There is no doubt the work-from-home vs. work-from-office debate is a critical and complex one. With the end of the pandemic, companies are re-visiting the choices they were earlier forced to make. Depending on which side of the discussion you are on, if you spend a few minutes on Google, as always you will find adequate research indicating productivity is better when employees are working from home vs. the office and vice versa.
With the changes in the talent and recruiting landscape, indisputably, work from home is here to stay (even if in a mellowed-down hybrid format). We at SHJ have continued with our remote working policy (and if I may add reasonably successfully). We had our own fair share of hiccups along the journey and have not shyed away from taking to task employees who are dishonest and inclined to misuse the work-from-home policy.
Managing a remote worker is a complex task. However, there are a few strategies and tools that helped us ensure we get better productivity from employees working from home:
1. Invest in Setup
Conventionally, employees working from home are expected to manage their own infrastructure, but a little bit of help and investment in this direction can provide significant returns later. Help employees secure a good internet connection, good headsets, laptops /desktops, webcams, and even a proper desk or chair. The gains from improved productivity will far outweigh the cost of paying for the infrastructure setup.
It is also helpful to set clear expectations upfront. Remote working employees should be required to have a quiet work area, strong uninterrupted internet connection, power backups and use only company provided systems.
2. Promote Accountability
Schedule meetings at the beginning of the day to set daily goals & touchpoints. Also set broad productivity metrics. Research has indicated that setting daily goals is a great way to boost productivity and morale. Employees can also be encouraged to fill a timelog capturing the main activities they are working on.
3. Encourage Transparency
Building mutual trust is one of the most challenging tasks in remote jobs. Regularly encourage and coach employees to maintain professional standards, meet deadlines and practice open communication. Companies should avoid micro-managing especially in remote jobs, and rather build trust, set expectations and encourage transparency. Oftentimes employees do need to attend to personal tasks or work split shifts. Encourage honest communication about such requirements and accommodate genuine requests.
4. Virtual Team Building events
Remote team building can include simple, interactive activities. These can break monotony and also foster team spirit.
5. Show appreciation and support with recognition
Employee recognition has always been a key driver of employee engagement and performance. In remote jobs, one can easily feel disconnected or even invisible. That’s why it’s critical to build employee recognition in your company’s culture. Incorporating these appreciation and recognition strategies will enhance their confidence, motivation, and sense of purpose thus resulting in longer engagements and better performance.
6. Provide Co-Working Alternatives
When employees are working from home, there will always be one off external situations that are beyond their control. For example – family members visiting for overnighting, power outages, internet disruptions, remodeling work etc. Such situations hamper productivity and can be frustrating for managers as well as other team members. If the physical office is in a different city, providing employees the option to work from a nearby co-working space or coffee shop near to their homes in such exceptional situations can ensure that productivity is not impacted.
7. Remote worker wellbeing
Exhaustion is a real risk for both remote and in-house employees. Although remote workers tend to report having a better work-life balance, working from home has thinned the boundaries between work and home. It is mistakenly assumed that remote workers are ‘always available’. We strongly recommend:
- Setting a “no-emails-after work hours” policy
- Instituting a “no-work-on-weekends” policy
- Routine “pulse-checks” with employees
A brilliant, remote future
Remote work is here to stay to a great extent. Leaders will need to adapt to a new normal for managing remote teams. These strategies can potentially build happier, healthier employees who in turn give their best at work.