This article was originally appeared on Forbes, on November 8, 2018.
As the line between work life and personal life has completely blurred, Carusele started Work-From-Home Wednesdays or, as we call it, “WFH Wednesdays,” where people are free to work from home that day of the week, every week. For team members with longer commutes, it’s a day they very much look forward to.
But companies need to be ready for work-from-home days before rolling them out. Here are eight questions and answers that made WFH Wednesday easy for us to manage. If you have most of the pieces in place already, as we did, you may find it easy as well.
1. Why Wednesdays?
Besides the obvious answer that everyone loves alliteration, the fact that Wednesday falls in the middle of the week makes it easy to move meetings around. No matter how good the technology gets, we haven’t found anything better for new ideas than an in-person brainstorm. We just ensure those meetings are scheduled for any of the surrounding days. Plus, you're never more than two days from a commuting break.
If Wednesdays don't work, you can certainly choose another day. We've also done Summer Fridays that involved working from home. They served as a 10-week limited test run for us. Once the test was successful, we pivoted to Wednesdays.
2. How will we communicate internally?
Make sure your methodology is consistent regardless of whether you are across town or across the office. For this reason, we use Slack for internal communications, but Microsoft Teams offers a similar solution. Prior to moving toward Slack, our Skype for Business app showed us who was available, who was in a meeting and who was on a call. That is surprisingly reassuring when you’re looking for someone.
The key to a great tool, in my experience, is instant communication (message, voice, video), quick and easy file sharing, and transparency. Getting internal communications out of the corporate email inbox is a wonderful side benefit of these tools.
When you do need to jump into a meeting, using Slack calls, Zoom meetings, Skype for Business meetings or something similar can bring everyone together quickly and easily. It’s important that everyone has the accepted software installed and ready to go prior to working from home.
3. Where is the document I need?
Remember going back to the office because you left a file on another machine? Today, with Box, Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive, having instant access to not only your files but all files should be a given. Today's online file storage systems offer easy synchronization with Microsoft Office and Google G Suite, so short of being somewhere without internet, saving to a personal computer just shouldn't happen.
4. Who is doing what by when?
When people are meeting expectations in terms of deliverables, everybody is happy. There are many tools to ensure this, but the best ones provide full transparency on who is assigned what task, when it’s due and even what is overdue. Transparency and working from home go hand in hand. We use a software called Wrike, where everyone keeps their task list and assigns tasks to others. Jira, Asana and Trello also get high marks from people I know.
More important than a specific software is that the entire team use the same software. Otherwise, it’s not possible to assign one another tasks, know how they are progressing and have a clear expectation that they will be completed. We had to have our senior-level team not only commit to the tool personally but ensure that their teams bought in.
5. What about our standup meetings?
Lots of agencies use “standup meetings” that are typically 15 minutes long and include quick updates on what everyone on a particular team is working on.
We use Standuply, integrated into Slack, to manage those standups remotely. The best part? They are asynchronous, meaning people complete their answers at various times (within a prescribed window) very quickly, and then all the answers are delivered to the team at once. It might sound small, but it saves hours (and hours are what we sell). Howdy is another good option.
One hidden time-suck that kills profitability is these well-intended meetings to keep everyone in the loop. But if you build transparency into your daily communications (meaning you stop using email internally), standup meetings can be quicker and more helpful.
6. Will our clients notice?
If you’re like us, client communication is rarely done in the office, and if a client is coming in, we may not do WFH Wednesday that week. The main key here is to make sure your phones follow you wherever you go. For us, that’s Skype for Business and headsets. Others use tools like RingCentral. But if you’re still stuck on an old PBX system, forwarding your office line to your cell can be a decent solution.
7. Who will grab the mail?
The basics still happen every day. Packages show up, and checks arrive (hopefully) and need to be deposited. For some companies, that’s no big deal. When it is, we’ve found that not everyone chooses to work from home consistently. I personally prefer my in-office setup (it's tough to beat three monitors) and not having the distraction of my pantry nearby, so I’m typically here. But do think about those basics and make sure you have them covered.
8. Is staff willing to trade off?
We made a simple trade-off with staff when we started WFH Wednesdays. We simply let them know that we expect them to use that day to schedule whatever life events need to happen during work hours. That includes the dishwasher repair person, the vet appointment, running out to get your car fixed, etc. These were happening during work hours anyway. Now, they are less stressful for both the employer and the employee.
For us, WFH Wednesdays have been pretty much a non-event in terms of complications. Work moves smoothly. Conference calls with clients happen as usual. Deadlines aren’t missed. The team enjoys them. By answering the eight questions above, you could enjoy the same experience.