As a business owner or manager, you understand the importance of productivity. People who like their jobs and their employers are more likely to work better and more efficiently. A study shows that people tend to work harder when they are being observed, and their supervisors show appreciation for the effort that is being put forth.
With the increasing number of remote workers, it is still important for leaders to maintain enthusiasm for the work being produced in the Calgary virtual office, as well as understand what the employees are doing and how well it is being handled.
Planning what your staff will accomplish doesn’t need to be elaborate or complex. Just decide what projects have deadlines that need to be met and who is doing what. Keep a list for yourself and set electronic reminders. Having visible milestone alerts helps keep your team aware of the progress and their contributions toward its conclusion.
Expectations need to be realistic. You can’t expect someone to work around the clock just because they are sitting at a desk at home instead of in an office at the Calgary Business Centre. Set a pattern for progress reports or responding to messages within a specified period like 48 hours.
There are a number of distractions that can kill productivity. Here are some of them:
• Meetings – Meetings can be very useful, especially in terms of problem-solving, involving the entire team and deciding on a course of action. Set a time limit; it can actually force a decision that might otherwise be pending. If you can’t deal with all the issues in an hour, then perhaps they are not as important as you think. Meetings can also be short. With an agenda and a target, you can keep things succinct.
If these are in-person meetings, try a stand-up. That is when everyone stands (including the boss) so that comments won’t be prolonged. These are good for mornings when you need to list the projects for the day or week.
• Interruptions – From a chat with a co-worker to the boss pulling you off task, keep it pertinent and short. An occasional friendly exchange is fine; just try not to lose focus on the project that the company is paying you for.
This also applies to phone calls. We live in a world where we expect immediate responses. Let them go to voice mail and decide on the priority of responses.
At the remote office, kids and spouses/partners need to have a code about when it is okay to interrupt and when it is not. A closed door, or a sign on the back of your chair are helpful reminders.
• Social Media – Understand when it is appropriate to check or post on social media and when it is not.
If you are a start-up, you may think it is wasteful to spend money on automation when you can do it yourself. However, if you consider that it will free your time to be doing what you need to in order that the company thrives, it makes more sense. It also will cut costs and will avoid distress when you need to lay someone off after two years of solid work because you have decided to automate.
Removing monotonous tasks gives an employee a chance to perform the tasks that they enjoy and are trained for. A happy employee is more stable, which reduces turnover costs.
Consider task management software options. These have been found to allow teams to track overall progress, stay on task, and communicate. It saves on emails and phone messages. It also allows the supervisors to decide if the deadlines will be met.
It is generally considered more productive to focus on a single task to completion than to whittle at many will little real resolution. People think they are good multitaskers when juggling multiple issues means less attention to all of them, and the work product is often mediocre.
Employees like to know they are valued. By incorporating on-site exercise equipment, health screenings, etc., helps the staff understand that the company values their overall wellness.
Encourage breaks and vacation time. Burnout is a real issue and will cost the company more in lost time than the paid time off you offer.
Create some team-building exercises. It can be as simple as a jigsaw puzzle in the file room. It gives the individual an opportunity to de-stress and allow the mind to recoup a bit. Schedule a once per month long lunch away from the office to instill camaraderie.
Know when to stop
Continually piling on projects or hounding for updates is not good business. No matter how much a person enjoys the work, the pay, and the benefits, there will be a breaking point, and you will lose a good employee.
Similarly, with automation, if you find staff is always filling out another form or updating a graph, it is taking valuable time away from efficiency and productivity.
Be careful to avoid cutting too many corners. If you need to go back and edit, re-engineer, or fix problems, you have lost valuable time and effort. Processes can be changed, but only if there is a need. If the job is running smoothly, continue what is effective.
Encourage open communication. If employees don’t feel comfortable speaking with you about issues, good and bad, you are not doing your job as a manager. Using feedback from staff is critical. You hired them for their knowledge base and expertise, and it is important that you take that into consideration as you move forward. If you have become so set in your decisions that you cannot listen to others on the front lines, you need to re-assess your role and actions.
The success of your company relies on the abilities of your employees to have a work environment that is conducive to achieving the targets as efficiently as possible while providing a reasonable and comfortable atmosphere that focuses on the overall goal.