Successfully encouraging productivity for remote and in-office employees
Thursday, May 06, 2021
Since the start of the pandemic, many businesses have chosen to incorporate working from home as part of a more agile structure that includes elements of both remote operations and in-office work. Some have certain workers always on-site and others spread across the world, while a lot of companies are taking a hybrid approach that sees their employees split their schedule between the office and home.
Whichever route your business is taking, one of your key concerns is likely to be maintaining a high level of productivity. It’s important to remember that neither way of working is naturally productive or unproductive — it’s often dependent on the tasks, the people involved, and the support you provide them. That said, what can make this more difficult is the fact that the solutions for home productivity may not always be quite the same as in the office.
Let’s take some time to look a little closer at this issue. Where do you need to be placing your focus to improve productivity in both areas, and how can you bridge the gaps between the two?
Wherever your employees are based, you need to keep them engaged in order to keep them productive. Without maintaining their connection to the company, there are relatively few incentives to keep using their skills for the continued benefit of the business.
For those based in the office, keeping a lively atmosphere is key. Team activities, competitions, even close collaborative projects keep the energy in the office high and employees enthused. This doesn’t tend to translate to remote circumstances, though. Rather, it’s more important to keep communication flowing throughout the day.
Leadership and colleagues need to use tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams to have casual and business conversations alike. Managers should check in regularly, making certain that workers are not just working hard but taking the breaks they need; demonstrating care for their well-being in a way that fosters satisfaction and productivity.
That said, one method of engagement that works for both circumstances is demonstrating appreciation. No matter where they happen to be working, employees get a morale boost that spurs productivity when they receive much-deserved recognition. The methods can be similar in the office or online — give them both private and public praise and provide positive feedback during evaluations. Even taking time to celebrate their birthday with a cake in the breakroom or a delivered treat can help show them their efforts are appreciated, leading to more productive and committed engagement with the business.
For the most part, employees want to get more out of their work than simply clocking in every day and getting a paycheck. They want to feel as though they are contributing to something bigger and forging meaningful relationships as they do so. Indeed, one study found that 70% of millennial workers polled want their co-workers to be closer to be more of a second family than simply colleagues. Therefore, creating the satisfaction that improves productivity can rely on encouraging these bonds to blossom.
One of the best approaches here is to encourage them to interact socially. For in-office workers, it’s easiest and less disruptive to the day to plan events after working hours — take them all out to celebrate achievements, arrange weekend sports events. This is less practical for remote workers who may not all live in the same city. Instead, seek to make socialization a part of their everyday routine through a dedicated messaging channel, and make sure there is time on weekly video meetings available to just have casual conversations.
However, one way to encourage team bond-strengthening which boosts productivity that is applicable to both scenarios is maintaining an open-door policy. If workers are harboring resentments — either for the company or with each other — or don’t feel that their concerns and ideas are being listened to during collaborations, this can damage the efficacy and relationships of teams.
Make it part of your overall company policy that there is regular space during virtual calls and in-person meetings to discuss issues with one another. This not only minimizes the toxic effects, but it helps everyone to feel supported, and encourages them to build relationships based on trust and respect.
Too often, business leaders are focused on trying to figure out what adjustments to processes or behavior can nudge their employees toward productivity. However, this “behind the scenes” approach ignores the fact that some of the best ways to encourage employees to be productive — whether they’re working remotely or in the office — is to just be upfront about the issue. Don’t influence them to be better, but rather give them tools that empower them to take responsibility for their productivity.
Wellness programs can put the onus on workers to take personal steps that improve their productivity. Your company provides them with access to resources, but they need to behave in ways that ensure they are healthy, well-rested, and ready for each day.
With employees that are in-office, there is the chance to influence them to take the breaks they need or utilize local gyms that your company has built relationships with. However, with remote workers, this can be more difficult. They tend to take shorter and fewer breaks and may be less likely to drive to their nearest gym. Instead, you can make it a group effort to take scheduled time away from the computer, and even do some at-desk exercises throughout the day.
However, there are tools that both in-office and remote workers can use to take control of their productivity through apps. Time clocks are usually used for keeping track of working hours to make payroll processes easier and more accurate. However, they can also provide workers with time management insights.
Encourage workers to spend a day every so often tracking the time they actively work during the day, factoring in time spent on breaks or non-work tasks. Don’t use this as a way to shame them — they don’t even have to share the results. Rather, make it clear that such tools can help them to take control of their processes.
As businesses move toward adopting both in-person and remote working practices, it becomes more important to make sure there are processes in place to boost productivity in either scenario. There aren’t always going to methods that are suitable across the board, but it’s important to gain an understanding of where the differences lie and how to address them.
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