With flexible working on the rise in general, the Christmas and New Year period is a particularly popular time for people to work from home. This is helpful for people who are visiting families that live far away, or need to keep an eye on the kids during the school holidays. The internet makes it easier than ever for people to work from home. However, you don’t want to run the risk of communication lapses leading to mistakes, inefficiencies or delays. These are our top tips for making home offices work for the employees and businesses alike in the festive period.
1. Record everyone’s annual leave in a central calendar
As well as the bank holidays, many people take additional days off at Christmas, either being off for the whole period or working the odd day here and there. Whether your company uses Outlook, Google Calendar or some other type of calendar, make sure that everyone’s leave is recorded and that everyone has access to the calendar. That way, people can easily see when their colleagues are off and can liaise with colleagues who are also working, rather than wasting time waiting for email replies from people on leave.
2. Schedule online meetings in advance
This ties in with the above point: get some times in the diary for everyone to check in. If you schedule these in advance then people working from home can work round them and make sure they are free to talk at those specific times (and in a separate room to any noisy kids or barking dogs!). This also allows you to pick key times when fewer people are on annual leave.
3. Take advantage of business apps
Mobile apps make it much easier for everyone in your business to stay in touch and to keep things ticking over while people aren’t in the office. While it might be a bit late in the day to start using something completely new, see what systems you are already using that have a mobile app. For example, many ERP systems such as NetSuite have an app, as do project management tools like Trello, or social media scheduling tools like Hootsuite. If applicable, suggest that your employees download the app versions of your business tools so they can stay in the loop and when out and about.
4. Pick one central form of communication
One of the main priorities when people are working from home is effective communication. There are lots of ways to stay in touch – but this can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help. You should pick one main method of communication, and make sure everyone knows that this is to be the main way to talk to one another. That way people won’t feel bombarded by too many different forms of communication. It is also more efficient all-round, as less chasing-up is required, and people know where to refer back to for information. It’s best to pick something you are already using, but the best messaging apps for work are probably Skype and Slack.
5. Set up deadline reminders for the key tasks
A key principle of managing remote employees is results-based goals. As you can’t fully control what employees are doing throughout the day, you need to set clear task deadlines for them to work towards in their own style and at their own pace. In fact, this is often a much more effective management tactic, as people are usually more productive when they work to their own rhythm. To succeed in this management strategy, you need to set deadlines for when specific tasks need to be carried out. Make sure these deadlines and clear and visible for the whole team.
Using these tactics for people working home over the festive period will help your business keep running smoothly whilst giving your employees the flexibility to maintain their work-life balance.
Of course, business mobiles and a great comms plan are a key component here. If you’re looking for a great deal on business broadband, business handsets or SIM-only plans, then get in touch with A1 Comms today. We can come up with a tailored solution from one of our partner providers to make sure that your business communications help you succeed. Call us today on 01773 522 300 or fill in our contact form.