How to Increase Employee Productivity in a Remote or Hybrid Work Environment
With technology improving rapidly over the past decade, working from home (WFH) has become more than a keyword trend. Once COVID-19 hit, it became a reality. Despite concern by some managers that their staff would be loafing instead of working, research has shown that giving people more autonomy over their work has increased productivity.
With this increasing trend of people regularly working from home for at least some of the week, employers may need to explore the concept to see if it will increase productivity and ensure a positive digital experience for their employees.
From your work experience, it will be no surprise that stressed staff are less productive, and happy staff members are more effective – achieving at least a 10% increase, with Google reporting up to 37% for their employees. This is due to happy people being overall healthier, more loyal, innovative, and having improved interpersonal skills. Having happy staff will increase productivity and help your bank balance.
Instead of dealing with the rush hour commute, a 30-second walk to the home office is a great way to improve your mood. Being able to put on a load of washing or start dinner earlier may be small, but each of these can make home life a little bit easier, so if your team can work remotely or practice hybrid working, you may need to think more about it.
We'll outline the pros and cons of remote or hybrid working models and how to implement them in your company.
1) Being connected and collaborative
To maintain a high sense of self-worth and satisfaction, employees must feel they are part of the team when they work from home. Currently, around 40% of those working independently do not feel connected to their organization, which is a problem for staff retention as there is at least a 13% higher turnover rate with staff who continuously work from home.
5 Tips to boost the connected and collaborative feeling:
- Schedule regular brief meetings via video with the whole team or subsets. Use an agenda to keep everyone on track so there are no surprises.
- Schedule regular meetings with individuals to check in on agreed goals, set new milestones, and have some human contact.
- Use send-all emails requesting feedback on specified topics.
- Use the hybrid model, rather than the remote one, for individuals who prefer a balance of working solo and with others.
- A picture is worth a thousand words, so ensure everyone has the software, hardware, and education to video call and share screens and documents.
The Really Great Teacher Company employs 5,000 remote language teachers in 54 countries across the globe. James Thompson, the CEO, recommends: "creating touch points for real human connection and opportunities for our teams to interact with each other outside of the virtual classrooms." Their Evolve program allows collaboration to engage and motivate employees with the following:
- Health and fitness apps
- Special interest groups
- Mindfulness and life coaching
- Fun games and activities
Creating a sense of community is crucial for success.
2) The right tools for the job support Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
The US Government's OSH Act applies to all work employees performing in any workplace, including their homes. In the office, your staff sits at ergonomic workstations with quality keyboards, phones, and other tech equipment. Most of this needs to be replicated in the home office to avoid physical fatigue or RSI complications that will cost you money and cause hardship for staff.
Consider the AAK970 Acer wireless keyboard and mouse set that is both Chromebook and PC compatible, along with one of the latest monitors designed primarily for comfort and safety within the business space. Combine this with the following:
- Fast Laptop
- Laptop Stand
- USB docking station if 3 or more screens are required
- Webcam, if required
- Dual headsets for both computers and phones
OSHA issues will disappear, increasing your remote employees' productivity, safety, and comfort.
4 Tips to increase OSHA while working remotely:
- Have employees take a photo of their home workspace so you can see the ergonomic workstation, adequate lighting, trips, fall hazards, and safe wiring to help ensure fewer OSHA claims in the future.
- Education around prevention of RSI - e.g., how to stop 'mouse arm.'
- Where possible, regularly change tasks to lessen RSI and to change mental stimulation.
- Ensure scheduled breaks during the day.
5 Essential tools for remote working:
- Endpoint security to protect data is vital. Networks must have multi-factor identification to limit hacking
- Isolation technology that silos browsers within the cloud helps reduce cyberattacks.
- Fast and reliable connectivity allows real-time access to the company network and videoconference.
- Cloud storage allows staff to store and access documents and information from any location.
- Access specialized organizational apps that enable the person to access and maintain quality data.
3) Do I need to monitor employee productivity?
Most managers know how much work an employee regularly produces without having a formal monitoring process within the office. However, this may be more challenging when staff members work remotely, and the manager may initially be concerned that the team could be more productive when working offsite.
Research generally shows that employees are more productive while working remotely. The reasons are:
- Fewer distractions
- Less absenteeism
- Better work-life balance
- Not having to commute
These factors help reduce stress, time, and money spent on travel. This extra time allows employees to focus on healthier activities, like exercise, gardening, relaxation, and catching up with family or friends, which improves their mood.
3 Tips to help you stay on top of monitoring include:
- Regular checking in with staff to collaborate on setting goals and expectations.
- If appropriate, encourage collaboration of project work between small groups.
- An effective performance appraisal system.
If you are still not comfortable with employee productivity, you have other choices:
- Use the hybrid work model to limit time alone.
- Bring staff back to the office full-time (working from home is a privilege and not a right).
- Use an employment productivity tracker.
A productivity tracker could be as low-tech as having the person summarize their work on a day planner that is emailed to the manager daily. Or you could use software such as Smarttasks or Monday.com that tracks and reports on pieces of work/projects and other tasks.
Pros and cons of remote or hybrid working models
Remote work pros for employee
The United States Census Bureau reported in 2019 that the average one-way time to commute to work is 27.6 minutes, or almost an hour a day. A Work from Home model has a definite advantage for the employee as time saved in travel can be used for other more enjoyable activities.
- Fewer distractions from colleagues mean you are more productive, which can satisfy goal-oriented personnel.
Remote work cons for employee
- Never being in the same room as colleagues can be lonely, leading to social isolation and disconnection from the workplace, and can negatively impact mental health.
Remote work pros for organization
- Employees are generally more productive, increasing profit.
- Allowing employees to work at a pace that better suits the individual reduces absenteeism.
- Office running costs reduce substantially.
Remote work cons for organization
- Managers may initially be concerned that employees will not be trustworthy while working from home.
- Employees disconnect while remote working could encourage them to find work elsewhere. Training new staff is expensive and causes a temporary slump in productivity.
- Establish regularly scheduled appointments between staff members or joint projects to enhance a sense of belonging to a team. Use an agenda to keep the meeting on track.
- Use the hybrid work model, where an agreement is made for employees to work from home on specified days or times of the week and in the office on other days.
- When hiring new staff, please find out about their workplace preferences and experience working offsite.
Because there are advantages to both employees' and organizations' productivity and well-being, discussing hybrid or remote workplace modeling is well worth it.
*The opinions reflected in this article are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect any official positions or claims by Acer Inc.
About Robert Stark: Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.