How Can Remote Workers Best Be Productive?

Follow these 3 tips to empower and support your remote employees.

Posted Mar 24, 2020

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We are making important and necessary sacrifices to help control the spread of COVID-19. Some employees are fortunate enough to work from home during this period.

In general, productivity in the remote work environment can be a challenge. However, when we consider the impact of extra stressors associated with social distancing efforts, it is even more important for leaders to create and maintain a supportive and encouraging remote workplace.

Follow these three tips to promote productivity in the online work environment:

1) Communicate consistently and regularly.

Effective communication is critical in any work environment, but this is especially true for a remote worker. Set specific individual and team-related goals. Consistent, clear communication helps to ensure accountability. Depending on the industry, regular emailed dialogue may be sufficient. Most find that a daily phone call or web conference helps to ensure that all employees are on the same page. Consider the size of your team and the way that you interact when in the brick-and-mortar environment. There is no need to hold five Zoom meetings a day if you can cover it all in one meeting. Still, if there is a lot of face-to-face interaction during a typical workday, utilize technology to help recreate this in the remote environment.

2) Focus on the individual.

Remember that each employee is different. Some may prefer to have more interaction, while others may prefer to be left alone while working on deliverables. As a leader, a good tactic is to ask your employee what s/he needs from you in order to be most effective. Stay true to your commitments and try to infuse “small talk” when chatting about deliverables by phone or email. An e-card goes a long way to say “Thanks” or “Happy Birthday.” When employees feel valued and important, then they are more likely to get their work done and to do so with quality, regardless of where they keep their desk.

When conversing about a deliverable, send an emailed recap of expectations. If possible, encourage your employees to embrace a flexible work schedule. When we support a solid work-life balance, employees are more willing to focus harder while on the job. A dedicated, happy worker is a productive worker.

3) Be flexible!

As much as we want and need our employees to be effective, strive to be more flexible than you might in the standard workplace. This shows your team that you are human and emphasizes that you recognize the many outside variables that may impact the workday. Flexibility does not mean that remote workers should binge-watch a new series during office hours, however. Work together to set specific, measurable, and attainable goals with clearly defined deliverables and flexible due dates. Ask for regular updates from employees and keep tabs on progress (without micromanaging). If team members are relying on one another to get a task done, consider using a team management and communication tool like Slack or Trello to keep everyone on the same page.

Copyright© 2020 Amy Cooper Hakim