It's been a while since you saw Carol from Accounts Receivable in person, hasn't it? And it's more than a year now since Bob the IT guy stuck his head in your office and asked if everything was going alright. Now, your office is likely attached to the hallway of your house.
Back in the ancient past of 2019, just 5.2 percent of employees in the United States worked from home full time. But following COVID shutdowns, the current post-vaccination return to work underway in many places is not always a universal trend. For many employees, working from home is the new normal TFN. And by 2025, almost one in four U.S. workers will be employed remotely.
Even with a year under new work-from-home protocols, there are still some significant adjustments happening in most industries. Many bosses still worry about the effectiveness of their remote workforce once normal world operations resume in full.
Sure, you can employ technological assistance like Clariti to help, but there are other steps smart managers can take to help their teams be just as productive or maybe even more fruitful in their labors than when everyone was in the office.
1. Set goals
Almost everyone shoots straighter when they know what they're shooting at. Managers can help keep everyone's head in the game by working with each employee to put together their own set of customized short-term and long-term goals. With that prioritized list of company and personal goals in place, employees always know what they're working toward, offering more motivation, more focus, and less opportunity for feelings of listlessness or detachment to set in.
2. Time tracking apps work
Say you want an employee to use an app that monitors their actions and workflows. Your team might get nightmarish visions of Big Brother-style oversight. But it doesn't have to be like that. It can start with an employee checking out their own productivity with apps like DeskTime, ProofHub, or Hours. Being able to see the actual time spent on various tasks in concrete detail — or not spent, as the case may be — can help motivate better habits and more productive time spent on each task.
3. Have mentor, will succeed
How does a new hire get acclimated to a new job when they've never met their co-workers or their boss face-to-face or experienced the workforce environment they've now joined? That's been a tough question for thousands of new employees onboarded during and since the pandemic — and it will only become more pointed in the remote working age to come. By designating a manager or experienced staffer to help personally guide each new worker through the training and settling in phases of joining a new company, that office culture happens through personal one-on-one connections. As the wily vet helps coach a young pup through questions like who to contact for specific issues and how practical company operations work, a bond is formed — and everybody wins.
4. Stay connected
Speaking of connections, those video conferences are there for a reason. In both group and individual settings, managers can engage with their teams not only to track the day-to-day progress of business initiatives but to check in on the emotional well-being of each team member. Since 70 percent of communication is non-verbal, these in-person chats about everything from tips on creating productive home office environments to both professional and personal challenges help workers feel like their company actually cares — and a happy employee is often a productive employee.
5. All-in-One software saves time
Of course, nothing improves efficiency and saves time more than not juggling handfuls of apps that don't work well together. Instead, apps like Clariti bring all necessary communication and collaboration tools into one easy-to-use interface. This browser-based tool gathers information from emails, chats, calls, to-do schedules, documents, and more, virtually anything on a related topic, right into one central TopicFolder.
In Clariti, users get to see all that data in one place, finding connections from those varied communication pipelines together to help make more informed decisions. And its integrated email, chat, calls, cloud storage, and scheduling functions make it a one-stop desktop-only location so no information gets siloed and forgotten.
6. Respect the freedom
While it can be tough for some managers to hear, remote work will never be a truly 9-to-5 proposition. Instead of gripping tight to the constraints of a clock-based work product, embrace flexible work schedules and let workers choose hours that they find most convenient. If members of your teams are early risers or night owls, let them do their thing in the mornings or evenings. So long as the work gets done, everybody wins and productivity rises since workers will give their best when they feel their best.
7. Stay flexible
In the same spirit as creative work hours, managers and employees who keep an open mind and remain adaptable will find the success they may never have found otherwise. By staying open to working around the challenges and trying new workflows, communication methods, and incentives, businesses are much more likely to lock into the best possible means of keeping a remote workforce working at top productivity while still loving their job.
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