Experts have said it. Studies have proved it. Remote Working is the future of every business. According to Upwork’s Future Workforce Report, the number of remote workers within the next five years is projected to double from what it used to be before COVID-19. In the US alone, 36.2 million people will work remotely by 2025 – that’s an upsurge of 16.8 million people compared to the pre-pandemic rates.
This data clearly suggests that remote work will prevail as a popular trend in the years to come. Not only does it benefit employees through advantages like better work and life balance, flexible working hours, and no more commuting issues. It has equally benefitted organizations worldwide in form of a diverse talent pool hired from all across the world, which has lowered the overhead and admin expenses twice a fold.
Nonetheless, being physically distant also impedes collaboration and productivity in several instances if not checked or monitored. No denying that productivity is a bigger problem in remote working. If not dealt with on time, it can become a productivity nightmare for your remote teams.
For that reason, it is imperative to manage your remote employees capably. We have listed some of the best strategies that can help you boost your remote teams’ productivity effectively while keeping any issues at bay. Since it isn’t possible for line managers or seniors to personally watch over the employees, however, with the right tools, practices, and guidelines in place, they can ensure that everything is going smooth at the work front.
Here’s how you can bolster your remote teams’ performance effectively:
1. Make clear rules and establish resources for remote communication
With the world enveloped in a global pandemic, the trend of remote work and communication has shifted online. Consequently, defining a concrete set of communication rules visibly is what you need to do first. The first thing to do is implement company-wide communication channels for in-house and remote working teams. Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, and MS teams are a perfect choice for meetings, training, and for other real-time conversations. In addition, you have channels like emails, Slack, etc., that are resourceful tools for instant messaging, casual communication, document sharing, etc.
You can define certain rules for your remote workforce such as how to take breaks, inform about away messages, email alerts, and even manage to have a one-on-one check-in with teammates. Hence, you can avoid any confusion, conflicts, or other misadventures that may occur among team members. Plus, you can save time from checking them on calls or lengthy email chains and focus on improving your employees’ efficiency.
2. Take care of their mental health
A survey conducted by a leading health service provider reported that 74% of the remote employees acknowledged that poor mental health has a direct effect on their performance and productivity.
Hence, it’s vital to have clear visibility into how your remote employees are doing, particularly in terms of mental health. One way to approach them is to use anonymous employee satisfaction surveys for your workers so they can share their apprehensions without any reservations. Through these surveys, you can gather your employees’ opinions and suggestions about the work culture and how inspired or motivated they feel, etc. In fact, you can also be more specific about a particular assignment, the progress, and the challenges they face, and help them remove the roadblocks through such project-specific surveys.
This survey will help you get a better insight into your resources’ general health and emotions. Furthermore, it becomes easier to note their overall behavior and appearance to look for signs of stress, anxiety while you are on a video call. To help your remote employees stay de-stressed and productive, facilitate more one-on-one meetings, conduct team encouragement sessions, provide more incentives such as paid day-offs, send them flowers when they are unwell, etc.
3. Establish clear objectives and goals
Establishing clear goals is a critical practice, twice as more important for remote work. In a remote working environment, it becomes challenging to convey your business objectives and expectations through video calls, phone calls, or text messages. Therefore, it is imperative to clearly define key responsibility areas (KRAs) and project-specific key performance indicators (KPIs) for every one of your resources to avoid any future misunderstanding.
Defining clear objectives, expectations, and milestones removes any conflicts and confusion in remote employees and provide clear visibility of objectives and milestones to achieve. Help your remote teams to play their pivotal role in working towards your company’s growth and boost their engagement and commitment to work towards common goals with the motivation they deserve. This will enable them to orchestrate their efforts better with the organization’s mission and vision and ultimately, perform their best.
4. Boost engagement with virtual team building activities
Remote work might sound jazzy, but it does take away the regular lunch-time chitchats with friends, short strolls after lunch, those chatty coffee breaks during work, etc. The absence of these light-hearted non-work conversions helps relieve any work stress that builds up over time.
A report by Eagle Hill Consultants published in 2020 states that 58% of Americans stated burnout, with 47% of them identifying workload as the main culprit.
With virtual team-building activities, you can engage your remote teams in a better and fun-loving way. These could be group discussions, online meetings, virtual coffee meet-ups, brainstorming sessions, online games, etc. These activities allow remote teams to open up to each other and break free from their tedious schedule and recuperate themselves, plus boost their self-esteem, remove internal conflicts and any miscommunication issues. Remote teams need to be more cohesive towards achieving their end goals and such activities help to enhance overall productivity.
5. Reward good work to motivate for better performance
Acknowledgment and appreciation are two qualities that boost employees’ confidence and trust in the company. And it becomes even more necessary to instill these qualities when working remotely as the chances of good work getting overlooked are comparatively higher. Hence, the responsibility lies on the line managers to appreciate remote teams who outpace others. A small “Thank You” email or card can do wonders! Or, even public appreciation on social media shout-outs to employees who perform tremendously lifts employees’ morale and also encourages others to push their efforts.
Moreover, surprise meal deliveries, shopping coupons, free technology upgrades, bonuses, paid vacation, etc., are some pretty good recognition ideas. Rewarding your high-performing resources makes them feel valued and stimulates them to execute even better.
6. Provide them with Essential tools for Business Communication, Collaboration, and sales!
A remote working environment not only helps employers save on some bucks but also gives the workers a chance to work in their preferred work setting in casual attire. As mentioned above, you need to keep a proper check on how well they are performing. You need to facilitate them with the right tools to help them be able to give the successful results you desire from their home setting. These tools should simplify their work tasks, allow them to connect with their team leads, managers, and other team members in real-time while continuing to execute their tasks.
To be able to help perform their best, facilitate your employees with a proper virtual phone system. As traditional PBX systems might not meet the requirements as effectively as cloud phone systems in a remote work environment, a powerful remote phone system will help your remote employees accomplish much more than they possibly could even if working in one place physically. In terms of sales work, your employees can seamlessly switch between voice calls, email, or text messaging according to the given situation. Plus, a remote phone system makes it easier to get quick access to all the previous and ongoing conversations with customers or suppliers in one place.
To list just a few benefits of VoIP phone systems for remote teams:
- You can easily handle group audio/ video calls or conference calls to maintain effective communications and morale.
- Easily schedule virtual ad-hoc meetings anytime, anywhere, and even conduct training sessions or awareness programs via VoIP technology. Read more on how VoIP can help improve employees’ productivity
- Integrate different communications tools in one place and bridge the gap between multiple channels making it one cohesive communication system.
- Conveniently switch between multiple devices (smartphone, laptop, or PC) for calls. When employees work remotely, it isn’t always necessary that each one of them has the same hardware. So, the flexibility that a virtual phone system such as a VoIP phone can offer proves essential for effective business communications.
As an employer, you need to take care of the needs of your remote teams working towards building your company and bringing it out of the financial losses it suffered at the beginning of the pandemic. Continue to motivate and boost your employees using the strategies mentioned above. Moreover, with the current work climate across the globe witnessing revolution and uncertainty, investing in a VoIP system can help standardize quite a lot of your day-to-day business operations and processes. In addition, it gives your employees as well as customers a whole new level of consistency during periods of uncertainty.