Ever since the COVID pandemic started, most organizations across the world have switched on to the ‘work from home’ mode for a majority of their employees. With the pandemic showing some signs of easing, most organizations have resumed normal business operations to an extent albeit with social distancing norms. The pandemic may eventually go away, but work from home might stay for a significant chunk of the workforce for a good number of organizations. In fact, work from home might become an integral part of the overall HR strategy. However, organizations are also concerned about the performance and productivity of work from home employees over the long run especially if it were to become the new normal.
For most organizations and their supervisors, work from home is an unknown and untested concept. They have rarely been exposed to the whole notion of their team member working in isolation day after day and the only contact with them is through digital means. This discomfort about the current situation raised their concerns about the performance and productivity of their team members. However, the experience of the last several months of work from home has allayed the concerns of most organizations.
When handled in the right way, work from home can even prove a blessing in disguise for most organizations. Organizations can manage the performance and productivity of work from home employees without using intrusive monitoring tools and technology. Discussed below are a few tips that can help organizations ensure that employee performance and productivity can be maintained when they are working from home:
1. Build Trust
Organizations should create an environment of trust with their employees working from home. This requires supervisors to assign tasks and projects to the employees and trust them to fulfil the same within the stipulated timelines. While supervisors definitely need to monitor the performance of their team members and ensure completion of the tasks/ projects assigned, they should avoid constantly breathing down the necks of the employees and monitoring their activities continuously. Employees should be made accountable for the completion of the work and not for the utilization of their time. They should not feel like their dedication is being questioned.
2. Communicate Clearly
Effective communication plays a key role in boosting the efficiency and performance of employees especially when they are working from home. This minimizes the chances of any miscommunication, avoids errors and rework. Also, by establishing open and clear lines of communication with their supervisor, work from home employees who are working in isolation can get all the help and support that they need. It also facilitates the instant sharing of data and information that might be required to accomplish the task at hand. Over-communication, on the other hand, might prove counterproductive and result in lower productivity.
3. Provide the Right Tools
The productivity of employees may suffer without access to the right tools and technology for performing their tasks. Organizations need to make sure that their remote working employees have proper access to these tools. This would include computers/ laptops, installed with the proper software including communication and conferencing tools. Organizations should also try to offer remote technical support for their work from employees. Organizations might also help in providing a stable internet connection as per their needs and even work from home furniture if required.
4. Offer Flexible Timings
While work from home might be beneficial for some employees in many ways, it might also be a challenge for others as they need to shuffle between various professional and personal responsibilities. Hence, a flexible work schedule might prove beneficial for boosting the productivity of the employees. While the deadlines of tasks and projects will not change, flexible work timings give employees the breathing space to balance between work from home and work at home. It also enhances the trust factor between the employees and the organization.
5. Establish Realistic Goals
A common mistake made by most organizations in the context of employees working from home is to burden them with unrealistic goals and low priority tasks. Organizations often believe that assigning employees enough tasks ‘to fill the time’ will result in higher productivity. However, this can prove counterproductive as the employees may feel overburdened with work and underperform on the actual business goals.
6. Coaching and Mentoring
Work from home employees needs regular help and support from their supervisors and other team members. It is important for supervisors to coach and mentor their team members working from home to ensure that they are on track with their work. They need to set aside some time on a regular basis for this.
Work from home can be a double-edged sword for many organizations; if managed properly the performance and productivity of work from home employees can be maintained at reasonably high levels.
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