5 Ways To Make Work From Home Work For Your Business

Oct 27, 2021

At the time, I did not realize we were so innovative. When I founded the agency in 2003, it was clear to me that with the Internet, email, phones, and the nature of our public relations and marketing communication services, not everyone needed to be in the same office all the time. I also recognized that I could more easily attract and retain the best talent for our agency – whether they were in California, Texas, Massachusetts or North Carolina – by not forcing them to relocate to our office in Scottsdale, Arizona.

In 2021, our agency looks prescient considering most of my staff have always worked from their homes. In reality, at the time, I was just doing what was best for my business. To this day, though, employee after employee tells me that the choice to work from home, not uprooting their families and starting a new life in a new town, was a major attractive feature in joining our agency.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues throughout most of the country—and survey after survey show how much employees prefer to work from home—some employers are considering that they may need to loosen their policies to allow more team members to work from home. Although it might make it harder for our agency to compete for talent, I would encourage you to do it. Here’s how to make work from home work for your company:

  1. Set Clear Expectations

Like all businesses, our agency runs on deadlines. Whether it is an article, press release, white paper or PR plan, having clear, accountable deadlines ensures that the distractions of working from home do not detract from productivity.

Another expectation we have is accessibility and responsiveness. We offer flexible schedules as long as the work gets done and clients are happy, but when a member of our team says they will be in their office, we expect that they will indeed be available either by email, phone or for web meetings. That availability is important for internal communication, but it is even more crucial to better serve our clients. Being available and responsive to them must always be the top priority during work hours.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Although many companies use Slack and other business communication platforms, our team has still found email to be the most effective and easiest way to stay in touch with each other on a daily basis. Of course, we have plenty of phone calls and web conferences, but the bulk of our daily communication runs on email.

Once again, if one of our clients wants to use a business communication platform, our account teams happily use that method. The key is the consistency of communication and setting the expectation of a prompt response during a team member’s regular schedule.

3. Show Me the Schedule

Our account teams do a lot of writing, editing, and strategic planning, which is much easier without the distractions and interruptions of email and meetings. We also do not want to disrupt any of their client meetings with our internal questions or calls.

For these reasons and others, our account teams make their schedules public so their managers and colleagues can visualize their availability. Other than client meetings, our teams also make sure to block time in their schedule for writing, editing or creating a presentation. Blocking a schedule sends a message like an office door being open or closed. As a colleague, you know what it means when you see it.

4. Company-Wide Meetings Are a Must

Although the actual time seems to constantly change, our agency still meets regularly on a web conference to talk about agency updates, share success stories and best practices and even feature guest speakers. To keep it fun, we compile positive feedback that team members have received from clients or colleagues and share them. We also have a drawing where a positive comment is drawn at random and the person receiving the compliment wins a gift card. We call it our “kudos” drawing and it is always an uplifting way to close a meeting.

5. Check-in Regularly

Every six months, we have a formal check-in where a manager will talk with a team member about their work, accomplishments, challenges and solicit feedback to find out how we can improve as an agency. Since we are still relatively a small company with 25 team members, I also still check in with people I haven’t spoken to in a while on a more personal level to see how they are feeling about work, their life and if we can support them in any way. Since we can’t have impromptu “water cooler” or coffee machine moments, these random check-ins help nurture a sense of closeness and camaraderie that is difficult to cultivate when we don’t see each other in person as often.

A bonus tip: If your work-from-home team feels comfortable traveling, have a company-wide retreat either once a year or every couple of years, depending on your company’s size and budget. It is always rewarding when we can get together in a fun location, enjoy meals and learn from each other. The fact that we so rarely get to see each other in person makes the retreats especially meaningful for our team.

So whether you plan to bring all, some or none of the team back to the office once the pandemic is under control, I recommend instituting an option to work from home, if it is feasible for your company. Our teams appreciate the perk and show it to us every day in their high quality of work and client service.

Jodi Amendola

Jodi is an accomplished leader with 25 years of experience developing, implementing and executing high-impact, integrated business-to-business public relations and marketing campaigns. Since 2004, she has served as CEO and co-founder of Amendola, where she has led campaigns for countless industry giants and start-up companies.