To contain the spread of the dreaded coronavirus, governments have ordered stay at home and lockdown measures. This has effectively made remote work the new standard.
Forced to adapt to this new trend, companies of all sizes reported to virtual work despite limited preparations. Gartner noted that 48% of employees expect to work remotely, either partly or completely, after COVID-19. Thanks to technology, this sudden paradigm shift is much easier.
But while the benefits of remote work continue to be recognized by both employees and employers, it also comes with some obstacles. Employee productivity is one.
Unlike in traditional work setup, remote working makes it impossible for the management to create an environment that promotes productivity. Employees can easily lose focus and fail to achieve targets. Working from home creates an invisible divide between professional and personal life, thus resulting in conflict on both fronts. This makes it crucial for managers to explore better ways to communicate and collaborate with their team, and initiate strategies that will keep employees focused.
Experts at remote staffing agency Allshore share eight tips that will boost the productivity of remote teams.
Ensure an appropriate home office
Numerous studies have emphasized the importance that the physical environment plays in work performance and productivity. Factors such as lighting, noise conditions, air quality, and temperature affect work concentration and outcome. Remote employees need a dedicated workstation that is away from distractions. Ideally, companies must help their team in creating this dedicated space. This can be in the form of a stipend, subsidies, or loan arrangements. By helping them set up a favorable environment, you can ensure that they can work better and deliver results.
Equip your team
Alongside adequate workspace, the management must equip their employees with the right equipment, technology, and productivity tools. They need to have a computer, stable network connection, software, and other necessary office stuff. These tools bring work straight to their homes and keep them connected with the entire team. It fosters collaboration despite the distance.
Use technology to your advantage. Numerous software solutions can help boost the productivity of remote teams. Popular apps that facilitate remote work include project management technologies such as Basecamp, Airtable, Zoho Projects, and Asana; video conferencing apps such as Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom; and instant messaging apps such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Viber. You can also develop custom software that caters to your team’s unique needs.
Keep your team connected
Communication is the key to a productive virtual team. It is necessary to ensure that everyone is on the same page and prevents misunderstandings. Regular contact makes them constantly aware of what’s expected of them. Nowadays, technology has made it easier to connect with every team member. Instant messaging, video conferencing, and phone calls enable seamless connectivity.
Set mutually agreed expectations
Establishing expectations and guidelines in advance is vital to employee productivity. However, these objectives and rules should be mutually agreed and accepted by the management and the concerned employees. Laying out clear, specific, and measurable objectives makes it easier for you to evaluate their work. Meanwhile, employees are properly guided on their deliverables, thus they can complete tasks.
Slacking off, procrastinating, and losing focus is among the problems of remote workers. When no one is around checking on you, these can be easy and truly tempting. Consequently, the management needs to implement strategies that will monitor and track work accomplishments. Giving workers too much liberty can make them wander off and get lazy. You need to develop a system for checks their output, such as through daily reports, to-do lists, spreadsheets, etc. If you require close and constant supervision, you can use tracking software, such as Teamviewer, that checks real-time what each team member is up to.
One unique advantage of working in an office environment is that it opens opportunities for collaboration. This creates a positive work culture. Meanwhile, remote work can be a bit isolating. As a result, employees who are more productive working with teams might feel demoralized. Encourage collaboration among team members by assigning them on projects together through file-sharing apps like Google Drive. This provides an opportunity for team building.
Boost your team’s productivity by listening to their feedback. Getting their insights and adapting them enables you to develop and fine-tune your processes. Making them part of the operations makes employees feel important and valued. Ensuring that their suggestions are carried out and addressing their concerns can greatly improve productivity.
Likewise, you should also give honest feedback on the performance of each employee. Constructive criticism helps them grow and improve their performance. Feedback is also vital to your employee’s satisfaction, retention, and motivation. It is crucial in building a positive company culture that is geared towards success.