How to Make Sure Employees Are Productive When Working From Home
An increasing number of workers are making the transition to remote employment. In fact, a recent study found that there are about 4.3 million remote workers in the United States - and that was before the outbreak of COVID-19. Now, millions more are making the shift to teleworking.
Of course, there are some concerns associated with this inevitable trend towards remote work. Employers may worry that their team members won't be as productive when they're working from home, or that they won't be motivated to give 100%. Managers may be concerned that employees with small children will be distracted from necessary tasks. The list of scenarios could go on and on.
One of the questions we get often is, "How do I know if my employees are actually working at home?"
In a lot of cases, we reply with, "How did you know they were working when they were in the office?"
That sets us up to know their previous management methods, so we could advise on ways technology could help them accomplish the same goal.
There's no perfect answer to the question, but the following list of suggestions may prove useful to you as you strive to keep your team focused. The information focuses on two categories of assistance: technology and management.
Ask that your employees turn their web cams on for check-in calls.
This is a simple way to get a visual read on how your employees are really doing. While adherence to your company's dress code may not be such a big deal under the circumstances, if an employee appears disheveled, if they are routinely late, or if you can tell that they aren't their usual self, then you may consider where digging in deeper to what's going on.
Perhaps you could even ask some questions about their current situation to see if there are extenuating factors at play. Ultimately, your goal is to help the employee maximize productivity under changed circumstances.
Use Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or other videoconferencing software for regular communication throughout the day.
While it can't quite match in-person interaction, videoconferencing technology allows for teams to stay connected over vast distances. When you use such tools on a daily basis, you promote continued collaboration, and are in a better position to commend and coach your employees. This, in turn, fosters a greater degree of productivity.
Ask your IT team to report when employees have logged into your systems.
This is a low-key way to ensure that all of your team members are on the same page with regards to time on the clock. If an employee begins to manifest a pattern of work not getting completed when it needs to, or not being available when you call, then this could be a way to verify suspicions.
Use technologies that track computer activities.
Granted, this option may very well be overkill. However, if you suspect something is amiss with one of your employees, and that he is using his time on the clock for non-work-related activities, then this would be one way to verify your suspicions.
Schedule more frequent huddles or check-ins throughout the day.
Setting and adhering to a consistent schedule can give your team a huge motivational boost. Many employees may feel that their structured routine has been completely turned upside down. They may be looking for ways to inject order into a chaotic situation.
Your check-in sessions may be just what they need to feel more secure, which in turn will help them to be more productive. In addition, such frequent huddles will demonstrate to your team that you still hold them accountable for their work, and are still there to support them.
Set clear expectations for deliverables, responses, results, etc.
The establishment of clear expectations is an essential element of good leadership. Right now, employees are dealing with enough changes; the last thing they need is to navigate through a series of conflicting, confusing guidelines. Instead, be crystal clear in what you expect of your employees under the circumstances.
If they are working under a deadline, make sure they know when that deadline is. If they are still being measured by key metrics, make them aware of the fact. Finally, ask your team members (collectively and individually) if they understand everything that is expected of them, and then check in with them from time to time to ensure that their words are matching their actions.
Create and report on KPIs to track progress and results.
Even though your team's method of work has been adapted to new circumstances, your KPIs may be the same as they previously were. If not, create new KPIs to take the capabilities and limitations of remote work into account. Once these new indicators are in place, be sure to regularly generate reports around them. This will provide you an easily accessible, consolidated framework in which to measure your employees' performance, and track their results. With such data in tow, you'll be in a much better position to provide constructive feedback to your team members, and help them to achieve maximum productivity.
Maximizing the Potential of Remote Work for Your Business
The novel coronavirus has upended social norms all over the globe - and business organizations have not been immune to the effects of this crisis. Companies around the world are having to grapple with new managerial and administrative techniques as they shift their workforce towards remote working. These are uncharted waters for managers and employees alike, and mistakes will be made on both sides.
With that in mind, give your employees some leeway as they adapt to new methods of doing business. Be transparent with them: let them know that you're trying to figure this whole thing out as well. If you treat your employees with respect, dignity, and consideration during this difficult time, then not only will they be more productive workers for your company, but they will come out of this crisis a stronger and more cohesive team.
Of course, all of this is only possible by means of modern technology. Whereas businesses of 30, 20, or even 10 years ago may have closed up shop under the present circumstances, today's organizations have the ability to successfully continue their operations (albeit in a new way). Still, the technology has to be there first.
IT Guidance and Support for Southern California Businesses
If your IT team is struggling to get your team set up for remote work, it may be a sign that you have significant gaps in your IT capability. Call us for a FREE IT assessment to get an objective view of what really is going on. Even if we don't end up doing business together, you'll get some valuable insights to help you move forward. Schedule your assessment today.
About Courtney Casey
In an industry dominated by men, Courtney Casey, Director of Marketing for Accent Computer Solutions, Inc., is making her mark on the world of information technology. Courtney has been immersed in the IT field most of her life and has been molded into the tech savvy expert she is today. She began working for Accent while earning her Bachelor's degree from California State University, Long Beach. Known in the Inland Empire as the "Tech Girl," Courtney is a regular columnist for the region's newspaper of record, The Press-Enterprise. Her columns address topical news trends, new technology products, and offer advice on how to embrace technology or avoid common IT pitfalls.