While remote work has been on its rise over the years, — it’s grown by 173% since 2005 — the post-COVID world makes it a new norm today. We know that only 17% of Americans worked remotely before the “pandemic” status; now, their number grows drastically.
According to the State of the American Workplace report, more than 40% of employees work from home now. More than that, the record number of workers (97%) don’t want to return to offices, saying that remote work makes them happier.
That’s great, but here goes the problem:
An employer becomes responsible for maintaining that happiness in remote workers because 70% of employee engagement directly results from their manager’s work. And it appears that we need some practical strategies to ensure our remote workers are happy and productive.
Given the nature of remote work, these strategies are more about alternative collaboration methods for better motivation and performance. So this post covers five tips on what you can do to keep your remote employees happy and, thus, highly productive.
But first things first:
- How to know your remote workers aren’t productive enough
- How to keep high productivity of your remote employees
- The bottom line
How to know your remote workers aren’t productive enough
Not only is employee productivity about KPIs and deadlines, but it’s also about their motivation, proactivity, and engagement in the working processes.
And while you can manage their knowledge and monitor their performance via standard methods like time trackers, video conferences, and regular meetings in group chats, none will tell you about employees’ motivations, worries, and frustrations.
Are you sure your remote workers are still on the same page with your business goals and plans?
Is their working environment good enough for them to do their job at the possible highest level? Do they know how to manage time for overall better performance?
Are they satisfied with your communication?
Pay attention to these signals when communicating with remote workers to see if they lack proactivity:
- They seem helpless. A red flag here is when you start hearing from remote workers something like, “It won’t work,” “We can’t do anything with that,” and so on. It’s a sign they are more reactive than proactive.
- They demonstrate a victim mindset. Back in 2017, Harvard Business Review polled 1,100 remote employees to find out they were more likely to feel shunned and ganged up on than their on-site colleagues. It places extra stress and worries, influencing their proactivity and productivity. Alarm phrases for you to see if that’s the case of your workers are something like, “He never tells me about the updates,” “They make mistakes, and I have to deal with that,” and so on.
- They aren’t open to honest communication. You may notice a lack of communication when your remote employee starts keeping quiet about problems they face. Or, they suddenly prefer working alone, with no further collaboration with other colleagues. As a result, communication shuts down: You don’t know about the challenges your team faces and can’t help solve them to encourage better productivity and work efficiency.
How to keep high productivity of your remote employees
Remote work for employees is a double-edged weapon:
From one side, they can work from anywhere: home, libraries, coffee shops, or co-working spaces of their hometown or abroad. And that may be a reason for all those statistics about their 86% more productivity.
On the other side, remote work means fewer ways to interact with colleagues naturally, more distractions, less motivation, and more social isolation. All that can lead to less productivity, making the above uplifting statistics valid only if you (a manager) set the collaboration processes right.
Here go five practical tips on how you can do that:
1) Remember about team building
Most managers underestimate the role of non-work interactions for their remote team’s motivation and overall performance. Shared goals and interests connect and encourage networking, even if your employees are in different cities.
One way to organize remote socializing is to set up a “just for fun” channel in your organization’s messenger. It will serve for sharing memes, jokes, videos, news, songs, or any other non-work stuff to bring some fun to your remote workplace.
Also, your employees will know each other better, bond over shared interests, and relieve work stress.
Another way is to host a weekly happy hour: Organize virtual team-building exercises like designing team stuff with an online poster maker, or have drinks and snacks together via video conferences. Leaving a few minutes before and after work video calls open for small talks also works.
2) Encourage to organize dedicated workspace
When working in an office, we don’t usually think about our home workspace organization. It may happen that some don’t even have a desk and a computer chair at home, working in a kitchen or bed. But the fact is, home office organization influences our overall productivity like hell.
Encourage your remote employees to think of organizing a dedicated workspace at home or whenever they spend their working hours. And while even the color of walls matters here, the bare minimum would be to separate zones for work and rest.
If the budget allows, you can offer remote employees some extra stipend to create a productive workspace from home. Some companies have already done that. And others allow employees to rent office furniture or tech for using them at home.
It will help mentally focus on working tasks when at the desk, separate home life and relax time, signal family members not to disturb you because you’re working, and therefore manage time for better productivity.
3) Create a daily check-in routine
Make it a norm for workers to participate in one-on-one or group check-ins via phone call, instant message, or video conferencing app. It’s your instrument to foster connections and set priorities, helping remote employees stay focused and feel engaged.
Let them know you’re available in messaging apps throughout the day to answer questions and help solve any problem. You can even set virtual office hours for remote employees to know when you’re open to communication.
4) Provide emotional support and feedback
Properly organized communication is the most effective way to manage remote employees and influence their motivation and productivity. They should understand that they’re valued and their efforts matter for overall business results.
That’s what you can do for that:
- Maintain constant and consistent communication with remote employees.
- Provide timely and constructive feedback.
- Praise their achievements, both privately and in communication channels, for them to feel included and motivated.
- Give remote employees clear goals and routes to perform better.
- Establish and build trust in your remote team for them to know you believe they’ll get the job done; thus, you’ll motivate them to try harder.
5) Equip remote workers with productivity tools
Every second article or blog post on productivity tips specifies using the right tools for effective communication and collaboration. Indeed, equipping remote employees with these technologies allows you to organize the processes, control the performance, and make your workers’ life more manageable.
The minimum you’ll need is a few open communication channels like Slack and Zoom, some contract management software, project management tracking apps like Airtable or Asana, and time management software like Scoro or Time Doctor.
Also, feel free to offer tools your remote workers can individually use for better productivity: Todoist, Krisp, Evernote — you name it!
The bottom line
With the right strategies and techniques in the pocket, you can create a motivational and productive environment for your remote employees. The trick is to notice a lack of proactivity and work efficiency on time, understand the reasons, and adjust the working processes accordingly.
The practical tips highlighted in this article can become your first steps towards more effective communication with remote employees. By providing them with stellar collaboration, you’ll influence their motivation, engagement, and work satisfaction for a productivity boost.