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86%. That’s the percentage of French people who say they want to continue working from home occasionally following the successive lockdowns that we went through. From greater autonomy, to flexibility and better quality-of-life, the benefits of remote work are so appealing that it is becoming a key part of our lives.
But we can’t go through a historic revolution in our work habits without having to adapt to the changes that it causes. How can we learn to communicate again when everything is being done in writing? How can we adapt management methods to ensure that information circulates properly? How can we re-establish the boundaries between our professional and private lives? In short, how can we rethink teamwork?
In her book, “Guide du télétravailleur épanoui” (the guide to fulfilling remote work), Romane Ganneval, a journalist at Welcome to the Jungle who specializes in well-being in the workplace, interviewed 16 experts to try and find answers to these questions. In this article, she gives us five tips for more fulfilling remote work!
Water cooler chats, jokes going back-and-forth in an open-plan office, those informal moments during lunch break… with remote work, the host of interactions that made up our everyday routine have simply vanished, replaced by silent homes and videoconferences that are not always conducive to human warmth. This phenomenon of isolation is well established – in November 2020, 58% of employees working from home full-time said that they were experiencing psychological distress – and it must not be taken lightly.
A few tips from Romane to stay in touch and fight that feeling of isolation:
“I heard that Léa has got a new job…”; “Did you hear that the project’s release date has been brought forward?”; “Apparently they are increasing the communication budget.”
When we are far apart, hearsay replaces more reliable information that we can obtain in the office. This can even become a real issue for managers. It’s hard not to feel left out and upset when you learn information that directly concerns you from the mouth of a colleague. This type of situation causes misunderstandings, adds to the feeling of helplessness, depletes motivation and can create a feeling of injustice between people working in the office and those who are working from home.
Here’s what Romane says that everyone can do at their level:
- Cultivate a culture of feedback. Just responding “okay thanks” to a team member who sends you their work can be frustrating. And there’s nothing worse than hearing feedback on your work from a third party. It’s important to systematically provide constructive feedback.
- Choose transparency. If rumors are going around, you might as well put your cards on the table with your employees. And if you don’t have answers to all their questions, say so! People always appreciate an honest answer – even if it is incomplete – and it helps to assuage frustration.
- Organize short team meetings to pass on clear information. To ensure your team members remain involved and engaged, it is preferable to organize a team meeting – even if it only last five minutes – to pass on information. Announcements can be followed by Q&A sessions. It may seem insignificant but learning information from your manager makes people feel valued and is always appreciated.
“Project progress memo: urgent”; “Please send me the memo ASAP?”; “The deadline is getting closer, what’s the status? Thanks.”
When you’re working from home, colleagues can’t just ask you a quick question as they walk by your desk, nor can you zip down to the IT department to ask for a hand with a capricious computer program. Almost all conversations now take place in writing: by email, by SMS, on professional messaging apps, etc. And without the help of body language or gestures to help you get your message across, it is not easy to make yourself understood! It is therefore important to adapt your language to the mode of communication used.
With greater distance and less dialogue, the multiplication of messages has led to the explosion of a new phenomenon called “digital incivility in the workplace”. To be clear, just barking orders (“URGENT!! This needs doing for yesterday”) without making an effort to be polite can be seen as a micro-aggression by employees. The accumulation of this type of message depletes employee morale, causes tension and saps confidence. People who are consistently mistreated eventually convince themselves that they are useless. But for Romane Ganneval, the solution is simple: “we need to learn to treat others politely again; put yourself in your correspondent’s shoes!” Here is her advice:
In short: be kind and proofread yourself!
We are constantly bombarded with messages and requests, and one can soon feel swamped. What’s urgent? What isn’t? How much time do you have for this project? What’s the deadline? When everything is mixed up, it is crucial to prioritize. It’s a question of efficiency, productivity, and even mental health!
To get a clearer understanding of your priorities and reduce your stress levels, Romane suggests several solutions:
Do you believe that, when it comes to work, "Hell is other people"? If so, are you sure that you have never asked for something late in the evening when it could have waited until the following morning? Remote work must not be synonymous with always being on call – that goes for you and for others. It is essential to set limits to make sure you remain efficient and active at work. It is particularly important given that psychosocial hazards are so commonplace in executives who allow their professional lives to impinge on their free time, which many of them do: according to an Adobe study from 2015, 74% of French executives claim to check their work email outside office hours. “To learn to switch off properly, you really need to look at how you work,” explains Romane Ganneval. “If you take the liberty of writing to people late in the evening, then you are also likely to be disturbed outside office hours.”
Here are Romane’s recommendations to help you re-establish the boundary between your professional and private lives:
Switching off implies thinking about your own work practices first. Give your interlocutors a break and you will also be able to switch off more easily.
Romane Ganneval assures us that this guide isn’t just a response to the pandemic we have all lived through, it’s also a tool to help find lasting fulfilment through remote work. “We now know that employees are productive when working remotely and that they would prefer hybrid work, i.e. part of the week in the office and part at home. This hybrid model is favored by the majority of working people.” Why? Because it gives you the best of both worlds. Being in the office allows you to reconnect physically with people in a way that is difficult to reproduce remotely, and it allows you to brainstorm and share work-related information more easily than through a computer screen. Working remotely makes it easier to devote yourself to deep work, like writing an article or an executive summary, which requires quiet time and concentration.
Thousands of teams around the world use Klaxoon’s Board Hybrid to apply Romane’s five tips and work remotely efficiently as a team. Here are a few sources of inspiration for you:
In summary, Romane Ganneval believes that it is crucial that remote workers take ownership of their work methods, especially at home. “I believe that remote workers have to show initiative and take responsibility for how they work remotely.”
Message received! Thanks to the “Guide to fulfilling remote work”, you have the keys to your success!