After years of coming to the office, this year, employees around the world were asked to work from home. Staffers and managers had to figure out how to translate the office activities to virtual work and how to scale a business when the entire team is working from different locations.
When your employees work outside the office, you no longer have the ability to simply walk over to their desk to check in on them, so how do you make sure everyone stays productive?
This article outlines 7 strategies and activities that can help you boost productivity in remote employees during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
1. Centralize All Important Information
Keeping all product information and procedures updated in real-time can be challenging, but cloud-based software allows you to store all this information in a single centralized place and share it immediately.
Keeping all your documents centralized, organized, and updated online will help every employee remain more productive. This way, your staff members will always have access to the data they need, no matter where they are located. Google Drive is one of the most popular options as it is not only simple to use but also free of charge.
2. Conduct Regular Meetings
One of the best ways to keep your employees on track is by making sure to check in on them regularly. Whether you decide to hold daily or weekly online meetings, be sure that you communicate with everyone on the team, set clear goals, emphasize your expectations, and address any issues that arise.
You should also consider holding one-on-one meetings where you will get feedback from each team member. Talk about any issues your employees might be struggling with and ask if there is anything you can do to help.
3. Organize Virtual Team Building Activities
The physical distance of remote work can easily lead to an emotional distance which, in turn, results in isolation. And if your team members feel isolated, they won’t be able to collaborate with others effectively. That’s why it is very important to create a pleasant team environment that remote staffers can rely on.
Virtual team building activities were created in order to bring more human interaction to virtual work. By creating a collaborative environment similar to an in-office setting, you’ll help your remote staff members build stronger relationships, connect with each other, and make them feel like they are part of a community.
4. Avoid Micromanaging Your Team
There is a fine line between clear communication and annoying micromanagement. Meetings can help everyone feel like part of the team but too many of them can have an opposite effect, leading to reduced motivation, loss of trust, and decreased productivity. That’s why it’s important to allow individual employees to accomplish their goals without scrutiny.
Nobody likes to be micromanaged, so be sure to allow everyone to find their own work rhythm and routine. In fact, nearly 70% percent of employees said that they considered changing jobs because of micromanagement and another 35% actually changed jobs. In addition, more than 65% said that being micromanaged interfered with their performance, while 85% said that their morale was negatively impacted by micromanagement.
Talk to your employees to determine the right meeting frequency and then ensure that everyone is aware of the schedule.
5. Provide Regular Feedback
Having a solid feedback mechanism in place for your remote team members is crucial. In the absence of a physical connection, providing regular feedback has become vital for building bonds with your team members, making them feel involved, and boosting their performance.
The one thing you definitely want to avoid while providing feedback is being misunderstood, which is why it is best to connect with your remote employees on a video call. Avoid giving out feedback via email or phone as body language, expressions, and talking tone plays a vital role here. Video calls are a perfect way to establish a human connection with your team members and elevate your team’s spirit.
6. Use the Right Collaboration Tools
According to research by McKinsey, online collaboration tools and digital workplaces facilitate increased productivity by up to 30%.
There are a number of digital tools that your remote team can use to collaborate effectively. Tools like Trello, Wrike, Asana, Google Drive, and Basecamp are excellent for project management, whereas Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Glip can be used for effective communication.
Besides these widely-used options, you should also consider other tools that can help increase your remote team’s productivity. For instance, Lattice is an HR tool that can help with personal development and setting goals, while Loom is a communication tool that allows you to take screen recordings and add commentary. You should also consider upgrading to a CRM tool like Salesforce or Salesmate to track customer communications and further improve your team’s remote communication.
7. Help Create a Pleasant Work Environment
Many organizations invest in their office space to create an inviting place where staff members will be able to work effectively. In fact, studies have shown that a well-designed office can significantly improve employees’ productivity and well-being.
This should also be applied to home offices. Your remote team members should have a designated place and all the required equipment to help them give their best every day. If your budget is tight, you can help them with tips on how to create a great home office, from finding the best spot in the house to removing distractions. If you can afford it, invest in your employees’ home offices: buy them standing desks or a second monitor, whatever they need most. This will enable your staff members to be more productive, but also show that you care for them, which is great for employees’ loyalty.
When it comes to improving productivity, keep in mind that every team is different, and what works for one organization may not work for another. These 7 ideas are a good starting point but don’t stop there. The more you experiment, the more you will learn what works for your remote staffers.