2020 has been a very interesting year for many of us. The COVID-19 pandemic hit forcing various everyday things to change. Eating at a restaurant has become getting take-out and hanging out with friends and family has become an online video chat. However, one of the biggest changes has been the shift to a remote workforce for many organizations. According to a global survey done by Gartner Inc., “88% of business organizations all over the world mandated or encouraged all their employees to work from home as the virus started to spread.” With almost 90% of all employees expected to work remotely with no preparation, it can be difficult to figure out how to measure productivity while also still promoting remote relationship building, collaboration and employee engagement among teams. Here we have come up with some ideas to build your remote workforce successfully:
Measure Productivity by Outcomes, not by Time Spent:
Traditionally, productivity has been measured by the number of hours on your timesheet. at the typical 9am – 5pm, a classic 8-hour workday. All your work was to be done within that time, and since you were in the office you must be working… right? According to a study done by Airtasker.com, “On average, remote employees worked 1.4 more days every month, or 16.8 more days every year, than those who worked in an office.” This shows that many remote workers are just as productive, if not more, than they were in the office. This can be due to many factors, but one is the freedom to complete work when best suited for each employee. This does not mean that the 8-hour workday is thrown out the window, but instead it means that some people may work better in timeframes outside of that 8 hours, including early in the morning or late at night. People are juggling many things, including childcare, lack of office space, and various other factors. We believe that to have a successful remote workforce, it is important to measure productivity by setting goals and measuring outcomes, instead of time logged in between 9am-5pm. When thinking about remote productivity there are many ways to help increase it for employees and help measure it.
Collaboration is an important factor in productivity because it allows employees to feel supported. Microsoft 365 is a great tool to help with team collaboration. It has an integration with the office suite which allows multiple people to work in one document and track any changes being made and to see who has logged on and completed work. Also, platforms including Zoom and Microsoft Teams also have chat and video calling capabilities, which can allow employees to stay connected in real-time.
Trust in Employees
Working remotely during a pandemic has been overwhelming for many employees. As stated above, instead of focusing on the hours worked, focus on their outcomes and results. Help employees establish Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and allow employees to develop a plan to achieve those goals. Trust that they are skilled enough to handle it instead of micromanaging them; this will help build a positive relationship between managers and employees.
Changing the Way Human Resources is Managed
While working from home can provide employees flexibility, that should not mean they need to work 24/7. Managers should set clear boundaries regarding things like availability, response time, reporting time for non-exempt employees, and other HR policies that may apply. They should also take feedback from employees and consider what fits their individual needs. Managers should remind employees of the organization’s purpose while staying realistic with individual and organizational goals.
The New Normal of Remote Relationship Building
Working from home can be lonely for many, without being able to physically see or meet with coworkers, it can feel as though your team has vanished. It is important to continue to allow time to make connections with others, even if it is in a remote setting to encourage employee engagement. According to a study done by Forbes, “Companies with higher levels of employee engagement see a 21% increase in profits or more.” Employees enjoy being engaged and remote relationship building is different, but it is not impossible. There are many ways to retain and improve employee relations.
Make Time for Personal Conversation
Meetings are an important facet of any successful organization. Whether in person or remote, meetings are needed for collaboration, teamwork, and discussion. As easy as it can be to jump right into the technical details of the meetings, it is important to leave time before or after the meeting for personal conversation. This makes it easier to develop personal connections with people virtually. Platforms such as zoom, Microsoft teams and others have a chat messaging feature as well as a video chat feature to allow anyone to be able to join the conversation.
Engage in Social Media
Social media is a great tool to foster positive relationships and employee engagement. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn allow you to keep up with any person as well as tune in to updates about their life. Engaging in these posts such as liking, commenting, or sharing them allows you to remain connected with them without physically talking to them.
Check–in with Employees
Scheduling daily check-ins can increase employee engagement and ensure employees are making progress and can receive support as needed. These should be one-on-one and through video or phone calls to avoid miscommunications. Scheduling casual team meetings, such as Zoom happy hours or Kahoot games, can improve company culture and help employees feel less alienated. Instant messaging platforms are also useful for staying connected throughout the day. When employees work from home – and potentially now focused on new or different tasks and goals, communication is paramount.
The age of the remote workforce is different, and instead of rejecting this change, we must learn to adapt in a positive way. According to review42.com, “74% of companies plan to shift some of their employees to remote working permanently.” With this unique situation not ending any time soon, it is important to continue to remain productive while still aiming build relationships among employees.
To learn more about the best technologies to implement during the age of a remote work environment, read our white paper “The Future of the Workforce”.
This post is part of a collaboration with Exude Inc., leading professional services firm of All Things People – Employee Benefits. Human Capital Consulting. Risk Management. HR Consulting. Leadership Training. Diversity Training. Total Rewards.