McDonough School of Business
Laptop open on desk at home, with gold lamp, flowers, and notebooks
News Story

10 Ways You Can Telework Better

Brooks Holtom, Professor of Management at the McDonough School of Business

An increasing number of companies are encouraging or requiring employees to work remotely in response to the emerging outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in communities across the United States and around the world. Professor of Management Brooks Holtom, an expert in how organizations acquire, develop, and retain human and social capital, shares best practices for telework.

  1. Deliver value every day. Hold yourself accountable for deadlines and deliverables.
  2. Structure your day. Plan when to accomplish certain tasks. If you need uninterrupted thinking time on a task, block it on your calendar.
  3. Establish working hours (such as 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) and get dressed each day for work.
  4. Separate the personal from the professional. Ask yourself before engaging in a task, “Would I do this if I were in the office?”
  5. Use the best tool for the task. Email is good for sharing information, a phone call is good for generating ideas, and Zoom calls enrich the conversation by providing body-language cues.
  6. Don’t confuse brief messages with clear messages. Be sure to provide necessary detail to enable readers to know what to do next. If email will take too long, pick up the phone.
  7. Set up occasional coffee chats with colleagues. If you would normally spend 10 minutes in the morning talking to your colleagues to start the day, consider doing a virtual chat.
  8. If you’re a team leader, schedule frequent, regular check-in meetings with your team, such as 15-20 minutes daily or every other day. Communicate clear expectations for work outcomes.
  9. Celebrate successes and milestones. Recognize innovations. Acknowledge extra efforts. Remember birthdays. People need positive feedback as much as ever … maybe more.
  10. Set boundaries with others. Let family and friends know that working remotely is still working — it isn’t free time or paid time off.