A number of remote working arrangements have been implemented suddenly over the past couple of years. As a result, employees and managers alike were left to navigate this new way of carrying out their roles with little to no support or preparation.
With multiple businesses still encouraging the work from home rule and seeing it as a logical step to protect their staff, it can lead to some problems. More distractions, difficulty keeping up communication and lack of resources can all be factors for disengagement. It’s vital we are coming up with new and exciting ways to keep your team productive.
To overcome these challenges, organisations have started implementing solid collaboration strategies that allow employees to work together in a similar way as they would in the office. From online meetings to project shares and chat systems – there are plenty of things you can do to achieve the same outcome.
Establish A Regular Line Of Communication
With the lack of face-to-face contact time, one way to keep your team productive is continuity. Set up daily check-ins to answer any questions and get a better understanding of how remote work is going for your staff. Having regular contact with line managers will not only allow you to offer support and keep track of progress but create a sense of normality.
These meetings don’t have to be formal, and they shouldn’t cover the same topics every time. Keep the contact fluid and adapt each conversation to what you need to know and what they want to share. And remember – they don’t always need to be one-on-one. Department calls or small group meetings give everyone a chance to check in with each other.
Imagine it as a little coffee catch-up and they’ll become an enjoyable part of people’s days. This contact with colleagues reassures individuals that they are all in the same position and gives you opportunities to share ideas and problem solve as a group – just as you would being in the office.
The social aspect of work is a key factor in many people’s lives. For some, creativity and productivity come from this ability to share and bounce off of one another. Making this possible in a remote working environment will help ensure every employee has the chance to shine. However, while communication is key, micromanagement is not…
Outline Clear Expectations
It is understandable that some companies have been reluctant to adopt the remote working approach in the past. With worries about productivity and trust between managers and employees – it was hard to imagine a life where people aren’t within rolling desk chair distance! But now we’ve been thrown into this without much choice, trust has become a necessity.
Leaders must ensure they outline clear expectations. This includes any individual targets, deadlines and quantity of work produced while at home. With many employees not knowing what is expected of them at work – it’s no wonder you are having to push to keep your team productive. They can’t meet performance goals if they don’t know what they are. So from the moment you transition to home working, it should be a conversation you have with everyone.
Encourage accountability that will allow staff to work to their own initiative. Building that level of trust ensures you can check in where needed, but not be required to micromanage. Pushy managers can actually have the opposite effect and having the feeling of distrust can demotivate people. Once you have outlined their roles and responsibilities, it should be up to them to come to you for help or queries.
Your daily check-ins can be a great way to ensure you sustain a positive relationship and implement recognition strategies where things are exceeding expectations. Productivity comes from the belief that they are making an impact and can see a direction for their role. Praise and reassurance are both key elements in ensuring employees know when they’re exceeding expectations and how they can remain engaged while remote working.
Equip Your Staff With Online Resources
The biggest way in which you can help keep your team productive while working from home is to ensure they have all the tools and resources they need to do so. To start off with, email is an insufficient line of communication. You need easier ways of getting in touch with people that don’t get lost amongst other correspondence. Messaging and video call apps are fantastic for this as they allow for quick and uninterrupted communication.
Slack, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams and Hangouts are all popular platforms for businesses. They offer communication between individuals where simple questions can be answered then and there. But alternatively can be used for group conversations and meetings. Creating different groups or ‘rooms’ within these spaces allows you to contact the right people and keep in touch throughout the day.
Don’t forget to make this part of your clear expectations. People will need to be available between their working hours for unscheduled communication – just as they would be in the office.
To keep your team productive without verbal reminders and the ability to set tasks in-person – project management tools are essential. They benefit remote workers and managers as it allows people to keep track of their responsibilities and track progress. Systems like Trello, Kissflow Project and Teamwork are all visual planners whereby different employees can set tasks for each other and mark progress along the way.
Successful project management lies in organisational skills. These online workspaces create a visual for the whole department to ensure deadlines are met. Not only is it great for planning and keeping on track, but it makes a manager’s job a lot easier. They can clearly see where people are falling behind or exceeding deadlines and communicate this accordingly in daily check-ins.
Promote The Importance Of Wellbeing
Remote working reduces the amount of social interaction and variation we get throughout the week. Being stuck in a routine like this and not being able to vary your environment can lead to loneliness, stress and just general boredom. As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult to remain engaged in work.
Employers should be providing support where possible and encouraging their staff to speak up and implement changes that are going to help them at home. The daily check-ins are a great place to bring up worries and concerns about wellbeing. Managers can then create actionable steps to improve their experience.
In fully-remote environments, it is crucial that line managers are readily available. Some people may want to talk about their struggles during the day and it’s important to put a solution in place as quickly as possible. Encouraging designated workspaces like a home office can help create some separation between work and home life.
This may aid in reducing distractions as well as allowing the team to switch off after their tasks are complete. Being able to relax in your own home can be hard when we take remote working into account. Encouraging self-care and time to socialise with colleagues outside of work hours have become a key part of our lives. Without it – the line becomes hazy and we lose that sense of belonging and responsibility that boosts productivity.
Also, stress can be greatly reduced by simply going outside and stepping away from the desk regularly. Make sure your employees are scheduling breaks for themselves at home and taking the time to refresh. Being extra conscious of the benefit of this time away helps show your staff you understand their situation and respect that need which also helps build a positive relationship.
I’ll Help Keep Your Team Productive At Home
A large proportion of us have all either been through it or are still going through this alternative approach to work. It still remains the safest option for employees and where it is possible to keep the business running as normal – leaders are still relying on it. But a fairly drastic change from the social, fast-paced office environment brings some challenges.
Productivity can be managed by valuable communication, clear understanding and a culture of trust. So taking steps to encourage these things online will move you in the right direction. Don’t forget to talk to your team and figure out what barriers are facing. While we’re all having a similar experience, remember that some people may flourish but others will find it much more difficult.
With such different and unknown home lives, managers should be understanding of those who need more support and resources to remain engaged. It’s a difficult period of adjustment for businesses, so if you feel you’d like more support or a professional to start implementing these new changes, give me a call.
We can work together to figure out the best direction for your employees and creative ways which will keep the business running smoothly. With over 30 years in the industry, I’ve successfully worked with a range of businesses to develop business strategies and marketing tactics that provide the right results. Contact me today at email@example.com or complete the contact form here and I’ll get back to you shortly to discuss your individual requirements.