In the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, managers across the world are advising employees to work from home to limit the spread of infection. Employees accustomed to spending their days in the office now find themselves having to adapt, and quickly.
This sudden change to routine has the potential to limit productivity and damage businesses. However, there are steps both employees and managers can take to ensure everyone remains effective and engaged in their work.
For many, being forced to work alone will be a new experience. While some employees will have experienced partial remote working, consistently working alone requires a different mindset.
Although it can take some getting used to, with the right approach, working remotely can be a success - even a benefit for businesses.
Increasing in popularity over the last 20 years, the bank of research into remote working is growing. Not only is it becoming more accepted, is it a sought after feature of the workplace. Between 1996 and 2016, The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that the number of companies offering remote working options had tripled.
Remote working can benefit both employees and employers. Zara Greenbaum at the American Psychological Association (APA) explains that for employers, remote working can reduce expenses and overheads. Removing geographical limitations also opens up the talent pool - leaders can hire from wherever they like. Employees gain flexibility, save time, and reduce transportation and child care costs.
Greenbaum adds that while there are definite advantages, leaders need to consider their approach to remote working to ensure productivity, creativity, and morale are maintained.
Despite the current need for people to work from home, in the digital era, it is helpful for everyone to consider how to be more productive and engaged when working outside of the office environment. Of course, not all employees can work at home, but for those who can, it makes sense to learn how to optimize the process.
1. Communicate regularly
When teams work remotely, there are fewer opportunities to engage socially and bounce ideas around. This isolation can negatively impact productivity, team morale, and creativity.
To avoid this slump, and maintain working relationships with teammates, it's crucial to make an effort to be involved in Skype meetings, video chats, conference calls, LinkedIn groups – whatever it takes. This connection will help you stay in touch with your colleagues and managers, as well as be in the loop with networking or career opportunities.
This course from Cegos Training highlights that effective communication is not just recommended, but is a vital key to success for remote teams. The content includes tips on how to manage team members’ activities as well as how to boost motivation.
2. Build trust
Trust is an integral part of any professional relationship, and this is put to the test when employees work remotely. For the most part, managers are unable to see what is going on when employees work from home until they deliver a piece of work or tangible contribution to a project.
Building a relationship of trust works both ways. Employees can set boundaries with their line managers, and those in leadership need to make their expectations clear.
3. Focus on productivity
If you are new to working at home, being productive can be a challenge. In theory, there are fewer distractions than in the office, but even if you are at home alone, there are plenty of new ways to procrastinate.
Being a successful remote worker takes a lot of discipline and structure. It's essential to establish a good routine and a realistic schedule that works for both you and your employer.
This means figuring out what hours you’ll work, as well as the hours you won’t work. Remote workers are susceptible to working around the clock, being available and switched ‘on’ at all hours. It may take a while to figure out the best work schedule for you that fits in with your lifestyle and personal working habits.
This course from Biz Library teaches employees and managers alike how to take advantage of remote working, starting with a focus on productivity.
4. Find out what motivates you
Many people derive motivation to work hard from being in the same space as their colleagues and managers. The physical presence of others who are working away at their desks is incentive enough to keep up with the pace and not fall behind.
When working from home, this particular motivation disappears, so you need to find out what else motivates you to complete your work to a high standard.
Motivations and rewards drive us forward. Without a reward after completing a task, we will find it challenging to be motivated to repeat it, work efficiently, or put in 100% effort.
This series from CreativeLive focuses on tricks for setting up for success in a remote role and ensuring a smooth transition from the workplace.
5. Celebrate achievements
When teams aren’t in direct contact with each other, celebrating success can sometimes feel forced or formulaic. In this situation, it is crucial not only to find a way to acknowledge team achievements but to reward yourself regularly. This mindset will help to boost your motivation and keep you engaged with the work.
Before moving on to the next task, acknowledge either your achievement or compliment a colleague.
Sophia is a freelance writer who specialises in thought leadership, opinion pieces and content creation for learning publications. Her work focuses on the latest research in learning theory and practice. She regularly contributes articles on workplace learning and professional development to the Go1 blog. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.