In the US, the percentage of employees working remotely jumped from 31% to 62% in just three weeks. While some jobs were already set up to work from home, some had to transition from 0% to 100% quickly.
Some of the largest companies such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, Twitter, Amazon, Ford, Salesforce have rolled out mandatory work from home policies to combat the coronavirus impact.
All this reiterated one thing. Remote Work is here to stay.
Working from home was first considered to be a global experiment, but now the whole world agrees that remote work is currently the new norm. Taking the cue, a lot of progressive companies are adapting the remote work culture and leading the way in attracting the best talent around the world.
With little time to prepare to adjust to this new way of working, some companies have seen a dip in their employees’ performance when they began working from home. IBM and Google discouraged employees from working remotely and called their workers back onsite, so they can have some facetime with their co-workers, which the employers believed would boost the employees’ productivity.
There are many reasons why some remote workers are less productive in a work from home environment. There is less supervision, distraction at home, social isolation and lack of motivation. All these factors pull down the morale and productivity of workers.
If you are managing a remote team and would like to implement some changes to super-charge your team, we have some actionable tips for you.
TIPS TO BOOST PRODUCTIVITY IN A REMOTE TEAM
- BRING BACK NORMALCY
- USE THE RIGHT COMMUNICATION TOOLS
- CONNECT WITH YOUR EMPLOYEES
- ACKNOWLEDGE ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- SET EXPECTATIONS
BRING BACK NORMALCY
Your employees have traditionally been used to working onsite, but with the COVID restrictions, they are having to undergo a lot of changes, personally and professionally. This sudden change can throw them off-balance, losing track of deadlines and leading to overwhelm and under-performance.
Managers can help them overcome these issues by maintaining a semblance of normalcy. It can be achieved by-
1. Check-in with your teams
Check-in your teams every day. You could choose to do this at any time of day, but doing it first thing in the morning helps your team kick-start their day on a positive note. They also get a forum where they are heard on a daily basis, and can address any concerns they may have.
2. Clock In – Clock Out
Flexibility is a great perk of working from home, but having structured office hours helps in team productivity and ensures that project pipelines are not disturbed. Encourage your team to adhere to regular working hours and clearly communicate this in your remote work policies.
3. Have a virtual coffee chat
Everyone misses the mid-morning coffee break and a quick water cooler chat when they’re working from home. Why not have a weekly virtual coffee chat with your teams to unwind from stressful work? That’ll do wonders in boosting employee morale and brings in the happiness quotient among employees.
USE THE RIGHT COMMUNICATION TOOLS
Do you have tools for video conferencing, project management, team communication, time tracking productivity apps, etc in place? If you don’t, then you should set them up right away, because these will determine how well your distributed team will be able to connect, communicate, and collaborate. Once you have them set up, have an orientation call to introduce these tools to your team.
CONNECT WITH YOUR EMPLOYEES
One of the best practices for managing a remote team is that you help your employees feel connected and engaged. You can do this by
Giving employees a sense of belonging
Have efficient internal communications
Communicating regularly (Don’t hesitate to over-communicate when working remotely!)
As a manager, always ask your team members – “How can I help you be more productive and efficient?”
Encourage engagement from everyone in the team. Whether it is participating in the company’s cultural event, or participating in an official virtual event, encourage employees to use tools to engage with their co-workers and join the conversation.
Foster Knowledge Sharing – This will be beneficial for both the company and employee development.
Encourage your employees to get an organized work-space at home. It’s nice for employees to know that their manager cares for their overall well being.
It’s important to celebrate small and big milestones at work. This keeps teams motivated, especially during COVID times when motivation is running low, this is a much-needed step that should be taken by every remote work manager.
When employees know exactly what is expected of them from the beginning, remote work becomes easy, manageable, and productive. As a manager, you can create certain rules for your team to adhere to. For example, having a guideline for reporting and turn-around times of tasks will help teams stay on track and deliver projects on time. You can also set rules for engagement – how to dress for formal virtual meetings, how to conduct a video conference, how to handle connectivity issues, etc.
When these protocols are laid out in the beginning, there is less chaos, resulting in more productive work.
Taking these steps will help every remote worker realize that they must be professional even though they are out of sight.