New to Remote Work? Four Tips to Help Your Transition

New to Remote Work? Four Tips to Help Your Transition

By Tricia O'Connor

Working from home looks and feels different for everyone. And when the decision to work remotely is taken out of your hands, the transition can be a shock.

That’s the reality for thousands of employees who are now working from home because of COVID-19. In addition to trying to maintain daily work duties, many people are balancing homeschool and caretaking stresses.

EBI is committed to helping you navigate this challenging time. We are 100% operational with a fully remote workforce. Even when there isn’t a crisis, a portion of our EBI team is remote.

Here are four tips we’ve learned from our experiences to help with your WFH transition.

1. Be Patient

This change happened quickly. Some teams, like our own EBI Marketing Team, were able to adjust to remote work relatively smoothly.

“Another co-worker and I who normally work in the office began working from home on Fridays last fall,” explains Kate Neilson, Marketing Project Manager at EBI. “I’ve commended our Vice President of Marketing for supporting that initial WFH training because I think it really prepared us for this transition.”

But many people are remote rookies. Their routine is disrupted. Their workspace is different. Their emotions may be in disarray. All these factors mean we need to show each other a little more patience, compassion, and understanding.

Showing empathy to each other is a terrific first step as we try to gain our WFH footing. You might consider scheduling a quick meeting where you each talk about your workspace, explain how you’re scheduling your days, and what considerations you may need during this challenging time.

Having open communication from the start will help everyone feel they’re on the same team.

Live Webinar: Navigating Employee Background Screening and Drug Testing During COVID-19. Thursday, April 9, at 2 pm EST. Join Curt Schwall, EBI’s VP of Compliance & Regulatory Affairs, and attorney Larry Henry of Rhodes Hieronymus, as they help guide you through this new landscape. Register here.

2. Set Realistic Expectations

In a perfect world, you’d be able to maintain the same projects, schedules, deadlines, and performance standards at home as you do in the office. However, our COVID-19 homebound reality is far from perfect.

Babies and toddlers can’t go to daycare. School-aged children must be home-schooled. Sandwich-generation families may be caring for quarantined parents. People with mental health conditions may be struggling. Finances are strained. The cleaning and bleaching don’t stop. And let’s not forget about the dishes – all that cooking is adding up!

This means time-based performance standards need to be relaxed. Instead, the Society of Human Resource Management recommends evaluating remote workers on output and completion of objectives. Managers should recognize the juggling act WFH employees are doing and set an understanding that if work is being completed, it doesn’t matter how (or when) it’s being done.

So, employees, if you need to wake up at 5 am and grab a couple hours of uninterrupted work before your children wake up, then do it. But be sure to let your boss know you’re operating in shifts in case they need to review your projects.

3. Reconsider Professionalism Guidelines

Picture it. Your kitchen. 8:30 am. You worked until midnight. You haven’t combed your hair. The dog needs to be walked. Your 4-year-old just wandered in demanding orange juice. Your third grader needs to log into Google Meet for a virtual class. Your father is texting a grocery list he needs you to pick up. Your spouse is already on a work call… What do you do?

That is the realistic dilemma thousands of remote rookies are facing every morning. Every. Morning.

The traditional line of thinking is that remote employees look and sound professional during conference calls and video meetings. However, the coronavirus pandemic, with its stay-at-home orders and closed schools, has made that almost impossible.

This is an opportunity for organizations to reconsider strict professional guidelines, and instead move toward what’s appropriate and achievable for WFH employees. Loosen your dress codes. Be accepting of a child who joins your meetings. Allow employees to attend meetings without their webcam turned on.

EBI is embracing these loosened office standards and even using them as opportunities to boost morale. Our Customer Care Team is hosting theme days like pajama day and hat day to foster a sense of community even while separated. From the looks our employees’ smiling faces, it appears to be working!

Customer Care

4. Embrace Technology

This is not the time to be technophobic. Working from home requires a ton of screen time and a certain amount of savvy to navigate whatever digital tools your team is utilizing.

Most of these systems are very user-friendly and similar to the apps you likely have on your mobile phone. Most IT departments are also posting tutorials or sending regular communications to help remote rookies navigate this digital transition.

One piece of advice we can all use is to get familiar with the mute feature. Most video conferencing apps have a one-click option to mute your microphone so you can still hear everything, while others in your meeting don’t have to listen to the Frozen 2 soundtrack set on repeat.

And here’s one last hint for all you Microsoft Teams users – check out the ‘Live Caption’ option. Teams presents real-time captions so you can read along during a meeting.

EBI is Here

As this new WFH situation evolves, we will continue to update you on the important hiring and screening information you need to know. Check out our COVID-19 HR Resources page for blog posts, employment law videos, and Screening News Network broadcasts. And don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn.

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have question. We are here to help. Get to know EBI and speak with one of our experts.

About the Author

Tricia O'Connor

Tricia O'Connor

Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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