Remote employees tend to be more productive than office-based employees – but only under certain conditions. If they aren’t able to create an optimal work-life balance, or if they aren’t supported properly, remote employees are in higher danger of burnout. With a growing number of employees working from home, how can you make sure that their needs are met and that they are operating at peak productivity? Read on to find out our tested strategies for boosting your employees’ remote work output.
Encourage Employees to Form a Dedicated Workstation
When an employee creates a dedicated workstation in their home, they can work remotely and stay free of distractions. Sitting in this space can put them in the right frame of mind: when they sit in that office chair, they are on the job. Some companies have offered employees stipends to create a home office. The more comfortable the workstation is, the more likely they will be able to work without feeling distracted every few minutes.
The previous tip ties into this one: having routine and structure is a key to success and enhanced team productivity. Team members must be able to draw mental boundaries between their personal and work life. There are ways that you can encourage this, such as avoiding sending emails outside of business hours, encouraging employees to wear real clothes (rather than pajamas) while they are on the clock, and blocking out dedicated meal times.
Use Remote Work Tools
Managers must be sure to equip their remote teams with the tools necessary to remain connected. Project management apps, messaging apps, and video conferencing apps are also crucial products to keep your team working at their most efficient.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best software for remote work:
Google Drive: This cloud-based storage site allows you and team members to keep project files in just one location. Anybody with access can upload and share files and folders – and edit them in real-time. There are several office tools that come along with Google Drive, such as a word processor, spreadsheets, and slides. Furthermore, you can track edits that are made and make notes within the documents.
Slack: With this solution, you can have real-time conversations with team members, set up different channels, and create message threads to organize chats. You can also integrate Slack within Google Drive.
Todoist: This site lets employees place all of their to-do lists in one organized area, create sub-tasks, and view their productivity trends. They can also integrate Todoist with virtual assistance, such as Alexa or Google Home.
HelloSign: When managing a remote team, it can be more complicated to get signatures. You can use HelloSign to handle documents and signatures, customize the documents, organize them, and share them via a secure channel.
Of course, if you don’t want to download multiple software products, you can purchase a remote management suite that combines all of these products. Lanteria HR supports all components of remote work. From organization and management of performance to communication, collaboration, training, and development, you can access all necessary tools from one program.
Set Scheduling Expectations
In order to ensure productivity among remote employees, it is imperative to set expectations and guidelines in advance so you can avoid misunderstandings and scheduling clashes. When working in close proximity, it is easier to vibe with other employees’ working patterns – but when working remotely, you can’t see these cues.
To help with this, you can create a general calendar, in which employees can mark the hours and days when they plan to work. Employees should maintain and update their availability when necessary.
Refine the Workday
There are ways that you can help your team develop healthy habits and work routines. Some ideas include:
Sending employees a friendly message to signify the beginning of the workday;
Sending a sign-off message at the end of the day; this will encourage employees to log out and preserve boundaries;
Having a daily video meeting to foster a sense of accountability, connection, and normalcy.
Plan and Prioritize
Once you’ve refined the workday and created a basic routine, you can add in even further structure. This can help you enormously, and you can also encourage your team members to do the same. Look for gaps in your calendar, and transform them into blocks of time for various projects. Time blocking is an excellent way to increase productivity; some of the most successful people in the world, including Elon Musk, tackle their workday in this manner.
So, how can you decide which tasks should be assigned to gaps in your calendar? There are three key questions you should ask yourself:
What is the most important task I need to do?
How long should I work on that task before stopping?
Does a different task become more important after progressing to a certain point?
There are various time management techniques you can use to help manage time blocking. The Pomodoro method is one such technique – when you utilize it, you will work for a short amount of time (25 minutes or so) and then take a five-minute break. After a few cycles, take a 15-minute break to move around, grab something to eat, or get some fresh air.
In order for your team to grow, prosper, and have excellent productivity, you must have clear communication. We recommend using instant chat to keep your team connected, so that way everybody can quickly get their thoughts across. In case of emergency, make sure all team members have each other’s personal cell phone numbers for speedy responses.
Trust Your Team
Even though you should maintain clear communication, you shouldn’t breathe down your employees’ necks constantly. Give them room for error and let them know you trust them to take care of their responsibilities and maintain productivity. Get to know your team as real people, rather than just a means to an end. When you make the effort to get to know them as people, you can build trust further.
Set and Monitor Goals
One great way to boost employee productivity and to achieve work targets is by setting short-term and long-term goals. Set up goals with each team member and check in on their progress on a regular basis. Encourage them to report their work progress and any roadblocks to you. Help them resolve any issues that are keeping them from completing their goals. It can help if you require your remote team members to send you a daily email detailing how they worked towards their goals that day.
Provide Growth Opportunities
Workspaces provide opportunities for career growth and development – and a remote workplace should be no exception. You should be sure to provide your team members with ways to improve their current skill sets. We have four actionable strategies that you can do to make the career advancement field more accessible for remote workers.
Establish long-distance evaluation practices. Each employee should be able to receive clear feedback on the career tracks that are available to them and standardized evaluation metrics. Since direct observation is highly inconvenient in a remote work model, you will have to put extra effort into measuring employee performance. Some ways to do this include conducting weekly status meetings during video conferences, utilizing a project management tool to track assignments and progress, facilitating quarterly company retreats in which employees document and share their progress, and scheduling lengthy and frequent one-on-one meetings with remote team members.
Enable casual conversations. As much as assignments and promotions need to be communicated, remote employees also need to have access to less formal knowledge exchange – “water cooler” conversation, so to speak. You can create dedicated virtual chatrooms in which team members can build peer relationships, seek and share new information, discuss best practices, and even have some personal chat time.
Emphasize the importance of remote learning. Talent growth should be one of the company’s highest priorities – be sure not to overlook remote employees during this process! We encourage supplementing every on-site training with an option to participate remotely. It is also a great idea to give employees access to a digital resource library, totally free of charge. Some companies also choose to give employees an education allowance so they can choose which career development courses they would like to take.
Create remote leadership opportunities. Increase the visibility of remote workers and give them opportunities to contribute and weigh in on decisions. Encourage remote team members to attend company-wide meetings. You can make some remote members team leads and ask them to use video conferencing tools to subdivide tasks and head up status meetings. You can also create a shadowing program, in which a remote employee can virtually “shadow” somebody who works in a position they aspire to achieve.
While working remotely is in and of itself a flexible experience, you can make it even more adaptable by allowing team members to work outside of the typical 9 – 5. Have the mindset of target achievement, rather than honing in on the hours worked each day? This will build trust between you and your team members – their productivity levels will improve significantly since they can complete tasks when they are in the right headspace to do so.
Cultivate Company Culture
Many corporate companies are well known for having great company culture and fun vibes – employees feel connected, the company’s reputation increases, and productivity is boosted. It’s essential for your company to maintain a positive vibe – and this is crucial to preventing burnout among remote employees. Giving virtual shout-outs, organizing virtual happy-ours, and using a company-wide chat for sharing casual conversation are all great ways to foster connection.
How to Measure Productivity
How do you know if the strategies you are using are actually working? You need a consistent way of tracking productivity. First, you need to choose which work-from-home metrics you are going to measure. Hubstaff has shared how they measure productivity – they measure team success based on the company’s core values:
Own it. Team members should have pride in their work and “own it” from beginning to end. They should complete what they commit to without being reminded.
Prove it. Remote employees should show evidence backing up decisions they made and provide proof that decisions worked.
Trim it. Employees need to work efficiently and determine whether the time is being wasted.
Solve it. Remote team members are encouraged to think for themselves and create solutions to problems.
Mean it. Remote employees can share their opinions respectfully and honestly.
Feel it. Keep the customer in mind when making a decision.
Ship it. Act urgently and choose simple solutions rather than complex ones.
Team it. Everybody is on the same team. Remote members should have each other’s backs.
Based on these goals, Hubstaff measures their remote teams’ productivity based on ownership, initiative, efficiency, expertise, and communication. All remote employees know what is expected of them, so it’s simpler for them to meet their productivity goals.
Your productivity measurement approach may be different from Hubstaff’s. You need to think about which KPIs to set – does your developer need to ship code on time? Should your support team receive a certain number of customer satisfaction ratings? Do you measure your marketing team’s productivity based on the number of leads they have generated? Each team will be measured by different standards.
We hope you found our remote employee productivity tips to be useful. Use these strategies to stay ahead of the curve and keep your remote workers productive and happy. If you are looking for a solution to efficiently manage and track remote workers, Lanteria HQ’s suite of tools has remote options, all of which will help you achieve the tips listed in this article.