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Maintaining productivity with a remote workforce

Top tips for maintaining team productivity, wherever they work

 

Covid-19 has seen offices all over the world close their doors, with employees encouraged to work from home to help fight the pandemic and abide by lockdown laws.

Businesses did a brilliant job of adapting quickly to support staff with this new way of working. But now, there’s an opportunity to go even further to perfect your performance.

In this article we look at how to ensure your staff’s wellbeing by promoting good remote working habits –in turn, keeping your business productive.

We’ll also explore communication and collaboration, with guidance on the technology you need to keep your business ticking.

Maintaining productivity with a remote workforce

Protecting people’s wellbeing and maximising productivity

Supporting your staff’s mental wellbeing should be high on everybody’s agenda. A recent study by Oxford University suggests happy employees are up to 13% more productive than unhappy employees. A voluntary survey of your staff’s remote work environment is a good way to check how your employees are feeling.

Concentration is often the first thing to go when people are remote working, as a new environment can disturb usual working patterns. 

Promote good habits, such as turning off notifications and encouraging staff to schedule inbox checks (limited to 2-3 times a day if possible). Just one notification can derail focus for up to 23 minutes.

There are also tools that can help employees carve out time to focus amidst all the meetings, calls and possible family commitments:

  • Outlook’s MyAnalytics personal dashboard can help people understand how they use their time and find ways to block out time for focused work.
  • Digital assistants can streamline time-intensive activities. Calendar help is great when trying to find mutually agreeable times for meeting - simply cc Cortana (Microsoft’s AI assistant) in your invite.
  • Other software like the Outlook plugin, Findtime and the Zoom.ai intelligent assistant can all help your workers save time.

Remember, you’re encouraging a cultural change as much as a technological one. So lead by example – discourage after-hours communication, set a tone of flexibility and empathy, and your staff will follow suit.

1.  Improving communication

Sharing information and ensuring it has been understood is much more difficult for a remote team.

The first step is making sure you’re all on the same page – reaffirm shared visions and goals, make sure everyone knows their role in achieving them, and reestablish lines of communication.

  • Project management tools such as Asana can help workers visualise goals and allow individuals to work to achieve them in an agile way. It allows staff to share files, manage tasks and work in a unified fashion, even though they’re in different locations.
  • Video conferencing tools are an invaluable resource while workers are remote. It’s a crucial time saver and helps maintain relationships among team members.
  • Microsoft Teams can help navigate many of the time-consuming aspects involved in remote working, as instant messages can be preferred to emails. Video meetings can be set up easily with any member of your organisation, and all its features have the same level of security and compliance as with Microsoft 365.
  •  Use your time productively: for quick requests, give your colleagues and clients a quick phone call instead of organising a 30-minute video call. This will help alleviate video fatigue and enhance employee productivity and wellbeing.

Remember to schedule and encourage informal meetings with and among teams. These not only help maintain relationships, but can also serve as a ‘wellness check-in’. This period is going to be harder on some people than others, and you won’t know who’s struggling unless you take the time to reach out and ask.

Maintaining productivity with a remote workforce - Tips and tricks

2.  Supporting collaboration

We all know how crucial collaboration is to success. But with your workforce now remote, it’s more important than ever that teams still feel like they can work together.

So find new ways to work as collaboratively as possible:

  • Real-time document revision applications can help to reduce confusion and speed up the approval and feedback process.
  • Consider bringing your business onto the cloud, as the services it offers are wide-ranging and ideal for a remote workforce. It will allow your employees to access applications, emails, data and so much more easily from anywhere in the world.
  • The Cloud can also go a long way towards ensuring the safety of your business-critical information. Features such as Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) mean you’re safe from downtime, even if there’s a security breach.

For more specific guidance around protecting your business, take a look at our piece on protecting your business from cyber and fraud risk

For more support you can also speak to one of our Business Advisers by phone or web chat. Wondering what you can ask? Our team can help with a range of digital topics

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