How NOT to manage working from home

Working from home is becoming a way of life for many people. While there are undoubted advantages, and many people say they enjoy it, as the pandemic stretches out it is beginning to wear thin. Mostly that’s because many companies replicated the old office-bound ways of working to the virtual world. Workplaces that don’t adapt shift the burden to workers, who have to contort their lives to fit. That affects not just them but those who share their homes, increasing stress in families and decreasing staff engagement and commitment.

Here’s a list of the four common practices that mess with work from home.

Having too many meetings

Organisations and leaders fail to see meetings for what they are – an interruption. Research has shown that employees experience meetings as hassles and a disturbance to the flow of their day. A significant relationship has been seen between number of meetings attended and daily fatigue. As the number of meetings increased so did feelings of fatigue and overload. Although managers might think more meetings compensates for not being physically present they may need to accept that most employees need less leadership and control.

Making meetings too big and too long

Parkinson’s law states that work expands to fill the time, while on the other hand human attention fades around 20 minutes. Longer meetings exist because:

  • it is regularly scheduled
  • there is no clear problem to solve or decision to make
  • people don’t share the same information and explaining takes a long time
  • some people witter instead of being clear
  • men talk more than 75% of the time in meetings

Shorter meetings tend to be more productive: less fluff and more stuff. See Winsborough’s guide to running virtual meetings for more ideas.

Frequent changes of task

The truth is that while you may feel productive when multitasking you aren’t. Being able to do two things at once seems like the epitome of efficiency but research shows time spent switching between tasks depletes our cognitive resources and decreases efficiency.

Instead, send requests, emails, texts, slack chats, Insta shots and WhatsApp group messages throughout the day. Encourage staff to have blocks of time free of all interruptions so they can focus and get things done. Better yet, as our training programme teaches, keep mornings free of interruption – it’s the most productive worktime.

Being rigid about working hours

Employees with higher levels of autonomy in their work show higher overall well-being and increased levels of job satisfaction. Yet organisations seek to reduce staff autonomy through controlling work hours, or worse spying on their employees (sales of employee monitoring software has skyrocketed).

In lockdowns we all experience disrupted lives and need to manage families, home-schooling and relationships. An organisation that allows people the dignity of making choices about how and when they work – so long as they deliver quality outputs and can collaborate with colleagues – will win hearts and minds.

Want to grow your business? Our Free Resources will Help