The employer’s solution kit for remote-worker challenges Part 6: Optimising productivity

One of the many consequences of the shift towards remote working is, of necessity, a revolution in the way that corporates look at individual productivity. Productivity has always been hard to peg down and, even more so, to ramp up, but its remote management poses new challenges. It also opens up new possibilities, though.

How not to do it

Using tech to measure an employee’s productivity in an attempt to maintain or increase their output from home is doomed for failure. Not only is virtual micromanagement impractical and cumbersome – it will also harm employee trust.

While there are many benefits for employees in working from home, they also find themselves having to deal with new challenges. If constantly confronted with numbers showing up negatives, this will result in a negative culture overall. If, on the other hand, they are encouraged to be transparent and communicate, with the focus on deliverables rather than on hours, it will make for cooperation and buy-in.

Positive strategies for boosting productivity

Companies reporting increased productivity among remote workers share certain approaches.

  • A positive organisational atmosphere, underscored by company culture, is bound to reflect in a positive, can-do atmosphere in employees’ home offices.
  • With employees being immersed around the clock in their family settings, the traditional family values of love and caring tend to be transferred to the work setting as well – they want to be seen as ‘whole people’ whose wellbeing is genuinely important to the organisation. In the face of physical disconnection, increased emotional connection translates into greater loyalty and, hence, greater productivity.
  • A feeling of camaraderie tends to make people want to give their best. This can be enhanced by emphasising shared values and creating a powerful mission.
  • Strong leadership, especially during times of hardship, is a great driver of productivity. Employees demand a top structure who can show the way, make decisions and support them. Trust in leadership yields more positive results than any form of coercion. This is especially true when employees work away from the office environment and have to rely on online communication.
  • On a more practical level, it is important to provide employees with the right tools, such as online document sharing rather than relying on email communication. This will ensure better version and ownership control. Consolidate workflows and procedures to streamline tasks and reduce software and IT maintenance. Collaborative tools such as Google Drive, Zoom or MS Teams will pull together a team and help with the organisation of content.
  • A social intranet allows team members to discuss work and collaborate in real time, enhancing their contributions and cutting down on time wastage. Just make sure it is well organised and everything is easy to find.
  • Shared calendars make for more productive use of time.

Takeaway

Remote working, if managed correctly, can boost productivity and, so, profitability. It will not happen by itself, though, based on traditional office-bound practices – its success will depend on how well the organisation applies productivity-boosting strategies.

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