Leadership Insights: Best Practices from a 20-year WFH Veteran

Eva Maria Schmidt
March 19, 2020

[Editor’s note: Most companies around the world have switched their workforces to remote working, including Selligent. Our CEO, Karthik Kripapuri, has many years’ experience in working remotely. Here, he shares his tips on how to successfully navigate the WFH world.]

We live in a very challenging time. Already, we are seeing the importance of flexibility and the ability to shift resources to digital communications and virtual work. While some people are used to working remotely, working from home (WFH) remains a new concept for others.

For some of us lucky enough to hold positions that allow us to work remotely in today’s environment, here are some suggestions to successfully navigate the WFH world:

1) Develop a daily routine and dress up. My team, clients and partners can attest to this: I still wear a fully-ironed button-down shirt, even though I don’t have any in-person meetings. It takes commitment, as it is very tempting to hit that snooze button just one more time in the morning. But dressing up every day for “work” – even if I don’t leave the house – sets me up mentally for the day ahead.

2) Find a dedicated work space as much as possible. With many schools being closed, this could present challenges for those of us with kids who are also home, especially how to keep them busy and quiet. By setting up distinct areas in your home, whether it’s a room that you can lock, or your dining table, create a dedicated work area and do the same for other members of your family so everyone can stay focused.

3) That said, don’t worry if your kids (or pets) make noise in the background – or accidentally make a special appearance on video. Remember that BBC commentator a few years back who had his kids pop up in the background? Poor guy tried to keep his focus on camera as his wife hurriedly grabbed the kids out of the picture. No need to be embarrassed! My dog has joined a few meetings, and our CMO often introduces her kids on video – we all understand! We are human, we have families and have lives outside of work. Share it!

4) Be flexible, but set your own boundaries. For some of us, our partners or spouses may also be WFH, in addition to kids being home. That makes for a LOT of commotion in the household. Set up work hours and communicate that with your teams. Try to keep external company meetings during work hours to be respectful of their time. But if you have to finish a project plan at night when your kids are asleep and you’re able to fully focus without the noise of chats and emails, do that. No matter what you do, ensure you allocate time for you and set healthy boundaries.

5) Stay in touch with your teams. I can’t emphasize this enough! Thankfully, with video meeting technologies, we’re able to keep that human connection possible. I am a believer in having an agenda for every meeting, but given these special circumstances, I advise to break that rule every once in a while. 15-minute check-ins with your team or a colleague without an agenda can be refreshing. Share funny memes, music playlists, or photos on Zoom, Slack, or LinkedIn. Be sure to keep that engagement with not only your colleagues, but the outside world. We definitely need it!

No one could have prepared any of us for the situation our world faces today. But more than ever, it’s important to stay flexible and be even more understanding of everyone’s position. Working remotely requires effort – and communicating effectively in a digital world is a skill that will far outlast the tough times we are experiencing today.