Productivity

Seven productivity tips to help your business thrive remotely

Reading time:  3 Minutes

Here’s how managers and CEOs can inspire productivity among their workforce, from setting specific goals to offering attractive incentives

Wondering when to bring your staff back to the office? You needn’t be in any rush: a recent survey shows that two-thirds of professionals say they are more productive while working remotely. Instead, you might want to focus your attention on harnessing this productivity – interestingly, 71% of businesses say they are struggling to adapt to remote work, especially when it comes to communication and productivity.

The good news is that there’s a potentially easy fix for these troubles. Management consultant Gallup has been studying the variables that influence the productivity and wellbeing of remote workers and has an interesting key finding: the productivity of remote workers depends on one role – the manager.

“No matter what angle Gallup takes in our research on management, how managers lead their teams and position each team member for success is critical for the productivity and engagement of employees,” explains Gallup’s Adam Hickman. “No other role in an organisation has more influence.”

With this in mind, here’s how to equip your managers – or yourself – to more effectively lead their remote teams and reap the productivity gains.

1. Set specific goals
Only about half of employees say that they can identify what is clearly expected of them. Setting goals give you and your team a clear vision and helps you to set key milestones. This includes understanding what work needs to be accomplished, the time this should take, and your expectations on performance. Start by setting goals for your business and then clarifying the role of each team member.

2. Make time for chats
Gallup research shows isolation under normal circumstances (let alone during a pandemic) can cause effectiveness to drop by 21%. To combat this, implement regular one-to-one check-ins that are unrelated to projects and deadlines.

A study from Harvard Business Review concluded that when team members find similarities with each other, they are more likely to collaborate naturally. To help this happen, make time for video call meetings that allow for chat, giving your teammates an opportunity to bond.

3. Offer frequent feedback
According to a study by Office Vibe, 40% of office workers are disengaged by a lack of feedback. Compare this with another survey that shows 79% of employees agree that recognition makes them work harder, and it’s clear what you need to do.

But don’t wait until a quarterly or yearly review. 80% of Millennials prefer their efforts to be recognised on the spot, as opposed to waiting for a formal review. For workers of all ages, 43% of employees that described themselves as ‘highly engaged’ said they received feedback at least once a week.

4. Offer incentives
Incentives are a key tool for creating a highly productive team. Seventy-eight per cent of people say they’re more productive after being rewarded, while companies that use incentive programmes report a 79% success rate in achieving their company’s goals. One report shows that annual revenues can be three times as much in businesses that implement employee incentives.

Of course, which incentives to give will depend on your business, budget and organisational structure. It could be anything from a company-wide shout-out to a gift card to the ever-popular cash bonus.

5. Set work-life boundaries
In the US, the biggest cause of stress is occupational pressures and fears, according to the American Institute of Stress. One of the ways you as an employer can combat this is to ensure your employees have a healthy balance between their work and personal time.

By doing this, you contribute to their happiness and mental wellbeing. And employees are apparently 12% more productive when feeling happy. What this means in practice is adhering to office hours and resisting the urge to contact employees out-of-hours. Managers should model the behaviour they want to boost in their employees – which means putting away your own laptop and not sending emails late into the night.

6. Step back and focus on the outcomes
Research shows that people are more inclined to be motivated by autonomy than they are from financial gain. So, to increase productivity, step back and let your team get on with it – adopting a ‘ROWE’ mindset, which stands for ‘results-only work environment’. Shift your perception of what success looks like from a team at their desks nine-to-five, to one that’s meeting deadlines, staying on track with deliverables and reaching your shared goals.

Looking for more tips on how to best manage a remote team? Why not have a look at our magazine right here