Businesses worked remotely before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic led to global disruptive lockdown measures, which catalyzed many companies' adoption of remote work. In countries such as the United States, the number of employees that work remotely has spiked to at least four times the number of employees that worked remotely before.
This growing trend towards remote work is affecting the entire globe, and businesses stand to benefit by implementing measures to adapt to a changing work environment. Despite the many benefits of remote work productivity, organizations need to implement strategies to get the most from the future of work.
In this article, we’ll explore the connection between remote work and productivity, so that organizations and their teams can maximize their future collaborations.
What Is Remote Work?
Remote work is an arrangement that allows employees to work at a location outside the office. The practice of remote work was implemented as far back as the 1980s. While it is not a new concept, it has recently gained more traction.
The cultural paradigm shift in what is considered an appropriate workplace pressures companies to create a suitable environment for remote work to thrive. However, management needs to take steps to successfully harness the benefits of remote work — and limit the potential risks.
Remote work has transformed the workplace, and there is a need to acknowledge the potential impacts and how to reap the key benefits.
Why Is Remote Work Important?
Remote working is primarily based on communication technologies so that teams can maintain alignment, collaborate, and can communicate their results. Remote working has been responsible for various benefits listed below:
- Greater flexibility: Employees and employers make arrangements that are best suitable for the employees.
- Increased autonomy. Employees have increased control over their working conditions and processes.
- Better work-life balance. Remote work employees report 20% greater satisfaction and happiness than traditional employees.
- Reduced commuting time. Employees can work from home
- Increased productivity. Increased productivity is attributed to many factors, such as convenient work environments.
These are just a few of the key benefits for organizations. Still, productivity is one benefit determined by managers' perception of the changes caused by remote work. This is because remote work can boost productivity when it is well-managed.
Remote Work and Productivity
Initially, many organizations believed that remote work would lead to a dip in productivity as employees could be distracted by the comfort of working from home. However, multiple studies on hybrid and remote employees have illustrated that managers need to support remote work.
In fact, remote working contributes to increased productivity. This is because employees working from home are likely to work long hours; at least 40% of employees work longer hours from home than in traditional offices. Research illustrates that the extended work days for remote workers are at least 48.5 minutes longer.
While working more doesn’t necessarily correlate with productivity, a study from Economic Observatory found that remote teams are between 3 and 4% more productive, on average, than their in-person comparisons — with a staggering 39.7% of individuals reporting enhanced productivity when working remotely.
Despite remote employees working longer hours, they also experienced dramatically improved work-life balance compared to those working in a traditional workplace, removing the need for long commutes or enabling flexibility to manage other tasks during the course of a day. Achieving work-life balance means that the employees are happier — which, in turn, contributes to increased productivity.
Additionally, productivity spikes because employees experience less stress, since they have autonomy over their work, schedule, and processes. Therefore, remote employees create a conducive environment that allows them to reduce their stress levels.
Fostering an environment that supports work-life balance and generally keeps employees happy will allow employees to be more engaged, flexible, and creative.
How to Get the Most From the Future of Work
While the connection between remote work and productivity is clear, organizations are still faced with the key challenges of adapting to the new work environment. While employees work for longer hours and achieve more, there are significant risks to their well-being. This is because the employees are working outside the norm of conventional offices.
Productivity Challenges in Remote Work
Overcoming and pre-empting the potential challenges to productivity when working remotely is incumbent upon leaders and teams alike. Failure to respond effectively to these challenges will surely affect the rate of productivity. These challenges include:
- Loss of focus & consistency
- Ineffective feedback loops
- Social isolation
- Temptations & procrastination
- Data risk and technological interruptions.
Hence, the following solutions can allow managers to get the most from remote work.
1. Increase team engagement
A lack of focus and consistency can be tackled by prioritizing team engagement. The manager must ensure that the employees are aligned with the company's goals to achieve remote work productivity. Employees can understand the company's vision through constant emphasis by the managers.
This will involve reassessing the organizational goals and redefining how the employees can connect with the company's aim allowing them to comprehend their aim fully and achieve the productivity goals. Team engagement can be achieved by conducting virtual meetings and hangouts.
2. Effective Time Management
Adopting several management tools helps managers address employee inefficiencies. Project management tools such as Trello have an incredible, easy-to-use graphical interface, supporting the tracking and alignment of teams involved in projects. This ensures that project deadlines are easy to meet.
While the various tasks have deadlines, remote employees still have the flexibility to carry out the work and meet the deadline and objectives. The management tools offer guidance rather than a fixed framework that the employees need to follow.
3. Plan for Feedback
Feedback is one of the most valuable tools that enhance productivity for any organization. However, remote work creates challenges as the managers need help seeing the employees' progress. You can create a collaborative workflow by providing various feedback forms, such as emails concerning team members' performances.
Feedback can be positive to illustrate that a manager cares about the employees' work and has a positive impact on remote work productivity. Survey tools allow employees to give feedback, guiding managers in developing and improving the remote work environment.
4. Find Creative Ways to Motivate the Employees
You can find creative ways to motivate employees, as this will improve their work-life balance and increase productivity. Therefore, managers need to ensure that activities that would take place in the conventional workplace are carried out in the virtual workspace. Celebrating employees' special dates, such as anniversaries and birthdays, in the virtual workplace can lead to more productivity rewards.
Employee Recognition programs will allow you to motivate remote employees leading to increased productivity. The programs ensure that a high standard of behavior is still applicable in the new remote workplace. Using the right tools will allow the organization to manage these abstract concepts.
5. Implement Remote Work Security
One way to address the challenges of remote work is to have a security strategy to address the various cyber threats. A centralized cloud computing solution allows employees to access data from a centralized position. Furthermore, managers can implement other security features, such as malware scanning, to protect employees and the organization's data.
Moreover, the managers should provide remote employees with the equipment to operate remotely. Therefore, a test of the employees' internet connections can determine their contribution towards the company's productivity.
6. Provide the Right Communication Tools
In remote work, managers should implement formal and informal communication channels. An array of tools will support managers in setting task priorities and communicating messages properly.
Informal communication channels are essential in remote working as they build employee relationships effectively. The communication strategies should allow for two-way communication where employees can seek help in case of challenges or additional support.
Existing Solutions to Help Organizations Manage Remote Work Productivity
Correct remote work management will improve productivity. However, correct management of all aspects is challenging, especially in hiring remote workers. Therefore, optimizing the hiring process ensures the company is well-placed to achieve its productivity goals.
A manager must make critical decisions regarding contractor and employee hiring, onboarding, and the management of payroll and other HR-related tasks. The complexity of these decisions can hinder the company's productivity, especially when wrong decisions are made at critical points.
For example, RemotePass supports the remote hiring, onboarding, and management processes, unifying the administration of remote working into a single, easy-to-use solution.
While achieving remote working productivity appears challenging at first glance, the process can become effortless with the right amount of support and tools.
The Bottom Line
Remote work is the future. This trend is affecting the globe, demanding that organizations respond to the movement and support remote work productivity in the process. After all, doing so has significant benefits for employers and teams alike.
Despite the advantages of remote work, managers must be aware of the challenges. As a result, managers must make many decisions on how they implement remote work. Choosing purpose-built solutions, such as RemotePass, to provide support. After all, when managed well, remote work will take productivity to the next level.