Remote working and telecommuting are not a new concept, but it may be new for many nonprofits and for-good companies suddenly adopting a work from home (WFH, for short) policy due to the Coronavirus. Below is a version of the Whole Whale WFH policy as a template to borrow and build on for your organization.
Simple Tips to maintain WFH Productivity & Wellness
- Keep structure with a morning routine or team / manager check-in
- Mimic your typical eating and lunch cycles
- Move around – Consider a walk around the block midday while listening to a podcast to energize and break up work (We have tons: wholewhale.com/podcast)
- Dress in work attire and wear your shoes – The body is funny and responds to clothing triggers
- Create a separate designated ‘work’ area – Defining spaces can help you avoid the distraction monsters that await in every corner of your house
Sample Template: Nonprofit WFH Guidelines and Policy
- Identify a designated workspace in your home that can be used for professional video conferencing. Ideally you have a clean background where your facial expressions can be seen clearly without visible clutter or mess. Desks and tables can work great. Windows can look good but often produce less than ideal lighting conditions during certain times of the day. House plants make excellent backdrops (basketball hoops do not).
- Dress appropriately and professionally for client video conferencing as you would if you were going into the office. Avoid baggy t-shirts, hoodies, or other gear that may give an overly laid-back or casual impression to our clients. We trust your judgement!
- Make sure you have a strong and consistent internet connection and headphones with built-in microphone, especially if you’re co-working with others in your home. Make sure you’re using a secure Wi-Fi connection and avoid using public networks that can be easily hacked. Follow-up with your IT support if you need particular technology or equipment.
- Team members may borrow equipment from the office if WFH is required for an extended period (e.g. 2nd screens). Please take care of anything you borrow and return it in the same condition upon return to the office. You are responsible for the safe transport of any equipment back and forth from the office to your home.
- All WFH employees are expected to conduct business as usual and be available during standard office hours from [10AM to 6PM EST], averaging [40-50 hours] per week.
- Standard team communication should be carried out according to typical team communications norms:
- Internal day-to-day comms: Slack for group conversations and threads, or other individual chat tools like Google Chat
- External partner comms: Email
- Face-to-Face meetings: Video chatting tools like Zoom or Google Hangouts
- Productivity Tracking: Project management tool that includes deadlines and task management, like Asana
- Urgent questions: Mobile texting could be used if chat response is not achieved within a reasonable time frame (e.g. 1 hour) during working hours.
- Turn on chat and email notifications to ensure important communications from your colleagues and clients are not missed.
- Take breaks as you would in the office. Please just use your chat status as an away notification to let your colleagues know when you are away from your computer for any extended period of time.
- Don’t forget to stand up and move around throughout the day. It can be easy to pass the whole day clicking away at your computer, which isn’t good for your mental health or your productivity in the long-run. Force yourself to move around and get some fresh air.
- Consider scheduling daily 10 minute check-ins with your manager or weekly internal project meetings to ensure the clearest lines of communications and expectations for each of your projects and team workflow. Use your judgement to determine what will best serve your project and team success, and implement accordingly.
- Please check in on email as you would normally throughout the day. Prioritize any partner communications or questions. These should receive a written response within [24 hours].
- If you forward an important email that requires a follow-up action and do not see a response, additionally please follow-up directly with that person via chat.
Chat (e.g. Slack)
- Pay close attention to [Slack] as main mode of internal communication amongst your team mates. Respond to colleague questions / requests within [1 hour] during business hours.
- Make use of statuses to keep colleagues aware of times you may be busy or away from your computer / communications:
Video (e.g. Zoom)
- Add a video dial-in link to all scheduled meetings ahead of time, including manager check-ins and internal collaborations.
- Show up for your colleagues and turn on your video as much as is reasonable. Test your video and sound ahead of time to ensure your equipment is working properly.
- Find a quiet place to video chat and be cognizant of any background noise that you might be experiencing. Use mute liberally when not speaking.
Project Management (e.g. Asana)
- Overall team productivity is tracked and measured through [Asana] project management and completed tasks. Please be sure to keep your project management up-to-date and schedule and check off tasks accordingly, including time spent on each.
- Help your teams to prioritize their to-do list by labeling task Priority. Use [“Blocker”] for the highest priority tasks you need completed to move your own work forward. Feel free to follow-up with task assigners or assignees on any questions or relevant information you have for your tasks.
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Additional WFH Resources & Recommendations:
- NY Times: How to Work from Home
- PC Mag: 20 Tips for Working from Home
- Forbes: 5 Crucial Tips for Working from Home
- Vogue: 11 Tips for Working from Home for the Uninitiated
- Hubspot: How to Work from Home – 20 Tips from People to Do it Successfully
- Inc: Get More Done – 18 Tips for Telecommuters
- Asana Tips: 5 Ways to Work from Anywhere
Nonprofit Work from Home Product discounts:
- Slack: Already has a tremendous free product available, but are also providing free useful resources, webinars, and guides for those making the transition to remote work
- Asana: As part of its Asana for Nonprofits program, Asana is offering free licenses to qualifying nonprofit organizations working to help slow the spread of COVID-19
- Microsoft Teams: Now offering premium version for free for six months and lifting user limits on its freemium version
- Google Hangouts: Now offering advanced Hangouts and video-conferencing capabilities — including recorded meetings and larger meeting sizes — for free to G Suite and G Suite for Education customers through July 1, 2020
- Zoom Video: Lifting the 40-minute limit on free Basic accounts for schools in the US and various countries around the world
- Adobe: Offering expanded access to Creative Cloud for students and educators, including “at-home access” for lab-only customers until May 31, 2020 and free 90-day access to Adobe Connect web conferencing for anyone until July 1, 2020
- LinkedIn: Offering free courses on remote management topics like “Managing Stress for Positive Change” and “Leading at a Distance” and learning platforms like Microsoft Teams, WebEx, and Zoom
- E-Learning for Parents and Educators: Find a comprehensive list of free learning platforms and tools from THE Journal on education technology
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Are you a WFH all-star? Please leave us a message with your name, organization/link and 1-3 tips for keeping productivity up. Feel free to put in a quick plug for a resource or service too 😉
If chosen, we will add your message to a Using the Whole Whale Podcast episode.