The myth is that to get the most out of your workforce, you need to keep them within close reach. The experience of many businesses over 2020 has put that myth to rest.
Evidence suggests that remote workers are at least as productive as their office-based peers. And in fact, homeworking can actually boost output. Here’s a closer look at the link between remote working and productivity, and at the tools and processes you need to get the most out of a working from home (WFH) model.
For lots of firms this year, remote working was something they were unexpectedly forced into. It involved a quick learning curve – and we had no idea what the impact on productivity might be.
But once the dust settled on the new working norm, many businesses found themselves pleasantly surprised at the outcomes. One study suggested that 82% of employers had seen sustained or improved productivity with staff working from home. As for the staff themselves, two thirds of employees consider themselves to be more productive when they are not in the office.
There are several factors:
Less dead time. What happens once you eliminate the time wasted on commuting, on drawn-out internal meetings and other distractions? It means staff have more time to devote to core business tasks – i.e. the things that really matter.
Higher engagement. So long as it’s combined with flexibility, remote working usually means that staff are better able to juggle their work and personal commitments. This positive work-life balance can help to free up time, energy and headspace; all of which are vital if you want staff to perform at their best.
Self-responsibility. When it’s managed effectively, remote working tends to mean less over-the-shoulder supervision, with staff encouraged to take more responsibility for day-to-day task management. Far from being a recipe for slacking, this can actually mean that employees operate more effectively. In fact, a move away from micro-management is one of the best ways to boost both engagement and productivity.
For WFH to work, firms need to move away from a ‘clock-in’ culture. After all, so long as designated tasks are completed on-time, is it really necessary to insist that staff are logged in 9-to-5? Greater autonomy tends to lead to increased engagement, which in turn, tends to result in a productivity boost.
One of the biggest productivity barriers is when workflows get interrupted. Examples include technical issues, waiting for responses from co-workers, or simple process queries. Email is usually a poor channel for these types of query; those long threads can quickly become unwieldy. To avoid productivity logjams, the right videoconferencing, messaging and collaboration technology is essential.
Hardware-wise, make sure that portable doesn’t mean underpowered. If staff are running business software on devices that are below or close to the recommended minimum spec, then performance issues are inevitable. The same goes if employees are dialling into meetings on sub-par equipment or using consumer-grade communication apps.
Remote working definitely has the potential to have a positive impact on productivity. But it’s important to remember that success isn’t guaranteed. To maximise the benefits of this working model, the right support and toolkit is essential. For exactly the type of IT support you need to maintain a productive remote workforce, check out Storm-in-a-Box today.