Telecommuting: 7 Tips to Increase Productivity
As more and more companies diversify their activities to incorporate remote working, they sometimes find it difficult to maintain the same level of productivity as in an on-site environment. Communication becomes more complicated, which can lead to delays and additional efforts to complete the planned tasks. Remote workers may also feel disconnected and less engaged, and their motivation to complete their assignments will suffer.
How can you, as a business leader, keep your employees productive and happy while working remotely? Here are our seven tips.
7 tips for staying productive while working remotely
1 ) Define your expectations
If you haven’t completed your transition to working from home yet, know that it will likely take some time for everyone to adjust. Your productivity standards may need to be revised, temporarily or permanently.
Consider the type of work performed by your employees as well as the needs of your business. If you have multiple teams working together on different aspects of your products or services, take stock of how each team should act to ensure the success of the others.
When setting your productivity standards, consult your employees to understand what they think an optimal day looks like in terms of productivity. How many tasks would they complete? How long? What level of performance can you maintain over the long term?
When you’ve set realistic expectations for what your employees should accomplish on a daily basis, make sure everyone knows about them.
2 ) Provide practical tools
Efficiency drives productivity, and productivity depends on using the right tools. This point is all the more important when your employees work remotely because exchanges between colleagues and access to important information become more complex.
Fortunately, there are software solutions to facilitate collaboration and coordinate all of your teams, even if they are not in the same building. Let us mention in particular:
- Chanty: A user-friendly web application that allows teams to communicate by chat, voice message, or videoconference, all on a centralized platform. Its other features include file, screen, and link sharing, as well as integration with other applications.
- ProofHub: This project management software offers different ways to organize your tasks and workflows. It also lets you plan projects, generate progress reports, set deadlines, and provide feedback on specific tasks.
- Lucidspark: This virtual whiteboard makes remote collaboration easy and engaging. Built-in brainstorming templates make it easy to plan and complete projects, while its unlimited work area lets employees unleash their creativity.
With these tools, remote workers can easily organize brainstorming sessions, plan projects, track tasks, and provide and receive feedback on their work.
3) Set measurable goals
Once you’ve defined your expectations, making sure everyone knows them, and made sure they have the tools they need, you can set realistic goals to optimize your performance. Use your productivity standards as a guide to set goals for different departments, teams, and people, and put in place a system to report on progress on a regular basis.
Tracking your progress will allow you to take stock of where you are now and how far you still have to go.
4) Promote a sense of responsibility
Having a goal to achieve will help your employees feel sufficiently involved and motivated. It can also awaken a sense of responsibility in employees who would otherwise feel isolated or useless.
You can also boost productivity by giving your employees the big picture. Regularly share progress reports on the work of your company as a whole, and show your team members the importance of their individual contribution to the success of all.
5) Offer tangible rewards
In addition to helping your employees feel needed, make sure they feel appreciated. Be sure to recognize work that has been done well. Publicly praise particularly productive teams or collaborators and don’t forget to thank those who have completed important or demanding projects.
Show your appreciation and also consider handing out tangible rewards to keep remote workers motivated. Offer gift cards to employees who meet specific goals, and plan bonuses or raises if remote workers consistently exceed your expectations. You can also grant extra days off during a stressful month if your staff are ahead of their schedule.
6) Learn to manage stress
Even if you do everything necessary to ensure that your employees have the right tools, support, and appreciation that they need, you may need to take additional steps to avoid burnout. Burnout is a bane of productivity and can affect even the most dedicated workers by causing feelings of exhaustion, boredom, or gloom.
To combat this problem, check in with your employees frequently, especially if you notice a drop in productivity. Pay attention to situations that contribute to burnout, including increased stress at work, a precarious balance between work and private life, or even too busy schedules. Make sure your employees take enough breaks and days off to prevent burnout from setting in overtime.
Stress is just a basic reaction of the human body that responds to an element of potential danger. You feel a racing heartbeat that often results in a cold or hot sweat, sweaty palms, hyperventilation, and a feeling of knots in your stomach. Its reactions are intended to “warm-up” our body and prepare it to either run or fight.
But these days, fight or flight our problem doesn’t solve much. Our stress is no longer created by one element in particular but by a series of elements that are almost permanent (project to be finished, arriving on time, maintenance, etc.). This constant stress changes our regulatory systems: the sympathetic and para-styptic systems.
Without going into details, its two systems work together to allow you to rest and digest during one time, fight and run in another time. But, when we are under almost constant stress, we only use our sympathetic system (beat and run) and not our other system at all. So, we never really rest, we are always on the alert.
If this happens over too long a period, our body gets tired and we feel symptoms of depression that can go as far as burnout (literally burn everything, so no more energy to give). Getting out of a Burnout is often complicated and always long (it takes us at least twice as long to get out of it than to get back).
7) Avoid burnout
So, you ask me, how to stop feeling stressed and avoid burnout?There are two aspects that you are going to have to work actively to avoid.
1. The mind: stress is a reaction to POTENTIAL danger. The danger exists most of the time only in your head. Nothing has happened and nothing will happen, but because you believe it, your body will react as if. So, take a step back, if ever something happens, be sure that you know how to deal with it, that even if you don’t know how to do it, it doesn’t matter. Can you lose your job? It does not matter, you will find another one. The best quality of being human is to adapt, you will adapt, trust yourself.
But, this is often easier said than done, which is why it may be important to see a professional who can help you individually.
2. The concrete: Changing your state of mind is good, but concretely what can be put in place to avoid burnout? Here are my tips for keeping work and personal life in balance:
- Have a workspace. With COVID and teleworking, it has become complicated to dissociate your personal life from your professional life. Dedicate a corner for your work, with your desk and everything you need. You only sit there to work. If you need to take a break, get up and change places. Don’t eat there, don’t read there, it’s just your workspace.
- Give yourself time to rest. And when I say agree, I mean plan. In your calendar, there are times dedicated to rest, to a break. You need to know yourself well enough to know how you work. You need to know, for example, how long you can concentrate on a task before your mind wanders. Knowing this, set your break times, “work less but better”. As an athlete, you need recovery time.
- Rest time = time for yourself. We really need to take a break. No scrolling on the internet or working on another project. We stop, have a coffee or go out for a short walk around the house, do yoga or stretching for 20/30 min, read a book that has nothing to do with it, talk with your colleagues… Do this whatever you want but completely cut yourself off from your work.
- Give yourself flexibility. There are going to be days when you will be very productive and others not, it’s normal, no stress. Work hand in hand with yourself. Don’t force yourself too much, listen to yourself. Can’t concentrate today? It’s okay, find tasks that require little effort on your part. Are you on top today? Do things that require longer concentration. Adapt to you.
A work-from-home business model can have many benefits, but sometimes executives and business leaders need to find creative ways to coach and motivate their employees. Follow these tips to help your employees become more efficient, productive, and job satisfied.
Originally published at Entrepreneur News and Startup Guide.