- Provide emotional and steady support: Managers should check in on employees and be ready to answer questions that come up
- Encourage dedicated workspaces: Encourage the creation of home offices that are separate from communal spaces
There’s no doubt Covid-19 has drastically changed the business landscape. Below I explain how you can keep employees productive while they work virtually.
Set clear expectations: Strike the right balance between what your employees deliver now and what you know they are capable of. Look at each employee’s past performance data. This can give you an idea of their limits.
Don’t micromanage: Wanting to stay on top of everything that goes on in your business is natural. However, it shouldn’t involve constantly telling employees how they should do their job.
Micromanagement happens because you’re trying so hard to get the results you want. In reality, you’re hurting employee morale and performance. This destroys productivity. Plus, you cannot be effective at your own job when you spend so much time being involved in everyone else’s.
Equip your team with tech and productivity tools: One of the most important ways to help employees succeed while working remotely is to get them tools to help them stay connected and productive.
Equipping staff members with these new technologies allows all to stay on the same page no matter where they are working from. These tools might also help keep your employees more productive and connected after COVID-19 fears lessen and people go back to the physical work environment.
Provide emotional and steady support: Working virtually can contribute to loneliness and negative emotions, so you should do what you can to provide emotional support to employees.
In a fully remote work setup, managers should also be more available than usual. They should check in on employees and be ready to answer questions that come up. Set virtual office hours and be present on instant messaging apps throughout the day to help employees.
Encourage dedicated workspaces: Encourage the creation of home offices that are separate from communal spaces. In some cases, offer large stipends to help workers create appropriate, productive spaces for remote work.
Dedicated workspaces can help free employees from the normal distractions of home life. With many parents needing to be at home with their children due to school closures, an office away from the family can allow you to maintain focus and stay on the task.
Dress for success: While it may not sound important to be dressed for business while working from home, psychologically it helps many employees to not be wearing sweatpants and pyjamas while trying to be productive.
Dressing up for yourself can also mentally help the workers feel better, thus making it easier to focus on checking important tasks off your list. Dressing appropriately also allows employees to feel more comfortable joining an impromptu video call with clients or coworkers.
Non-work interactions and team-building: Creating time and space for workers to talk about news, hobbies and other topics just as they would in the office. One way to do this is to leave a few minutes before and after video conferences open for people to catch up. Another is to host a weekly virtual happy hour or a virtual team-building exercise.
Overcommunicate: Communication is critical and should be frequent, candid, consistent and tailored to be personal, practice as much transparency as possible.
If staff don't have information, they are left to make their own inaccurate conclusions. Managers need to overcommunicate to make sure people have all the information they can possibly have in order to stop worrying about things and be more productive.
The pandemic provides opportunities for governments and companies to celebrate stories of organisational resilience and successes in overcoming challenges, also give people a voice to express what they are experiencing.
Practice self-care: Employees need to be conscious of their mental state as productivity happens when people reduce their stress levels. Build self-care into your staff daily routine, whether that is a walk in the sunshine, contact with loved ones or spending virtual social time with colleagues.
Research shows that spending time in nature lowers stress, helps you relax and clears your mind. When you look for the upside in a downside situation and figure out what you can control and what you can't, it's easier to accept whatever is beyond your control.
Those that get it right will not only position themselves for business success they will also enable everyone to contribute to the creative, innovative, collaborative, and productive workplace of the future.
Managing partner, Watermark Consultants