Our company has had work-from-home (WFH) staff for two decades. I am one of them. Right now we currently have two classes of work-from-home types in the world: those who have done it a while, have built their processes and strategies that work for them, and are pretty damn good at working at home.
And we have a new class: All the people that previously worked at an employer’s facility but have been thrown into a brand new process, fulltime, during an overwhelming amount of stress on our economy and country. Results are mixed. We shouldn’t expect any differently.
This post isn’t about building strategies for the newest members of the work-from-home workforce. I’ve seen literally hundreds of posts and tweets and articles about this already, and most say basically the same thing, and it is in general good advice although your mileage may vary.
This is for the work-from-home veterans. Particularly those of us that work IN the online industry.
First of all, about those new to the home workplace: We have to cut them some slack.
Literally, they are being thrown into a process during a national disaster and being asked to help their employer survive it without that much support. Many of them don’t have much experience in working-from-home, at least not EVERYTHING, and neither do their co-workers, and they are all feeling through this together. All of their processes have been disrupted, and they are having to build new ones. Sometimes they are short on software, sometimes they are short on confirmed information. They still feel the need to get things done in a timely manner even though they don’t have the benefit of working in the employee hub that their organization has evolved into. So…
- Their requests can be muddled and incomplete.
- Their work can need to be redone more times than usual because the honing process is now being reconstructed internally.
- They need you to do some of their work because they don’t have the software at home to do it.
- They may want your help beyond the scope of your job because, quite simply, you know how to do something at home and they don’t.
- They may check their work contact channel, such as email, at different times, with different frequencies, leading to responses lagging or coming in at odd times.
Add to this:
- Things can be WAY MORE URGENT to them since we have an international emergency going on.
- People are way more stressed than usual.
- Payment for work may be – and even worse for some – likely will be – delayed from some folks because of the workload AND economic disruption in their workplace.
A lot of this happened a year ago as well, prior to the pandemic. But at least for some of us, it happened on a much much smaller scale, it was always just this one person or that organization that needed more. For now, there’s a MUCH larger population of work-at-home employees with less experience working in that environment and under more stress. So for those folks, I recommend WFH veterans focus on improving one trait within themselves. I’m trying to work on it every day:
We’re all in a bad situation together anyways, being impatient is just going to make it worse. Those of us that have been working from home for years, we’re kinda experts at that. I believe that one of the personality assets that we define as leadership is the ability to control how you display internal stress. If you’re an expert, show leadership by showing patience. We know these folks new to work-from-home are struggling… we’re all struggling as it is. So we might all have to ramp up the patience for a while as they catch up on how they can do their job from home.