How can employers use remote work to boost productivity?
Thanks to flexible schedules and customized work environments, remote work has become the key to striking that oft-sought work-life balance.
Some employers might worry about what’s done with company time. The surefire way to boost productivity is to understand the benefits of remote work and nurture your employees’ well-being.
Help your workers customize their environment
First, give workers a flexible schedule. Sure, you may require some employees to be available during business hours or to carve out time for meetings. But, for the most part, allowing remote workers to choose when they log their hours is a reasonable freedom to give.
Remote workers can also customize their work environment by:
- Adjusting lighting, temperature, and noise levels to their preference
- Setting up their workspace to cater to specific physical needs
- Working in a coffee shop, library, coworking space, etc.
To aid in this customization, some employers set a budget for providing home office equipment (such as laptops, desks, or computer accessories) to remote workers as needed.
You can also continue to maintain an office space for employees
to go to if they wish to work among their peers. In fact, several studies
show that employees have less stress and more focus when working from home or in a hybrid work model.
Foster an efficient remote environment
One key takeaway from the above-mentioned studies is that successful remote employees already know how to reduce personal distractions and maintain focus. However, it’s crucial for employers to encourage this behavior by adding certain tools to their toolkit:
- Remote work policies: Outline rights, responsibilities, and more in a remote work policy. You can easily add this as a section in your employee handbook. Or, if you need something more comprehensive, write a separate document to outline everything from eligibility for remote work to data security and technology requirements.
- Communication apps: Communication is crucial when you don’t meet face-to-face. Find an application that works best for your team’s work ethic and reach out regularly to keep workers engaged. Praise them for their accomplishments and, if there’s an area they need to focus on, give constructive feedback so they stay on track.
- Project management systems: These programs help teams track progress, delegate tasks, and efficiently reach their goals.
- Activity monitoring software: Some programs track clicks and keystrokes as evidence of activity, making it easy to hold employees accountable if there’s a dispute about their progress. However, state laws on the legality of activity monitoring may vary. So, check your local laws before you implement any activity monitoring.
- Data security: This is essential in today’s digital landscapes. Stay up to date on the best practices for securing devices, software, and communication channels. For example, security protocols such as VPNs can secure wifi connections.
Whether you’re running a small business or a large operation, it’s essential to implement these best practices for remote work. With the right documentation and software, you’ll put your employees in a great position to meet—or exceed—your business goals.
Encourage employee well-being
It’s true that remote work has already been shown to improve workers’ well-being, but employers still have a key role to play.
For example, some remote workers have trouble removing themselves from their job and taking meaningful breaks. Employers should be mindful of this and take steps to encourage a healthy distraction.
What is a healthy distraction? It’s a break that leaves someone feeling energized and ready to regain focus.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found that drinking a coffee or going to the bathroom (i.e., common break activities) didn’t impact vitality.
Instead, workers felt energized after taking a break to learn something new or engage in the company culture. Encouraging these types of activities during working hours may lead to more productive workers. For instance, employers can:
- Subscribe to an online training academy or other resources
- Encourage employees to work on learning material while in between projects
- Plan training opportunities (e.g., “lunch and learns” or product demonstrations)
- Prioritize team-building activities (e.g., water cooler conversations and virtual events)
- Ask employees to reflect on their work by sending out office surveys
In the end, employers must remind remote workers to be mindful of their energy levels and mental health. By providing opportunities to engage with healthy distractions, employers can further support their employees’ well-being.