With considerable uncertainty surrounding how long it will take for normality to resume, businesses must find productive ways to carry out work remotely during COVID-19 and beyond. A remote team’s productivity will rely on both your business’s technology and policies as you respond to meet the new challenges surrounding the pandemic and mass movement to remote work.
Here are our tips for maintaining three key elements of productivity in your remote team.
1. Open Communication
One of the major challenges that switching to a remote work arrangement creates is decreased communication.
In the workplace, communication is generally a natural process that requires little thought or effort. It is far easier to engage with your team naturally and frequently when they are in the same office and all it takes is a walk around the corner to ask a question of the right team member.
But communication takes a little more work when it’s done remotely. However, it is vital for the productivity and creativity of your team. In fact, the lack of communication, collaboration, and the innovation it leads to is what led Yahoo to discontinue remote work programs back in 2013, with companies like IBM and Bank of America following soon after.
Yahoo’s CEO stated that although people may be more productive when they’re alone, “they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together”—factors that are essential for business growth. So when remote work is necessary, how do you create an environment that allows for both productivity and collaboration?
A big part of communication comes down to company culture. Communication needs to be welcoming, supportive, and positive. Employees need to feel that their input is valued and welcomed. Team leaders can help create this culture by inviting and listening to ideas, giving positive feedback, reaching out to individuals for one-on-one conversations, and actually implementing new ideas brought up by employees.
After a culture of openness has been established, having the right tools in place will ensure that your employees have the channels that allow them to collaborate and create.
Although emailing can be instantaneous, it doesn’t have the same feeling of immediacy as chatting, so solutions like chat groups and video calls are needed to get similar accessibility and communication to that of an office. Using chat software helps to keep the communication flowing continuously, and including a “water cooler” channel for non-work-related chat helps staff maintain friendships and camaraderie.
Video calls are also a great resource for face-to-face communication. Tools like Skype and Zoom make video conferencing easy, and Microsoft Teams bundles video calls with chat channels and more tools to give your team all the resources it needs in one package.
2. A Work-Focused Environment
Your physical environment is essential to your productivity. And that includes both your physical workspace and the tools you utilize daily.
To ensure productivity is at its highest, employees working from home should be encouraged to set up workspaces that are free from distractions.
Using a workspace that is separate from the rooms that you might use to relax or sleep will provide a greater degree of separation between your work and your home life. The mental shift that usually takes place when you physically go to the office can be similarly reproduced by creating one dedicated workspace in your home and using it only for work.
The right technology is going to be essential within this workplace. You may be lacking some of the technology tools available at the office that you’re used to having, such as top-grade internet and extensive hardware. But when you work with a Managed Service Provider, they can make your home work space as efficient as your office by providing your team with tools like remote desktop services and cloud programs that decrease downtime.
With the right IT services in Tampa, your employees can seamlessly gain access to the same resources they might have in the workplace.
It is essential that employees working from home utilize routines to ensure that their day is as productive as possible.
Getting up in the morning and starting work at a set time is a good baseline to start with. Before work, make sure that you have a pre-work routine such as eating breakfast, exercising, and showering. The more it feels as though you are going to your workplace, the better your mindset will be when you arrive at your desk.
Throughout the day, it is encouraged that employees take scheduled breaks. Time away from the desk will help to increase productivity during the times when you are actually working.
Wherever possible, companies should continue with business as usual by holding scheduled meetings—this is where communication tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams come in handy!—, using team-building exercises, and communicating work hour expectations to employees.
As employees continue working remotely, having both the right IT resources in place and the right company policies and culture can enormously boost communication and productivity.