How to Boost and Maintain Remote Employee Productivity
Boosting and maintaining remote employee productivity is not too dissimilar to the way it is done with any other worker – good training and management are required, they need to be kept motivated, and provided with the right tools to do their jobs. Thus, the core ideas are the same, only the application of these ideas changes. Here are 6 methods that can help you boost and maintain remote employee productivity.
Allow Them to Manage Their Schedule
One of the best ways to increase remote employee productivity is to allow them some flexibility with their daily schedule. Balancing work and home life while working remotely is a challenge, and allowing your employees to adjust their schedule when necessary is the only way for good long-term productivity.
This does not mean that you will not set up a basic structure – it is up to you to organize teams and team leads, set up deadlines and conduct meetings. You will simply allow them the freedom to organize their day how they wish, while still getting the job done.
It may surprise you how giving workers more freedom to manage their time leads to greater productivity. They know the time of day when they are the most focused, and, with some guidance, can organize their day so that they do the hardest tasks in these few peak hours, leaving the simpler tasks for later.
Employees can also take longer breaks and spend time with their families in order to relieve stress, during the workday. With a flexible schedule, they can work until noon, go spend time with the family, and get back to work relaxed and more efficient.
Depending on the type of remote positions the employees hold, it may allow for more or less freedom, but some flexibility is always possible. At minimum, to maintain productivity you will need to consult with your employees on how to set up their schedule when working from home.
Ideally, they will be allowed to tinker with their schedule until they find the perfect solution. This will allow them not only to be more efficient in their daily tasks, but will also show that you respect and trust them, increasing their job satisfaction and boosting productivity.
Keep Them Motivated
It is no secret that stressed and unmotivated employees are less productive; companies use many different methods to keep their employees motivated and to help them relax. Remote work is no different in principle, it just requires a modified approach.
Presuming that your employees are using some collaboration platform, you can keep them motivated by setting realistic goals that they can keep track of. These platforms allow for both employees and employers to easily keep track of the progress being made on projects.
If you set daily and weekly goals, your employees will have a sense of satisfaction once they accomplish them, helping them stay motivated. Once they see that they are achieving their milestones and hitting the deadlines in time, their stress levels will decrease, further increasing their productivity.
Monetary incentives are a tried and true method of keeping workers motivated. While the financial benefit to the worker is primary, it also gives them a sense of worth, knowing that their efforts are appreciated.
Maybe you could set up a competition between teams, and give the winners symbolic prizes. If company outings are possible, they could choose the restaurant that you will go to, or if gatherings are out of the question, even a simple announcement declaring the winners could boost morale.
Remote work often leads to employees feeling isolated, so regular check-ups are a must. Try not to micromanage, just make sure that your employees know that their work is appreciated and that you are aware of the effort they make.
Employee motivation has a direct causal effect on their productivity; if you manage to keep it high, your company will see substantial benefits. Remote work is no different in that regard – make your employees feel seen and appreciated, and they will repay you tenfold.
Be Prepared to Adjust
If your employees have only recently switched to remote work, you will need to be flexible in how you manage them, for them to be productive. Things that may have been beneficial for office workers may be unnecessary, or even detrimental to remote employee productivity.
Ask for their input and allow them to contribute in a more meaningful way to the way they are managed. You will need to work together to find the right solution for the new style of work. You could look at this as an opportunity to experiment with different managing styles, possibly leading to unexpected productivity boosts.
Support staff can redirect their energy into things which may help workers remain satisfied, allowing them to be more efficient. HR will need to spend less time settling employee disputes, now that they have less direct contact. Why not give them the freedom to help with your remote workers’ individual needs, instead of keeping the peace?
Remote work on a larger scale is relatively new, so there aren’t many proven solutions that maintain and increase productivity, meaning that you will need to implement the known ones, and also experiment and adjust – but that is only possible if you are open to new experiences and are prepared to be flexible.
Provide Them With the Right Tools
The skills your remote employees possess are your company’s most important resource, and you should provide them with the best tools available to utilize those skills for your benefit.
Acquiring the right tools will be a financial burden at first, but without proper tools, work will suffer. Luckily, there is a wide range of hardware and software specifically designed to help remote workers remain productive.
Communication and collaboration apps are easy to find, and often free to use for smaller groups. While emails may seem to get the job done in the office, remote work involves less in-person communication, and thus more communication is done via email.
In a deluge of emails, messages are bound to get overlooked, leading to a break in communication and lowering productivity. Instant messaging apps provide a better overview and can enable good communication. They keep conversations organized and often provide file sharing as well, allowing for better collaboration.
Collaborating in real-time on easy-to-use platforms will lower the time your employees need to spend digging through emails, allowing them to spend the time actually working.
Collaboration and communication platforms allow you to separate teams, issue individual and group projects, set milestones and deadlines, and keep track of work being done in real-time – all the elements necessary for good management that will boost productivity.
Delegating work may seem daunting at first, and it does carry an element of risk, but you should be prepared to take that risk if you wish to run an efficient team. Even if you run a smaller business, it is unlikely you can handle all of the organizing and management – at best, the quality of the work suffers.
Allow the employees to take on some of the responsibilities. Initially, productivity may take a small hit, until they get more comfortable with the new duties. Over time, their productivity will increase because their morale and job satisfaction will go up, knowing that you trust them.
When delegating you should give trusted employees the positions with the hardest tasks, or delegate to those employees you think have the most potential. Delegating will give your employees a sense of purpose, making it easier to retain them.
More work will get done, due to more people sharing the load. Additionally, your employees will develop new skills and gain valuable experience, which will help your company boost productivity in the future.
Provide Training and Encourage Self-Care
Training is costly and time-consuming, but is also necessary. If you wish to have a qualified workforce, you will need to invest to improve their expertise; especially if your employees are switching from standard jobs to remote positions – they will need some training to help the change go smoothly.
While it is expensive, the more quality training that you provide for your employees, the bigger the boost in productivity you will see. However, it is important to pick the right kind of training – something that is suitable for your employees’ positions. Unnecessary training is a distraction and will provide nothing of substance, while costing you time and money.
Another type of training that is often disregarded is self-care. For some, it comes naturally, but others need to be encouraged and trained in how to properly practice self-care. If you take the time to promote self-care among your staff, you will see a decrease in sick days, directly leading to increased productivity.
Study after study has shown that occupational pressure is one of the leading causes of stress among workers. A stressed-out workforce not only takes more time off, but its members are also less effective when they are at work. If you manage to teach your employees how to alleviate some of that stress through self-care, you will see productivity skyrocket.
Self-care is especially important for remote workers. While they generally report higher levels of job satisfaction, the lack of social interactions and feeling isolated can lead to negative results.
Remote work en-masse is a new phenomenon, and you should provide your HR staff with specific training related to self-care for people working from home. They can help you in preventing worker attrition and maintain remote worker productivity, if directed properly.
Keeping remote employees productive may be a challenge at first, but nothing that can’t be dealt with if you are willing to learn and adjust. Try new methods, shift priorities, and experiment a little, but keep the core principles in mind – training, motivation and the right tools. After some practice, you will find the methods that work for you and your staff, and may find that your employees are more productive than they were previously.
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