COVID-19 required many businesses across the world to create a remote work environment with minimal to no planning. While the first few weeks were a challenge, labor productivity did not fall short during this transition period. Instead, many organizations saw an increase in productivity for remote workers. Many employees felt comfortable working remotely. In addtion to this, businesses saved on various infrastructure costs. Due to the benefits of working remotely, many businesses are considering remote work as a permanent solution.
Will Remote Work Be Sustainable Long-Term?
One major concern of work-from-home is the odds of longevity. Is the sudden spike in production for remote workers sustainable? Or is it due to employees trying to cope during uncertain times? Some people may use remote work as a distraction to avoid checking the news. Others are putting in more effort because they are uncertain about their job security due to the record-rate of unemployment in many areas.
All of these different scenarios make it difficult for organizations to know if home office productivity rates. Will it stay the same in the near future or will it get lower once the pandemic is over? Regardless, companies will need to look at ways to boost the productivity of remote workers. They can do this by helping employees maintain the optimal level of productivity in the long-term.
How 2020 Drastically Changed Remote Workers’ Conditions
Life began to return to normal post-lockdown. Various businesses, schools, and social activities have opened significantly since the pandemic started. Virtual options are still available at many facilities. However, an extended period of work with minimal human interactions can eventually lead to burnout. It’s difficult to maintain remote work productivity. Business leaders will need to find ways to address weaknesses within a remote work strategy. This is vital to ensure productivity stays at a high level for anyone that works from home long-term.
Adapting to the new ways of a remote work environment isn’t always easy for employees. A lot of workers that live alone are dealing with the effect of social isolation. It negatively impacts their mental health. Similarly, many parents with small kids are tired from juggling numerous responsibilities, such as childcare, work, and homeschooling.
Tips for Work-From-Home Productivity
Due to the lack of physical interactions, working remotely offers several challenges. Finding ways to improve the productivity of remote workers is essential for business leaders. Learning tips for staying productive is critical for employees to remain successful outside of an office environment.
Here are a few simple ways businesses can help increase productivity:
1. Focus on Company Culture
One of the biggest obstacles in working from home is helping employees feel connected with each other. Working behind a computer screen, while at home, is much different than an office environment, surrounded by numerous co-workers. Business managers can’t walk over to an employee’s desk for a quick chat to see how a project is coming along. They have to take extra steps to connect virtually.
A lack of camaraderie can decrease the sense of belonging. It can make it difficult for your employees to connect with each other. Over time, this can lead to a decrease in productivity. It will also create a challenge for your business to retain employees. Despite the limitations of working remotely, finding ways to keep employees connected is essential in building a strong culture.
2. Balance Communication
Finding the perfect balance for communication is never easy in a remote work environment. Employees should never feel that they are on their own, without any help. On the other hand, over-communication can often make employees feel like they are being micro-managed. This can result in burnout and a drop in productivity.
Rather than having expectations for remote workers to be online at all times, companies need to give employees flexibility to respond back to messages when they are available. Managers need to make employees feel comfortable reaching out to them with questions or concerns. This can help maintain labor productivity.
3. Find Ways to Overcome Loneliness and Social Isolation
Loneliness and social isolation is a major challenge for remote workers due to the pandemic. Dealing with social isolation is never good for mental health. It can negatively impact productivity.
The home environment is different for each worker. One may be quiet and peaceful, while another is filled with noisy roommates or energetic kids. It’s critical for companies to understand these challenges. This is why it’s necessary for companies to find to creat a remote working strategy that works best for these different situations.
Challenges in Hiring New Remote Workers
A prolonged remote work environment means that you will eventually need to hire employees that you have never met in person. These new employees not only need the skills for the job, but will also need to remain comfortable working from home.
However, the lack of interaction with other employees can make it difficult for new hires to feel connected to your organization. This can lead to low retention rates over time and make it much more difficult to maintain remote workers long-term. Constantly hiring and training new employees is an expensive and time-consuming process.
Companies will need to modify their hiring process to better match the requirements of a remote work environment. Each process needs to be documented to make onboarding easier for new workers. New employees need to understand the culture of the company to help them feel part of a team. This can increase retention and overall satisfaction.
Working at Home Productivity Policies
Implementing a few home productivity policies can play a key role in helping you maintain production for a remote workforce. These policies will set clear expectations for employees while also helping them stay productive during this transition period.
Here are a few of the main things to consider to boost productivity of remote workers:
1. Keep Communication Simple and Concise
It’s essential to make sure that communication is easy to understand. Businesses need to ensure their employees aren’t confused about a work project. This is especially important for department managers and high-level management.
Simple and concise instructions make it easy for remote workers to understand their job assignment. It reduces the chance of any confusion. On the other hand, writing a long-winded email is more time-consuming. It also increases the chance of mistakes. Employees will always perform much better if they can easily understand expectations.
2. Stay Flexible
The coronavirus has dramatically altered the entire world. It’s important for businesses to remain flexible during these challenging times.
Instead of simply reprimanding employees due to a lack of production, it is much more effective to conduct personal meetings. This helps to better understand the unique challenges an employee is facing while working from home. These meetings can give you an opportunity to assist employees to help them manage their workflow effectively. Giving remote workers the freedom to set their own schedule is another great way to increase productivity.
3. Limit Meetings
Constant remote meetings throughout the day can become a tiring experience. Scaling back on these meetings can help maintain productivity and limit these disruptions.
Typically, meetings should only happen for important decisions. It’s a good idea to always schedule them well in advance. You can use a variety of messaging applications to ensure everyone receives a notice and can easily plan for an upcoming meeting.
Scheduling monthly informal discussions can also be beneficial in helping everyone catch up while also building collaboration.
4. Create a Flexible Work Schedule
Focusing too much on synchronous work will only limit productivity for remote workers. Some workers may be more effective working in the early morning hours, while others can do better later in the evening. Everyone has a unique schedule. It’s a good idea to allow workers to follow a schedule that works best for them.
Moving to an asynchronous work schedule will ensure everyone does their part, even if their team members aren’t working at the same time.
5. Develop a Remote Work Strategy That Works Best for Your Business
Remote work will continue to be a reality for many employees. Businesses need to understand how to maintain the long-term productivity of remote workers. These companies will need to develop a remote working strategy that works best for their situation. Leaders can use remote collaboration technology and digital platforms to empower employees to work from any location.
While some businesses can quickly transition into a remote work environment, others may want to give their employees the option to work in an office. After all, some companies may need more in-person interactions while others can easily work outside the office. Creating a flexible approach is essential in understanding the unique challenges of your employees to help you develop an effective remote work strategy.
Since the start of lockdowns, work-from-home has been a popular strategy for many businesses. There have been several challenges in maintaining the productivity rates of remote workers. When businesses take the time to understand their employees’ work-from-home conditions, they can create a remote work strategy to best meet their needs and increase productivity.