62 percent of employees now work remotely at least part of the time. It’s not in doubt that remote work is the future of work.
Whether your business is one of the 16 percent of those that have gone fully remote or among the many that have a hybrid work model (remote + on-site), you’re certainly facing the myriad challenges that come with a remote workforce.
One of these challenges is keeping your remote workers focused on the job. Without the physical supervision that’s only possible when you have on-site workers, it can be difficult to keep an eye on your people and ensure they’re putting in a proper shift.
In this article, we’re sharing effective strategies you can use to ensure remote employees stay focused and productive.
Provide Essential Tools
Let’s face it: remote work and distractions go hand in hand.
In the workplace, it’s easier for workers to beat distractions since they know the boss is probably watching. At home, and without anyone’s supervision, distractions can get in the way. This is especially the case when a worker has a family and other household tasks to attend to.
Another major cause of distraction is the lack of proper remote working tools. If your employees don’t have access to a computer with a good internet connection at home, they might be forced to work from a nearby internet café. The commute, however short, will steal some of their focus and if we’re being honest, a café isn’t the best place to stay productive.
Providing your employees with the essential tools they need to do their jobs is key to keeping them focused. This might mean buying them new computers and investing in collaboration software, but the return on investment will be worth it.
Lead By Example
While there are employees who will strive to do the bare minimum when working from home, the truth is most will actually work longer than required. It’s not uncommon to find remote workers on their computers long after 4 pm. Some start off their workday before the crack of dawn.
As a manager, you might not see anything wrong when members of the remote team are putting in extra hours even with no overtime pay. Your organization has nothing to lose and everything to gain, right? Wrong.
Overworking leads to poor work-life balance. It’s never a good sign when your remote staffers aren’t adhering to the regular work schedule and taking frequent breaks.
It’s not just enough to remind them that they still need to observe the regular hours or take their lunch breaks. You ought to lead by example. Show them how to do it and they’ll copy.
For example, you can use a calendar app to share your schedule with your remote team. Indicate when you’re taking breaks, signing off for the day, and even when doing personal activities, such as going to the dentist.
Better scheduling and time management lead to improved work-life balance, which is good for maintaining focus at work.
Check on Your Remote Team Daily
With collaboration software, it can feel like you and your remote workers are in constant communication. Sharing memes and cracking jokes on your channels is good for enhancing that sense of togetherness, but don’t let it stop there.
As an employer or manager, you have a responsibility to check on your employees individually. Depending on the level of openness you’ve cultivated with them, they’ll be free to share about their lives and the challenges they’re facing. You can use this feedback to design and implement better remote work policies.
How often should you check on them? Daily would be a good practice if you have a small, close-knit team. If your team is large, it can be challenging to keep up with daily check-ins, but make sure to do so as frequently as possible.
Assign Tasks Prudently
How you assign tasks to your remote team can have a big impact on their focus.
The go-to approach for most managers is to assign a batch of tasks to each employee or let them take on as many tasks as they’d like. This improves employee autonomy and it shows you trust them to work at their own pace, as long as deadlines are met.
But when you think of this from another dimension where employees juggle multiple tasks, jumping to new tasks as soon as one becomes difficult, it’s easy to see how focus –and productivity—can be lost.
Assigning tasks diligently will help your remote team stay focused. If you know that an employee doesn’t perform well when assigned multiple tasks, don’t assume they’ll just because they’re now remote. One task at a time will keep them focused and productive.
Incentives Go a Long Way
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of employee incentives is the associated cost. This is understandable since most small businesses run on shoestring budgets.
However, incentives help a lot when you’re trying to keep a remote team focused. Whether it’s a financial bonus, time off, or a grocery voucher, your employees will appreciate the gesture and reward you with proper shifts when they’re working.
Plus, one great thing about hiring remote employees is the cost savings. A Global Workforce Analytics study shows that companies can save $11,000 per employee every year when they allow remote work half the time. You can use these savings to invest in an incentives program.
Laser-Focused Remote Workers
The COVID-19 pandemic might have accelerated the growth of remote work, but while the pandemic slowly disappears, remote work is here to stay. Getting the most out of your remote workers should be one of your primary objectives. Use these strategies to help them stay focused in an environment where distractions are the order of the day.
Keep tabs on our blog for more workplace tips and advice.
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