps your brain focused on one task at a time and makes it easier to log off from work after working for longer hours.
When an office and home are under the same roof, it erases the boundaries between work and leisure. This leads to remote employees struggling to switch off from work.
So take some time to plan your work schedule for the day and think about how long you will work on specific tasks. Include breaks and sign out from remote work when you would in an office.
2. Create a Dedicated Workspace
When you want to separate your leisure space from your work area, it helps to have a dedicated home office.
This makes it easier for your brain to identify when to start and stop work.
However, if you feel confined and lonely at times within your home office, consider having a secondary workspace like a coffee shop or library.
3. Use the Right Tools and Equipment
The right tools for your type of work, like the latest desktops and time tracking software, can boost productivity immensely.
Companies may provide you with the appropriate equipment, or they might ask you to install the company software on your personal device.
Additionally, playing pleasant music or white noise in the background can help your focus. Consider buying noise-canceling headphones or other equipment as needed.
4. Set Boundaries at Home
When you work from home, you may be prone to distraction because of family members around you.
You can implement some ground rules like:
- Closing your home office door.
- Asking not to be disturbed by loud noise or music.
- Explain that you cannot run errands during work hours.
Additionally, ensure that the Wi-Fi bandwidth is adequate for work as well as personal use like downloads and streams.
5. Plan Breaks and Use Them Wisely
When you work from home, it’s easy to become absorbed and work for long stretches at a time – leading to burnout over time.
To prevent this, factor in enough time to step away from work in your daily schedule.
Remember, resting means keeping your mind off from work. So it’s good to have activities like reading, walking, or taking a nap to keep your mind off work for a little while.
6. Be an Active Participant in Meetings
Showing up for meetings is essential, but it’s even better when you make your presence felt.
In other words, it’s not enough just to be in the video call. You must be heard too.
Use the following tips to be a more significant presence when video conferencing:
- Write down your presentation contributions before the meeting.
- Chip in with ideas and comments during the call.
- Bond with colleagues via banter right before and after the call.
These small practices go a long way in showing your team members that you are engaged in the proceedings.
Read this article for more virtual meeting best practices.
7. Look for Learning Opportunities
With the recent boom in remote working, in-house training may not be enough. You may need more than traditionally passed on knowledge to survive in the remote work environment.
This could include using new software and learning new skills. It’s an opportunity to upskill yourself for the future.
You’ll find plenty of free tutorials and how-to videos for essential skills such as using business software or spreadsheet training online.
If you feel you haven’t received enough training on some business operations, speak to your managers. This may inform your company about the skill gap that helps them design a curriculum around the skill.
8. Pay Attention to Your Health
While working remotely, you may find your work life balance beginning to skew. You can work for long stretches in the same spot or slump over in front of a computer for hours. Make sure your setup is as ergonomic as possible.
To maintain your health:
- Find time for physical activities.
- Work only at a desk and not in bed or on the couch.
- Take breaks to move around.
Additionally, you should prioritize your mental wellness too. Some remote employees tend to abandon their well-being by routinely ignoring signs of burnout.
But making time to rest will be just as important as the work itself.
9. Interact with Colleagues
One of the biggest issues faced in remote work is loneliness and the isolation that comes with it.
Some people enjoy their office culture and socializing with a favorite colleague. It’s particularly hard on them when the only interaction they get is in work meetings.
Try to chat to colleagues on social media or join common-interest clubs for hobbies like reading or watching movies. This will help you learn about your colleagues’ non-work personalities and even befriend them!
10. Be Kind to Yourself
As a remote employee, you may pride yourself on being highly productive or skilled. Building this reputation requires a lot of discipline and focus, but it can also be hard to sustain.
There will be bad days where it’s challenging to maintain that level of productivity. So the key is to take it easy on yourself and not beat yourself up over a few mistakes.
As an employee, the main idea for remote work is that you find a way to make remote work just as productive as office work, if not more. However, achieving this goal requires balancing your personal life with the professional.
And what about managers and others who facilitate remote work in the company?
B. For Employers
Managing remote employees can be a daunting task for employers due to the communication gap and unpredictability.
Here are 10 remote work best practices for managers to get their remote employees performing at their best.
11. Create a Work From Home Policy
A work from home policy is a set of guidelines and rules that employees need to follow while working in a remote setting. This remote work policy aims to support remote employees and make business operations as smooth as possible.
A work from home policy may include operational aspects such as:
- Work from home approval procedure.
- Working hours or check in and out times.
- Communication tools, e.g., Microsoft Teams.
- Privacy statement regarding employee data.
- Etiquette for virtual meetings.
- Security protocols about VPN use.
Read this ultimate guide to find out how to draft a work-from-home policy.
12. Use Remote Work Tech Across The Board
Implementing the correct software amongst your team can improve your and your team’s overall productivity.
You can use:
- Project management tools like ClickUp, Jira, and Asana.
- Communication tools like Slack, Skype, and Zoom.
- Collaboration tools like Google Workspace and Microsoft Teams.
You can also use a time tracking software like Time Doctor to get detailed insights into employee work hours and productivity.
What’s Time Doctor?
Time Doctor is a powerful time tracking tool with essential functions for employee productivity management.
For instance, this tool generates in-depth productivity reports based on tracked work hours, activity summaries, and projects and tasks. Moreover, its payroll management feature allows you to make payments and create client invoices easily.
Check out more of Time Doctor’s features here!
13. Maintain Consistent Communication
Effective communication is a crucial aspect of remote work, especially when you have a team distributed over different time zones.
You can set guidelines based on the priority of the message.
For example, employees can send urgent messages through instant messaging, social media apps, or emails. Alternatively, all project-related communication can be done over project management software.
To maintain clear expectations on communication:
- Make sure you are available and online during work hours.
- Keep calendars up to date.
- Limit the number of emails as unread emails and notifications can be overwhelming.
- Share phone numbers for emergencies only.
14. Have One-on-One Meetings
One-on-one meetings are an excellent way for managers to help employees with concerns that they may hesitate to share during regular team video conferences.
This can help build trust and develop good working relationships.
Additionally, you can better understand an individual employee’s work patterns and accommodate them better.
15. Recognize Effort and Good Work
Remote work can create a feeling of isolation in employees, especially when part of the team is working from the office.
Acknowledging their work can instill the feeling of purpose and direction, which in turn can do wonders for their confidence and productivity.
You can recognize the effort and good work through the following ways:
- Have an employee of the month award.
- Create a top achievers list for the week.
- Verbally communicating that the employee did an excellent job on a project.
- Offer incentives such as vouchers or coupons.
16. Provide Performance Feedback
Both good and bad feedback is necessary for an employee’s growth. However, in a remote setup, how you communicate the feedback is almost as important as its contents.
If delivered over an instant messaging app or email, your team members can easily misinterpret the feedback. Avoid being vague or open-ended in written communication.
In fact, for critical feedback, it’s always best to get on prescheduled video calls.
Remember to be clear, concise, and assertive and avoid attacking them. Give ample context and examples for everything.
Above all, make sure feedback is specific, prompt, and constructive.
17. Keep Everyone Up to Speed
Keeping all remote employees in the loop is especially important in a hybrid team, as remote employees can feel less valued than office employees.
Ensure that you share the same information with the in-office and remote teams. Copy remote employees and add a central hub from which all employees can pull documentation.
18. Familiarize New Employees to the Remote Setup
Conduct an end-to-end onboarding process to help each new team member hit the ground running.
To do so:
- Ensure employees have a good Wi-Fi connection.
- Send over the recommended hardware.
- Add users to company software.
- Share remote access to relevant documents.
19. Digitize Training Materials for Virtual Learning
Convert physical copies of training manuals and employee handbooks into online digital manuals for your virtual teams.
Additionally, you can digitize organizational charts, company benefits packages, and contracts and give access to these documents beforehand.
20. Focus on Employee Engagement
Maintaining employee engagement levels can be challenging in a distributed team.
For instance, working remotely can limit water cooler conversations that are key to informal bonding. But you can bring similar means of engagement to your remote teams too.
Here are some tips to boost employee engagement levels:
- Automate business processes for smoother workflows.
- Assign mentors to new employees.
- Organize team-building activities.
Check out this article on employee engagement for a more detailed look.
While remote work offers several benefits, employees and employers are bound to face many challenges in its implementation.
When working remotely, employees must deal with isolation, distractions, and challenges with building their own work ethic. On the other hand, managers need to juggle productivity standards while keeping remote employees engaged.
Go through this article and implement these best practices to get the most out of remote work at your company.
Liam Martin is the co-founder of Time Doctor—one of the world’s leading time tracking software for remote teams. He is also the co-organizer of Running Remote, the world’s largest remote work conference.