How to set up your team to work from home (WFH) effectively

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WFH is not the boogeyman. According to analysis by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, there’s been significant growth in remote work.  More companies are seeing employees work remotely.  For many of those employees, they may be working from home or telecommuting for the first time.  Whether it’s a public health issue or just a better work-life balance, there are ways to do it right.  At PEX, we’ve helped 15,000+ companies to develop an effective workflow for purchasing, spend, and expense management for remote workforces. There are a ton of articles about healthy habits. Below are some critical organizational components to getting started.

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An Organized and Equipped Workspace
Having a workspace separate from home space – whether it’s kids running around or where family members or roommates hang out –  is important.  Have employees designate a “work area” where once they sit down, they’re at work.  It establishes a mindset, and encourages productivity.

It’s also essential that the things they need in order to do their work, focus, log on and stay sane (those walls do close in), are ready and available with minimal setup.

A successful home office setup includes:
•    Headphones with a good microphone – for conference calls and “zoning in.”
•    A laptop – it’s always better to equip employees with a company laptop to secure company data and keep personal and professional separate and distinct.
•    A videoconferencing camera – if there are not enough laptops, or if laptops lack cameras.
•    Printer and paper supplies if necessary – yes, it’s a digital world, but lawyers, accountants, HR, office managers, often deal with paper too.
•    VPN, or some other data access security – whether you’re B2B or B2C, customer information security is top priority. 
•    Videoconferencing services – Google Hangouts, Zoom, etc., are table stakes for successful WFH; make sure that all your newly remote workers have an account and working access.
•    Collaboration tools – Slack, Microsoft To-Do, Trello, Wrike, you pick…. Remote collaboration tools are changing the work environment, and critical to communications for working from home.

​Set Working Hours, and Regular Meetings
You know that weekly status meeting?  Make it shorter, make it daily, make it at 9:30 am, make everyone participate on video.  According to the Harvard Business Review, routines are important to humans. The last thing you want is employees working from home in their bathrobes. Especially folks who are new to telecommuting and working remotely.  Help them establish a routine, help them get into a mental work zone, by setting the example and leveraging a group dynamic.  Have your managers do the same.

Normally hate meetings?  Now’s the time to overdo it.  Newly remote employees will miss the interaction they get in the office, and the feeling of “we’re all in this together.”  Overcommunication is key, especially when routines are still being set

Why are we talking about this?
PEX, like other employers today, is looking at the best ways for its workforce to work remotely if necessary.  We’ve seen how our customers do it, and we’re setting up our own processes.  One thing we’ve found enormously helpful is employees’ ability to set up their workspace.  A $500 prepaid employee expense card to buy supplies, get headphones or cameras, even participate in Thursday lunch (but from their house) eases the stress of transitioning. With the option to set controls and limits, you can softly encourage responsible spending at the same time. With PEX, you can add funds to the cards as needed, or close them down in real-time as needs change.  Either way, your workforce will be happier and more productive.

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