Home office

It’s not about the hours, it’s about the work completed


“Hold on a second while I quiet down my dog or pull my crying child off my leg so we can finish this call.”

Welcome to the new normal. Zoom, Teams, GoToMeetings or some other web meeting where the slightly bedraggled looking, unshaven, no foundation or eyeliner crowd exchange ideas and try to keep their company culture intact while still getting work done, deadlines met and revenue out of the red.

As a business owner I know firsthand the challenges of the above scenario. IM Tech is classified as an essential business so all of our staff are working and over the last few weeks, working even harder than normal. We had routines and ways of communicating and cultural norms and workflow rhythms that now must be sustained in some form or fashion without the benefit of being in the same building or even zip code.

The good news for us is that we have the technology stack in place that allowed for a very quick pivot to all staff but myself working from home without incurring any additional costs or technologies. Lat year one of our staff had started working form home fulltime so I’ve had about a year to get used to keeping the team connected and managing this employee’s production.

I came to realise pretty quickly that it’s not about the number of hours worked when it comes to remote staff. It’s about the work produced.

Studies have actually shown that remote workers when working from home actually work longer hours and underreport their time. It may not be reflected in a timecard punch but they’re logging on and getting work done on a schedule that might not match up 100% with the 9-5 shift that your other staff keep.

For us, we live-answer phones from 8:30am to 5pm and that still needs to happen no matter where our staff is working. That means that we can’t have the mindset of total flexibility of the workday. It’s defined in our contracts so it needs to be honored and that means staffed. Does that mean that staff can’t get up from their couch, desk or table to go make lunch, answer a homework question, let the dog out or in?

Absolutely not.

For this model to work you must allow staff to put the time in with a greater degree of flexibility.

Do I have this all figured out? Absolutely not. I’m learning about new things all the time.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far.


1.      Keep to your routines.

a.      If you have weekly meetings at a certain rhythm, stick to the scheduled time and attendees.

b.      Get dressed for work. You know, like actual work (or at least presentable) attire. No pajamas allowed.

c.      Incorporate downtime between home and work and work and home.

i.     Try a virtual commute. Drive for 15 minutes and listen to an audiobook or your favorite podcast or morning radio show while you drive? Take 15 minutes after you are ready to “go” to work to listen to that before you open your email or log in.

ii.     Do the same at the end of the day. My routine is to come home, change my clothes and then after perhaps clarifying a detail about the night’s dinner going into the kitchen and making dinner or getting it started. Only after doing that do I engage in meaningful interaction and conversations with my family. It allows me to decompress and disengage from my work brain. You do you but you get the idea, stick to what works for you.


2.      Increase the level of engagement you have with your staff and create the opportunity for them to “pop into your office for a chat”

a.      Implement an intra-office communications app for your company. Consider Teams or Slack. Slack is the more polished offering but Teams has some great features and is included in most Office 365 subscriptions.

b.      A friend of mine has virtual water cooler area in Teams where staff can drop in for community discussion. They also set up office hours for drop ins for leadership team members to be available for staff to pop their head in and chat.

i.     Both have been a big success

c.      Have start of day, daily huddles that are a brief check in by department and kept under 15 minutes

i.     Consider making these video meetings so you can see each other

d.      Have a company wide all hands meeting at least monthly to make sure your staff knows what’s going in with and within the company.

i.     Incorporate wins (personal and professional) into the format

e.      Make sure you communicate and reinforce your company core values in your meetings

f.       Consider setting up a points or reward system where staff can tell on each other for doing good


3.      Lastly, get creative

a.      Last week I had pizza delivered to each team member’s home or ready for pickup at their favorite pizza place. It was appreciated by everyone and an inexpensive way to bless our team and thank them for all the hard work they’d been putting in.

b.      Send cards (maybe include gift cards)

c.      Use your imagination (or someone else’s if they’re more creative than you)

d.      Consider appointing a CMO, Chief Morale Officer who is empowered to do nice things form your staff and clients. Establish a budget so it doesn’t get out of hand but consider erring on the side of generosity. They’d probably spend less than you would in the same position.


Finally, stay healthy and safe. Our clients are great and we know that they make a positive impact in our communities. We all need you, so stay at home if you can and follow recommended healthcare guidelines