With the advent of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the trend towards remote work has suddenly accelerated. Many people are now finding themselves struggling to work productively in a new environment or having a hard time managing their team at a distance.
All businesses are at different stages of this learning curve, and many lack any previous experience with remote work. But like it or not, remote work is here to stay; and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
In fact, 90% of employees say flexible working arrangements create morale, and there is a growing evidence that home-based workers are more productive and happier in their jobs.
Long-term, the ability to work remotely can only benefit organizations. It provides companies with a wider pool of jobseekers and boosts company loyalty. In fact, two thirds of knowledge workers believe that offices as we now know them will disappear completely by 2030.
However, there’s no denying that embedding a productive and harmonious remote working culture doesn’t happen overnight. Companies need the right software, tools, and working practices to create and maintain a healthy remote culture.
So, how can you create a thriving and productive team at a distance during the current crisis and in the future?
1. Create a List of Priorities
Working remotely means that the boundaries between work and home life can become blurred. Many who are new to home-based working can initially struggle with a lack of concrete boundaries. This can result in a productivity drop or even company-wide burnout.
So, it’s crucial for companies to find a realistic balance early on in the transition to remote work. One of the skills which can aid remote employees is learning how to prioritize. Encourage your staff to maximize their time by limiting virtual meetings to short-check ins and focusing on project work during the morning hours.
You can aid in this prioritizing by creating new working-from-home policies. If necessary, arrange for check-ins throughout the day to make sure your team is on course. While you want to avoid micromanaging, staying in frequent contact will help your team remain accountable.
If staff are feeling overwhelmed, introduce them to a prioritization matrix to help them filter their tasks. A supportive (not controlling) manager can do a lot to help a team perform and deliver.
2. Increase Team Communication
One of the most common struggles remote workers face is a lack of office camaraderie and team culture. You can increase teamwork, productivity, and camaraderie by choosing the right collaboration platforms for your company.
According to one study, 46% of C-suite executives expect the Internet of Things, or the ability to connect through a variety of digital means, to increase team productivity. Communicating intentionally can help you take advantage of that potential productivity boost.
Communication and project management processes need to be especially intentional when a team is separated physically.
Encourage the use of instant messaging functions and cameras-on web meetings. Ensure that these meetings have an agenda, but also leave space for social talk. It’s these little bonds created over casual, personal conversation that actually bind a team together, so arranging activities like remote quizzes and informal chats can also make the team feel more connected.
An experienced IT company can help you put communication solutions in place in terms of choosing software best suited for your needs and updating hardware needed to communicate and perform.
3. Take Breaks
Taking frequent breaks is another important boundary for remote workers to maintain. Taking a regular screen break is important for vision, musculo-skeletal health, and mental agility.
Try introducing remote workers to practices such as the Pomodoro Technique, which encourages intense focus on a task for a burst of time, followed by a short break away from the computer.
Also encourage employees to take a proper lunch break. Getting out into the fresh air is a good way to re-energize and boost concentration, so you could try suggesting a lunchtime walk as a way to keep the day on track.
4. Create Your Own Workspace at Home
It’s very important for home-based workers to create a space where they can work effectively. This means creating a proper office space with an ergonomically adjusted chair and desk to prevent work-related injury, and somewhere that they can minimize interruptions throughout the day.
Having a separate space such as a home office is ideal, but if this isn’t available, suggest that your workers try to create one specific area where they keep their laptop and work-related files that can be cleared away and secured at the end of the day.
This physical distinction provides a vital mental separation between work and personal time that can help create a healthy and sustainable work-life balance.