By Juliette Smith
Like any other work task, you set the stage for success with proper training. That is the driving force at WITT as we deliver training on best practices, skills a better understanding of how to be the best Work from Home (WFH) employee you can.
Our first online training session was held in June. There are three things we do to ensure our Job Seekers are ready for work when we post their profile on our Web site.
Training takes on a bigger role with the COVID-19 pandemic and many of us Working from Home for the first time under difficult circumstances. Our partners and children are also at home. A survey by Optum Health in the US, found more than 51% of workers say their mental health has declined and 54% say their social health has also declined.
In many cases, it is because they don’t have the training to cope with a pandemic and WFH. In addition, they no longer have the same social support as existed before COVID-19. 84% of respondents have made the switch to remote working, while 40% are struggling to stay as productive as they were at the office. With the right skill set and technical tools, you can change the picture. As major firms like Shopify and the federal government decide that many employees will work from home permanently WFH is a reality for more and more workers.
Our primary trainers providing the online training, are Doris Haddad and Louise H. Reid, both based in Ottawa and both with vast experience in training and career coaching.
Doris is a Bilingual Career Counsellor, with over 30 years of experience in Human Resources and Career Coaching, in both the public and private sectors. Doris provides effective job search techniques including video interviews, while career coaching a diverse audience, Louise is a coach and leadership consultant helping professional women achieve their goals. As a Chief Empowerment Officer, she brings 20 years of experience in several business sectors including technology. She also hosts a radio show and podcast.
Both trainers agree that Working from Home is both a challenge to your mind and your mechanical skills. They also agree, that most people don’t really understand what WFH entails and the kind of person you are is a major factor.
Here are some of the traits that tend to make you more successful at WFH.
Traits of successful WFH employees
You also need to be health-conscious. You need to be sure you are looking after your health. “Set clear boundaries and be firm with yourself so that you don’t end up in overwork situation,” says Haddad.
In her training, these are all issues that Haddad wants people to understand and then discuss the skills to deal with those issues. She has three areas of focus.
Haddad firmly believes, “Work from Home will be the future, especially for large firms, companies can save a lot of money on all the costs associated with physical office space. WFH is of significant value to a company. “
But for employees, there is a significant loss of social contract and being part of social events. To try and make up for it there needs to be meetings that are not work-oriented, perhaps share lunch through a Zoom meeting or after-work drinks. It is hard to feel part of the team when you are at home. So creativity is needed to address this reality. People already choose one company over another because of work culture now they will choose based on a company’s online, WFH culture.
For Louise H. Reid, “It is most important to train and create the right mindset and arm people with a level of resilience and inner strength to handle the challenges of WFH.” Reid says you need to understand why you want to work for home and for many years, women have been the ones pushing for WFH because it can help with child care and house care, two duties women still end up doing more than men.
In her training Reid teaches the mechanics, how to schedule your day, set up your office, the work habits you need to create, and how to communicate both for work and for social connections. “Everyone wants to feel they are part of the team and it comes back to communication, everyone needs to consider ways to communicate that include everyone,” says Reid.
She recommends spending at least 20 minutes per day on the social connections of work. “It is vital to have human interaction outside of work, it helps restore your balance There is an energy that you get from socializing and it is part of self-care and ensures you will be your best self at work, be it in an office or at home.”
If people struggle with WFH it is often because they are extroverts who thrive when they see, touch, communicate face-to-face so they feel isolated when at home. Another big group that has trouble, are those who need structure and guidance and depend on their manager to deliver that oversight. Now, the boss may not always be able to provide that kind of direction.
As Reid puts it, “There is a dance partner for every employee – it is the employer.” She urges management at companies moving into WFH to get some training. “Managers have to learn how to interact and communicate with employees who are not in the office. There are more tracking tools for management to know whether employees are doing the work or not, but how the tools are used will determine if it’s seen as spying or part of the new reality of remote management.”
Haddad says, “It is clear that the onus is on the employer to deploy the necessary tools and deal with security issues, they can’t download costs and responsibility onto the employee.”
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Juliette Smith is the head of WITT and the Manager of National Projects and Community Stakeholders for the International Talent Acquisition Centre (In-TAC), part of the Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre (OCCSC).