Workplace training

13 minute read

How to Help Your Remote Employees Set Up Their Home Offices

Kat Boogaard

Kat Boogaard

Like the vast majority of teams across the globe, the alarming spread of COVID-19 means you and your employees had no choice but to rapidly figure out how to work together from home. 

Particularly if you’re all used to working side-by-side, it’s a pretty big adjustment and it’s totally normal for your team (and, let’s face it, you!) to feel a little overwhelmed.

But, when you’re a manager or someone who works in the HR department, people are undoubtedly going to look to you for guidance, reassurance, and direction. And, one of the biggest questions on their mind is this: how do they go about setting up a home office for remote work?

Consider this your guide to supporting your team in making the transition to working from home for the foreseeable future—with as few bumps in the road as possible. 

Download your free home office checklist

Share these tips with your team to get them set up for remote work

man-on-phone-working-from-home-office

Setting up a home office for remote work: Here’s how to help your employees create a productive environment

Of course, there are a few basic, non-negotiable items that your team will need to successfully work remotely, including (but certainly not limited to): 

But, with those fundamentals in place, you might also want to provide some recommendations for other budget-friendly items they can include to create an environment that encourages them to get their best work done (even when things seem stressful).

Not only will this ensure that you’re setting your employees up for success in terms of maintaining their productivity levels, but you’ll also demonstrate that you really do care about their health and happiness outside of the office.

That’s important, especially when you consider that recent research from Gallup found that when employees were asked to consider the recent impact of COVID-19, only 45% of respondents strongly agree that their organization cares about their overall wellbeing. 

1. Comfortable chair

One of the greatest perks of the remote work lifestyle is that you can stay in your pajamas and work from your bed or your couch all day. While those creature comforts are tempting, too much time on those cushiony surfaces is bound to lead to back problems, a stiff neck, and achy joints.

So, remind your employees of the importance of finding a supportive, comfortable chair that they can work from (bonus points if they have an ergonomic one ready and available). Even if they crank through their to-do lists from their kitchen table, that’s a far more suitable workspace than slouching under the covers for hours on end. 

Regardless of where they decide to work from, make sure that you also remind your team members of the importance of frequent movement and changing positions throughout the day. 

Maybe they’ll work from their desk for the first part of the workday, and then switch to standing at their bar-height counter (as a makeshift replacement for their standing desk) for a portion of the afternoon. 

You can even implement a reminder every couple of hours in a designated Slack channel to encourage people to get up and stretch. Hey, use it as an excuse to make it a fun, team-wide activity!

2. Natural lighting

There are plenty of fancy lamps and devices out there designed to combat the bleary, cross-eyed feeling related to too much time staring at a computer screen. But, as it turns out, one of the best things for all of us is totally free: natural lighting.

While room at home might be limited for some of your team members, nudge them to set up their remote workspace near a source of natural light if they can. It’s been shown to offer numerous benefits, like reduced eye strain, less headaches, and decreased drowsiness. 

Plus, being able to glance out a window provides a much-needed break and stress-reliever when the pressures of the workday (and the weight of this global pandemic) start to pile up. 

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3. Refillable water bottle

We’ll spare you all of the clichés about water cooler chat, but the point remains the same: in a standard office environment, filling up on water is more of a social activity. Team members would take walks to the fountain or beverage dispenser together. 

But now that everybody is isolated in their own homes? It’s way too easy to stay put in one spot for hours on end—and way too many of us are bound to end up parched as a result.

In fact, studies show that up to 75% of people are chronically dehydrated. Show your employees that you care about their health and wellness by reminding them to keep a refillable water bottle handy on their desk so they can make sure they’re getting adequate water intake throughout their workdays. 

4. Collaborative work management platform

Alright, this is one that your employees can’t necessarily invest in on their own—it’s something that you’ll want to roll out across your entire team or company.

If you weren’t already using a tool or platform (think something like Wrike, Asana, Trello, or Basecamp) to collaboratively manage your work and streamline your communication, now is the time to implement this.

This will make it way easier for your team to share important updates, track progress of projects, monitor deadlines, access the resources they need, gain visibility into what everybody else is working on, and generally stay on top of their responsibilities—even if they can’t be in the office. 

5. Time tracker

Do you ever have those work days when you get to 5PM or so and you have no idea where your time went? Well, those are even more common when you’re working from home, because distractions (like laundry or kiddos who are unexpectedly home from school) are abundant.

That’s why it can be helpful to give your employees access to a tracker that they can use to log their working hours and see what they're investing their time into—and where they could potentially be more effective and efficient.

You don’t need to monitor this data yourself (in fact, doing so might inspire a “big brother is always watching” sort of culture anyway), but it’s a great way for your employees to take control over their own work time. Plus, it can help remind them to take frequent breaks, which are important for boosting their focus, performance, and even creativity. 

woman-on-video-call-home-office

5 other ways you can support your employees in their new remote work environments

Despite the fact that your team is spread out, you’re still eager to do everything you can to make this work-from-home transition a little bit easier. In addition to sharing the recommended items above with them, consider implementing these tips as well. 

1. Encourage them to set clear time boundaries

Boundaries are something that can easily fall by the wayside when your work is always there waiting for you. Remind your team members of the importance of balance by telling them to find and set a schedule that works well for them. This will help prevent them from working all hours and burning out. 

You can even institute a team-wide “shutdown” time at the end of each day, when everybody needs to step away from their to-do lists until tomorrow.

And of course, make sure that you lead by example here too—if you’re signed on and responding to emails at 2AM, employees might feel like that’s the expectation for them too. 

2. Ensure clear communication

In any work environment, communication is key. However, there’s an added layer of complexity when your team is no longer collaborating side-by-side.

Make sure that you’re making an effort to over communicate. Whatever normal meetings or regular updates you were providing when you were all in the office should be stuck to now, even if you need to adjust the method and medium to accommodate remote working.

Remember, while you need to keep people in the loop about company updates, team expectations, responsibilities, deadlines, and more, you have another important talking point to add to your list: the ever-changing environment of COVID-19.

There’s enough uncertainty right now without leaving your team wondering about how you’re responding as a company. Yet, only 48% of people agree that their manager has adequately informed them about what is going on in the organization as it relates to the pandemic. 

Whether you create a designated Slack channel or host a weekly “ask us anything” video chat, give your employees opportunities to ask questions and get their hands on any honest information that you can provide. 

3. Provide opportunities for connection

Working from home has its perks, but it can also be isolating. It’s totally normal for your team members to feel like they’re missing out on opportunities to actually enjoy collaborating together.

Make sure you’re offering ample opportunities for your team to connect. You should keep up with any regularly-scheduled team meetings and one-on-one check-ins (although, they’ll need to happen via phone or video chat now). 

Don’t hesitate to get creative and find other ways that team members can bond. Leave time at the start of each meeting for some small talk, create Slack threads for anything from dog photos to Netflix recommendations, or ask your team to create a shared productivity playlist. 

You might not be in the same office at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy being a team. 

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4. Invest in their learning and development

Everybody is focused on navigating these uncharted territories and figuring out how to tackle their daily responsibilities in a totally new environment. That means things like learning and development take a backseat.

But, continuing to invest in these initiatives not only provides a little sense of normalcy and stability, but it also shows your employees that you’re invested in their growth and success—even if they aren’t in the office right now.

One of the best ways to contribute to their learning (without anybody needing to leave their homes) is by offering access to a variety of online courses. Check out the GoSkills LMS to empower your employees to accomplish all sorts of learning initiatives through remote training, from mastering Microsoft Excel to improving their public speaking skills. 

5. Offer a stipend if you have the budget

Some of your employees might be pretty well-equipped to work from home, while others might be feverishly ordering all sorts of things they’ve become accustomed to having in the office.

For employees who do need to get their hands on some necessary supplies, consider offering even a modest stipend if you can swing it (like what Shopify is doing for its employees). 

Offsetting some of the expenses they’re incurring will go a long way in showing your employees that you want them to have a work environment that contributes to their continued success with your company—and you don’t expect them to make that happen all on their own. 

Download your free checklist to help your team create productive workspaces

Many people imagine that the remote work lifestyle is all about sweatpants and cranking through your work without the distractions of your coworkers all around you. 

But, working from home also comes with its fair share of challenges, including figuring out how to create an environment where you can get your best work accomplished. 

The good news is that you can support your team in making this happen. Use this as your guide (and share the below handy checklist with them), and you’ll encourage them to set up a home workspace that keeps them focused and productive. It might not be quite like being in your office, but it’ll be the next best thing for the time being. 

Download your free home office checklist

Share these tips with your team to get them set up for remote work

Help your team make the most of their time

To help your business thrive during this historic transition, the GoSkills LMS is the ideal way to train your team. You can upload custom courses, use classroom courses to track attendance to virtual lessons and live streams, and the GoSkills award-winning course library is an optional add-on. 

We have created a free bite-sized COVID-19 health and safety course for you to share with your team, which you can easily add to your training library with the click of a button. It’s free to sign up and add unlimited learners to the GoSkills LMS, so you can provide your team with the essential information they need to stay safe and productive while working from home.

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Kat Boogaard

Kat Boogaard

Kat is a writer specializing in career, self-development, and productivity topics. When she escapes her computer, she enjoys reading, hiking, golfing, and dishing out tips for prospective freelancers on her website.

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