What images come to mind when you think of remote working? They might be images of working from a laptop in Bali, or chilling with a laptop while wearing PJs. That seems to be a pretty great working environment. These images are all within the realm of possibility, and though they might seem silly, remote workers overall are one of the most productive working groups in today’s economy.
In fact, several case studies have been constructed to prove this theory. Employees and managers alike are beginning to see the benefits of remote working in terms of productivity. For example, in a 2016 survey of American remote workers, 91% of employees found themselves more productive when at home, versus when in the office. With remote work beginning to trend upwards, it’s said that around 3.7 million employees are currently working from home half the time. And it’s expected to grow.
With employees flocking out of company office doors, the question arises on how managers can effectively drive employee productivity when they’re remote. The answer might be simpler than it seems. First, if employees are working remotely, they most likely came to that point by choice. Many employees choose to go remote, because it supports a new lifestyle that they seek to pursue. Particularly, millennials look for a more flexible working schedule that allows them to be location independent, that saves them money commuting and fits into their desired lifestyle. Benefits for the company, talent can be chosen globally. They can have the best of the best. Sounds great, but with employees out of the office will productivity slack?
There are several ways managers can take the initiative to keep remote employee engagement high.
1. Keep the Virtual Door Open: Communication is one of the most obvious, but let’s define the factors of this argument. Communication keeps teams connected, and ‘ticking’ away at productivity. It’s important to create weekly ‘catch up’ meetings with a remote team, communicate daily through communication software and email and always be transparent. Piggybacking off of communication, engagement remains high when employees are interested in their work, and feel a connection to the company. Talking with employees about current projects, and leaving the ‘email’ door open for feedback is ideal in creating this environment. We suggest these productivity tools:
2. Foster Connections Between Team Members: One of the major flaws in remote work is the disconnection between employees and the end point, the company. This is obvious, because dispersing a team around the global can mentally put barriers in place. A manager’s main initiative is to conquer these mental barriers. This can be done in several ways. We have electronic communication covered, but nothing replaces personal contact. Yes, we’re talking about remote teams, but connecting a team just once a year physically for a work retreat can have positive implications on the productivity and connection between employees. Humans are in fact social creatures, and strategies such as this have seen positive returns just from one retreat. Further, remote companies can create everyday ‘gossip’ talk and communication virtually. Do you know those wonderful conversations in the employee break room? Well, believe it or not, those type of communications actually bring workers closer together, building connections and drive productivity. Companies are taking these concepts online through fun and interactive chat rooms.
3. Stay in Check: Employees are encouraged to work better and more efficient when they’re given some type of control protocol. What does this mean? This means they need to feel accountable towards something. Where most remote workers work at their own hours, it’s important to establish at least a few hours a week that overlaps between team members. We also have a useful tool suggested for this below. This is how the team holds each other accountable and updates each other on tasks in real time. Further without the employee being in a controlled work environment, it might become easy to use company time to ‘daydream’ and check personal email. Some software monitoring solutions offer the opportunity to track employee screens and playback in real time, further they can monitor outgoing emails, file transfers and website visits. Have you heard of those data breaches due to negligent employees? Well, remote employees are very vulnerable to this due to their use of personal devices. These type of monitoring companies conquer these challenges. Further, products like Asana and Trello allow remote teams to manage task lists and keep track of projects. This type of technology in itself aids employee collaboration. It’s time to stay in check to foster employee productivity.
With remote work on the rise, it’s time for managers to take a step back and look at the greater picture. How can we continue to drive employee productivity when we never set foot in the office? With the rising popularity of remote work, managers will need to begin to answer this question truthfully and come up with applicable strategies. We’ve given you a head start.
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