Remote work spawned by the coronavirus pandemic is here to stay. More than two thirds of the workforce in the US is now working remotely. Stanford University conducted a research, which revealed 42 percent of the U.S. labor force is now working from home full-time. 33 percent are not working due to unemployment and 26 percent are essential service workers.
Remote work has reduced the cost for companies as it cuts down their need for office space, electricity bills, equipment & conveyance costs etc. Employees have been working from home since the pandemic in most of the organisations. While there has been a considerable rise in productivity as measured in several studies, the employees are getting a bit overwhelmed with full time remote work.
In a study conducted by Buffer, employees revealed their top struggles with working remotely. 20% cited collaboration & communication issues, another 20% suggested loneliness, 18% were not able to unplug from work, 12% had issues with distractions at home. As remote work becomes a norm, managers and organisations will need to make sure they are doing their part in encouraging and motivating employees to do their best, while caring for employees’ mental and physical well being too.
1. Set Guidelines for Remote Work
Your performance expectations and standards need to be communicated with clarity for remote workers. When employees are in office, the standards and expectations are more or less known to everyone. But when employees work remotely, certain rules change, expectations from employees also change. For e.g. something as trivial as replying to an email, the expected response times, availability etc. should be communicated explicitly.
When the performance expectations and ground rules are clear, it helps the employees do their part effectively. There could be a case of putting extra attention and care to meet certain deadlines during remote work. And employees will be able to step up their game, when they know the reason and rationale behind things. Good communication is the key.
2. Reiterate Vision & Goals
It is important to reinforce the vision and goals for the team. It is what binds them together. It is what gives them a shared purpose. And it is something that can be easily forgotten when employees are working from different locations and not touching base with each other for months. It needs reinforcement and repetition.
Great companies find a way to communicate and reiterate the importance of what they are doing. They get the buy-in from their teams and create goals that help them make progressive efforts towards the vision. Creating a sense of belongingness is more important, when people are working alongside each other in the same office space.
3. Use Design Thinking
Design thinking is a user centric approach to finding solutions. When teams are working remotely, using design thinking can help to connect with all stakeholders with clarity. The designs can communicate the goals, deliverables, constraints and expectations of each member with precision.
Whether it is a workflow document or product feature requirement, design thinking can help teams stay connected to their work and goals. The visualization is helpful to connect people to generate ideas, build prototypes and implement things.
4. Team Spirit
When teams are working remotely, team spirit can take a back step. The onus is on the managers and organisations to ensure that they take time for virtual team building events. Whether it is a Friday afternoon get-together or a hobby session, employees should spend time on activities for team building.
The team building could also include yoga sessions, story telling, training, motivational pep talks etc. When employees participate, contribute and discuss things, they are able to shed their inhibitions and monotonous routines. It helps them grow, develop broader perspective and bond with their teammates.
5. Use Video Meetings to Connect
It has become easier to connect to team members using video meeting tools like Zoom, MS Teams and Google Meet. These virtual meeting tools can teams stay connected, informed, review and comment on work items.
Use of storyboards, design thinking visuals, process flow designs, user interfaces and wireframes, product prototypes, video recording of features etc. can be used in the meetings too.
The ground rules for the video meetings and agenda can be communicated in advance. Shorter and to the point meetings help a team improve its effectiveness. Long meetings are mentally hard on the participants and derail a team’s productivity. A meeting of 15-30 mins is usually good enough to review things, provide inputs and give constructive feedback for progressive work.
6. Incentivise Performance, Innovation & Results
The remote work gives people freedom to have flexible schedules, work from any location & not having to commute to the workplace. It has proven to be a great booster for productivity and performance of employees.
A good incentive program to gauge employee performance can be a great boon for companies. Employees will be encouraged to find effective and novell ways to improve their performance. There could be points for innovation and finding new ways to get things done. Any improvement in the existing workflows that can help companies and their customers can be rewarded suitably.
Create programs that help employees learn, experiment and create things that the world will be thankful for. An innovation program and something that rewards outstanding performers working remotely can go a long way in helping companies improve their bottom lines.
7. Cut-Off Time
Remote work can take a toll on employees. The pressure and the stress of the job can be cumbersome for many. Infact, a lot of employees are finding it hard to unplug and disconnect from work. They are constantly checking their work related emails at odd times, not able to break from the monotony of work.
Organisations can proactively provide the guidelines for employees’ physical and mental well being. Companies can set-up call centers to counsel employees and help them stick to healthy practices. Employees need to be able to switch off from work and call it a day after the mandated hours.
A good balance of work ethic and personal well being needs to be practiced while working remotely. Organisations need to build a virtual environment for energy, commitment and quality of work & maintain well being of their teams.
Kreyon Systems has expertise in automation of business functions for HR software. For any assistance or implementation queries for business software, please get in touch with us.