Like it or not, remote work, or at least a hybrid working arrangement, is our new reality. But despite adjustments and distractions associated with newly working from home, it doesn’t mean productivity has to go down.
A new survey of 5000 workers in Australia, France, Germany, Italy and the UK reveals most believe remote working will become much more important when the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
We’ve essentially, collectively accelerated the adoption of flexible working – albeit in an inflexible way… in that it’s been mandated. And this is incredibly uncomfortable for those who have never worked in this way and their leaders who are unsure if it will impact productivity.
According to Harvard Business Review (HBR) however, productivity “can be maintained, even enhanced, because commutes and office distractions are gone.”
In order to maintain—and hopefully enhance—that productivity, first we’d like to offer a few suggestions for both you and your team members on how to deal with common work-from-home distractions, especially if your partner or children are at home too, and then we’ll discuss how to measure your employees’ productivity and support them in their work during these times.
Dealing with Distractions
Even if you’re well-versed at working from home, now having your partner or children at home with you all day can present new struggles in and of itself. Here are some of our recommendations for these truly unprecedented times:
Create a Routine
It doesn’t have to be traditional, it just has to be yours. Ensure that you bake your family or partner into your routine so that they’re on the same schedule! For example, let’s say you start your day at 8:00am, you all eat together from 8:30-9:00, you buckle down to work from 9:00-12:30, take an hour break to eat lunch and play with your kids or do a fun activity with your partner, and then continue to work from 1:30-5/5:30. Establishing a daily routine like this will not only help you stick to your working hours, but will help your family respect those hours that you have to put in.
Designate a Work Space
This is essential, especially if other people are at home with you. Whether it’s a designated home office or your kitchen table, make sure to designate an area—or areas—as your workspace. For example, I start my day at the kitchen table, move to the counter a.k.a. my “standing desk”, and then make my way outside to the patio to finish up my workday. By letting those at home know what areas you’ll be working from and when, they’ll be able to better respect your “work zone” and steer clear when you need to focus!
Breaks are essential to your mental health and productivity, so make sure to take them when you need them! Whether it’s to stretch your legs by walking around the house or doing a quick 15-minute yoga session, do what you need to do to make mental space. Literally give yourself a break during these times—it’s necessary!
HBR reminds us that first and foremost, it’s important that we trust our employees.
“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
— Ernest Hemingway
As managers and team leaders won’t be able to see what their team members are doing at this time, they’ll have to trust that by equipping them in the right ways and with the right tools, employees will be able to not only survive—but thrive.
Continue to give your employees tasks and check-in with them as you’ve always done, with hopes that they’ll continue to produce in the ways you want them to; as HBR reminds us, “There’s no reason to believe that, in this new environment, people won’t do the work that they’ve been assigned.”
When it comes time to review team members on their work, since you won’t be able to monitor the process, remember that your review will have to be outcome-based.
Remote work has been around for a long time and will continue to be practised even after self-quarantine has ended. Thankfully, today we have the technology to get our work done all while communicating and collaborating effectively and in real-time. Implement the tools you need to share best practices, learn from new people, store and capture data, continue important work conversations, and connect with one another to make the most of your time physically apart.