So, for most of the world, it has been 6 months now of this work from home (WFH) stuff. And if you are an owner/CEO, maybe now after 6 months, you might be considering, “Hey this isn’t so bad. For one thing, we could be saving a ton on rent/real estate.” Depending on which industry you are in (especially professional services & consulting), few would argue with you. Alas, there can be a silver lining here, but first, you need to make sure, as a leader, that you’ve adapted your mindset and adopted some key best practices to successfully transition to a WFH model.
Well for Yalo, it has been 8 years of a very flexible work program that has been predominantly WFH. I often have joked over the years that I can “hear the eyes roll” when I request that we all meet in the office for a brainstorming session or client meeting. Before Covid-19, for many of our staff, it would not be uncommon or unusual for them to not see the office for up to 6 months at a time. For Yalo, the day before shelter in place began was no different for us as the day after. We continued to steam ahead supporting our clients, doing great work, and havingfun…together as 1 team, 1 tribe. So, I do feel that we’ve gotten very good at this WFH thing.
As a CEO, I wanted to share with other leaders some of our key tips and thoughts that have helped Yalo succeed with WFH.
- First and foremost, trust is at the center of it. As a leader, you have to put your faith and trust in your team that they share a similar vision and business code for success. This will empower your team while freeing up some of your time to focus on growth plans or operational improvements versus over-managing or micro-managing your team.
- Make sure you have the right technology in place. Tools such as Asana, Zoom, DropBox, and Viber, gives us the technology needed to keep the team tethered together and delivering as a team for our clients. Having these types of tools in place will keep your people honest, connected, and accountable. On our team chat (we use Viber), we have a team-wide channel that we partially use to inform about work or business things, but we equally use it for fun and relaxed banter, funny things, birthdays, etc. We have also created a Fantasy Football league amongst the team where we trash talk via Viber.
- Schedule social breaks for the team. As the leader, it is a required part of your job to get the team out of their day-to-day routine at home. Take people to lunch. Grab coffee together. Create reasons to meet up.
- Focus on culture and invent ways to bring the team together. Schedule team outings to have fun, like bowling, an arcade, a sporting event, a foodie tour, and things like that.
- Schedule quarterly or bi-annual team offsites. Meet somewhere that can be fun but also productive at the same time. For example, we have met in New Orleans and in Nashville the last 2 years. My wife thinks these are boondoggles, but in reality, they are very productive, and we cover a lot of ground together. For example, in Nashville, we covered 120 slides over nearly 2 days of meetings while we ate well and cut loose at night. We even did a field trip during the day to Third Man Records (Jack White of the White Stripes record shop).
- Stay connected with your team. As the leader, you need to be connecting with the individuals on your team on a consistent basis. Schedule 1:1 calls have quick IM chats, set catchups, and give kudos. This is essential for you to be doing daily and weekly to stay plugged in with your team, but also so they know that you care and are interested in their work efforts.
- Maintain a bi-weekly team call with your team. Every 2 weeks, a different person is in charge of leading the call. The leader typically selects a fun topic for the team to comment on or contribute to such as summer reading lists, favorite songs, craziest thing you’ve done, and things like that. The call is also for updates on various projects, sales, our own marketing, and communications plans, and operations. We cover a lot of ground in 1 hour. We’ve also attached virtual concerts to these calls as well where the team swigs a few brews while we watch and listen to great indie bands/artists that we know. Some of our recent virtual concerts include Yawpers, the Smokey Brights, Joe Pug, Jared & the Mill, and Low Cut Connie.
- Track your operations data. Be sure to have reports that give you insight into each person’s level of effort and hours being put forward each week and each month. This will help you balance the workload between and across team members.
- Keep each team member’s plates full or as I like to say, fill their dance card. What I mean by that is to give them additional work to continuously work on when there is downtime on client work. This includes internal tasks like blog writing, social media contribution, market research, technology research, etc.
There are numerous benefits to making WFH work for you and your employees. To name a few: greater work productivity, less wasted time in traffic, less money spent on going out to lunch or on gas, a happier team, seeing your kids more often, much lower rent, and the list goes on. As you can see, these benefits are both monetary as well as intangible benefits for your team’s mental state. Hopefully, this blog gives you, as a leader, a few new ideas on your path to a successful and rewardingWFH model while reaping all the benefits that come with it.