Remote employees, video conferencing, and home offices are now the norm rather than the exception in the business world. These changes can be fantastic for companies that expected to transition to remote work and feel pretty dismal for business owners who favor an in-person management style.
Whether you planned to create an at-home workforce or you completed renovations on your brand new building on March 1st, 2020, the events of this year have changed your plans in some way. Your employees have also had their plans changed. Many still do not have an utterly practical office space, while others juggle childcare and work throughout the day. Some yearn for an in-person connection and miss the on-the-fly conversations they had with team members when working side by side. Others feel isolated as the weather gets duller and fewer activities are available.
You have likely recognized the above issues in employees and customers alike. Hopefully, you have found a message and a service method to help customers. As your team rolls out new products and serves clients, it is time to focus on the employees who work hard to keep your business thriving.
Improve Your Remote Employee Productivity
The holidays and the end of the year are approaching. This year may feel particularly fraught for employees as their home life and work-life are completely intermingled, making some days more difficult than others when it comes to productivity.
Here are five steps you can take to ensure employees stay productive, even as they work remotely.
1. Limit meetings
There are really two types of meetings in any business. These are the daily meetings that are part of the everyday workflow and emergency meetings that interrupt workflow. The first may be a daily stand-up, a weekly check-in with a client, or an inter-team discussion to keep in touch about a shared project. The second is any meeting that comes up during the day as the employee attempts to get their work done. Sometimes these second meetings reflect a real emergency, and sometimes they do not.
Unfortunately, because we are not face-to-face, those second meeting types often come in the form of a “quick phone call” with an employee that ends up being a more formal video chat for which the employee must prepare. While occasionally such meetings are necessary, most often they are not.
Consider ways to minimize workflow interruptions. It may be that a “quick call” must actually be a quick phone call – or could instead be a voice recording with some thoughts that you message to your employee. It might be something that could wait until your end of day meeting or a one-on-one.
While it’s tempting to treat your remote workforce in the same way you did when they were in-office, it’s important to recognize that they are working under different circumstances and that distractions at home are much harder to ignore than those at work. So, be sure to keep your workforce as focussed as possible by reducing your own interruptions to their day.
2. Provide flexible schedule options
Many workers are dealing with children at home, either for the holidays or due to remote learning. Others are working under imperfect circumstances with noisy neighbors, construction, and other noises off. Because of these considerations, it may benefit your team to have a more flexible schedule.
For example, a parent with a child doing remote learning may like to get work done between 5 AM-7 AM, then prepare their child for school and do client calls during those school hours – from 9 AM-1 PM. Then spend time with their child and do a final work slot from 7 PM-9 PM. This may sound like a strange schedule at first, but it could work depending on the job requirements.
Being open to a more flexible schedule, even if it’s not quite as flexible as that above, can help your employees work in the hours during which they are most productive.
3. Remain consistent
As the world around us changes, you can do one thing for both your employees and your customers. That is, remain consistent. Here are a few things you can always keep the same:
- An openness to new ideas and suggestions.
- Daily meetings and check-ins.
- How you communicate – using the same software or teleconferencing service.
- The company stance on important topics like safety, health, the environment, a positive company culture, and more.
- Company priorities, like customer service and providing quality products.
Continuing to focus on core values and communicating these values consistently through meetings, in marketing campaigns, and in the company chat application will go far into creating stability for customers and employees alike.
4. Focus on organizational tasks
As your company continues to keep most or all employees remote, it is vital that you push to keep things organized and running smoothly. Here are three organizational tasks on which you and your employees can focus:
- Setting up and documenting consistent processes and procedures for vital tasks and departments.
- Creating a daily/weekly task list that can be seen and used by all appropriate personnel.
- Examining and improving workflow and product flow to keep any client from falling between the cracks.
5. Provide support
Most employees want to do the best job possible. Support this endeavor by giving employees the time and resources needed to learn new skills. This includes giving an employee some time to actually do all of the software tutorials for your project management system or attending helpful webinars on the latest industry updates. Providing your workers with increased education on their jobs and industry will help them do a better job at the office.
Improve Your Remote Employee Morale
Not only is it vital to provide the means for employees to perform quality work using the above five methods, but it’s also helpful to boost morale and keep employees motivated. Here are five means by which you can improve morale for your remote teams:
1. Recognize a job well done
It’s more vital than ever to take a moment to recognize when an employee or team has done a great job. In fact, here at the year’s end, it may be a great time to reflect on what your teams and individual employees accomplished despite the challenges they faced this year.
2. Find ways to celebrate together
Even if the idea of a “Zoom office party” makes you cringe, it’s crucial to find ways to celebrate the occasions you would typically recognize when in-person at the office. Birthdays, holidays, pregnancies, and more are still happening, and it’s important to acknowledge those moments in a meaningful way.
It can be tricky to celebrate together when your office is remote, so here are a few ideas:
- Send a gift basket and a special card.
- Collaborate with your team to recognize someone during a meeting or have a “meeting” that is really a surprise video hang out.
- Give some unexpected paid time off or a little bonus if possible.
- Celebrate via video conferencing. It may feel a little awkward, but most work celebrations are a bit awkward, aren’t they?
- Ask employees to sign an e-card or get onto a messaging chain to say “happy birthday” or celebrate another occasion with a coworker.
There are still ways we can celebrate special moments – including holidays – even if we can’t be together.
3. Meet employee needs
Many employees have been working from home for nine months. Likely, many didn’t expect to work remotely for this long – and they will minimally need to continue to work from home through the first quarter of 2021. That means that computers will need to be updated, and other upgrades may need to occur to meet their home office needs.
Try to provide support and help employees create a comfortable and efficient home workspace. This may be something as simple as ensuring they have the IT support they need – or as risky as lending them their office chair that has been collecting dust in your company building.
Do what you can to ensure employees are able to work effectively from home, in a consistent space.
4. Set up breaks
At your office, employees get natural breaks when they get up from their chairs and go to the water cooler, head out for a latte, or take a moment to chat with a coworker. Even getting up to walk to a meeting can feel like a bit of a break as it gets their body moving.
Try to set up breaks like this throughout the day. For example, you can encourage a walking meeting or ask employees to block out their legally mandated lunch break so they will not be disturbed or skip lunch.
Staying in one’s home all of the time can grind on anyone. Talk to employees about getting outside – even if it’s just standing on the porch and drinking coffee. We need to see the world outside of our own homes.
5. Set up regular one-on-ones
We can provide all of the suggestions in the world, but only you can create a work environment that best supports your employees. Talk with your team and ensure they can reach out to you when they need help.
Are you ready to take your remote teams to the next level of efficiency and productivity? Contact Business Success Consulting Group today!