This post is part two of our series on remote work. For part one of the series titled “Technology and Tools for Remote Work Success” click here.

The impact of COVID-19 is front of mind for many this week. Businesses from all industries across the country are switching to remote work and reducing travel in an effort to halt the spread of the virus. We are doing the same at Qualia. Over the past two weeks both our San Francisco and Austin offices have transitioned to work-from-home. 

Adjusting from an in-office setting to a remote work environment is challenging—especially for title & escrow businesses and others in the real estate space who are used to working collaboratively, face-to-face with colleagues and other partners to move transactions forward. 

We sat down with Qualia’s Director of People, Vanessa Lyall, to discuss best practices for deploying a remote workforce and how leaders can help their teams successfully navigate a new work environment.

Work-from-home best practices

For most of the workforce, working from home is a novelty, and not the norm. Setting teams up to work remotely for an extended period of time requires guidance and support. 

“It’s important that employers set clear expectations but also offer compassion when it comes to working remotely,” said Qualia’s Director of People, Vanessa Lyall. “Remind everyone that there may be background noise on conference calls or interruptions from children. Give people permission to be human.” 

Vanessa noted that maintaining business continuity outside of the office walls requires a double-sided approach that considers both employee engagement and productivity. 

To maintain employee engagement, Vanessa recommended that managers set aside regular times for their staff to reach them. “Since Qualia is currently enacting a work-from-home policy, I offer my team regular office hours every day through video conferencing tools like UberConference,” she said. “You might also consider more creative ideas like video conference happy hours or coffee hours to encourage camaraderie.”

To maintain productivity, Vanessa recommended that teams leverage project management tools such as Trello or whiteboarding tools such as Miro to make sure everyone is on the same page with nitty gritty details. 

A number of other resources are available for leaders to share with their team for remote work best practices. For example, LinkedIn offers a variety of online courses that provide helpful tips for working effectively from a home office. The courses are divided into categories such as:

  • Managing the impact of adjusting to a new work environment 
  • Leading teams remotely
  • Maintaining productivity outside of the office

How to set up a productive work-from-home environment

Vanessa offered a few additional tips for maintaining productivity and balance in an extended work-from-home scenario:  

  1. Remember to take breaks and maintain balance. “People tend to try to overdo when they work from home and often don’t know when to turn off for the night,” Vanessa said. “It’s important to keep balance and stay mindful to maintain productivity.” 
  2. Set up clear work stations. If possible, set aside a space to work with all the tools and resources you need to complete your tasks within reach. 
  3. Create a routine. “It’s important to continue to wake up at the same time and get ready for work as you would if you were going into an office,” Vanessa said. “This will help you get into the right headspace to be productive.” 
  4. Honor interruptions that come up. “Things are naturally going to interrupt you at home,” Vanessa said. “As long as you can think big picture and create an environment that doesn’t feel overwhelming, you can still maintain productivity.”

“I think the biggest takeaway from all of this is that although these are not ideal circumstances, there is some good that can come out of working remotely for a period of time,” Vanessa said. “I think this period will help us grow, learn, and bring back what makes us human to connect with our coworkers and support one another better.” 

If your team is working from home at this time, we would love to hear from you. What strategies and tools have you leveraged to support your team and maintain productivity?  Submit your thoughts in the form below.

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