Remote working has quickly transitioned from novel arrangement to industry standard, as development of workable technologies and systems were hastened by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Today, even as the threat of lockdowns and restrictions on gathering become ever-more dim a memory, remote working appears to be very much here to stay; according to recent statistics, 85% of working adults prefer a hybrid approach to work than to visit the office full-time.
Useful and convenient as remote working can be, questions are inevitably raised about productivity in remote workers. As a business leader, what can you implement to eliminate the risk of reduced productivity?
Many managers’ first instinct when faced with a performance-related challenge is to increase their presence with regard to their team, and to attempt to more finely control the itinerary and output of their staff in order to ‘brute-force’ an improvement in results. Contrary to popular wisdom, this can in fact reduce productivity, by virtue of significantly impacting motivation. It also has a name: micro-management.
The compulsion to micromanage is even greater in a remote working environment. No longer being able to physically supervise your staff can lead to feelings amongst management that they are losing control of their department. However, diligent and well-trained staff often respond better to increased autonomy than increased management.
All you need to do is ensure clear goals and deadlines are defined from the outset, and leave your staff to do the rest. Productivity will not suffer, where it may well do under a micromanagement scenario.
Provide Your Teams With Useful Software
Remote working is only truly possible thanks to the extensive range of communications networks, equipment and software to which we all have access. Video conference applications and team messaging services are the backbone of functioning remote teams, but are only scratching the surface.
There are scores of tools and applications which can, in concert, help transform your departments for the digital, remote-working age. For example, instituting an ERP system can increase efficiency and productivity for remote teams, through the centralisation of data management to one broadly-accessible place; cloud technologies also enable deep collaboration on complex project files and documents alike.
If productivity is suffering in a given department, it is easy to immediately look to the employees as the root cause. But waning motivation is merely a symptom – and a much simpler explanation for this symptom can be found in that department’s management.
Management training should be a bedrock concern for growing and established businesses, both to improve the quality of leadership and to ensure your lower-level employees are receiving the support and motivation they need.
Lastly, even as departments across the country shift to hybrid working arrangements, there is no substitute for meeting a colleague in person. Remote working can be a detaching experience, especially for new staff onboarded as remote workers who have never been formally introduced to their team. With this in mind, scheduling regular in-person events and social occasions can assist in building team cohesion and company culture.