Now that working from home has unexpectedly become the new norm within the world of work, it is vital that employers understand how to use it as vehicle for positive change, rather than viewing it as a form of demise. This new way of working brings with a host of challenge, yet they can all be overcome with enough useful knowledge. Here, we take a look at how to keep keep your team united and motivated when they’re no longer within your reach. 

 

Productivity 

 

The biggest and possibly most worrisome challenge for employers facing the prospect of their staff working from home, is how to ensure productivity doesn’t falter. When your employees are no longer in the same vicinity as you, it can feel like you have lost an element of control which could negatively affect the future success of your business. However, remote working doesn’t have to spell disaster. There is plenty you can do to maintain structure and motivation in your workforce.

 

In reality, two thirds of employees feel more productive when working from home. However, there is a risk that some may take advantage of the increased freedom and flexibility. A key method of avoidance when it comes to this is to make sure that you maintain a feeling of community within your workforce. This can be achieved with the help of cloud based communication software such as Slack or Teams, which allow for company-wide group conversations and smaller group conversations between internal teams and departments. Not only does this help to encourage communication, it also inspires teamwork and the feeling of joint responsibility for company success. Furthermore, it provides a sense of accountability that will go a long way in discouraging unprofessional behaviour. 

 

Working from home can feel one dimensional for employees compared to working with their team mates in an office environment. This can have the knock on effect on employees of age them feel that their work is less important and therefore they may dedicate less of their intention to it. To rectify this, make the most of communication software by holding regular meetings to gather everyone together. Relay business goals and the achievements of employees to nurture their passion for their roles, this way, they won’t lost sight of the fact they are part of something bigger that is still striving to succeed and grow. 

 

Another important way in which you can ensure individuals keep up their usual levels of productivity is by communicating your expectations and setting goals. This way, they have clear aims to work towards. This not only helps you to make sure that there are no areas of the business that are falling behind, but also reduces employees’ anxiety as they can be sure they are not disappointing you with what will inevitable a changed approach to their role. Try to remember that this is also a challenging time for them and therefore their productivity may be and flow initially.

 

Now that your employees are no longer close by, it is important to avoid the temptation of micromanaging. The impact of taking an overbearing approach can be decidedly negative, for example the increased pressure can be counterproductive for staff who may feel that they are not trusted. The opposite; trusting them to work on intuitive and to self motivate is a far more productive approach. Set daily or weekly goals and leave them to mange their own time. There are many different kinds of support that you can offer your employees to help boost their productivity. First, make sure you have procedures in place that give immediate support when needed, such as technical support, as these kinds of issues can have a big impact on productivity. Software like TeamViewer allows a member of the tech support team to take over the computer of the employee; an extremely efficient way to solve problems.

 

Furthermore, make sure that you provide your employees with all of the hardware they need to carry out their role. A good way to make sure this doesn’t pose any additional expense for you, is to allow them to take the hardware they use in the office, home with them. Just make sure they sign an agreement to look after it. An extra benefit of this is that by working on your computers rather than their own, you can install software that blocks things like social media. Of course, they can access this separately on their own devices but it will lessen the distraction if it is not so readily available.

 

Last but not least, another way to maintain productivity levels is to continue with any existing advancement schemes you have in place. If you expect them to carry on working hard, it would be fair for them to expect continued recognition. Things like promotions have the added benefit of boosting productivity too, which ensures that your company continues to grow even in these challenging times. You could even create new ways to recognise the kind of achievements that come with remote working.

 

Employee Welfare 

 

Working from home has posed significant mental health challenges for some. Extroverts especially struggle with the lack of social interaction that comes to being confined in their homes alone for hours at a time, rather than being part of a busy public workplace. In contrast, others face the challenge of creating a peaceful workplace in a busy home full of family member, which comes with its own mental health burdens such as stress and anxiety. One solution is to create as much flexibility as possible for your employees. Set expectations on a weekly basis for example as this allows people to juggle multiple priorities. 40% of people feel the greatest benefit of remote work is the flexible schedule. Whereas keeping up communication within the team can really help those feeling lonely and disconnected. 

 

Another common anxiety suffered by those who are now working from home, is over job security. This tends to happen as a result of feeling disconnected from their employer and worrying about a drop in their productivity as a result of the many new challenges they are facing. The best way to help to keep this at bay is through consistent communication, reassurance, and recognition of achievements. This is also why it is so important to set goals so that employees can clearly gauge their own progress. 

 

Managing your own working day all of a sudden can be daunting for anyone, so give your staff a helping hand by sharing tips on productivity. This will help them to understand what to expect from themselves and how to make the most of their time. For example, many people are more productive in the morning than the afternoon, so you could recommend that they tackle their more pressing tasks first; leaving those that are less demanding until later. Finally, provide as much structure as you can to the working days of your employees. This can be achieved with the help of things like morning meetings, scheduled lunch breaks or end of day de-briefs. Structure and routine are key to workplace wellbeing for the vast majority of people and are what most, therefore, struggle the most without.

 

Putting so many new measures in place can be a challenge in itself, but it’s important to tackle this head on in order to ensure your business survives the changing demands of the workplace. One way to have a little help with this, without breaking the bank, is to hire a virtual personal assistant from somewhere like Cymphony. The great thing about outsourcing to a VPA is that you can do so on a temporary basis which makes them very affordable. You can hand over a number of new responsibilities to them in order to ease your workload, allowing you to focus on continuing to grow your business alongside adjusting to new circumstances. 

 

Protecting Standards

 

As an employer, one of you key concerns is bound to be the maintenance of high standards of professionalism, however, you may need to learn to become more lenient. It wouldn’t be realistic to expect nothing to change when your staff have been forced into completely different working environments. For example, they might be interrupted by a pet or child in the middle of a meeting, or perhaps there will be a lot of background noise thanks to roadworks taking place outside their homes.

 

This is a challenging time for everyone so patience is important. Additionally, the lack of privacy brings a host of new challenges, to counteract this keep confidential information in written format rather than spoken out loud on video calls, and assign extra time to calls to provide lee-way for potential distractions. It is also very important to note that the likelihood of your employees having faced hardship and trauma in their personal lives has increased in the last couple of years, so make sure there is support in place for them if they ever struggle to carry out their roles.

 

Another way in which you help is to provide tips on how to create a comfortable set up, for example, the best heights for desks, chairs and computer screens. Your understanding at this time will be the difference between your employees feeling disheartened and frustrated, or feeling that it is possible to succeed in their new environment. Statistics show that remote workers work for 43% longer than those who work on site because they prefer the experience so, if you get it right, you could reap the benefits. 

 

Business Goals

 

While you invest in the wellbeing of your staff during such a troubling time, don’t forget to continue working on the future goals of your company. Not only will this keep you on track for success and growth, it is another way in which you can present consistency and security. As well as being more flexible and patient, don’t be afraid to follow through on your usual disciplinary procedures. Unfortunately there are those who will take advantage of the situation, and those who were always going to pose a threat to the company regardless of their working environment. Tolerating this could give the impression of a lack of control and suggest that there is flexibility. Knowing that certain standards are still expected, is a good way to ensure that your staff stay focused.

 

Hopefully we have given you an idea of the kind of challenges you could face as an employer when your staff switch to remote working. Don’t feel daunted by the prospect as there is plenty you can do to ensure a smooth transition and a happy workforce. You might even find that this new way of working benefits your company.

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