How to improve productivity in virtual workplace

In Summary
  • 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
Silhouette of a man on a video call
Silhouette of a man on a video call

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.

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.

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.

Practice self-care: Employees need to be conscious of their mental state as productivity happens when people reduce their stress levels.

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