Managing employee productivity whilst working from home has become a hot topic for many business owners and managers.
Five top ways of keeping staff on track are to:
- Use a task management system
- Allow and encourage exercise
- Set expectations
- Be flexible with work patterns
- Have regular check-ins
Managing employee productivity whilst working from home isn’t that complicated, especially with all the technology available. It just requires a manager with cast iron organisational skills!
Let’s explore each one in more detail.
1) Use a task management system
Set out all the tasks that need completing in a week, month, day, or project (however you manage output) in a task management system. Set time guidelines for each one so you know roughly what is reasonable for someone to do in a day.
It is helpful if you can discuss the tasks with your team first on video conferencing. That way everyone knows exactly what they have to do and where it fits in the wider picture.
2) Encourage exercise
Exercise is proven to improve productivity. It makes people more alert, improves the mood, aids circulation, results in better sleep…the benefits are almost literally endless.
Encouraging exercise in your team whilst they are working from home is so important in keeping them healthy and happy. After all, there is a reason it is one of the only legitimate reasons to leave the house at the moment.
At the time of writing, the UK government allows one period of outdoor exercise a day. It doesn’t specify what that could entail, so it is obviously up to the individual to decide for themselves what they want to do. A brisk walk, a jog, a bike ride, skateboarding…whatever it is it will help make your staff productive.
The Wellspace health and wellbeing app helps your team stay active by tracking their physical activity each day and displaying it on beautiful graphs for them to see. You can even set up a leader board so your staff can have some friendly competition.
3) Set expectations
Make sure your team know how much they are expected to do each day and what they should be focusing on. It is easy to say ‘work from home’ but not every job naturally lends itself to home working.
Set realistic and clear expectations on what you expect your staff to do each day.
If their main job is to watch a support inbox that has gone very quiet recently, then give them some other tasks to do. Or, let them know it is OK to have quiet days as long as they are responding to requests quickly.
It is fine to expect your staff to be productive when working from home but you need to tell them that!
4) Be flexible with work patterns
Many people have children at home and other caring commitments now. Some need to go shopping at certain times to avoid busy supermarkets. Some are shielding. Some only have one area to work and their partner is taking it for part of the day.
The pattern of daily life has changed. Be understanding that your team might struggle to work from 9am until 5pm every day.
Have a relaxed conversation with them about the working week that might suit them. They might find working over a weekend when their partner can watch the kids works best, for example. It will help them be more productive in the long run if their distractions are at a minimum.
Try to be as flexible as possible with working hours. If you absolutely must have your team members working between certain hours then see how you can help them accommodate those hours.
5) Have regular check-ins
Some staff may want a catch up every day. Some might be fine not speaking to you for a week.
However often your individual team members want to talk, make sure you schedule regular catch-ups with them one on one and as a whole team.
Be sure to enquire about their overall health (specifically mental health). This is a tricky time and many people are struggling. Be open to those conversations.
If you have the Wellspace app, you can discuss the data with them to prompt the conversations around their mood, wellbeing, and sleep patterns. It will help you spot a colleague who is struggling before they raise it with you.
Even if everyone is fine, regular check-ins will remind your staff they are part of a company who cares and a team that wants to succeed.
What Are The Challenges Of Managing Employee Productivity?
Many of us are now realising the workplace is not at all suitable to ‘the new normal’. As social distancing is set to continue for the foreseeable future, the need to establish new working patterns, behaviours, and strategies is essential.
Over the past few weeks, it has become apparent there seem to be two distinct camps of employees: those who find it hard to get going and those who find it hard to stop.
Those who find it hard to get going might have a legitimate reason for being far less productive.
Some of those reasons might be:
- Ill health
- Dependents, such as children, causing a distraction
- A furloughed partner distracting them
- A lack of structure
- Nowhere comfortable to work
- Needing training
- A lack of clear leadership
- Not having tasks set for them
It can be frustrating to manage people who are less productive when they are at home. We tend to assume it is laziness.
An honest and open conversation with them about their levels of motivation can often help get to the bottom of what is causing the low levels of productivity. Once you know what the problem is you can go about solving it.
People who find it hard to stop working might seem like dream employees, but the reality can be quite different. It is remote presenteeism, in a way.
Presenteeism is when people are in work when they aren’t fit to be, or don’t take their holidays.
Having a staff member who works too much at home can lead to the same problems. These could be:
- Unproductive, or productive in the wrong areas
- Weakened immune system
- Feeling disheartened or aggrieved at ‘having’ to do so much work
- Burn out or poor mental health
- Musculoskeletal problems from spending too much time at a desk
It is important that overworking is addressed. Setting clear daily or weekly tasks and encouraging regular exercise breaks can help your employee introduce a work-life balance.
Ready To Manage The Productivity Of Your Staff?
We can help you manage the productivity of your staff with a complete, technology-based wellness solution.
Use data from your teams to target specific and genuine wellbeing problems. Your overall health and wellbeing strategy will be guided and directed by up to the minute data.