Remote Work.

Remote Work.

As we continue to navigate the pandemic, our administrative team members have been working remotely since March 2020. Here’s what we’ve learned:

  • Schedule fewer meetings
  • No meetings back-to-back
  • Designated “meeting-free time”
  • Flexible work hours
  • Find ways for remote colleagues to socialize

We’ve also discovered lots of things don’t work as well online as they do in the real world. For example, long meetings. With longer team meetings in the office, like our half-day training sessions, employees could get up, stretch their legs, take a coffee break, socialize in the hallway on breaks, etc. With online meetings, an hour seems like an eternity.

Instead of long virtual meetings, schedule more one-on-one meetings and keep group meetings to no longer than 30 minutes.

Many years ago, recognizing the problem of their employees being “on the job” even when they were at home due to email, voice messaging and texts, Volkswagen started shutting down all access to company communication 30 minutes after shifts ended and kept it off until 30 minutes before the next shift began.

There are great tools like Boomerang and Gmail Scheduling, which allow your remote employees to write messages to colleagues that aren’t sent until the next workday.

  • To prevent the pattern of your team leaders thinking they always need to be accessible, start the pattern of requiring a mandatory week off, while other leaders take turns handling patient and subordinate requests.
  • You don’t need every remote worker to be “on” all the time. You simply need to make sure they are passing the entire responsibility from team member to team member without dropping the ball.

In our practice we teach and manage to “own it” and “touch it once.” This means you own the responsibility in front of you, even if you need assistance from a supervisor or colleague. You carry the ball through to the goal line. And, you touch it once, which means if you open the can of worms, you deal with it right now and get it done, delegate it or delete it off your priority list.

For example, let’s consider the #1 productivity killer: email. If you “touch it once” you check it in the morning and at lunch and you do it to completion. You don’t look at it and then come back later in the day. Just because it’s in your in-box does not mean it’s important. And, because the average amount of time it takes to get back on task after distraction is nearly 20 minutes, you simply cannot afford to check email all day long.

Stop replicating the old world in new circumstances. Instead, operate efficiently in the new world.

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Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.