The COVID19 pandemic has been highly stressful and the social-distancing norms mandated to prevent its spread have taken a toll on the mental health of millions of people across the globe. Those working remotely are showing signs of anxiety and mild depression due to isolation.
Due to this, there is a definite dip in the level of productivity of many remotely working employees. For employers and managers handling remote teams, it has become difficult to understand if employees are performing inadequate due to disruptions in the work routine or due to plain laziness arising from the fact that nobody is watching what they are up to.
As far as the changing work trends are concerned, managers must most definitely show empathy towards those suffering from mental health issues in this phase and motivate them to perform better. But if they are using this phase as an excuse to work less, it is unacceptable. Therefore, it’s important to identify whether or not remote employees are working to the best of their abilities.
Here are five ways to ensure your remote employees are actually being productive:
Set clear and measurable goals
Clarity in communication is essential for the success of remote work. Rather than expecting employees to figure out things on their own, define clear goals with productivity standards and provide them a realistic deadline.
This ensures employees are aware of what is expected of them within a given time frame and feel accountable for delivering it. It also helps you measure their performance based on the complexity of the assigned work.
Use tools for tracking progress
To understand the work consistency and competency of an employee, it is important to utilize appropriate technical tools. For instance, a time tracking app helps you check in real-time what employees are up to and track their work progress.
A project management software is another powerful tool that allows employees to communicate their progress which makes it easy to hold them accountable for their performance. You can make use of a project management tools list to see which of these are suitable for your project specific needs.
Have regular interactions
Another way to ensure how an employee is performing is to take out time to interact with them through a one-on-one meeting. By seeking opportunities to know the employee, you build better connections with them and can support them to be more productive.
This has dual benefits; firstly the employees will feel valued if you spend time enquiring about their well-being, and secondly you will be able to identify if they are actually facing any issues or just procrastinating work.
Since the pandemic has forced employees to work from home, there is a high chance that they are constantly dealing with distractions. These distractions could be a major reason for them not being able to focus on work and may be hampering their productivity.
For some employees, working at odd hours may produce more high-yielding results than working the standard 9-5 slot as there are lesser distractions. It is necessary to be flexible in order to provide employees the autonomy to schedule their day as per their individual situation.
Ask for daily report
Apart from tracking short-term project goals, asking for daily work updates is a great way to ensure employees are achieving substantial results everyday. Employees can easily frame a summarized email which wouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes.
A daily end of day report clarifying every major work the employee has done in a day provides a documented record of their activities. This allows you to spot any potential mistakes and provides you necessary information to highlight areas of improvement.
These are tough times where having good connections with remote employees is crucial to understand how they are coping. As a leader you must ensure your employees’ well-being while holding them accountable for their performance each day.