A publication by the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that about 27% of Americans were working remotely at least in a part-time capacity in 2022.
Despite a push from companies to bring back work-from-office jobs, the market has adapted, and work-from-home jobs are poised to be a staple in today’s corporate world.
However, a team working remotely from different parts of the country (or the globe) is not as easy to handle as a team situated under one roof. Some even argue that WFH employees are not as productive as those working from the office.
Regardless, if you have remote teams as part of your company structure, this article might come in handy. A little more planning and streamlining of processes is required to get better productivity from remote teams.
Luckily, technology has come a long way, and COVID has forced markets to adapt. For every hurdle you face, it is likely that there is a tool or software to solve it!
Here are a few things you can do:
Provide Effective Feedback
It’s possible that a big reason an employee or team is unable to deliver is that they aren’t sure what they are doing wrong. Additionally, while they are told that they need to do something differently, the path forward is unclear.
This is where a 360 feedback survey can come in handy. 360 feedback, or 360-degree feedback, is a method wherein employees are rated by a number of people – peers, managers, supervisors, etc. Sometimes, these surveys can be anonymous, allowing your employees the space to be honest with their answers.
360-degree surveys were built for teams to assess manager and leadership roles. Now, however, their application is expanding to employee assessment as well.
Using a 360-degree survey will help you identify the chinks in your workflow and focus on smoothening them out, making remote teamwork a lot more efficient.
Facilitate Better Communication
Unlike working from the office, communication in a remote setting is a slightly more convoluted affair.
Companies often rely on messaging apps and team collaboration software, like Slack or Microsoft Teams, for remote communication. Employees logged in to the platform can be split into groups, and they can log out when their work is over. All communication usually takes place on these platforms.
Another key pointer when it comes to communication is efficiency. The goal might not always be to maximize communication. In fact, sometimes reducing the communication required to complete a certain task might unearth more efficiency.
New Age Interactions
If the work is casual, and you believe gamifying the work experience a little might be beneficial, you could take things up a level. Technology has allowed for the creation of digital spaces that employees can use. In Gather, for instance, employees can walk around the virtual offices, strike up conversations, and interact just the way they would in a physical space.
Assessing the needs of your company and then picking the right messaging platform is important. If your employees find navigating the software confusing, it will negatively affect communication.
On the flip side of video conferences being a good way to communicate remotely, they also cause you to constantly be paying attention. This could lead to conditions like Zoom fatigue. With other communication software, notifications and messages are always beeping. This can cause employees to feel burnt out.
Maintaining a Work-Life Balance
Many believe that work-from-home jobs require less effort than an office job. Studies, however, show that working from home could potentially result in longer work hours for employees. On average, the bonuses offered to work-from-home employees are also lower when compared to their in-office counterparts.
G360 Surveys points out how it is not only important to motivate your team to work better but also to keep the morale running high. Recommending a whole host of ways employees could achieve a better work-life balance is one solution. The other, however, is to make sure that employees are given the space to enjoy their lives outside of work.
This can be especially hard to do when an employee is working from the place they also like to relax; their home. Make sure employees clock out at a given time to create a segregation between work hours and off hours.
Since your employees are not coming into the office, it’s not as simple to track their working hours. Many companies, therefore, use time-tracking software to track working hours.
You can also use these programs to make sure your employees are not overworking themselves. Setting limits to how many hours a day an employee can spend logged in will make sure they are motivated to leave their desk when work hours are over.
Streamline Your Processes
When you are in a physical workspace, things being a little unorganized isn’t a dealbreaker; for example, if you lose track of a certain document, receipt, or brief, you can ask a colleague who is sitting right next to you. With remote work, however, misplaced documents and other inefficient processes are not as easy to remedy.
You can invest in a slew of project management tools, which will allow you to streamline work for your team. They usually have easy-to-use interfaces and make it a lot easier for everyone to keep track of things through movable cards, for example.
Delineating a path for information to flow and making sure all your employees are well-versed with the processes will ensure you are not losing track of things. This means work is able to flow smoothly. If you have a production line that is inefficient, products won’t make it to the shelves on time. The same goes for effective communication when it comes to remote teams: if communication is ineffective, productivity takes a hit.
Throughout the work day, employees spend a considerable amount of time carrying out essential repetitive tasks. While this might have worked in an office, there is no reason to keep the tradition going. Staring at a screen can be exhausting. Using programs to automate repetitive tasks like data entry and extraction, can allow your employees the time to focus on work they really enjoy.
There are equally sound arguments for and against working from home. But, empowered by a giant nudge from the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working is here to stay. Remote work can seem easy, but it is harder to maintain an efficient workflow when all employees are not in one physical location.
Planning in advance and putting in place processes to make sure the team is as efficient as possible is imperative. Not only will it improve output, but will also increase employee satisfaction.