Looking After Your Best Assets While Working Remotely
One of the direct effects of Covid-19 on the US workforce has been an increase in remote work.
Telework had been on an upward trend for a few years, but the figures have nearly doubled since the outbreak. Remote work is praised for boosting morale, generating engagement, and improving productivity, so it’s not surprising many employees actively sought this option even before the pandemic.
But telework has potential downsides. If your business has suddenly had to adopt this arrangement because of Covid-19, it’s important to ensure that you look after your employees – after all, productive and happy employees are your company’s best assets. Here’s a brief guide to improving employee productivity, engagement, and mental health whilst working remotely.
Keep Them Engaged
As the corporate world shifts to remote work under less-than-ideal circumstances, the focus is on getting things done. But employee engagement should not to overlooked. Staff won’t be productive unless their engagement levels are high. The statistics confirm it: engaged teams are highly productive.
To motivate staff to do their best work, business owners should lead by example. For example, you could share practical things you’re doing to keep motivated while working remotely. And from time to time, you may want to start the work day with a short virtual meeting to let them know their work is valued and valuable. Recognition goes a long way building engagement.
Speaking of recognition, this may also be a good time to tweak your employee rewards system. Many of the rewards are no longer available (e.g. spa breaks or tickets to concerts), but these could be replaced by food delivery memberships, home workout subscriptions, or courses your staff may want to take. Courses don’t have to be work related, since anything that boosts self-confidence and creativity can help them be more focused and engaged.
Remote work is the new normal for many employees. Because this happened without an adaptation period, some may find it hard to be productive straight away.
There most common barriers to productivity also apply to remote work, with distractions and interruptions topping the list. To counter this, you could offer web-based training on how to avoid these problems so employees aren’t left to cope with them on their own and have practical mechanisms to stay productive.
Lacking the right tools can also interfere with productivity. Many remote workers have had to set a home office in a rush, so make sure they have all the IT equipment needed to do their job. If your business is adopting new tools to work remotely, you could provide FAQ or training sessions in video format to ensure everyone is on the same page. And it’s also worth investing in productivity tools that increase focus, specifically those created for remote workers.
Protecting Their Mental Health
In a 2018 survey, more than 85% of participants said remote work helps reduce stress because it gives them flexibility and autonomy. Burnout is one of the major causes of stress in the workplace, and remote work also carries risks of burnout too. And because the situation has made some industries work against the clock, the risk right now is even higher. To prevent this, you want to ensure staff know how to recognize the early symptoms of burnout and know where to look for help.
Employee wellness programs may need to be redesigned in view of social distancing measures. Virtual options are available and had been gathering steam for a while even prior to the pandemic. The development of 3D technology has opened up a world of digital wellness interventions and now may be the time to jump on the bandwagon.
The current situation also highlighted the importance of being there for each other to fend off the negative effects of isolation. Now is the time to offer support to your remote workers and to keep communication open with a virtual open door policy. Or maybe you want to consider informal mentoring schemes, where those more experienced working remotely can support employees who struggle.
Lastly, work has an important social aspect, so it’s important to plan interaction between teams even if it’s through virtual gatherings. This will create stronger team bonds and foster a positive mindset and stronger morale.
Remote work presents an opportunity to reshape the future of your business and strengthen its human capital. And because it seems that remote work is here to stay, now is the time to start planning for the new environment so it supports your organizational goals and takes care of your company’s best assets.