Skip to main content

Teleworking Tips: Best Practices on Staying Connected Remotely

Published Mar 17, 2020 by Maggie Martin

teleworking.jpg

Thousands of Houstonians are working from home this week after dozens of businesses have closed their physical locations in response to growing COVID-19 concerns. Many employees - and their employers - are adjusting to teleworking as a reality for at least the next few weeks. 

Carey Kirkpatrick is CEO & Founder of CKP, a Houston-based agency serving clients in Houston and Austin through integrated strategic marketing and public relations solutions. She was also a guest on our Small Biz Insider podcast last year. 

Kirkpatrick answered a few questions about the challenges and the opportunities of teleworking. 

What can employers do to best support their employees remotely?

Employers can ensure their teams have three things in place:

  • The right tools to do the job: This could mean anything from laptops to connectivity to cloud versions of software. (Here's a rundown of some popular tech tools and software to help)
     
  • Access to information: If your company operates and shares files using the cloud, you can easily grant access and share information. If not, this is a great time to test-drive cloud-based sharing and collaboration.
     
  • Clear expectations: There’s enough uncertainty around the public health emergency. Avoid adding to the uncertainty by being crystal clear about expectations for working hours and communication protocols. 

What are the biggest challenges – for employers and employees – of working remotely?

The challenges are not going to be the same for each employer. If your company is utilizing remote working for the first time, the two biggest obstacles are likely to be managing and maintaining productivity with a dispersed workforce, and keeping communications open, meaningful and flowing regularly.

The biggest challenge for first-time remote workers begins with communication expectations—knowing which channels to use for what and how often. Some coworkers may prefer text over messaging apps, while some conversations are better over video or voice call. Another challenge is prioritizing projects, tasks, and responsibilities. These can also arise from feeling isolated and unsupported, a common symptom of being away from a physical space and the company of colleagues.

How can employees adjust to this new way of working, especially those who haven’t done teleworking before?

  • Prepare for each day like you would any other office day. Follow your same morning routine to help mentally prepare for switching to work mode even though you might still be at home.
     
  • Maintain the same dynamics you would if you were physically in the office. Just because you’re using the phone or video conference or chat doesn’t mean things have to be awkward, weird or stale.
     
  • Designate a workspace in your home. Make sure your family understands that when you go into the “work zone,” you’re working. If your spouse or partner is also working from home, it’s ok, and maybe even preferable, to have separate work spaces. And if kids are home from school, build a schedule with your spouse or partner for who’s in charge when, so each of you has the opportunity for focused work time.
     
  • Use tools like task trackers, shared calendars and to-do lists with reminder notifications to organize and prioritize. 
     
  • Be patient and over-communicate with your managers as they might be doing this for the first time, too.
     
  • Take adequate breaks to move around and clear your head. When the work day is over, shut down your equipment and move to a different space. Small cues letting your brain and body know you have moved from “work-mode” to “family time” or “personal time” can help prevent burnout and feeling overwhelmed.

By which measures should employers gauge the success of their organization’s remote working experience?

The number one success metric is customer satisfaction. Regardless of whether your client is internal or external, if your team is able to deliver excellent results that meet the objectives regardless of location, then you have a win. 
 

The Partnership has put together a list of items companies should consider when preparing for and dealing with the impact of the coronavirus. 

The Partnership's Houston Coronavirus Resources guide provides information around the virus to businesses and individuals in our region. We will continue to update this page as new information becomes available.

Read our latest issue of Economy at a Glance. It looks at what we know about the COVID-19 coronavirus and its impact on Houston as well as the plunge in oil prices.

Related News

Economy

Report: Houston’s Global Economy Thrives, Setting New Records

5/2/24
HOUSTON (May 2, 2024)— All metrics indicate Houston’s global economy is positioned for continued success, according to the Greater Houston Partnership’s 2024 Global Houston report. The report, which provides an analysis of the global economy and its tie to the Houston region, illustrates how Houston’s international activity in 2023 continued to set records: The Houston-Galveston Customs District continues to rank first in the country in tonnage handled (exports and imports) with over 404.7 million metric tons of goods and commodities, an increase of 6.4 percent from 2022. The Houston-Galveston Customs District ranked first in total value with $344.5 billion for the second consecutive year. Houston led the U.S. in exports, shipping more than $175.5 billion in goods and commodities. Foreign direct investment (FDI) remains strong, with an 18% increase as 52 foreign-owned companies with plans to relocate, expand or start operations, surpassing the 44 projects announced in 2022. The Houston Airport System handled 12.6 million international passengers, finally surpassing pre-COVID levels and setting a record. For the second consecutive year, international migration accounted for the largest share (37.6%) of the region’s population growth. The region attracted 52,500 migrants in 2023, an increase of more than 10% compared to 2022. According to the report, trade disputes, supply chain disruptions and geopolitical tensions remain as global challenges in 2024. Fortunately, foreign governments recognize Houston’s pivotal role in global trade and foreign investment. "While economists expect a slightly weaker year ahead, Houston's robust ties to global markets and the ongoing growth of our major trading partners will continue to support our economy," said Partnership Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research Patrick Jankowski. "We remain confident in the strength and resilience of Houston's global economy." The Global Houston report also provides additional statistics and information about Houston’s international business ties and ranks the region’s top 20 trade partners. Top 10 Houston trade partners and the value of trade in 2023: China -- $31.8 billion, down from $32.1 billion in 2022. Mexico -- $28.7 billion, down from $32.0 billion in 2022. Netherlands -- $26.5 billion, up from $19 billion in 2022. South Korea -- $22.9 billion, down from $24.7 billion in 2022. Brazil -- $15.6 billion, down from $20.3 billion in 2022. Germany -- $15.1 billion, up from $15.0 billion in 2022. Japan -- $13.1 billion, down from $14.2 billion in 2022. United Kingdom -- $13.1 billion, down from $15.9 billion in 2022. India -- $13.0 billion, down from $15.5 billion in 2022. Singapore -- $11.4 billion, down from $14.0 billion in 2022.
Read More
Education

Houston Investing in Its Future Hydrogen Workforce with New Development Strategy

4/22/24
Addressing a growing skills gap by closing economic disparities will be critical as Houston’s hydrogen economy grows. To address this opportunity, the Greater Houston Partnership's UpSkill Houston initiative, Accenture and the Center for Houston’s Future (CHF) have launched a new workforce development initiative that aims to help people in disadvantaged communities (DACs) secure good jobs in the emerging hydrogen economy by bridging the skills gap through training and skill development. According to the executive summary of a forthcoming white paper, the strategy will target high-demand and good-paying, middle-skilled hydrogen jobs through a skill-matching process based on skill transferability, among other factors, as well as tailored learning journeys that will provide pathways from education to employment. This will require collaborating with key stakeholders across the hydrogen economy, including local industry employers, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations. The list of partners includes Air Liquide, Chevron, bp, Bloom Energy, Calpine, Dow, HIG, Linde, Shell, SLB, Brazosport College, Houston Community College, Lee College, Lone Stage College, San Jacinto College, United Way of Greater Houston and Gulf Coast Workforce Solutions. The learning journeys will help people increase their earning potential and provide career stability by having direct access to the hydrogen sector. “The future growth of the hydrogen industry in Houston and the Gulf Coast provides the region with the opportunity to collaborate with business and industry to rewire the talent pathways into the hydrogen sector and increase economic mobility and opportunity for residents of communities historically underserved.” - Peter Beard, SVP, Regional Workforce Development The consortium aims to work with community stakeholders and educational institutions to align career and technical education (CTE) in high schools with dual credit in community colleges. The ongoing collaboration with colleges and school districts will also support the development of shorter-term programs for adults.  The new initiative follows the U.S. Department of Energy’s selection of the Gulf Coast as one of seven regional clean hydrogen hubs, with operations centered in Houston. Brett Perlman, President of the Center for Houston’s Future, says employers must implement inclusive workforce strategies to fill the skills gap and mobilize a sustainably scaled workforce by recruiting talent from throughout the community. Accenture’s research has found a high degree of jobs will be needed for hydrogen with highly correlated skills from other occupations and industries already in place. “Making this happen requires being very purposeful about the intersection of these opportunities and... working across the ecosystem,” said Mary Beth Gracy, Houston Office Managing Director of Accenture, during a presentation of the strategy. The findings also predict a steady rise in middle-skill jobs within Houston’s clean energy hydrogen economy over the next five to 10 years, especially in carbon capture and storage (CCS), as well as consistent growth in manufacturing, application, storage, distribution and production as demand and technology advances. Robert Nunmaker, General Manager – Hydrogen, USGC & Europe at Chevron, echoed the report's conclusions. "This region plays a key role in supplying lower-carbon hydrogen and ammonia, which will require a skilled local workforce that will be positioned to execute these projects.” According to research conducted by McKinsey and CHF, Texas - and the Gulf Coast region as a whole - are already the nation’s largest hydrogen producers with more than 1,000 miles of dedicated hydrogen pipelines and 48 hydrogen production plants. The region is also home to a diverse array of energy resources, including a large concentration of academic and industry-driven energy innovation, cutting-edge infrastructure, and a highly skilled workforce. Looking at the future energy mix, hydrogen is anticipated to be twelve percent of the total energy consumption by 2050, according to the IEA. In its Houston as a Hydrogen Hub – 2050 Snapshot report, the Center for Houston’s Future predicts that 170,000 potential direct, indirect and induced jobs could be created in the hydrogen economy, as well as an additional $100 billion for Texas’ gross domestic product. Learn more about UpSkill Houston.
Read More

Related Events

Education and Workforce Event

UpSkill Houston Summit: 10 Years of Empowering Careers

We’re thrilled to mark the milestone of the 10th anniversary of the Partnership’s workforce development initiative with a memorable 2024 UpSkill Houston Summit.  Join us for a dynamic event as we celebrate a…

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners