As the COVID-19 outbreak is still overwhelming, various government from various nation are advising the public to practice Social Distancing. With that in mind, many companies are requesting their employee to work from home (WFH) to avoid the risk of contracting with the virus. Basically, WFH is in-line with the term as distributed work or working remotely. However for those who are not used to the concept of WFH, this shift in work culture can be a challenging transition.
The ever talented People Analytics team from Google has been studying about distributed work for two years found that WFH can be as effective as working in the same office, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s as easy or enjoyable. The team take a closer look at the challenges that come with collaborating with colleagues across different time zones and locations by interviewing 5,000+ employees across the company.
A common challenge for those engaged with WFH is that they don’t know where to start: “What are the critical questions I should be asking as a distributed worker? What are the key things I should do as a distributed worker?”. Worried not as here are the 5 pro tips from Google you should learn while you’re busy with work from home:
1. GET TALKING
A little rapport goes a long way. Create opportunities to get to know your distributed teammates just like you would if they sat next to you at the office.
- Start your conference meetings with an open-ended, personal question. Try “How are you doing?” or “What was something interesting you read recently?”
- Consider creating a group chat that is always “on” for work-related questions or fun, social messages.
2. BE PRESENT
Some engagement signals are lost when working together virtually, particularly when we mute the microphone or focus intently on our laptops.
- Unmute your microphone and validate contributions from others. A head nod, “mmhmm”, or “yeah, good idea” will do it!
- Keep phones facing down when you’re doing video conferencing calls, unless you’re using it to take notes.
- Ensure you’re clearly visible on the video conferencing screen by zooming in, making eye contact, and expressing your reactions noticeably.
3. REACH OUT
It can be hard for teammates in other locations to be heard, as they often have to overcome barriers to jump in and share. You can help create the space for them to speak up.
- Ask for input from the most isolated meeting participant any time the meeting breaks into a discussion.
- If you see someone trying to enter the conversation, stop and invite their comments.
- Say hi! Check in on a distributed teammate with an encouraging instant message, a project-relevant news article, or a funny photo – just because!
4. SET TEAM NORMS
Norms set clear expectations for how your team works together. But they’re often assumed rather than explicitly stated, leaving opportunities for confusion.
- Encourage team members to create communication and decision making norms (e.g., answering emails/pings off-hours, information-sharing across time zones).
- Set norms for when team members should and shouldn’t join meetings off-hours.
5. HAVE VIRTUAL MEALS
Consider arranging catch-up meetings with no express agenda over video chat.
- According to Veronica Gilrane, manager of Google’s People Innovation Lab and who led this research, shared that she would arrange a 30-minute catch-up call once a week with her team with no agenda.
- She would encourage her teammates from different locations to eat lunch or breakfast over chat, as a way to bond as a team. She shares that “being able to see someone’s face – it’s not the same as being in person, but it really does help a lot. You can read their emotions. You can see how they’re doing.”
Hopefully this article will help to improve everyone’s work ethic and attitude during the dire situation. Like wise, stay safe by staying indoor during the COVID-19 outbreak. Enjoy your work and hope the best to come.