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Hackernoon logo7 Best Ways to Increase Workforce Productivity by@mollystovold

7 Best Ways to Increase Workforce Productivity

2020 will go down in history as the year that turned the trend that was working from home into the norm for businesses across the globe. Everyone who can feasibly work from home is now doing so.

As you’d imagine with this rapid and drastic shift in the way you and your employees work, it’s come with its own set of productivity and motivational challenges.

While there is a heap of positives that come with WFH, like the fact your employees won’t have to make the long commute to the office, there are a few things you as an employer need to bear in mind. Working from home can make employees feel too comfortable during working hours… even lazy at times. It can also make other employees feel incapable of clocking off work on time (also known as ‘work from home guilt’), thus affecting their sleep and overall wellbeing.

So, how do you create balance for your employees? How do you motivate them to work hard while also ensuring they look after themselves in the process? 

Experts believe that the answer lies in a combination of adopting flexible management practices, along with utilizing technology to help employers help their employees.

A guide to keeping remote employees productive and motivated

The most important place to start is ensuring your employees create a dedicated workspace in their own homes. The designated workspace should ideally be separated from their living space. This will not only have a positive impact on the work they produce but also on their mental well-being.

Research has shown that combining workspace with personal space can cause employees to either work too hard or too little. They either feel as though they don’t have to work, or don’t allow themselves to tune off from work and deprive themselves of sleep.

1. Get organized and prioritize tasks

It’s best to encourage your employees to perform the most crucial tasks first. This is the best way to get them to complete complicated tasks on time. A good method for sorting tasks is the Getting Things Done (GTD) method.

Getting Things Done (GTD) is a productivity method developed by David Allen that is broadly accepted as one of the most efficient personal organization methodologies around. Simply put, you capture your tasks and ideas, clarify what you have to do, organize the items by importance and priority, reflect on your to-do list, and then get to work. 

The GTD method is just one method out of many, though. Other popular methods include: “Don’t Break the Chain”, “Eat the Frogs First”, and “Timeboxing”.

2. Stay connected

Within all human relationships, communication is key – this is especially true in the professional environment. Keeping your team connected allows everyone to touch base on the progress of the team as a whole. It also provides an opportunity for employees to voice any concerns, sing each other’s praises, and generally remember that they are part of a supportive team.

I work as part of a 100% remote team and we use Zoom to keep us connected. We have weekly department meetings, one on ones with managers, and a monthly all-hands meeting.

Seeing as my company Process Street is a remote work app, you’d hope that we’d be good at managing our remote workflow processes – which include hosting meetings and over-communicating with each other.

3. Establish a time-tracking technique

Independent work schedules can make it difficult to track every remote employee’s productive work hours, a problem that is amplified if they’re working in different time-zones. The best way to overcome this is to establish a time tracking system for monitoring productivity or to communicate with them. 

Apps you can use for time-tracking include:

  1. Paymo
  2. Timecamp
  3. Toggl
  4. Time Doctor
  5. Harvest

Work with your employees to establish mutually agreed timeframes for completion of work. This will not only motivate them to work but will also instill a sense of accountability.

4. Encourage your employees to connect with each other

With your entire workforce WFH it’s important to take steps to allow them to communicate with one another as though they were in an office. Coffee breaks and water cooler chats help your employees to bond.

As an employer, it is important to keep lines of communication open between your team. Fortunately, there’s an app for that – well actually, there are a few.

Slack is a great tool for communication between team members. It is efficient and has integrations with Zoom, Google Docs, and other apps. Slack encourages digital coffee break style chats through an integration with the app Donut which has the feature “donut calls”. Donut calls randomly pair employees together so that they can meet at a time that suits their schedules (its integration with Google Calendar allows this to happen smoothly). We use Donut calls at Process Street and it is a great way to break up the week and get to know fellow employees.

5. Avoid Micromanaging Employees

“Micromanagement is the destroyer of momentum.” ― Miles Anthony Smith

Yes, keeping track of your employee’s productivity and scheduled activities is important. That said, pestering them every hour asking for an update is not going to help them achieve their tasks.

Regular catch up calls and open communication streams between your team and you are enough. If your employees have a problem, they should feel comfortable coming to you. If you successfully achieve this then you will not need to pester as work will get done when it is meant to get done and if it doesn’t, you’ll have been informed of the reason why without even asking.

6. Limit social media use

This can be a tough one. One minute you’re telling your employees to stay connected and the next you are discouraging them from using social media. Nevertheless, it’s a vital step to take to ensure your employees are achieving their full potential and being productive.

Here are five ways that limit social media usage:

  1. Remember the saying “out of sight, out of mind”? Apply this to your social media apps
  2. Set time limits for each app 
  3. Assign a dedicated time to hobbies that do not involve the use of your screen .
  4. Avoid eating meals with your phone in reach
  5. And don’t take your phone into your bedroom at night.

7. Use the cloud

The cloud is a safe and secure space to store, access, and share work and projects. It allows for easy collaboration between team members. By using the cloud you and your business can rent access to anything from applications to storage from a cloud service provider.

Moving forward as a truly productive WFH workforce

With the WFH norm in full swing, ensuring that your employees are being productive from home should be a priority. Fortunately, implementing the aforementioned tips will allow them to be just as productive at home as they would be in the office. Who knows, once employees have fully embraced and gotten used to the WFH lifestyle, they may even find themselves preferring this method of working and upping their productivity by a huge degree.

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