Woman working from home with tea

7 tips to keep your teams productive when working from home

Summary

Remote work has become very common. Use these 7 tips to keep your workers productive, engaged, collaborating, and communicating.

 

Time: 7 minute read

In recent years, remote work has become very common. And while it comes with many benefits, it comes with many challenges too, such as staying productive when working from home.

At home, you can beset with a host of challenges, especially if you have young kids around. You may also find a ton of distractions. (I mean, that laundry could use washing, right?)

Now, you can find a lot of tips on how to maximize your productivity when working from home. Many are good, but we’re going to take a slightly different look at working from home. Rather than explore what an individual can do, we’re going to look at 7 ways a business can empower their employees to stay productive and collaborate.

Man working from home on laptop

#1. Meet regularly, especially with impromptu meetings

A lot of great ideas and synergy come from in-person meetings. In an office, a lot of impromptu meetings happen, too, stimulating ideas and solving problems. These impromptu meetings might not seem like meetings, but if you get up and talk to a coworker about a business challenge or activity, it is — even if it’s at the water cooler.

You want to keep these impromptu meetings happening. They won’t happen the same way as they do in the office, but by encouraging and making it simple for employees to connect, you can still get many of the benefits of those in-office impromptus.

When you and your team are working remotely, make sure to meet regularly. And keep the possibility open for people to reach each other at any time. To do this, you’ll want to set some basic ground rules for engagement such as:

  • Set times everyone will be working. Yes, even working at home we need to have set hours our coworkers can reach us.
  • Share calendars.
  • Make sure everyone knows that unless they’re working “head-down,” they need to be ready to jump on a conversation.

A text or call via smartphone can work. But you lose some of that synergy that comes from seeing your coworker. 

Fortunately, there’s plenty of scalable and flexible technology you can use to connect your teams to meet when they need to, even impromptu. Before you do start using one, consider a few questions:

 
  • Will a third-party video meeting application work, or would an application integrated with your current infrastructure be better?
  • Does your platform already have a system you can add?
  • How will you support your team’s use of the system?

Using a technology like Skype for Business — which enables everyone to see who is busy, who is available, and who is do-not-disturb — can go a long way to help make remote work both productive and collaborative.

These questions above can help you get started. If you’d like to explore your options, please contact us. From platforms like Microsoft® Teams and Skype to managed IT services, we can help.

 

#2. Make it easy to video chat with customers

Just as with your coworkers, seeing your customers is valuable. Make it a priority to find a way to engage visually. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but you should have the option available.

If you and your client use the same business tools, you can use those. And while impromptu options like Facetime can work, ideally you want to provide a standardized tool across your organization to ensure uniformity of quality and use. 

There are a lot of tools available, like Zoom and Slack. For others, you can go online and search “video conferencing tools”. Alternatively, you can contact your IT team, third-party IT partner, or a technology/communications partner like RICOH for options. You can find others too.

#3. Support your team by understanding their situation

Stress kills productivity. It clouds the mind. It creates anxiety and physical discomfort.

Working from home for some people can be stressful, especially if they weren’t expecting to do it. Sometimes you may have team members working from home to deal with a family situation. Sometimes young children may be present and totally unaware they shouldn’t conduct the pirate raid of mommy’s home office during a business meeting.

It happens.

In a lot of cases, the best answer is to smile and laugh off the disruption. If an employee is home due to an emergency, offer to listen if they need to talk.  

Ultimately, it comes down to trust. If a member of your team suddenly needs to work from home, you can help relieve any stress by giving them the benefit of the doubt – that they are doing the best they can under the circumstances.

By taking time to understand an employee’s situation, you’ll help them be comfortable working remotely and feel less stress when pirate captain Bobby bursts through the door screaming “Aarrgh!”

 

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#4. Eliminate paper-dependent workflows

Paper workflows don’t work when you have people working remotely. Fortunately, in many cases today, you don’t need to rely on paper workflows anymore.

Now, maybe you can’t digitize the entire process. Maybe you need to start with a piece of paper. The good news is you can digitize the rest of the workflow – even if it needs approvals, signoffs, or reviews by other members of your team. This means only one person needs to receive the paper documents. Everyone else can receive them digitally. 

By building digital document management workflows, you enable everyone to work together faster and more efficiently – regardless of where they are located.

#5. Find a way to get your mail where it needs to go

A remote workforce poses a challenge for the delivery of business mail, especially for an organization with remote workers spread across a wide geography.  Email and digital documents may be common, but physical mail continues to flow. Regardless of where you work, your mail needs to get where it’s needed. 

Receiving mail at your center and scanning to intended recipients is one solution. This, however, requires both an investment in time and technology to setup. Looking ahead, this setup will also include training, technology support, and maintenance costs.

Another popular solution some companies embrace is outsourcing their mail center. It provides the scanning of mail and delivery to remote workers while relieving the need for technology. Plus, it can be implemented more quickly as it leverages a provider’s pre-existing technology and personnel infrastructure.

#6. Use the cloud to your maximum advantage

It may seem like everybody has been talking about the cloud for years. But the cloud of yesterday is not the cloud today.

Today, the cloud includes a lot more than document and data storage. Your email may be in the cloud. Your customer relationship management (CRM) may be in the cloud.  You document management system, marketing technology, analytics tools, and more may be in the cloud.

You can even move your company’s network into the cloud. And if you have a distributed workforce, that approach could give you the ability to ensure everyone has both the access and support they need — wherever they work. 

The cloud also simplifies business continuity and disaster recovery. When your data, files and documents reside in a data center, they can be easily retrieved and restored should the need arise.

When you use the cloud, all you and your team need is an internet connection to have complete access to your business. In this way, the cloud keeps everyone productive, whether they’re in the office or the home office.

#7. Encourage them to share what they think would make them more productive

In an office, you can observe how people work. They can share challenges they’re facing, especially if something in any given moment created frustration. These opportunities don’t always exist in the same way with remote workers.

So, you must create the opportunities. Schedule time at least once a month to talk with remote workers to:

  • Ask about the challenges they’ve faced. 
  • Find out if what problems have impacted their efforts working from home or on the road. 
  • Inquire about what they think would make them more productive.

Of course, even with remote work, you want your workers to feel they can approach you at any time with urgent concerns or needs that arise.

There are so many technologies today and, with smartphones and home assistants, most people are plugged into the latest technology. While your employees may be more familiar with personal tech, their insight might point you in the direction of business solutions that can drive greater efficiencies. To know, you just need to ask.


Keep everyone productive, wherever they work

With today’s digital technology, everyone can be productive and contribute, no matter where they work. And with the explosion of cloud applications and business technology in recent years, it’s likely the solution to your challenge is out there.

All you need to do is find it. 

Have a challenge or need to find solutions to keep your remote workforce productive? 
Let’s connect. 
 
 

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1https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/organizational-culture/work-from-home-tips/