Working from home has now become integral to the way we work. Many companies, like Google and Fannie Mae, are now extending their return to office into 2021 due to the pandemic. And, it is expected that two-thirds of companies may keep their work from home policies permanent. That puts the heavy burden on managers to sustain strong and productive teams, all while being remote. Here are some tips to boost staff productivity while working from home.
Inc.com’s Justin Bariso said it best, “The best companies are made up of great teams.” What is the most important thing that creates successful teams? Trust. In a Google Study, researchers found that great teams thrive on trust between team members. How do you build trust during this time when most of us are connected only digitally? Technology, tools and support.
Optimizing Team Productivity with Technology Tools
Businesses were forced to quickly pivot to a remote working technology tools with the onset of the COVID pandemic. The key to maintaining productivity is making sure your staff has and knows how to use those technology tools to communicate (i.e. Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Go to Meeting, Slack, Skype). Do they know and have access to get on your secured network (i.e. VPN access, a secure ID certificate, or an app)? Do they have all the right IT equipment (monitors, docking station, printers, etc.)? Do they have a quiet space and comfortable furniture to work in?
Supporting Team to Stay Motivated
Stay tuned-in to your team. Daily or weekly staff check-ins (video chat, phone call or instant message) can create open and compassionate conversations with your team. This will help you head off any problems before they become unmanageable. While you have some on your team that are vocal in how they are feeling, some staff members might not say a thing. But observing their body language might tell another story. Using these observations will help break the ice with your staff and come to a quicker resolution before the problem festers into something worse.
Be responsive. Make yourself available to your coworkers and respond in a timely fashion to their requests. This builds trust and makes them feel included. If you haven’t done already, create a schedule of hours that you and your team will be available. This will establish a routine and reduces the “overworking syndrome”.
Offer non-work socializing and team building. We are still living in stressful and uncertain times. This negatively impacts your staff. Set up a time where your staff can talk about the news, hobbies, or whatever is on their mind. This helps relieve stress and makes them feel better connected to their coworkers. For example, create a few minutes before or after a virtual meeting for people to “catch up” and talk about their personal life a bit. Or host a weekly virtual happy hour or a virtual team-building exercise to create a closer team.
Share progress on tasks. As a team determine how and what software you want to use to track progress on projects and tasks. For example, our team has a weekly Excel report that we update in Microsoft Teams. This way everyone has access to the same report and can see what everyone else is working on. This visibility also allows us to delegate tasks or ask for help from other team members if they have more bandwidth than others on the team.
The key to be successful as a team is to keep physical and mental wellness a priority. Happy employees make productive employees.