How do you know your remote employees are working? If you’re worried about how much your remote team is getting done, you’re not alone. A lot of managers are concerned that working from home will cause a drop in productivity.
This is a common mindset right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked an explosion in remote work. Thousands of teams are working from home for the first time, and remaining productive is harder and more important than ever. Going remote can be tough. Distractions like kids and household chores can drain a person’s focus. Especially when employees are already stressed or disengaged, remote worker accountability is a valid concern.
With so many people working remotely for the first time, remote productivity monitoring can help teams adjust. Whether your plans are short term or long, it’s wise to keep track of how your team is doing. Be careful, though. Your efforts to monitor your team can actually hurt productivity. Nobody likes being micromanaged.
Four ways to create a culture of productivity
1. Hire the right people
When you hire people in the office, you look for a good cultural fit. Your team will spend a lot of time around each other and it’s important that they get along. Hiring for remote positions requires a cultural fit, too. Some people struggle when working from home. Look for these traits in a great remote candidate:
- Accountability: they take responsibility for their own work and consistently meet deadlines
- Self discipline: they’re good at staying on task without needing a reminder
- Integrity: they do what they say they’re going to do
- Experience with remote work: they’re familiar and comfortable with working from home
2. Document all of your processes
Building a resource library is a good idea for every team. Invest that time now. You’ll be glad you did. For remote teams, good documentation gets rid of a potential roadblock: you. Your team can find answers for themselves without waiting for you. That means they can work whenever they’re most productive, even if you’re not around.
Onboarding is much easier with well-documented processes, too. New team members start producing good work faster, and it takes less effort from you. Store your documentation where it can easily be shared and referenced by the right people. You can use Dropbox, Google Drive, or an internal shared drive. Just make sure that everything is organized and labeled clearly so that you can find it when you need it.
3. Recognize good work
Appreciation is important. While working from home, it’s easy to overlook employee recognition. Create a habit of publicly praising good work. Train yourself to recognize and reward good work. It’s dangerously easy to fall into the habit of criticizing too much and complimenting too little, especially when you don’t see your team face-to-face.
4. Encourage balance and health
Remote work can and should be flexible. Allow your employees to find their own balance. If you knew work would be completed more efficiently and with better quality, would you care what time it was done? Focus on productivity instead of availability during specific hours. Set deadlines and empower your team to get work done whenever it makes the most sense.
Flexibility gives you and your team the opportunity to focus on your physical and mental health in addition to your work.
As you first transition to remote work, your team will hesitate to take advantage of the increased flexibility.
Keep encouraging them to prioritize their health and set the example by doing the same. You can get more out of your workday with simple practices like these:
- Work when you feel the most creative, even if that’s early in the morning or late in the evening
- If you feel overwhelmed or frustrated, stop work and take a walk around the neighborhood
- Take your lunch break at whatever time you start to lose focus, even if that’s not “lunchtime”
- Plan your work day around the non-work things that matter to you. Pause work for a mid-morning exercise class or to get your kids off the schoolbus in the afternoon
Work with your team to decide what work from home metrics are the most important for each role. A good productivity metric is something that your employees can influence or control, and is directly tied to your business goals.