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Setting a Schedule for Employees When Working From Home

Remote Worker on Computer

Effective working from home means creating a schedule, rituals and predictable patterns. 

It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re working remotely. You wake up, decide to check just a few emails before you shower, and the next thing it’s almost lunchtime and you’re in pajamas.  

It’s especially important for managers and business leaders to help set expectations. The freedom of working from home is helpful, but it’s best harnessed with a structure. Here are tips for how managers can help their team thrive in a remote environment.  

Check in frequently  

There’s no doubt, you give up a sense of close connection when you’re not in proximity with others with face-to-face communication. But managers can partially make up for the depth of communication with frequency. Check-in with instant messaging, a regular video conference meeting or even an email that sets priorities for the day. According to Harvard Business Review, research proves that more frequent communication cycle times are more effective in building and sustaining morale and engagement. Ask how your team members are doing. Stay in touch.  

Create virtual office hours  

When you’re in an office, it’s easy to invite drop-ins with an open door policy. It takes more deliberate action to create virtual office hours, but the effect can be the same. Managers can add to their calendar or send a note to the team when they are available. Let meetings last as long as it actually needs to by opening up drop-by office hours. This can also create more efficiencies by giving space to meetings that only require a few minutes.  

Put breaks on their calendars  

When workers are in the office, their mere presence can signal that they’re working–– which values “presenteeism” over productivity. There is also a version of presenteeism when working from home in which employees feel pressure to be responsive all the time to “prove” they’re working in the workday, including over lunch or for normal breaks. Encourage your team to take breaks and disconnect from work by proactively putting breaks on their calendars, but also letting them know (when it’s possible) that they can move around their flex time as needed.   

Avoid sending emails after hours  

The benefit of working from home can be setting your own hours. But that also means that all the hours become work, and it extends into downtime. Set expectations that creates an end to the workday.  

Write thank you cards  

In an era of constant e-communication, a thoughtful paper note can matter more than ever. The simple act of writing a thank you card to a mentor, colleague or manager never goes out of style. Get in the habit of writing thank you's on a consistent basis to give your team a meaningful and tangible memento of their good work.