8 Productivity Tips for Remote Working
The number of people working from home has soared in recent years with more than 1.5 million UK employees regularly performing their duties remotely. The way we work is changing and dynamic workforces are becoming a staple for some of the UK’s biggest businesses.
Studies have shown that people prefer to work alone, citing distractions in the office such as loud colleagues and impromptu meetings as productivity inhibitors. Allowing your team to work at home in a quieter environment brings efficiency increases, lower stress levels and a greater sense of morale which, in turn, leads to substantially lower levels of absenteeism and lower staff turnover. A flexible working policy also lowers your operating costs as less desk space is required and you’ll reduce your company’s carbon footprint in the process, thanks to a smaller office building and reduced employee travel.
Here we look at eight ways that managers and remote workers can make the most of the working at home trend.
For managers: getting the best out of your remote team
Don’t adopt an always-on approach
When starting a remote workforce, employers may feel the need to monitor and control every second of their team’s day. But ask yourself – would you get anything done if someone was managing you in this way? According to researchers at the University of California, it takes 23 minutes on average to fully return to a task following an interruption. While customer service staff may need to respond immediately to each call or message, other team members are unlikely to be productive if they are expected to reply the second an email lands in their inbox. Allowing your team to block off two or three slots in the day to return calls, emails and messages will ensure they can focus on being productive the rest of the time.
Use the cloud
Give your employees the very best tools to do the very best job – with cloud apps. The cloud has revolutionised the way we manage employee software. Google Docs allows instant sharing of office documents and spreadsheets, while Dropbox allows file sharing, synching and automated backup of a user’s files. Office 365 allows us to give employees the latest versions of all the necessary office software – Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneDrive – for a low monthly fee, while tech users can benefit from the latest Adobe applications for a fraction of the cost of buying the software outright. The benefits are numerous: all software sits in the cloud and can be accessed by employees from both home or office; you get immediate upgrades without paying more or needing access to the user’s machine; and there’s no risk of losing money if a user leaves the business.
Equip your team
In addition to providing the right software for doing the job, you need to equip your team with the right hardware to be at their best. Ensure your team members have a decent spec PC or laptop that doesn’t slow them down together with a good quality mobile phone that allows them to take advantage of the many remote working apps. Both the mobile version of Google Hangouts and Google Drive are popular with homeworkers, giving users a quick way to chat with the team and share files whilst not at their desk.
A quality headset is another worthwhile investment that will boost your homeworker’s productivity. Wireless headsets allow them to move around their workspace freely or use their computer without needing to hold a handset. The higher end devices work with softphones allowing users to make and receive calls via the web and additionally sync with Customer Relationship Management software to deliver a better customer experience.
Finally, a VOIP phone system will allow your employees to be reached as if they were sitting in the next office – and smart presence technology allows you to see whether they are engaged on a call or free. VOIP systems also allow for Unified Communications so employees can manage multiple devices seamlessly. Today’s modern phone systems come with the added advantage of call recording technology allowing you to monitor your employee’s calls remotely and provide training where necessary.
It’s hard to feel connected to your colleagues if your only communication with them is via email. Employees who don’t feel like they are a part of the business will quickly lose motivation and will stop acting as ‘brand ambassadors’. The solution is to insist on some face-to-face interaction from time to time. This might be through regular days in the office or if this is not possible, Skype meetings between teams.
For remote workers: boosting your productivity
Whilst lounging on the sofa in your pyjamas might seem like a dream way to work, you’ll soon realise it has a negative effect on your posture and motivation. Having a dedicated workspace is more comfortable in the long term and helps you to stay organised. You’ll also feel like there’s a better work-home divide as you can leave your office space at the end of the day.
Set up a work area with a desk and chair properly adjusted to minimise aches and strains. The NHS Choices page offers guidance on adjusting your seat and equipment for comfort and safety. Keep bulky equipment and clutter out of your workspace, relying simply on your computer and headset to keep your workflow streamlined.
Homeworkers know that a reliable and fast internet connection is at the heart of everything you do, providing fast access to resources, apps and emails without interruption. Use Rightmove’s Broadband speed in my area tool to identify which providers offer the best speed for your postcode, and don’t skimp on the package you choose. If you find your internet speeds are lagging, consider where you’ve positioned your hub – ideally, this should be in the centre of your home, off the floor and with as a few obstacles between the hub and your devices. Avoid putting your Wi-Fi behind the television, on top of a metal box or near a fish tank – each of these objects will affect the signal.
Remote workers need to be contactable at all times, so you’ll need to manage your calls across multiple devices – landline, mobile and desktop. Call management technology coupled with a high-quality wireless headset can make this a breeze, allowing you to speak to customers and colleagues whilst using your computer at the same time. Today’s headsets have a wealth of features that are designed to help you better manage your workflow.
Practice time management
You might start your day with the best intentions, perhaps scheduling individual tasks into hourly slots to fill your eight hours. Unfortunately, interruptions are a fact of working life and you’ll rarely complete eight hours of tasks back-to-back without something coming up.
Keeping a to-do list is a far easier and more effective way of managing your day than trying to block out tasks on a calendar. Review your list at the start of each working day and reprioritise the tasks – then work through them, resisting the temptation to check your emails every five minutes. Where possible, having a couple of slots each day to reply to messages and return calls will ensure you are not constantly pulled away from productive work.
So, whether you’re working from home or trusting your workforce to go remote, why not check out go2telecom’s full range of headphones for every budget over on our homepage?