How To Enable Productivity Working From Home
If 2020 taught businesses anything, it was how to adapt. In the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, companies around the globe needed to reconsider their workforce strategies – and quickly. As remote work and telecommuting became the status quo, managers had to think on their feet – implementing a virtual scenario for their employees that was not only sustainable, but one that encouraged productivity working from home.
Although many employees have already been working remotely pre-coronavirus, there are still companies who are trying to bridge the gap between staff working ‘on-site’ versus a remote team and need guidance for managing remote workers. Managers need to think out of the box and reevaluate the demands of their team, while businesses have to reconfigure operations to accommodate a virtual workforce. What’s more, many experts predict that this trend is not only the new normal, but will continue beyond the pandemic.
However, this drastic transition in the workplace continues to present new challenges for businesses, such as how a virtual scenario will affect employee productivity, engagement and satisfaction. Other corporate concerns include identifying the best technologies – such as cloud computing, managed print services, and IT procurement – in order to ensure a smooth segue from office-based work to a partial (or fully) remote staff. Notably, these same technologies need to go the distance, as gathering data illustrates that remote working is essentially the future of the business world. Many businesses are already adopting a permanent work from home policy.
Encouraging Remote Employees For Job Satisfaction & Increased Performance
In light of the coronavirus, business owners everywhere have been faced with numerous questions, including “how do we enable our employees’ productivity as they work from home?” While there are some professional challenges – such as the detachment and isolation that goes hand in hand with working remotely – successful businesses have found that implementing certain core modalities have streamlined the transition from in-house to virtual work scenarios.
For many businesses, one of the first steps to success includes the implementation of smart technology – for example, remote worker suites that enable virtual technology within the company’s existing infrastructure. Such customized work from home solutions allow employees to transition into their remote work arrangement without skipping a beat, while businesses can remain productive and aligned with their goals. These remote worker packages not only help to avoid disruptions in workflow, but ensure the performance of team members. Whether they are virtual employees exclusively or split their schedule between home and office, the tech tools your company chooses will directly impact your staff’s overall performance.
Some employee productivity tips for remote management include:
- Recommend a dedicated work area: Since it’s possibly the first time they’ve ever worked from home, employers should encourage remote workers to carve out a committed workstation in their residence. Creating a home office that is clearly separate from their communal living areas helps delineate a line between personal life and professional workspace. In situations where space is at a premium (e.g., tiny apartments), team leaders may suggest simple solutions, such as creating a dedicated work space via inexpensive room dividers. For some companies where budgetary constraints are a non-issue, stipends have been offered to assist workers create the ideal home office. Whatever the approach, reinforce the importance of creating a workspace at home so that employees can mentally ‘separate’ between their private and corporate agendas.
- Consider routine check-ins: Even though it may feel like a disconnect – after all, working onsite allows for teams to socialize, brainstorm and communicate in person – a remote work arrangement can still enable meaningful connections. Experts recommend regularly checking in with staff, whether it involves a group video meeting, or something as simple as dropping a quick email to individual team members. In addition to tracking their progress and ensuring productivity goals are being met, checking in with remote personnel can help foster a sense of normalcy – a seemingly small gesture that can actually make a big impact on employee relations and overall worker satisfaction.
- Offer emotional support and encouragement: As a result of the loneliness associated with working from home, businesses need to be mindful of their employees’ mental health. Combine the already isolating factors of a remote work arrangement with quarantining in place due to Covid-19, millions of workers are faced with an added layer of seclusion that needs to be addressed by middle management. Experts suggest team leaders set an optimistic tone within their virtual office space. Leading by example with an upbeat attitude (and offering words of encouragement and praise when warranted), project managers have an opportunity to create a positive environment, which may be conducive to productivity and overall employee morale.
Since the coronavirus has presented a variety of unprecedented circumstances – including first-time remote work situations for many – it’s also important to encourage self-care amongst virtual team members. Some employees may be struggling with the transition of working from home vs office, while others may be faced with financial burdens, the uncertainty (or direct effects) of the pandemic, or even chronic depression or anxiety that has been further impacted by Covid-19. Your company’s human resource team may want to generate a helpful guideline – available on the corporate website or in print – to help employees emotionally navigate this difficult period. Businesses might consider sharing a mental health hotline for staff tackling Covid-19 or other issues that require professional assistance. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers SAMHSA, a free, confidential national helpline that provides individuals and families 24/7, 356-day-a-year treatment referral and information services that may be invaluable to your employees.
- Facilitate team building: Just because companies are jumping on the videoconferencing bandwagon, it doesn’t mean they always have to focus on work-related matters. To go one step beyond the emotional support tips as outlined above, team leaders are encouraged to find other ways to engage remote workers so that they feel more connected. Determine a platform where employees can chat about non-work topics, such as personal hobbies, news, and other areas of interest – similar to a virtual breakroom or “water-cooler” experience. Some corporate giants like Best Buy have created corporate websites in the past for remote employees, enabling them with such features as an online discussion forum to share and post information. Other companies use social media to keep the lines of communication open within their virtual team. Based on your company’s office culture, choosing the right social media tools during (and beyond) the pandemic can help facilitate positive and effective modes of communication. By utilizing the best social media platforms, team leaders have the opportunity to foster a sense of community – encouraging virtual staff to feel not only connected, but optimistic during these uncertain times.