While remote working was a necessity in 2020, it has quickly become an essential way of operating going forward. Not only does it ensure adherence to social distancing and other safety protocols during a pandemic, it has several other economic and productivity-related benefits too.
A recent study by Microsoft, Work Reworked, which was conducted in partnership with Boston Consulting Group, KRC Research and Dr Michael Parke of the Wharton School, reveals that as many as 88% of leaders of large enterprises expect to permanently adopt a more hybrid way of working.
While this shift does present challenges, the most pressing is how business leaders can better manage remote employees, and offer them the same support to drive productivity, irrespective of where they are.
With ever-changing government regulations relating to the pandemic leading to high levels of uncertainty amongst employees, employers must be able to offer them with both the guidance and the support they need to function optimally. Gary Epstein, Managing Director at Easybiz Technologies, highlights a few crucial tips that employers can consider implementing to drive remote employee productivity:
Be attentive and supportive
The pandemic and concept of remote working have resulted in an underlying sense of anxiety amongst many employees, in both their personal and business lives. Employers should lead with empathy, and emphasise a commitment to employee wellbeing, making it known that they care about and support employees and their families.
Equip employees with the right tools
Remote working is only possible if employees are equipped with the right technological tools to do their jobs, such as laptops and reliable internet connections. While virtual meetings are becoming commonplace, employers must bear in mind that employees may not be comfortable or know how to use these technologies effectively. Employers should commit to educating and training employees on the use of the various channels.
Encourage open dialogue
Two-way dialogue is essential for successful employer/employee engagement. Research by Gartner suggests that an employee’s understanding of business decisions and their associated implications during times of change are far more important for the success of a change initiative than employees liking the change.
Trust in employees
Employers may be concerned about losing visibility of remote employees, however, micromanaging them during an already stressful and fragile period will only add unnecessary pressure to already fatigued employees. Employers should instead trust that employees are striving to do their best and only address issues when there is evidence to the contrary.
Reinforce company values
The majority of businesses spend extensive time and resources in outlining their missions, vision, core values and beliefs. By reiterating these with employees, they can renew employee buy-in and keep the company narrative top of mind. Apart from encouraging employees, it will promote an overall sense of well being and belonging in these difficult times.
Highlighting business objectives to drive clarity
The uncertainties of the current business environment result in many employees feeling unsure of where to focus their attention. It’s no secret that employees who can see the positive impact their work has on the success of the business have an overall lower sense of anxiety when it comes to job security. In support of this, employers should reaffirm business objectives to provide greater clarity for employees and, in turn drive, greater levels of employee engagement and productivity.
Employees want to be recognised for their accomplishments. As an essential motivational driver, this sense of acknowledgement also serves to boost employee confidence, morale and productivity levels.
While remote working is here to stay, by employers adapting and adopting new management proficiencies will allow for greater levels of business productivity as well as increased success, now and for years to come.