While we’re now past the lockdown era that practically enforced telework, the virtual workplace will remain part of our lives.
Companies noticed several benefits after the shift and chose to stick with remote work. They were able to cut down on operation costs, and employees could ditch the hectic office commute.
In addition, workers enjoy doing things in the comfort of their homes and are reporting better productivity.
According to a survey of US employers, 83% of respondents said their transition to remote work was a success. Many employees also admitted to wanting more remote work schedules.
However, the transition wasn’t easy for everyone, and some workers continue to struggle.
Even though remote work has a lot of perks, it also has its downsides. One of the significant challenges organizations continue to face is declined productivity.
This issue can be caused by different factors, from poor communication to burnout.
Thankfully, you can take steps to address these problems and renew your employees’ productivity and performance.
This article covers those steps and tips that will help improve your remote employees’ efficiency and output.
1. Provide Necessary Work Tools
Workers are as productive as the tools they use.
You should know that traditional office tools aren’t always effective in remote work environments.
You need solutions and resources to help team members scattered across different continents and time zones collaborate.
Communication tools like Slack, Zoom and Microsoft Teams will help remote teams organize virtual meetings and brainstorming sessions.
They can also communicate synchronously using instant messages, audio calls, and screen sharing.
Moreover, time trackers are great remote work resources. Employees can use these programs to track work progress and productivity.
For example, some employee monitoring apps can identify apps and websites that distract you, showing a detailed analysis of time spent on each platform. Then, you can take steps to avoid them.
You should also invest in project management solutions that streamline workflows, track tasks, and measure productivity. While there are free options, you may only get the best features in paid applications.
What’s more, you may need to get specialized tools depending on your business type. For example, remote developers require tools like GitLab, GitHub, and Jira to collaborate.
2. Develop a Work Schedule
One of the challenges of remote work is the thin line between work-related activities and domestic distractions. For example, a mother may have to tend to kids, urgent personal errands may come up, and workers may fall asleep due to being too comfortable.
You can avoid these interruptions by setting up a work schedule for each employee. Creating work deliverables tied to specific timelines establishes a routine that’s easy to monitor and control.
When employees are aware of deadlines and the consequences of not meeting up, it amps their willingness to work, increasing productivity.
Some employees also have a habit of working round the clock without taking breaks. This can lead to the feeling of being overwhelmed and spent. And it’s not news that burnout kills productivity.
As a result, you must encourage your team members to take breaks between work hours, which should be captured in the communicated schedule.
3. Make Daily Check-Ins Compulsory
As part of the control process in your organization, you must create a daily check-in routine for all your team members.
Sometimes, remote work fosters procrastination. This work approach drastically decreases productivity if left unchecked for a long time.
Daily check-ins can reinforce work dedication and commitment and get employees back in the saddle.
That said, you wouldn’t want to breathe down their necks to the point it amounts to micromanagement. So make sure you control these check-ins and keep them reasonable. For example, you can check in on workers again after they fail to meet a deadline.
Thankfully, project management tools and time trackers can be used to schedule check-ins. You can also automate deadline reminders so you won’t have to call your workers personally.
4. Encourage Communication
Communication is the bedrock of teamwork, and your team needs a healthy dose of it to excel.
Remote work comes with the downside of hurting communication. Since team members work from home, they can end up working in silos.
The prospect of heading to a colleague’s slack DM isn’t as enticing as sliding over to their cubicle. So, they instead figure things out themselves.
This work pattern can kill teamwork and reduce your brand’s collective productivity.
You can boost communication by organizing regular team meetings and project briefs. You should also tell your remote team members not to waste any opportunity to share ideas, ask questions, and send feedback.
5. Adopt the Use of Video Collaboration Tools
Have you ever been in a meeting with customers or colleagues and felt like you are talking to a stranger? Having online meetings sometimes affects how we communicate.
Using video collaboration tools creates a better medium for communication, as body language and tone of voice can affect how information is passed.
Face-to-face conversations help bridge the gap caused by remote work by making sessions livelier and more interactive. This way, employees are more attentive and less distracted during meetings and brainstorming sessions.
There are different options for video collaboration, from Zoom and Microsoft Teams to Google Meet and Skype.
However, be wary not to overuse video calls as workers could grow tired of them over time. A study showed that constantly seeing ourselves on screen can be mentally exhausting. So, use other communication channels instead of video calls from time to time.
6. Set Up Remote Work Policies
Setting up a remote work policy will guide your operations and keep everyone in line. You should communicate these policies with your team members and put strict measures in place to ensure they are adhered to.
The policy should define each worker’s role, how projects are handled, and conflict resolution processes. In addition, it could also contain procedural guidance on client communication and task reviews.
You can assign a manager the task of enforcing these policies. They will be responsible for raising red flags when expectations are not met and escalating to the right channel.
7. Recognize and Reward Employees
Recognition and appreciation are effective motivation boosters. A “well-done” message tells an employee that what they matter and spurs them to do more of the same.
Even when workers perform below par, you should appreciate their efforts while critiquing their work.
You should also be strategic about rewards and appreciation. Send them out when they’re most effective. For example, recognizing a job well done just after the employee executes the task means they’ll remember exactly what they did to earn the accolades. This way, they can repeat the good work.
8. Encourage Team Building Activities
The lack of face-to-face interaction among remote workers can cause some disconnect over time.
Keeping the remote team together as a cohesive unit is as important as setting goals and deadlines. When the rapport between employees begins to fade, the teamwork spirit can wither, leading to failed deadlines and poor work quality.
Encouraging the team to organize activities such as online game sessions, casual social conversations, and fun catch-up sessions can foster team bonding.
Sending lunch and gifts from time to time can also boost team spirit and motivation.
9. Monitor Your Team’s KPI
Monitoring each remote worker’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) helps you assess their productivity and efficiency levels.
These metrics allow you to determine what they excel at and where they need to improve. Then, you can assign suitable roles and provide the necessary training.
10. Avoid Burnout
Burnout affects remote workers on a different level. They often don’t know when to unplug from work and can work longer than they should. That’s because work and personal life are now merged that they can’t stop themselves from reading emails at odd hours.
You should discourage this behavior as burnout and overwork can be fatal and lead to significant productivity lows. A WHO report confirmed that long working hours increase stroke and heart disease-related deaths.
So, create a strict schedule and compel your workers to stick to it. Then, use your employee monitoring tool or project management app to send end-of-work reminders.
You can also use these tools to track workers and identify those taking on more than they can handle.
It’s established that remote work isn’t going anywhere, and brands must adjust to that reality. So, you must learn the best WFH management practices to boost and maintain employee engagement and keep workers productive.