There’s a lot of buzz about remote work. More companies are transitioning to the work model because it saves costs and gives employees time management autonomy.
Studies have also shown that workers can be more productive while working from home. According to a ConnectSolutions survey, 77% of employees who work remotely a few times each month recorded higher productivity levels while working from home. However, the numbers represent long-term work hours in optimized situations.
The truth is, remote workers also suffer productivity draughts, and the transition can be more challenging than you think.
For example, a University of Chicago study was carried out on a large Asian IT services company’s 10,000 skilled professionals. It found that productivity levels decreased by at least 10% when workers moved to the WFH model. The survey suggested that the transition to remote work may have reduced productivity even though it increased working hours.
Social isolation, domestic distractions, and team communication are among the challenges that affect a remote worker’s productivity. Thankfully, you can teach your employees how to address these issues and enhance output and efficiency.
This article contains productivity tips that can boost performance in work from home employees.
Time trackers can be a godsend if you know how to use them. They record your working hours and provide productivity insights to help you optimize your workday. They also enable managers to assign tasks and allocate resources efficiently.
Using an employee tracking software program, your employees will be more focused on work since they know they’re being monitored. In addition, it fosters a sense of accountability and commitment.
Also, some applications provide data showing how much time they spend on apps and websites. This way, they’ll be able to discover common distractions and get rid of them.
Since employee monitoring tools track how much time it takes to complete a task, workers can use that data to identify what they’re good at. They can also find areas where they need to improve and dedicate extra hours for learning and practice.
Finding Peak Work Hours
Everyone has a period during the day when they’re sharp and energetic. These periods are known as their golden or peak hours. You can encourage your employees to find and take advantage of these sweet spots.
They can use their time tracking tool to monitor when they get the most done during work. They can also try working outside their work hours from time to time to check for these golden hours.
Once your employees find their peak hours, they can reserve them for challenging tasks that require critical thinking and more energy.
Time mapping involves creating a navigational overview of daily, weekly, or monthly schedules. When your employees map their schedule, they create a system that guides their movement through calendar events and to-do lists.
A time map should ideally cover personal and work activities if it will effectively map days, weeks, and months.
Time mapping will help your workers reduce decision fatigue and keep them moving throughout the day. Decision fatigue describes the mental stress caused by the number of critical decisions made for the day. Mentally exhaustion can also be caused by thinking about decisions for the rest of the day or even the week.
This mental stress can lead to impaired judgment and cause anyone to choose less ideal options, reducing productivity.
However, you’re already deciding what to do next and when with time mapping. So, it helps reduce indecision about how to spend your time.
Time mapping also helps you avoid the effects of Parkinson’s Law. Parkinson’s Law suggests that you’ll spend all the time allotted for a task or event even if it shouldn’t take that long to complete.
Since you’re not looking at a time allotment but a general schedule overview, you can finish a task when you should and move on to the next.
How Do You Map Time?
Teach your remote workers to map time using these easy steps:
- Evaluate how you spend time: Decide how much time to allocate to work, personal life, and other activities.
- Structure a work schedule: Define a working hours structure. For example, do you want to do a 9-5 or 12-8?
- List work and life activities: List essential personal activities and work tasks that would take up time.
- Prioritize: Next is to categorize these activities and tasks by level of priority.
- Color-coding: Differentiate your personal activities and work tasks by colors. You should color-code tasks by level of priority.
Remote workers often work in silos if they’re not encouraged enough to communicate. The disconnect threatens collaboration as workers would be less inclined to ask questions they believe they can handle themselves.
According to a study on Microsoft employees, workers became more siloed after moving to the remote work model. The study also found that asynchronous communication increased and synchronous communication decreased.
Synchronous communication involves real-time interactions, while asynchronous communication correspondence is deferred. For example, video and voice calls are synchronous communication methods, while emails that are replied to whenever the involved parties are free are asynchronous.
The problem with asynchronous communication is that employees could make decisions based on wrong assumptions if they don’t receive information in time.
So, teach your remote employees to reach out to a colleague whenever they need clarity on any issue. You should also encourage them to be more receptive to calls and messages. This way, no one feels isolated.
Using a Dedicated Work Space
Distractions hurt productivity more than you may think. For example, a University of California study found that it takes about 23 minutes to fully resume work after an interruption.
Interruptions can kill momentum, increase errors, and cause exhaustion. In addition, they reduce productivity as you’ll need more time to complete specific tasks.
While a dedicated workspace won’t eliminate interruptions, it will significantly reduce them. What’s more, it will help you focus, mentally prepare you for work, and separate work from your personal life.
So, ensure you teach your remote workers to create a dedicated home office and fit them with the right tools and equipment.
Reducing Potential Distractions
You can get ahead of potential distractions and prevent them from interrupting you during work hours. These are personal domestic chores or activities that you have to get out of the way. For example, you may be expecting a delivery sometime during the day or may need to take out the trash.
You can get someone else to pick up the delivery and take out the trash before starting work. You should also let your family members and those living with you know when your workday starts. This way, they can keep their distance and allow you to focus on work.
Also, if there are meetings to handle during the day, you can take care of them at the start of work or reschedule or cancel them. Doing that ensures you’re not ambushed by a conference you never expected.
Optimizing your schedule involves creating a defined, stable work schedule to keep you consistent. According to a University of Chicago study, sales teams witness increased productivity and sales with more regular schedules.
So, encouraging your employees to define working hours while working from home will help them work efficiently and more comfortably.
It’s not a good idea to handle domestic and work tasks concurrently as it could lead to errors and exhaustion.
Overwork and burnout are the sad realities of remote work. The Microsoft study showed that workers put in more hours when they moved to the WFH model.
Since they don’t have that mental block triggered by the commute to and from the workplace, telecommuters tend to forget when to stop working. Another research study showed that 3 in 10 remote workers skip lunch breaks.
The grim fact is that longer hours lead to burnout and, in severe cases, can cause death. The WHO reported that overwork could worsen heart conditions and lead to death. So, your remote workers must take care of themselves to maintain a high level of productivity.
Encourage them to take more breaks, practice wellness exercises, and spend quality time with family and friends.
Always Put Your Workers First
You need your workers to keep your company’s output up. So, ensure they’re following the proper steps to boost performance. Let them know it’s okay to take a break whenever they’re overwhelmed and constantly show support.