Here are some tips for fueling productivity in the new work environment.
Recognize the Challenges
The work-from-home employee model offers flexibility but also comes with some challenges. Productivity may fall due to non-work interruptions, especially when multiple household members are working remotely from the same location. It can also be harder to get questions answered since it’s no longer convenient to walk down the hall and have a real-life conversation with a co-worker. Managers should recognize these issues and make an extra effort to be empathetic towards challenged employees and reward those who overcome the challenges and continue to be productive.
Establish Expectations from the Start
Employers can avoid future confusion and frustration on both sides by establishing clear expectations about remote work. Clearly written expectations leave no room for excuses or misinterpretation. Make sure employees understand what they need to do as well as the reasons behind their assignments. Formalizing and documenting company goals helps employees feeling more invested in their individual contributions.
Support Efficient Home Workspaces
Many remote workers struggle with the work-life balance. Drawing boundaries between personal and work tasks is key to staying productive while working from home. Employers should encourage employees to create a quiet work area in their home. Some companies even reimburse employees for expenses related to creating appropriate remote workspaces. Employees should minimize distractions by encouraging housemates to respect the boundaries of their workspace during working hours.
Most remote jobs depend on technology to some degree. Management can help employees succeed by providing hardware and software tools that support working from home, including a stable internet connection and access to apps for project tracking apps, communication, and video conferencing. Asking employees to use their own outdated computers may save money in the short term but could seriously impact productivity, so it may be appropriate to provide new devices for some or all employees. In addition, support staff should be available to provide technical help to anyone who needs it.
Keep Communication Flowing
Managers, teams, and individual employees can use various channels like email, messaging, and apps like Slack to keep communication lines open since in-person meetups aren’t possible, schedule daily or weekly check-ins. Virtual meetings are important for collaboration and team-building, but employees also need time to get their work done. Management should let employees know they’re trusted by not micromanaging and continually asking for status checks. Employees who feel spied on are often less productive due to added stress.
Management and employees should be aware of their appearance and deportment during virtual meetings. Dressing appropriately for a public workplace during video calls offers a visual reminder that business is continuing as usual, while spending the days in pajamas or sweats can foster a sense of lethargy that works against productivity.
Provide More Flexibility for Difficult Times
Being able to work remotely was seen as a benefit by many employees since home offered a quiet refuge. Today’s work-from-home employee is likely to be surrounded by other household members who are also working remotely or attending school. Managers can help reduce employee stress by adopting a flexible attitude about working hours, such as allowing parents who are caring for children to work outside the traditional 9 to 5 schedule.
Support Employee Growth
Employees who are interested in career growth and development don’t want to feel sidelined because they’re working remotely. Management should provide opportunities for employees who wish to increase their level of responsibility or improve their skillset. Mentoring can still go on, even if done virtually. Don’t assume that a tight employment market will stop valuable employees from leaving if they think there’s more opportunity for someone else.
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