Improving and Measuring Remote Employee Productivity

by

March 20, 2020

Remote employee productivity is one of he biggest challenges in running a business. Just ask Shelby Hanson, VP of Operations at a medium-sized real estate office in Kentucky, allowed her receptionists, salespeople, and data entry operators to work from home, she had concerns. “It’s hard to let go of the reins,” Shelby explained. “You want to find a balance between giving remote employees the freedom to get work done. You also need to know that the work really is getting done.”

Remote employee productivity is not always an easily measurable metric. Finding the proper balance between accountability and allowing the employee creative freedom can be difficult.

Like many remote employee managers, Shelby found herself constantly checking up on her employees, and mired in remote employee productivity issues. “I found myself calling them with reminders about work that needed to be done.” Frequently, Shelby found herself in too deep. She laughs, “I ended up getting myself in the middle of things and sometimes, I even complicated situations more. I was always putting out fires that weren’t even lit before I got involved.” She found this an odd position to be in; she had never questioned employee productivity before they began working remotely.

Her employees began to feel disconnected. Hal G, a salesperson for Shelby’s store, explains, “I have been working at this office longer than Shelby. I know exactly what I need to do. I was really beginning to feel unappreciated.” Hal recalls he thought about leaving the company altogether at first. “The only difference between working from home and working in the office for me was where my computer was set up. I knew my job, but she just kept coming at me.”

So where is the balance between monitoring remote employee productivity and micromanaging? Read on for ways to find that balance and drive remote productivity forward.

Remote Employee Productivity Tip #1:

Move Your Organization Fully to the Cloud with Microsoft Windows 365 Cloud PC

By now, most organizations are working with some sort of Microsoft Office package including old standbys like Excel, Microsoft Word and the like. You may have even have moved to streaming Microsoft Office and other software programs through the cloud. But with the introduction of Microsoft’s Cloud PC program this fall, new levels of remote work productivity can be reached. Why? Because Cloud PC has put the Microsoft Operating system fully in the cloud, streaming live.

What does that mean for your remote productivity? Everything. It means that your employees can log in on any device— a laptop in a coffeehouse, their phones—and get the same experience they would have on their work laptop, right down to the screensaver. Having all their files available, the ability to teleconference, share files and more will go a long way to you feeling like you know what’s happening in your team.

When you take advantage of chat and team tools like Microsoft Teams, sharing and archiving tools like SharePoint, and project management tools like Trello, Or Microsoft Planner, you won’t have to pester your employees for updates. You’ll be able to see their progress in real time, with just a few clicks. Want to learn more? Check out our latest blog on how Cloud PC will change the future of work.

Remote Employee Productivity Tip #2:

Connect Daily

This concept is not anything new; connecting at least once a day with remote employees is essential. Too many meetings, however, and you’ve lost the largest part of a productive day. In fact, if employees are spending more than 20% of their time in meetings, chances are they are feeling like they are “blocked” from doing their jobs. Here’s how to make those check ins go faster.

  • Try a Daily Huddle. Run on Zoom this is a chance for your team to meet at a set time every day to talk about their tasks for the day. Ideally 15 minutes in length, they can make sure issues get caught before they get serious, and employees feel like they have their tasks prioritized.
  • Set Collaborative Weekly meetings. Held on Mondays and Fridays, these meetings allow employees to bring up team issues with their co-workers, and talk about the progress of group projects.
  • One-on-One meetings with management. We use a system called 15-5 here at Iconic, and it allows employees to outline their priorities for their boss through a tracking app. Each week employees have a one on one that allows them to have their manager’s ear, ask questions, and discuss roadblocks in a private environment.

Remote Employee Productivity Tip #3:

Practice Good Meeting Etiquette

Meetings can be useful, but when overused, they can be a serious productivity killer. Nobody likes a meeting that drones on and on. Before you set a meeting ask yourself: Could this have been an email or addressed in regularly scheduled meetings?

  • Keep meetings as short as possible.
  • Keep group meetings focused on items that concern the entire group.
  • Use one-on-one meetings to discuss employee specific topics.
  • Pay attention to how many meetings you are scheduling and consider whether they are truly important or something that can be shared via other group communication.

Remote Employee Productivity Tip #4:

Minimize Emails in Favor of Team Chats

If you send frequent emails throughout the day, your employees will lose productivity by checking their inboxes frequently. How much productivity is lost? An estimated 209 minutes per day to read and respond to work related emails.

Managers may feel employees aren’t paying attention when they overlook frequent emails or don’t get the chance to read them all. The reality is that when employees are inundated with emails, they begin to ignore them.

If you must send an email, do so when you have larger amount of information to send. For quick questions, however, it’s far better to send your message through a Team Chat function like Microsoft Teams. Not only does it eliminate the need for all the arcane salutations and niceties, it also gives your employees the ability to scroll through a conversation’s history—a key help when trying to remember what’s was said.

Remote Productivity Tip #5:

Foster Trust, and Make Transparency Standard Operating Procedure

Modern Cloud Tools like Microsoft’s Window’s environment have done something fairly miraculous for the workplace—it’s given teams the ability to have visibility into each other’s work. Now, all an employee’s finished work and even in-progress drafts are stored in the cloud where team members can access them. Want to know what your employee is working on? Visit a program like Microsoft’s planner, where you can see all their tasks laid out in to-do fashion, with their current progress noted. No hovering and micromanagement needed. When there are questions, teams chats can get them answered. And regular standup meetings can do a lot to eliminate misunderstandings. An independent employee is a happy employee. Now, you have the tools to achieve that independence while keeping them plugged into the team. What could be better than that?

Get the right scalable solutions to support your remote workforce

With the right tools, platforms, and mindset, remote employee productivity will skyrocket along with their morale and loyalty to the company. Hal G. admits, “It was rockier than it should have been at the beginning. We just weren’t prepared, and we were sort of all over the place.

“Now that we have ways to connect and share, we all know what we are doing, what we should be doing, and what Shelby needs from us. I think we are all much happier now.”

For more information on how to manage the modern workplace journey to the cloud, see Iconic IT’s extensive resources on the topic. We have assessments, whitepapers and product briefs that can show you the possibilities!

We're Integris. We're always working to empower people through technology.

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