How to Increase the Productivity of Remote Employees
If you’re in an industry that can accommodate employees who telecommute, it’s good news for both you and your employees. Your employees can save the time and money that they would otherwise spend commuting. As for your business, if you have remote employees, you’re probably on the right track—some studies suggest that remote workers might actually be more productive. This isn’t a universal truth, though, and if you have remote employees, you will understandably want to check in with them to ensure they’re maintaining efficiency and getting work done. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
With remote employees, it’s always good to regularly set goals. Whether it’s with a phone call, video chat, or email, talk to your remote employees on a regular basis about goals. It may make things easier for everybody to have a set day and time, like Monday mornings, when you reach out to employees to discuss goals for the week. Make sure you give your employees a chance to ask questions and discuss goals with you. Motivated employees may surprise you with what they’re able to accomplish, and making goal-setting a collaboration rather than an order just might result in more work done in a shorter amount of time. It also will help your employees feel appreciated and included.
Of course, while salary is sometimes incentive enough, a little extra boost might be what’s needed to nudge remote employees to go the extra mile. Particularly in the case of a special project or work that you want completed quickly, monetary, travel, or other incentives can go a long way. Consider monetary or gift card incentives if certain goals are met. In addition, offering health-based incentives, like gym memberships, also proves to be motivating for many employees.
Find a Way to Track Progress
For both you and your employees, establishing a clear way to track progress can easily boost productivity. Tracking software will help motivate employees by showing them how close they are to reaching their goals. It also will help you see how each employee is doing without forcing you to rely on self-reporting or other possibly unreliable measures. Depending on how you choose to track, this may have some upfront cost, but the productivity benefits and peace of mind will easily outweigh the price tag.
According to studies, 81% of office workers state that they benefit from peer collaboration and that it boosts productivity. Also, while it may be tempting to just check in weekly, increased contact with employees is a sure way to increase productivity. Remote work can sometimes be isolating, however, and occasionally assigning employees to collaborative projects can increase morale and give them a sense of belonging. As a boss, make sure that employees can always ask questions or check in—whether that’s by phone, text, or email. By both proactively reaching out and encouraging employees to do the same, you create a culture of communication. For a business, that’s always a good thing.
Don’t Overdo It
Tracking, communication, and other strategies are all useful, but these things need to be done in moderation. When you constantly check in with or monitor your employees, your efforts are likely to become counterproductive. Just like many people find it hard to focus with someone standing right behind them and watching over their shoulder, your employees are likely to be insulted if they sense you can’t trust them to manage their time. Use communication and collaboration—but don’t become a helicopter boss.
Continue to Maintain Structure
It’s been said that telecommuting might be the office of the future. While this may be true, the sometimes unstructured feel of telecommuting can hinder the performance of some employees. As mentioned above, working from home can sometimes become isolating. Because of this, it’s wise to help maintain some semblance of office culture and structure. What this looks like exactly will depend on the type of business you run. Generally speaking, it’s good to start with something like a weekly or monthly emailed newsletter. This can notify employees of their achievements and accomplishments and can also make sure they feel included in the daily goings-on at your company. If employees all live reasonably close to your central location, you might consider having an occasional get-together to celebrate holidays and major milestones.
In conclusion, remote employees can frequently be more productive than in-office employees if you create a remote-work setup with intention and structure. And like everything, it’s a form of balance. By regularly checking in with employees, you can assess what is and isn’t working for them. Finally, by taking a few steps to make sure remote workers feel both appreciated and supported, you’ll be going a long way to making your business even more efficient than before.
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