How to Ensure Employees Stay Productive While Working Remotely

Instruct staff to create a dedicated workspace.(Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

It is said that necessity is the mother of all invention. Due to the wholesale lockdowns and quarantines imposed by various governments, out of necessity, companies and enterprises now require their employees to work from home. As a business owner or supervisor who has had no prior experience in managing staff remotely, things can get a bit challenging. You might not fully understand what is required to keep things running as normal. Here are some techniques you can utilize to ensure that staff remain productive when they work remotely.

Dedicated workspace and schedule

Instruct staff to create a dedicated workspace. Ideally, they should have a separate room or shed where they can work without any distractions. If this is not possible, they should at least isolate part of a room for that purpose. By doing so, their minds will be solely dedicated to the task at hand. If this is not achieved, they can easily be distracted and tempted to engage in non-productive and time-wasting activities.

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For instance, if an employee, while working remotely, decided to work in the living room where his family members regularly watch TV, his focus may shift to watching TV, relax too much, and fall behind in work expectations. You could also encourage employees to adhere to their regular work schedule and timetable. So if the office used to be open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., then employees working remotely should ideally work during these times. Plus, ensure that your employees have all the tools needed to work remotely.

Hold regular online meetings

If you are in charge of a team, you should ideally hold online meetings every day. It is better to do so in the mornings, right before everyone starts working. Make sure that everyone attends online video conferences. Ascertain how they are doing during the lockdown. Offer assistance and encouragement. Discuss the targets for the day as well as the employee performance of the previous day.

Always conduct regular online meetings. (Image: Pixabay / CC0 1.0)
Always conduct regular online meetings. (Image: Pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Do this on a weekly basis also, preferably at the start of the new week. Such regular meetings will keep employees on their toes and will encourage them to work well since these meetings will constantly remind them of what they are expected to achieve. If employees are left to their own devices, with no one instructing or supervising them to achieve specific targets, they may just laze around and your business will suffer.

Maintain rewards and incentive programs

Most people work for their own self-respect and rewards. Nothing encourages someone to work better than the prospect of gaining some compensation, uplift, or merit. You may have instituted a reward system for employees at your business. Remind your workers that the reward system will continue while they work remotely.

The prospect of earning some extra commission or monetary benefit during such uncertain times like the COVID-19 outbreak should be a good incentive for many to work more diligently. If feasible, add in some extra new perks, taking into consideration the nature of remote work. For instance, you can select the best performer of the week and reward them with paying off their Internet, fuel, or electric bill for the month or give them some online grocery coupons.

Offer rewards such as paying workers Internet, electric, or fuel bills. (Image: JoanDragonfly via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

Avoid too much control

As too many home comforts can lead to laziness and may be detrimental for work discipline, many employees do value and may even require help and encouragement with maintaining work schedules and daily structure. On the other hand, some supervisors and business owners might become too zealous and go overboard in trying to control every aspect of employee activity while they work remotely. For instance, the supervisor might demand that employees livestream and stay in front of their computers during working hours. They might even insist on employees constantly updating their location, and so on.

Avoid such paranoid demands. While in the office, do you always watch over your employees like a hawk? No. You trust them. You just supervise them and assign them the daily target, and make sure that they achieve it. This is the only thing you need to do online. Always watching them will create ill will and suspicion, which should be avoided completely. Trust them to accomplish the work. As long as they achieve their targets, there is no need to stir up problems.

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