How To Manage Productivity When Working Remotely

Last week I went back to working from the office, and I’m not sure how I feel about it…

Part of me misses wearing my pjs every day and not worrying about being rained on whilst walking to the bus stop…

and the other part of me enjoys having somewhere to be and fussing over my outfit of the day…

So this article is to help you, and me, better analyse working remotely.

Working remotely seems as though it’s here to stay, so we’re going to discuss how to effectively manage productivity whilst working from home.

From the perspective of employers, managing employees can be difficult as you cant surveillance them whilst they’re working remotely… surveillance will ensure a bad employee experience due to problems regarding privacy breaches.

So, how to do we manage productivity?

Simple; it’s not a matter of monitoring their productivity; it’s about implementing strategies as encouragement to motivate them to be productive.

From the perspective of the employees, waking up with no exact place to be or time to be there is a sense of freedom that can be extremely motivating, or extremely de-motivating.

So, what do you need to do to make sure you’re as productive at home as at the office?

We’re going to discuss tips and tricks for both parties, and to do that I’m going to break this article into two sections; recommendations for the employer and recommendations for the employee!

Employer: Productivity Management

Undoubtedly, it’s difficult to manage a workforce of employees that are working remotely. It’s a challenge, but it’s not impossible!

The flexibility of working from home isn’t just for employees; it’s also for employers and their management styles!

You, as the manager/executive/director are still responsible for your employees, regardless of their location.

You have to encourage, motivate, and support them.

The effort you put into your employees is the effort you’ll receive from them!

So, the million-dollar question… how can you manage employee productivity?

 Recommendation #1: Set Goals and Expectations

This is arguable the most important recommendation of all.

It’s crucial you establish your goals and expectations with your employees.

If you think that managing your employees from a distance is difficult, put yourself in your shoes- they’re distanced from you and don’t have the constant support they would have at the office. Whether or not they need your support at the office is irrelevant, the option is still there.

SO, it’s important that you communicate effectively with one another- and YOU have to be the leader. Tell them what you think is feasible that they have done by the end of the morning, day, or week.

Discuss with them and take their thoughts into account, and their schedule. Set your goals together so that your employees feel a sense of commitment and know they have to complete their tasks or face the consequences.

Not only should you set goals, you should be open about your expectations.

Open communication and honesty is key!

If you don’t discuss what you expect from your employees, then you can expect to not get what you expect.  

This may be the standard of work you expect to see, the layout, the length and so on.

Recommendation #2: Video Calls & Scheduling

 When you’re at the office, and engage in conversation with a colleague, you can see his or her expressions, which offers you insight into their thoughts and feelings.

You visualise how they respond to certain stimuli and you develop a closer connection to them.

It’s important you video call, and not only audio call, so you can continue building upon your connection.

If you’re only listening to someone speak, you can’t accurately visualise how he or she are interpreting information, and how he or she are feeling regarding the information. You need to see them. Video calls are a simple way to introduce your office environment to your home.

As well as this, you should have two to three reoccurring calls a day.

This could follow the schedule of:

  • A morning call to outline goals and expectations and discuss the employees schedule for the day
  • A lunch time call to check in and offer support if there’s any queries
  • An end of day call to discuss the achievements of the day and any problems.

You should be available all day for your employees to contact, however, by instilling reoccurring calls it implements a schedule and sense of commitment which encourages the employee to get their work done as they have deadlines. Ultimately managing their productivity and positively influencing their work efficiency.

Recommendation #3: Scheduled Hours

Working from home means those employees will have a flexible schedule. This is why it’s important you set goals and expectations at the beginning of each day (or week) to ensure employees know what they need to get done and by when. Flexible working hours means an employee may work longer hours one day if they have a commitment the next day.

The best solution to managing your employee’s flexible schedule is to SET SCHEDULED HOURS.

The way you interpret that sentence is up to your digression-

But here are some examples:

  • All employees must work every day from X-Y every day
  • All employees must provide their expected working hours for the week
  • All employees must work x-y on x-y days

The way you implement scheduled hours will depend on your business’ industry, employees demographic and geographic, standard of work and goals.

You must take these factors into consideration when creating a schedule, however it is crucial that you do implement a schedule so during those hours employees understand they are at work and engage in a work-like environment.

As well as making scheduled hours for individuals to be available, make sure you set scheduled hours for individuals to be unavailable!

No employee should be on call 24/7, and with individuals working flexible hours its likely employees will be working later in the evening.

Therefore, make sure you set boundaries! Set an appropriate ‘end’ time amongst your team to give people the distance they deserve.

Recommendation #4: Team Collaboration

Encourage team collaboration!

You want your employees believe belong to a community, a bigger picture. You want them to feel needed, wanted, and connected. It’s easy to feel connected at the office; whenever you’re in the lift or in the lunchroom you have a quick chat with colleagues or people in the building.

These small encounters of socialising add to the work environment… but as everyone is working remotely those daily encounters ceases to exist and results in employees feeling psychologically distanced from other workers and their community.

Enable team collaboration. Whether you assign two or three people to a task so they discuss with one another and work together, or instruct employees to give other employees feedback on their work, how you implement team collaboration is up to you and, again, depends on the nature of your work. Just make sure you do!

Recommendation #5: Treat your employees as people

 There’s two parts to this recommendation.

Firstly, remember: your employees are experienced workers!

You need to trust them as individuals and know they are going to get their task’s done. Don’t give them a reason to build resentment towards you, because this will definitely impact their productivity!

Trust them and support them, and if they don’t meet your standards then you can step in because of their actions- not your actions causing their actions.

Don’t micro-manage, and don’t be overwhelming.

The purpose of working from home is to enable flexibility, therefore keep in mind they aren’t doing anything wrong if their schedule doesn’t match what you think it should be.

It doesn’t matter the how they get there, it only matters that they get there! Focus on the goal and not the journey.

The second part of this recommendation is to remember that your employees have a life outside of work. They are human; they have interests, hobbies, families, issues and aspirations. Make sure you get to know them! And show interest in more than just their work.

Ask them about their day, find out what’s going on with them and be there for them. This connectivity will increase their desire to be more productive because they have a relationship with you, but also shows you support them in more than just a get-your-work-done sort of way. Not only that, but its important to know who your employees are as people so you know how to reach them on a personal level and what they respond to.

 If you consistently implement the learning’s of these recommendations you’ll find yourself and your employees hitting targets, and achieving your goals.

Remember, these recommendations are just that; recommendations. Working remotely is new for all of us and you as an employer have to develop with your team.

 Employee: Productivity Management

Whether you’re working in the office or remotely you’re always going to experience days where you lack motivation and are less productive. It’s normal, we’re human, and we all experience those days.

We can’t be held responsible for those days; however, we are responsible for how we respond to feelings of de-motivation and unproductiveness. The way you acknowledge, respond and counter-act those feelings will make all the difference.

So, how do you motivate yourself, and manage your productivity?

Recommendation #1:Get dressed

As simple as it sounds, ladies and gentleman, YOU MUST GET DRESSED.

Throughout the global pandemic it’s fair to say we were all guilty of wearing our pjs and track-pants all day for multiple days in a row…

HOWEVER, your productivity stems from your current state of mind and mood, so if you’re wearing pjs your mood is synonymous to; sleepy, lazy, down-time, relaxation- all of which do not encourage productivity!

In order to counteract feeling de-motivated and put a halt to power naps that last for hours, you must get dressed as though you have somewhere to be and something to do.

I’m not saying you have to put on heels and a face of makeup (you can if you want because feeling cute definitely inspires productivity) but you do have to get out of your lounge wear! 

Recommendation #2:Create a work office

 You need to separate your work life and home life. When you mix the two, over time, it will become impossible to differentiate your two lifestyles.

Don’t work in bed, don’t stay in your bedroom all day and definitely don’t work in your favourite spot in the house.

When you’re off the clock you want to enjoy the comfort of your home, your home is your safe-house and you should feel like the outside world stops when you’re in bed or sitting on your favourite chair.

So, what’s the best way to separate work and home whilst working from home?

Create an office space!

When you wake up (and get dressed!) head to your office space.

This separates your work life and home life and also puts you in the mood to work. The same way when you walk into your office you know it’s time to get your work done.

Recommendation #3:Create a to-do list and schedule

I don’t know about you, but if I don’t have a to-do list and make a schedule I will sit in front of Netflix all day.

It’s not because I love television, even though I do, it’s because I don’t feel a sense of responsibility- who cares if I sit in front of the TV all day? What else do I have to do?

MAKE A TO-DO LIST.

This way you’ll know what you need to get done and makes you directly responsible if you don’t complete your tasks. Not only will it help you in remembering what you need to do, but when you cross things OFF your to do list…. Is there really any better feeling?

Also, MAKE A SCHEDULE.

Yes, working from home allows for a flexible schedule, but don’t take advantage of it!

It might be easy to start with, but over time you’ll find you need a schedule to keep you on track and to fit in everything you want to do. Know your hours for the week, and what outside activities and commitments you have on, and make a schedule so you don’t feel guilty about;

  1. Not completing your work
  2. Missing out on an engagement

Recommendation #4: Log out of all social media

Social media is a beautiful tool, but it’s also extremely dangerous. I find myself logging into my phone and without knowing it I’ve opened Instagram. Its muscle memory, and its easy to do subconsciously!

It’s so prevalent in our every day life that we often forget we’re doing it, and before we know we’ve been scrolling the social media black hole for an hour and know everything about your best friends brothers best friend’s uncle’s aunt’s sister’s daughter’s dog.

Combat the cycle and LOG OUT OF YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS.

By logging out, every time you open the app (or website) you’re consciously aware of your actions and that extra effort of typing in your details allows you to get back on track with your task.

Simple, but super effective!

Recommendation #5: Take care of yourself!

From time to time you’ll be torn between being extremely motivated and extremely unmotivated, the reality is you want to be constantly in between.

In order to achieve this, you need to listen to what you need and take care of yourself as a person!

Make sure you take breaks, keeping your head down all day isn’t good for your mental heath. The same way you would stand up and walk around the office, make sure you stand up and walk around the house!

Better yet, go for a short walk- maybe to get a coffee or just to embrace different scenery.

If you used to commute to walk, start your morning with a 10-minute walk around the block to get you in the right mindset.

No one truly knows how productive you are but yourself, so keep yourself in line! You know what your distractions are- get rid of them. Focus on your goals. And then, reward yourself! Whether you bribe yourself with a break, a sweet, or a purchase! Make sure you acknowledge your own hard work.

Be in touch with yourself as an employee, as well as being in touch with your colleagues and employers. You’ll find yourself enjoying your work more, and achieving your goals efficiently, when you give yourself what you need.

These employer and employee recommendations are guidelines, they are to help you establish a working environment outside of the office and assist you in ensuring personal wellbeing, and employee wellbeing.

Working remotely means relying on technology, so here are a few platforms that assist efficiency and productivity.

Here are a few helpful tools to make your WFH life easier!

#1 Slack

Slack is a platform that enables quick communication and is customisable for your business’ workspace. You can voice or video call, group chat and document share. You have the ability to update your message status and online visibility, therefore providing your colleagues insights on your whereabouts and availability. Due to the current pandemic, they’re also offering a free upgrade for the next few months.

#2 Zoom

Zoom is the perfect application for video calls. You can have a large array of individuals on the same call, and have share screen options. You can also record video calls and conferences, and share those links with as many people as you wish. Zoom is useful for the scheduled video calls we discussed, and team collaboration! Alongside with Slack, Zoom is also offering free updates for the next few months.

#3 Google Docs

Google docs is available online and offline, and can be accessed by all that have a link. This is useful for document sharing and team collaboration as you can have multiple people working on a document at once. As well as this, document creators have the option of creating a view or edit link, thus controlling who has the ability to edit the contents of the document and who can simply view the document content development. This also applies to Google sheets, and Google PowerPoint. It’s also free!

#4 Trello

Trello is useful for creating tasks, to-do lists, scheduling and prioritizing! You can set deadlines and add comments to tasks if you’re sharing the task for a colleague. Trello helps you stay on track and increase your productivity. If you need a bit of external motivation, Trello is the answer.

#5 My Recruitment Plus

My Recruitment Plus is the perfect digital recruitment software. Ad posting, video interviews, digital onboarding, and training are all done online! All the features are available on any device as long as it is connected to the Internet, and can be completed anywhere at any time. My Recruitment Plus increases the efficiency of recruiting and enables recruitment to be completed remotely.

Work smarter, and not harder!

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COVID19 HR Advice
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