When the UK was plunged into lockdown in March, businesses had to adapt quickly to ensure that staff could continue to carry out their day-to-day roles while working from home, but there wasn’t just IT and contact issues to contend with. Not only did employees have to manage their own workload, but they also needed to juggle this with family and home priorities, as well as dealing with the stress and worry of the ongoing pandemic and the restrictions that came alongside it.
While many people found that working from home brought with it a myriad of benefits, such as reduced travel time, more opportunities to concentrate without typical office distractions and a better work-life balance, others didn’t have the same experience.
During these uncertain times, now more than ever, businesses need to ensure their staff remain productive, but how do you go about achieving this – especially when your employees are all having different experiences?
Lead with clarity
When your staff are working remotely, it can be difficult to ensure they continue to all work to the same objective if you don’t make this clear from the outset. Ensure that the messaging you put out is consistent across everyone and regularly check in to make sure teams are clear about their priorities. When people have a common goal to work toward and a clear sense of purpose, this will help them to remain productive.
One of the positive things to come out of the pandemic is that it has shown businesses that they have more scope than previously thought to be flexible around the needs of their employees. Instead of trying to enforce an office-style regiment across your remote employees, to get the best out of them, encourage them to work in a way that suits their lifestyle. While it can be difficult to relinquish this control, it will help to build trust between you and your team and allow your employees to work in a way that maximises their productivity. This approach may also have the added effect of helping you to maintain staff and attract top talent.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
When the pandemic first began, most businesses made it their priority to ensure staff remained in the loop while working remotely, but as time passes – it can be easy to let this slip. While it might not be necessary to maintain the same levels of communication as they stood at the start of lockdown, you should make it clear to your employees that these channels of communication remain open. While human contact remains limited between your employees, it’s important to create opportunities for meaningful connections between colleagues. Similarly, should a major change happen within your business, make sure to communicate this across all your teams and ensure everyone gets the same message.
Of course, you want your staff to be productive and it can be easy to get frustrated if they aren’t working to the levels that you need or expect them to be at. But think about the best way to tackle this before you make your concerns known. Perhaps your team are suffering from burn-out due to a work-life imbalance, or morale is low because they’re missing the personal interactions of working in an office.
You also need to ask yourself, is this simply just a perception of a lack of productivity or has it actually become a tangible issue? If your staff challenged you and asked exactly where productivity has dropped, would you be able to give them an answer? When you can’t physically see your staff inside the office and they’re not answering calls or emails, you might be quick to assume they’re not working, but actually – perhaps they’re being productive in other areas.
Before you tackle productivity issues within the office, consider first what outcome you want to achieve. The answer isn’t often simply that your employees are taking advantage of working from home, the issue usually lies a lot deeper than that and your priority should be getting to the root of this before taking further steps to solve the problem.
At Hine we know that the pandemic has challenged many businesses, some of which aren’t easily solved. If you’re worried about your current business insurance package, or simply want to find ways to strengthen what you already have in place, just give us a call on 0161 438 0000.