With several large conglomerates asking their employees to return to the office for work and designing a hybrid model, many companies are still opting out for the remote mode after realizing the many benefits that come along.
Cost savings on real estate, time saved on the commute, and increased trust between employers and employees working in the remote setup have made companies opt for this model. Moreover, employees also have higher autonomy over their work schedules and freedom to manage time so that they can focus better on tasks that are on priority.
If so, then why was remote working a rare concept before the pandemic struck? Reduced productivity levels were one of the major reasons that companies refused to opt the model. Some people love working remotely, while some don’t. However, when it comes to working, a structurally designed system can make it effective – be it work from home or office.
The importance of productivity in remote work
When it comes to the productivity aspect of remote working, everyone has some sort of allegiance toward it. Because we work remotely, numerous factors from our environment can have an effect on our output.
Additionally, remote working has not only improved professionals’ work-life balance but also found them to be working longer, according to Business News Daily.
Remote work has not just boosted productivity, but also made employees channel their creativity into their work. This has eventually translated into building better internal relationships, collaboration, and a healthy work ethic.
Benefits and challenges of remote work
- High Productivity & creativity –
Remote work increases productivity because working from home has limited distractions. Research shows that 77% of people have shown an increase in productivity after working at home for some time.
You also get to evaluate and set a schedule according to the hours when you feel the most productive.
It also gives you more room to think about your tasks creatively and come up with innovative ways of problem-solving.
- Less time to travel/commute –
Remote work means less time spent commuting. So you get that extra hour or two to plan your day in a better way.
Commuting, especially to a far-off distance, also harms our bodies. From high blood sugar, an increase in anxiety, and high cholesterol, there are numerous ways it affects our body.
Working from home cuts down on traveling and eventually all the drain in the energy that it brings along.
- Improved Work-life balance –
Ever since the pandemic, people have preferred working remotely for excelling in their work. It gives you the autonomy to work according to your schedule and boosts your productive patterns.
While working from home is very comforting, it comes with its own set of distractions. From household chores, managing kids to other things, you can easily get distracted from your tasks.
Moreover, it is a fine line between work and home during remote work. Sometimes, people also get distracted from work by indulging in activities such as playing games, scrolling through social media, surfing different websites, etc.
- Communication problems –
Effective communication gets lost in the vast arena of the internet. The term “lost in translation” more or less applies here. Emails, texts and other means of communication can only get you so far.
There’s a good chance of miscommunication here, which can create havoc in the work schedules. The age-old in-person communication becomes a little complicated to deal with.
- Technical Problems
Our office workspaces are well-equipped with all the required technical and other equipment we need. Our homes are a different story.
Since working online, problems related to connectivity, lagging, power cut-outs have become an issue.
Moreover, for individuals who are not tech-savvy, technology can become a problem. Around 50.6% of people feel technological problems to be one of their biggest challenges. As a result, it becomes difficult to keep up with the efficiency of work.
Modern software, however, offers remote conferencing options that require minimum intervention from the user’s side making this challenge quite easy to overcome.
Ways to maximize productivity in a remote work environment:
Creating a structured routine for remote work
When it comes to working from home, there are a lot of factors that can hinder progress. Just the mere fact that we are working from the comfort of our homes is enough to put a sense of ease in our minds. We don’t usually feel this ease and relief while working from an office.
It also helps in setting a tone to your workflow, without being clueless about what task to pick next. You can do this in many other ways such as setting your workspace according to your requirements, dressing up to feel fresh, using a task list, etc.
Thus, it is crucial to have a disciplined, structured routing for remote work. This not only helps assess what needs to be done for the day but also what process to follow. This need not be what the norm follows. It can be set in your way.
Setting clear goals and deadlines for remote work
Without setting goals, there is no doubt work will pile up. One example of setting up robust goals for your company is SMART goals. The word SMART is the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based.
These SMART goals are strategically designed to achieve the most out of organizational goals. It is also a popular technique used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and helps in increasing employee motivation in achieving specific goals efficiently.
Forbes shares four efficient ways to set goals for maximum efficiency in work outcomes:
- Setting goals that we can measure through metrics
- Setting up smaller goals that lead to bigger ones
- Ensuring there’s enough time to complete your goals
- Reviewing them
Goals are one aspect, deadlines another. No goal will be completed without setting deadlines. Harvard Business Review conducted a study that talks about an efficient way of managing deadlines.
As per their study, the experimental group was asked to follow a “pro-time” calendar. This required them to plan 30-minute recurring sessions of important tasks and focus on those activities once the timer began. The results found 14% more efficiency and more ability to meet deadlines in a better way.
Avoiding distractions to stay focused
When you work remotely, there is a high chance of being distracted.
In a surgery conducted by Statista, 53.7% of people found smartphones and the likelihood to engage in gaming as one of the major sources of distraction in remote work.
In an atmosphere that’s bound by comfort, distractions will follow. Thus, staying focused and avoiding distractions is significant.
One way to do this is by using robust tools that motivate you to stay focused for a while.
A technique known as the Pomodoro Technique is an efficient tool to use. Here, you work for 25 minutes with 5 minute intervals, and the method is known as pomodoro technique. This especially helps those who have trouble staying focused for longer hours.
Similarly, setting up your workspace in an area with zero to minimal distractions can also be beneficial.
Establishing effective communication and collaboration strategies
Communication is an integral part of remote working. This is because it gets a little difficult to effectively put forward your message while interpreting your colleague’s message.
An article published by US News quoted Brie Weiler Reynolds, who believes communication to be a good foundation for remote work. There is no doubt in the validity of her statement. Without effective communication, collaborating with team members and clients becomes difficult.
While a traditional setting has its charm, effective communication strategies can help you coordinate and collaborate effectively. There are several strategies one can implement to establish robust communication across teams in a remote work environment.
Ensure that you invest a good amount in technology because it is the king of regulating remote work. 70% of the employees face some sort of hindrance during video calls, which is one of the main sources of remote communication.
A healthy communication system also makes it easy to collaborate. Routine video calls, dedicated channels for specific tasks, and groups that review internal assessments, and regular feedback through QR codes and surveys are some ways that can be incorporated to improve communication efficiency.
Balancing the personal and the professional sides
With remote work, it is a fine line between your personal life and your professional arena. Work-life balance is something that many employees are talking about. Statistics show that it is easier to manage work-life balance through remote work.
Around 67% of people find that remote working has improved their work-life balance. However, sometimes it becomes tough to manage both these sides. Forbes covered several studies that give authenticity to why remote working is beneficial for most companies.
To sum up, many people now look for remote jobs. It is a great opportunity for companies to go all remote and maximize productivity. Professionals have reported improved work-life balance, less stress, and increased productivity in remote setup, and the model is here to stay for long.
To make remote work environments effective, HR managers and team leads can work on integrated virtual social interactions and a few offline events for employees to get more proactive with their colleagues.