Now more than ever, working from home is on the rise. Due to the current state of the world, a majority of the population has been transitioned into remote working from home. Whilst this has been a pivotal evolution that has allowed businesses all over the world to stay afloat, working from home does come with its own set of challenges. One of the main challenges of a work-at-home scenario is keeping productivity levels up. In today’s article, we have a look at steps that business owners can take in order to ensure that their teams are maintaining productivity levels in these changing times. Read on to find out more!
Steps to Keep Your Team Productive while WFH
1. Treat Remote Like Local
One of the biggest mistakes team leaders, managers, and business owners can make when dealing with a remote workforce is to not treat remote working as local working. In simpler terms- just because employees are working from home doesn’t mean that you don’t have to ensure consistent face-to-face interaction through handy platforms such as Skype and Zoom. Working from home for a prolonged period of time can be somewhat isolating and can result in productivity levels dipping. This is why it is so important that managers and team leaders ensure there is consistent visual communication between team members. Once in a while, social communication sessions should be implemented in order for employees to let their hair down and discuss non-work related issues with one another, similar to how they may do so during their lunch breaks at the office or after hours.
2. Routine Is Key
It can be all too easy to fall into unhealthy routines when working from home. Unlike heading to the office that requires a team member to wake up at the same time every day, clock in, and leave at 5 pm, working from home can prove to be more challenging. Distractions such as children, pets, television, or even food can prove to be incredibly detrimental to one’s productivity. This is why it is important that managers advise staff to stick to a similar routine as they would on a regular workday. This may involve clocking in at 9 am and taking an hour off for lunch at 12, or even mandatory clock out sessions that force team members to boost productivity and efficiency levels throughout the day.
3. Monitor Schedules
One of the best tools that can prove to be incredibly helpful in work from the home scenario is a timesheet app for remote working. Timesheet apps are designed to professionally record hours when employees clock in and out on their timesheet software. Monitored hours and tools such as screen sharing or capturing are great ways to ensure that employees remain productive and undistracted by other websites or activities. Shared timesheets can also boost motivation levels and give those who are lagging behind a little push when it comes to heightening efficiency levels. A bonus is that most timesheet apps also help business owners to easily calculate wages without messy paperwork which can save the business hours of manual labor otherwise.
4. One On Ones Are Essential
Due to the limitations of remote working, one-on-one sessions with employees and workers may be left on the backburner. However, if you are a team leader looking to increase productivity levels and boost employee morale, it is highly advised that you schedule routine one-on-one phone calls or video conferences with your team members. During these chats, you will be able to check up on how your team member is coping, listen to any problems or issues they may be facing and assist them in creating a more productive work schedule that is tailored to their individual needs.
5. Offer Incentives and Rewards
One of the greatest ways to boost team productivity is to offer incentives and rewards to your staff. This can be in the form of personal incentives or group based rewards that will stir up motivation amongst the workforce. You don’t have to go to extreme lengths for these rewards either – simple things such as a sponsored team dinner or a department store voucher for most productive team members are easy ways to ensure that everyone stays on track with their productivity. Rewards are also a fantastic way to show your team that you appreciate them, thus boosting overall morale and confidence for each and every individual.
6. Frequent Video Conferencing
Video conferencing software has quickly become a primary component of running a successful remote workforce. Video conferencing allows both business owners and team members to conduct live video chats and meetings, access meeting analytics, and promotes face to face interaction amongst team members. The benefits of live video chat give team members the opportunity to conduct brainstorming sessions even if they may not all be sitting in the same room physically. Numerous studies have proven that visual interaction is one of the key contributing factors to positive productivity levels of remote workers and can help a business achieve its goals sooner rather than later.
7. Set Ground Rules
Setting ground rules for your remote workforce is just as important as setting ground rules for an in house team. Always ensure that you communicate your expectations to your team, whether that be strict time adherence, no leeway for tardiness, and the expected productivity levels that you are looking for. All too often, it can get a little too easy to settle into a more relaxed way of working remotely, but ensuring that your team knows that this is no excuse to slack is incredibly important. Utilizing project management software is a great way to ensure that everyone is on the same page and fully aware of the tasks that are expected to be completed in a timely manner. Of course, we don’t expect you to go full authoritarian if you’ve always had a more relaxed way of management – stick to what works for you in the workplace and try to transition that type of management effectively when staff is working from home.
8. Lead By Example
As the old going says, practice what you preach. One of the best ways to boost productivity levels with a remote workforce is to lead by example. This means following your own rules and adhering to your own strict guidelines. Just because you are a team leader, manager, or business owner doesn’t mean that you get to slack off. After all, who is going to listen to a leader who won’t follow his own rules and guidelines? Leaders often underestimate how much what they do is reflected back in their employees. Employees may want to be told what to do, but they also want their managers to do the same.
9. Flexibility Is Key
When it comes to managing a remote workforce and keeping productivity levels up, there is a fine line between being too authoritative and too flexible. Finding a good balance between the two is incredibly important when managing staff that is working from home. Whilst as mentioned above, it is important to recommend sticking to a structured working day, it is important that business owners also leave a little leeway for error that may come in the form of an employee having to attend to their child during an emergency or having to do a last-minute shop before the supermarkets close. If your team is working on a project that is time-sensitive, a great option is to ask employees about their availability and let them know beforehand about projects that will require their full undivided attention.
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Last but certainly by no means least, learn to relax. Remote working will prove to be a completely different experience from everyone gathered at the office every day. It may even take a week or two for everyone to get into their work-from-home groove and settle into a routine that works for them. Expecting too much in the first few weeks can put unnecessary pressure on your team and yourself. Accept that change is inevitable, and there are bound to be roadblocks and issues along the way. Giving your team and yourself the peace of mind to relax and know that not everything is perfect is a great way to prevent burnout and emotional distress amongst all involved.
Oftentimes, switching to a remote workforce brings its own challenges to employees who may struggle with mental health issues that derive from isolation, lack of physical activity, or even anxiety from being cooped up at home all day. Understanding with empathy and care that everyone is trying their best and doing as much as they can to adapt to these changing times is so incredibly important.
Keeping your team productive while working from home doesn’t have to be an overly stressful task. By ensuring that everyone sticks to a healthy routine and that everyone is kept in the loop about what is happening when things are expected to be completed and so on is a great way to ensure that both employee morale and productivity remain in the green zone. We hope that this article has given you an insightful dive into managing a remote workforce efficiently.