Since the pandemic, more and more companies have been mandating or encouraging their employees to work from home. The benefits have been tremendous, with one-third of hiring managers noticing an increase in productivity as a result of remote work.
However, remote work has its challenges, with distractions topping the list. Additionally, employees have fewer ways to interact with coworkers naturally and others struggle to maintain a work-life balance. All this can negatively impact a remote team’s productivity.
The future of work is predicted to include more remote and hybrid teams, according to Upwork’s Future Workforce Report. It is, therefore, more important than ever before to implement strategies that will effectively increase your remote workforce productivity and performance.
So here we go.
Establish a strong work culture and hire the right talent
Whether your team is remote or not, your company culture directly affects their productivity. With the lack of physical interactions with team members, a strong culture rooted in trust and transparency empowers your employees to do their best.
Therefore, it’s essential to redesign your remote company culture to boost employee productivity. You can do so by:
- Allowing flexible work hours. Flexibility in how employees work and choosing their location remain the top benefits of remote work, according to a recent Buffer’s State of Remote Work report. Clearly, you can boost employee engagement, and hence, productivity if you structure work in a way that provides them with a better work-life balance. Consider creating a policy about what flexible work means at your company to avoid confusion and misunderstandings.
- Measure performance by outcomes rather than how busy your workers seem. Set realistic deadlines for tasks and track how long it takes to complete them so you can measure productivity based on results.
Do not micromanage your remote team
According to a survey by Trinity Solutions, Inc., 71 percent of respondents who reported being micromanaged said it interfered with their job performance. Another 85 percent said micromanagement negatively impacted their morale.
Instead of micromanaging workers, give them autonomy and trust them to get the work done. Certainly, not all employees can be decision-makers in the team. But if they are responsible for completing tasks, you should trust them to make decisions.
Of course, you’ll want to monitor the team and ensure the job is done right and on time. Just be sure to practice ethical employee monitoring to prevent issues of mistrust or legal complaints.
Provide your team with structure
A work structure enables your remote employees to work systematically, complete tasks on time, and be more productive. It ensures everyone knows what their workdays look like and what roles await them.
Here are tips to help you create an effective work structure:
- Set clear communication guidelines. Outline what type of messages can be communicated and the medium to be used. Additionally, define the hours when communication channels are open. With teams distributed across the globe in different time zones, streamlined communication ensures they stay on the same page.
- Centralize important organizational information to ensure your team has instant access whenever they need it. Cloud-based software facilitates fast and easy sharing of information and allows you to update this information in real-time.
- Set and communicate clear organizational goals. You need to define both long-term and short-term goals for your remote team. Goals provide direction and help teams to stay focused. When clearly communicated, everyone will know what’s expected of them and be able to prioritize tasks.
Apart from work structure, it’s imperative to help your remote team have a structured working environment. You can do so by encouraging your remote workforce to:
- Establish a dedicated home office
- Invest in the necessary home office furniture and equipment (you could help sponsor the purchase of some of these items)
Employees will be more productive when working in a defined workspace, governed by a more structured schedule. However, keep in mind that not everyone will thrive in a remote environment. Therefore, try to understand each of your worker’s needs and offer a variety of workspace setups, including local coworking spaces.
Provide your team with the right online tools
Having a work structure and structured working environment won’t do much good if you don’t empower your teams with the necessary online tools. Everything from meetings, collaboration, presentations, and brainstorming will be performed virtually.
You want to provide the relevant tools to facilitate their work. To ensure effectiveness, you need to invest in a variety of tools, including:
- Project management tools like Asana and Trello facilitate seamless and timely collaboration.
- Time tracking tools like Traqq automatically log work hours and monitor employee performance in real-time.
- Brainstorming platforms like Miro and Mindmeister facilitate sharing of ideas and strategies.
- Communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams support better communication.
Be sure to provide training and coaching to ensure team members are familiar with how the tools work.
Prioritize employee wellbeing
According to a recent survey by Aetna International, a leading global health provider, 33 percent of remote employees reported being concerned about mental health issues while working from home. The study also shows that 32 percent report stress as a health concern in a remote work setup.
Of course, when team members are stressed, they can’t perform optimally and productivity will suffer. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to prioritize your team’s mental health. To develop a healthier, productive team, learn to actively listen to your workers and empathize with them.
You can develop short employee satisfaction surveys to enable them to freely share their concerns. Frame your questions to touch on pertinent issues like time management, work culture, workload, motivation, and communication.
You could also hold one-on-one sessions via video conferencing and ask your remote team members how they feel about stress and workload. Likewise, try to observe their behaviors during video calls, and check out for symptoms of distress, depression, exhaustion, or a lack of motivation.
To stay on top of things, and prevent employee burnout:
- Help your remote teams develop strategies that make it easier to unplug from work.
- Encourage team members to take regular breaks throughout their workdays.
- Encourage them to engage in regular workouts to stay physically active. You can offer to pay for gym or yoga memberships or online workout classes.
Invest in your remote workforce
Employee engagement is the secret to increased employee performance and productivity, and investing in their careers and personal growth is the key driver to engagement.
By providing learning opportunities, you empower team members to grow in their field and prepare them to take on more roles, including leadership. Employee training not only boosts engagement but also helps increase employee retention and boost your profits.
You can allocate a learning and development budget yearly, and allow workers to take charge of their careers. The budget will enable them to enroll in training courses, buy development books, and so on.
Further, consider developing a career development framework that outlines a clear and structured career path for all employees. This will not only attract more talent but also motivate existing workers to put more effort into their performance, knowing they will be rewarded.
Implement employee recognition and rewards program
Recognition drives productivity. A study by Deloitte indicates that employee engagement, productivity, and performance are 14 percent higher in companies with recognition programs than in those without.
It’s easier for employees’ efforts to go unnoticed, especially when they are working remotely. Therefore, acknowledging and appreciating your remote workers will go a long way in boosting their performance and promoting loyalty.
You can employ various recognition tactics like:
- Offering bonuses
- Praising the employee verbally during company-wide meetings
- Praising them in writing via email or social media
- Throwing a party in their honor, or in honor of the team that has done well
- Offering trophies
- Planning surprise meal deliveries
- Offering free technology upgrades
- Offering paid vacations
Recognizing and rewarding high performance makes the recipient feel valued and inspires the rest to perform even better.
Managing a remote team and maintaining productivity can be challenging. However, you can maximize their performance and boost engagement by adapting your work culture to fit your remote teams’ needs.
Remember, the lack of human interaction can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Therefore, be sure to organize regular team-building activities to promote a feeling of community. Likewise, be available to your team members and offer emotional support whenever they need it.
If you’re looking for an additional resource on implementing a remote or hybrid work environment check out this article from Porch.com, with a quote from College Recruiter’s Founder and Chief Visionary Officer, Steven Rothberg: https://porch.com/advice/expert-roundup-hybrid-work
—Peter Gichuki is a technology and marketing writer at Traqq. He has a background in marketing and digital content creation and provides copywriting and ghostwriting services. He believes in self-improvement and is always trying to learn something new. When he’s not writing, Peter enjoys swimming, cycling, and hiking.