How to Improve Productivity of Remote Workers
Many people feel that they are much more productive while working from home instead of the office. Several studies have also shown that remote employees are indeed more productive than in-house office workers. However, one factor these studies fail to consider is the number of employees forced to work from home due to the global pandemic.
COVID-19 required many businesses across the world to create a remote work environment with minimal to no planning. While the first few weeks were always a challenge, labor productivity did not fall down during this transition period. Instead, many organizations actually saw an increase in productivity for remote workers. Many employees felt comfortable working remotely while businesses saved a lot of money on various infrastructure costs. Due to the benefits of working remotely, many businesses are considering making this a permanent solution.
Is Remote Work Productivity Sustainable Over the Long-Term?
One of the biggest questions is if the sudden spike in production for remote workers is sustainable or is it due to employees trying to cope during these uncertain times. Some people may use remote work as a distraction to avoid checking the news, while others are putting in more effort because they are uncertain about their job security due to the record-rate of unemployment in many areas.
All of these different scenarios makes it difficult for organizations to know if home office productivity will stay the same in the near future or if it will get lower once the lockdown is over. Companies will need to look at ways to boost the productivity of remote workers by helping them maintain the optimal level of productivity in the long-term.
How 2020 Drastically Changed Remote Work Conditions
Life will begin to return to normal post-lockdown, with the opening up of more schools and social activities. However, an extended period of work with minimal human interactions can eventually lead to burnout and make it difficult to maintain remote work productivity. Business leaders will need to find ways to address weaknesses within a remote work strategy to ensure productivity stays at a high level for anyone that works from home in the long-term.
Adapting to the new ways of a remote work environment isn't always easy for employees. A lot of workers that live alone are dealing with the effect of social isolation, which is negatively impacting their mental health. Similarly, many parents with small kids are tired from juggling numerous responsibilities, such as childcare, work, and homeschooling.
Tips for Work at Home Productivity
Working remotely offers several challenges due to the lack of physical interactions. Finding ways to improve the productivity of remote workers is essential for business leaders. Learning tips for staying productive is critical for employees to remain successful outside of an office environment.
Here are a few simple ways businesses can help increase productivity.
Focus on Company Culture
One of the biggest obstacles in working from home is helping employees feel connected with each other. Working behind a computer screen while at home is much different than an office environment with numerous co-workers. Business managers can't walk over to an employee's desk for a quick chat to see how a project is coming along.
A lack of camaraderie can decrease the sense of belonging and make it difficult for your employees to connect with each other. Over time, this can lead to a decrease in productivity, and it will also make it a challenge for your business to retain employees. Finding ways to keep employees connected is essential in building a strong culture despite the limitations of working remotely.
Finding the perfect balance for communication is never easy in a remote work environment. Employees should never feel that they are on their own without any help. On the other hand, over-communication can often make employees feel like they are being micro-managed, which can result in burnout and a drop in productivity.
Companies need to give employees the flexibility to respond back to messages once they are available, instead of expecting remote workers to be online at all times. Managers also need to make employees feel comfortable in reaching out to them with any questions or concerns, which can help maintain labor productivity.
Find Ways to Overcome Loneliness and Social Isolation
Loneliness and social isolation is a major challenge for remote workers due to the pandemic. Dealing with social isolation is never good for mental health, and it can negatively impact productivity.
The home environment is also different for each worker, as one may be quiet and peaceful while another is filled with noisy roommates or energetic kids. Keeping all of these things in mind is critical for companies to understand the many challenges of creating a remote working strategy that works best for all of these different situations.
Challenges in Hiring New Employees Remotely
A prolonged remote work environment means that you will eventually need to hire employees that you have never met in person. These new employees not only need the skills for the job but will also need to remain comfortable in working from home.
However, the lack of interaction with other employees can make it difficult for new hires to feel connected to your organization. Over time, this can lead to low retention rates and make it much more difficult to maintain remote workers for the long-term. Constantly hiring and training new employees is always an expensive and time-consuming process.
Companies will need to modify their hiring process to better match the requirements of a remote work environment. Each process needs to be documented to make it easier to onboard new workers. New employees need to understand the culture of the company to help them feel part of a team to increase retention and overall satisfaction.
Working at Home Productivity Policies
Implementing a few home productivity policies can play a key role in helping you maintain production for a remote workforce. These policies will set clear expectations for employees while also helping them stay productive during this transition period.
Here are a few of the main things to consider to boost remote work productivity.
Keep Communication Simple and Concise
Making sure communication is easy to understand is essential to ensure employees aren't confused about a work project. This is especially important for department managers and high-level management.
Simple and concise instructions make it easy for remote workers to understand their job assignment while also reducing the chance of any confusion. On the other hand, writing a long-winded email is more time-consuming, and it increases the chance of mistakes. Employees will always perform much better if they can easily understand expectations.
The coronavirus has dramatically altered the entire world, as it's important for businesses to remain flexible during these challenging times.
Instead of simply reprimanding employees due to a lack of production, it is much more effective to conduct personal meetings to better understand the unique challenges an employee is facing while working from home. These meetings can help you give employees all of the assistance needed to help them manage their workflow effectively. Giving remote workers the freedom to set their own schedule is also a great way to increase productivity.
Attending remote meetings throughout the day can quickly become a tiring experience. Scaling back on these meetings is a great way to maintain productivity and limit these disruptions.
Typically, meetings should only happen for important decisions, and it's a good idea to always schedule them well in advance. You can use a variety of messaging applications to ensure everyone receives a notice and can easily plan for an upcoming meeting.
Scheduling monthly informal discussions can also be beneficial in helping everyone catch up while also building collaboration.
Create a Flexible Work Schedule
Focusing too much on synchronous work will only limit productivity for remote workers. Some workers may be more effective working in the early morning hours while others can do better later in the evening. Everyone has a unique schedule, as it's a good idea to allow workers to follow a schedule that works best for them.
Moving to an asynchronous work schedule will ensure everyone does their part, even if their team members aren't working at the same time.
Develop a Remote Work Strategy That Works Best for Your Business
Remote work will continue to be a reality for many employees, as businesses need to understand how to maintain the long-term productivity of remote workers. These companies will need to develop a remote working strategy that works best for their situation. Leaders can also use remote collaboration technology and digital platforms to empower employees to work from any location.
While some businesses can quickly transition into a remote work environment, others may want to give their employees the option to work in an office. After all, some companies may need more in-person interactions while others can easily work outside the office. Creating a flexible approach is essential in understanding the unique challenges of your employees to help you develop an effective remote work strategy.
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