If one had to point out the most significant impact of COVID-19 on the global workforce, it would be remote work.
This trend is expected to continue as remote work is proving advantageous for businesses. Companies, which used to struggle with finding the right talent, can now hire people from different locations. Employees, who used to commute daily to the office, can now finally work in the comfort of their homes—from a coffee shop or even a beach. In addition, remote work also opens up new cost-saving avenues for businesses as they don't have to pay for rent and other utilities.
Although most employees love remote work, its one major con is apparent: reduced productivity. To accommodate this growing trend, businesses must be innovative about approaching remote work through various strategies. If you’re a business owner or a company leader looking for ways to improve the productivity of your remote work, keep on reading.
Ensure your employees have greater autonomy
Did you know that workplace autonomy adds to your employees' job satisfaction?
Ensuring that your employees have greater autonomy means letting them work in a way that best suits them. This doesn't mean leaving them hanging or letting them do tasks without guidance, but it means providing support and trust.
Unlike traditional work that includes face-to-face meetings in the office, remote work doesn't let you see if your employees are typing or getting busy with projects. Thus, trust is a vital part of remote work. When employees feel trusted, they feel empowered and unrestricted--increasing productivity.
For example, letting your employees choose what schedule works for them is an excellent way to give them greater autonomy. Some employees might be productive during the day, but some work better at night. Allowing your employees to work on a schedule that suits them lets them do the job, boosting their productivity.
Create a wholesome work environment
A wholesome work environment is as crucial as business sales. Ask yourself, are you providing your employees with a friendly, warm, and healthy environment? If not, it's probably time to relook company culture. Without a wholesome work environment, it can be difficult for your employees to stay motivated, efficient, and productive. Creating a healthy workplace can be handy in person but challenging to execute for remote work. In addition, building relationships with your employees can be problematic due to the limitation of Zoom meetings and voice calls.
So how can you go about it?
Create a wholesome work environment by encouraging water-cooler conversations. Promoting non-work-related topics can ease the stress of your employees—improving communication. It doesn't have to be big, though—chit-chatting about a movie someone watched recently, the weather, or even a holiday someone took can be a good starter. HRs could also conduct team-building activities, which are an excellent way to build a business’s culture.
Also, you can try to work from a coworking space, where a creative and warm environment will surround your team. Coworking spaces have a pivotal role in improving the productivity of their members and helping them maintain a work-life balance. Coworking has become so popular in recent times that almost 40% of employers are looking at coworking options for their teams’ return to work. In fact, 46% of employees have observed an enhancement in productivity since they started working from coworking spaces. The latest coworking space statistics suggest that these professional workspaces offer numerous benefits, such as flexible work schedules, networking opportunities, a creativity boost, skill enhancement, and more to its members. They eliminate social isolation and loneliness and introduce employees to a work routine. Remember to use a coworking app while working out of a coworking space, so your team won’t waste their time on such processes as desk booking, visitors checking, etc.
Clearly define employee roles and responsibilities
Do your employees know what they need to do to be successful in their roles?
This question might seem silly, but having employees who know their jobs is a massive factor in your business productivity. Unfortunately, it's a common mishap that businesses overlook, leading to late deadlines, uncooperative teams, and chaotic processes. Without role definition, companies can go downhill—not to mention having employees who don't desire what they do.
To ace your remote work productivity, take the time to define employee roles and responsibilities. Then, discuss how they can contribute to the team, what projects suit them, or the tasks they need to accomplish. Teamwork makes the dream work—but that will only happen if everyone knows what they're working on.
Hire the right people
There's a saying that hiring isn't about the number of candidates who applied but about hiring the right one. And since hiring directly affects your business's efficiency, it's genuinely essential to hire the people. According to an article from The New York Times, hiring the right people doesn't stop with formal interviews. As a business leader, you need to have a different approach to hiring by being creative, a little challenging, and allowing your employees to help.
Doing so will let you examine if the person is fit for your firm. After all, the right employee can contribute to the longevity of your business. When you hire the right people, you'll improve productivity and save time. You wouldn't have to worry if your employees are doing their job right or bother training people if they're underperforming.
Track how employees are spending their time
You'd be surprised how a simple trick such as tracking time can boost focus and productivity.
Let's admit that remote work can be messy and unorganized; hence, ensuring you're managing your employees' time for business efficiency becomes important. Tracking how employees spend their time helps you understand their capabilities—can employee A do a task in a short time? Is employee B a fast worker compared to employee A? As a business leader, knowing this allows you to improve your business in three ways:
- You'll learn the best person for a specific task/project.
- Identify the bottlenecks and challenges of your employees
- Improve team performance
Tracking time is also a huge benefit for employees—it beats distractions and increases concentration. In addition, since employees can have the opportunity to focus on one task at a time, you'll also get rid of multitasking, which can be a giant productivity killer.
Wouldn't it be redundant if you were delivering the same message repeatedly?
Because over-communication can lead to oversharing and unproductive meetings, people often get worried about whether they should do it or not. Unfortunately, the truth is that unclear communication is a typical story in the workplace. According to a survey, over 70% of employees experience unreadable communication in the office—thus, over-communication is a must, especially for remote teams.
Over-communicating can bring many advantages to the business, including elevated productivity, fewer misunderstandings, and aligned goals. But how can you make sure you're over-communicating effectively?
For effective over-communication:
- Get rid of lengthy meetings with different agendas—instead, promote shorter but more focused check-ins.
- Frequent check-ins that discuss work updates can align everyone's responsibilities, avoid confusion, and create a stronger bond.
Over-communicating isn't all about work, though—you can always break the ice by encouraging water-cooler conversations. So whether it's a conversation about movies, pets, or even work, over-communicating can keep a positive vibe in the workplace.
Be quick to take feedback
If you're keen to improve your work, you must be quick to take feedback.
Because 65% of employees love taking feedback, it simply shows that it can improve productivity—and, eventually, the business. Receiving feedback instantly offers a positive effect not just on employee performance but also on behavior.
Research says that employees who take feedback quickly find it more impactful and effective—especially on their learning curve. Because feedback promptly involves instant action to correct an output, employees can quickly learn, absorb, and act on it immediately. Practice the art of giving and taking feedback quickly by discussing a project on the spot. Have regular 1:1s with your employees and discuss what's working and not. It's essential to note that taking feedback doesn't only apply to your employees; you should also be open to taking feedback. As a business leader, receiving feedback is your golden ticket to improving your business.
Adopt remote collaboration tools
Thanks to remote collaboration tools, collaborating with your team isn't limited to being in the same room anymore. As remote work continues to rise, using collaboration software continues to roll, too.
From project management to communication platforms, remote collaborating tools have genuinely changed the game for businesses. Because of collaboration tools, internal business processes became more streamlined and faster—such as gathering feedback, assigning tasks, or brainstorming. Collaboration tools connected remote teams closer to each other, proving that productivity is possible despite the absence of a physical whiteboard or in-person meetings.
There are many promising tools in the market today, so choosing the device you need is essential to avoid being overwhelmed. After all, you don't want your team to experience app fatigue using different tools for every task. Choose a tool that will solve your problems—not create them for better collaboration. Some of the more popular team collaboration tools include Monday.com and Trello.
For example, are you looking for an app that will automate your admin tasks? Then opting for a contract management software or an expense management software would help. Remember that choosing a remote collaboration tool includes testing the waters—it's a good practice to look for reviews.
- Top 20+ Remote Collaboration Tools For Small Businesses In 2022
- Your guide to the best remote collaboration tools for small businesses
Train employees for remote work
Contrary to popular belief, remote work isn't all about wearing pajamas and laptop typing. For you to be successful, it takes a significant amount of focus, discipline, and training—that's why it's essential to help your employees prepare for it with the right productivity habits.
Training employees for remote work closes the gap between you and your employees. Remote work can include different ways of executing work, such as working in different time zones and locations. Thus, digital resources and tools are your best friends—so make sure you'd train your employees to maximize them for efficiency.
Aside from up-skilling your employees, training for remote work can also strengthen their independence and flexibility. Taking the time to train your employees properly will let them exercise their judgment call—allowing them to exercise supervision-free decision making and problem solving.
Encourage non-operational meet-ups
Work hard, play hard. Too much work can be stressful and hectic—engage your employees with non-operational meet-ups to ease things. Whether you're organizing a weekend lunch or a Friday karaoke night, non-operational meet-ups help employees be their best selves. It doesn't only bring fun to your company—it also builds trust, improves collaboration, and strengthens relationships. Remember that keeping your employees engaged is the best way to bring out their productivity! You can encourage non-work meet-ups in several ways—birthday celebrations, quarterly dinners, or even random coffee meet-ups.
If you and your employees work in different countries and can't afford to have meet-ups, turning off cameras during meetings will also help. Keeping cameras during virtual meetings provides surprising benefits, such as better confidence and more straightforward communication. Seeing real faces through cameras will help you catch non-verbal cues and ensure everyone is tuning in.
Doing this to your employees will make them feel comfortable towards you and their teammates, encouraging better communication.
Remote work is here to stay. Many more forward-thinking companies are realising this and working towards a more flexible work environment. Companies that work today are vastly different from how they used to—employees can now work on different sides of the world, have time flexibility, and enjoy a balance of work and life. Because it's proved that remote work doesn't wholly impact productivity, companies see this as a new part of normalcy.
As the rise in remote work opportunities continues, companies must improve employees' productivity for their businesses to scale. Approaching and improving remote work productivity includes a variety of strategies, such as empowering employees to have autonomy, creating a wholesome environment, and training them for remote work. These tips improve not only your employees' efficiency but also their well-being. Of course, communication is the heart of remote work; that's why it's a must to level it up. Communication with employees and employers will improve through occasional meet-ups, frequent check-ins, and over-communication.
Lastly, remote work wouldn't be possible without team collaboration—so leveraging digital tools is the best way to have everyone collaborate. Whether you're communicating over a project or giving feedback to a colleague, automating your daily tasks through productivity tools will increase your productivity and, later on, the business.