Are you searching for a guide to helping remote employees be productive?
We have been talking about the benefits of remote work for a long time.
However, many businesses were skeptical about making the switch until the COVID 19 pandemic compelled them to embrace telework.
And while the pandemic has helped some employees work from home efficiently, many others are still struggling to cope with the switch.
But don’t worry! In this article, we’ll present a detailed guide with all the tips and tricks that can help your team members be more productive.
This Article Covers:
(click on specific links to jump to that section)
- How do you help remote employees be more productive?
- Four key benefits of remote work
Let’s get started.
How Do You Help Remote Employees Be More Productive?
Businesses mustn’tsee remote work as a temporary measure that would last only for a few months.
The Coronavirus pandemic effects are likely to stay for the foreseeable future, and so is remote work.
That’s why you should formulate an effective remote work system that helps you keep remote employees to stay focused even if they’re working from home.
How can you do this?
We’ll answer this by examining several ways in which you can make your remote workforce more productive:
1. Set Up a Separate Workspace
Encourage employees to set up a separate space for work, which can act as a home office.
A particular desk or a customized study room can be good contenders for a remote workspace within the house. Your employees can also work in a nearby coffee shop or a coworking space.
Additionally, remote employees should:
- Clear non-work related items from their workspace.
- Limit only professional activities.
- Set up a ‘do not disturb’ board to avoid getting interrupted by others.
Keep in mind that it’s essential to compartmentalize personal and professional areas of life.
If employees work from their beds or couches, it might be much harder for them to concentrate or get in the work-mode, since these are areas dedicated to relaxation.
For robust telecommuting, employees have to be in the right mindset to work.
Setting a clear boundary between work and home space will help them achieve this.
Assigning a separate space for work will also ensure that employees symbolically and mentally leave the workplace behind when the workday ends or when they want to take a break.
Having this will ensure that employees don’t get distracted from work and, at the same time, do not let their work affect their personal life.
2. Stick to a Schedule
Setting up a workspace is not enough.
Employees need to set a fixed clock-in and clock out routine to psych themselves for telecommuting. Otherwise, they can easily get lost in work or get distracted from personal priorities.
To stay productive, it’s crucial that employees:
- Figure out their time management style and plan periods during which they will work.
- Create to-do lists and inform their teammates and supervisors of them.
- Structure their day around their daily targets and objectives.
When employees stick to a schedule, it’s also easier to collaborate as team members know when they would be available.
3. Learn to Keep Distractions at Bay
When working from home, employees may experience many disturbances throughout the day, such as:
- A stream of text messages or phone calls.
- Interruptions from friends or family members.
- Wasting a lot of time on unproductive social media sites.
- Household work or other domestic chores.
- A noisy environment.
To eliminate distractions, employees should practice mindfulness and learn to eliminate distractions that are getting in the way of their work.
Some measures employees can take to manage distractions include:
- Setting up the workspace in the quietest corner of the house.
- Limiting team communications to a scheduled time to minimize interruptions.
- Playing white noise to tune out surrounding noise and improve focus.
- Using employee productivity tools like Time Doctor can reduce excessive social media usage at work.
4. Take Frequent Breaks
Overworking exposes employees to the risk of burnout.
Continually working for long hours can lead to physical and mental exhaustion, slow down employees, and even breed a toxic work environment within your company.
Encourage employees to take frequent breaks so they can re-energize themselves and improve their concentration.
One way to make sure employees take breaks is by practicing the Pomodoro technique.
What is the Pomodoro technique?
Pomodoro is a time management technique in which you take a 5 minute break after a focused working session of about 25 minutes.
After four such sessions, you can take a more extended break of 10-25 minutes.
In this time, employees can flex their muscles, munch on their favorite snack, or listen to their favorite podcast to refresh their minds and then return to work.
5. Ensure Effective Team Communication
All businesses understand the significance of effective communication.
However, when employees do not see each other, communication is even more critical.
There are several challenges unique to telecommuting.
Some of them include:
- Reduced access to managerial support and internal communication can make team members feel they’re not getting enough guidance. Consequently, this sense of isolation can negatively impact employee morale.
- Employee engagement and productivity can dive if employees are not empowered with the knowledge required to do their job.
- When working with employees from other countries – cultural, geographical, and language barriers can slow down communication within the distributed teams.
- Without visual cues and gestures, it can be challenging to give context to conversations or understand a team member’s response.
- Asynchronous communication due to different time zones and flexible schedules can cause unnecessary delays in responses and collaborations.
Without proper telecommunication, you cannot build a successful remote team.
Here are some of the things you can do to bridge this communication gap between your remote team members:
- Have more group meetings to communicate the company vision and the monthly or yearly goals to your employees.
- Promote a transparent company culture by sharing progress. This way, employees can see their contributions and how they affected the company’s larger goals.
- Formulate an effective communication at work policy that sets specific work hours and response time limits to communications.
- Clearly define the communication channels employees must use to communicate, such as video conferencing, instant messaging, emails, etc.
6. Use the Right Tools
While all the tips can help you get started with remote work, it can still be challenging to continue these practices without the right tools and applications.
There are tons of remote work software available that can help a distributed workforce:
- Fix communication issues.
- Boost employee productivity.
- Organize tasks and projects, and more.
However, there are three types of tools that are indispensable for effective remote work. Let’s take a look at them:
1. Communication Tools
We have already discussed how the absence of social interaction makes effective communication even more critical — especially for knowledge workers.
To ensure your remote team stays productive, you mainly need two types of tools.
One of them is video conferencing tools that allow team meetings, screen sharing, and discussions via video call and video chat, like Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.
The other is instant messaging apps like Google Chat, Slack or Troop Messenger, allowing employees to send messages and share files with coworkers. Respondents can also reply quickly to team members and streamline teamwork in the chat app.
Want to know the other remote employee software you can use?
Check out our detailed list of remote work tools!
2. Productivity Software
When working remotely, employers are always worried about whether their employees are working or not.
Without employee monitoring software, it would be difficult to gauge the output of your employees every day.
Remote productivity software is also essential to:
- Holding employees accountable for their everyday progress.
- Knowing your employee’s active working hours to bill freelancers and clients appropriately.
- Tracking the time employees spend on projects to take proactive project decisions.
- Ensuring that employees remain productive when working remotely.
There are many software available in the market to spur employee productivity.
However, some of them stand out for providing excellent employee experience, high data security features, advanced time tracking functionality, and competitive pricing.
One of the best productivity management software available is Time Doctor.
Time Doctor has given employees of large companies and medium and small businesses an excellent option to track time and boost employee performance.
With Time Doctor, you can:
- See the amount of time employees spend on projects and tasks.
- Amplify employee productivity with in-depth employee performance reports.
- Customize the software to label unproductive sites and applications.
- Generate payroll to bill your clients and pay your remote team members, and more.
3. Collaboration Tools
Collaboration tools give remote team members a virtual platform to work together efficiently. They make teamwork super easy and fun.
Here’s what these tools can do for your team:
- Gives full team visibility and ensures employee accountability on projects.
- Allows you to see a holistic picture at a glance and track progress in real-time.
- Brings together all team members on one platform and enables group participation.
A virtual office software like Tandem or a virtual project management software like Trello are examples of collaboration tools.
4 Key Benefits of Remote Work
Now that you know the different ways to maximize the potential of a remote worker, let’s look at some key benefits of remote work:
1. Lower Operational Cost
Your remote team members can work from anywhere they want.
This means that remote-enabled companies can save money on some of the costs associated with onsite business operations, such as:
- Overhead costs, such as insurance.
- Real estate costs for office space.
- Travel reimbursement for commuting to the office.
- Equipment costs for office workers.
Depending on your business’s size, this could equal significant cost savings without having to change your organization structure or forgo brick-and-mortar business activities.
2. Access to a Greater Talent Pool
Telework eliminates geographical borders and gives employers access to a global talent pool of candidates. Hiring managers can select, screen, and evaluate the best candidates from anywhere in the world.
Additionally, employers from developed countries can hire employees from developing countries with a low cost of living. Due to a lower exchange rate, you can keep them satisfied by paying them well.
3. Higher Employee Satisfaction and Retention
With flexible working arrangements, the remote staff in most companies can choose their work hours, as long as they complete their work.
The control over the work schedule can be invaluable for the remote staff to attend to personal tasks and commitments outside of work.
Employees that have a healthy relationship with their work are happy and satisfied with their jobs. They perform better and are less likely to leave their companies.
4. Increased Productivity
A study conducted by Stanford University Professor Nicolas Bloom on a Chinese Travel Company, Ctrip, revealed that remote employees:
- Do almost a full day’s extra day’s work in a given week.
- Reduced company’s employee turnover by 50%.
- Found it easier to concentrate on work.
- Took fewer sick day leaves and shorter breaks.
Additionally, employees at Ctrip were reported to have high employee engagement and, consequently, high productivity.
As evident from the study, remote work dramatically increases the employee work output, makes the best use of a company’s human resources, and ultimately leads to its growth.
COVID-19 has compelled companies en masse to adopt remote working.
While this measure has let employers enjoy telecommuting’s advantages, there are also signs that remote work might compromise work-life balance and negatively affect productivity.
To prevent this from happening to your business, you’ll have to manage your telecommuting practices with the right tools and techniques.
Use the tips we have covered in this article and amp up your remote team’s productivity today!
Liam Martin is a co-founder of Time Doctor which is software to improve productivity and help keep track and know what your team is working on, even when working from home.