It’s important to tackle inefficiency in any work environment. If not corrected, it can quickly lead to irreversible business difficulties. But for businesses that transitioned to remote working during lockdown, managing inefficiency brought a whole new challenge. Recent research has shown that almost 90% of workers would like to continue working from home in some capacity, with almost half wanting to work at home often or all the time.
Analysis suggests remote working, in some form or another, is here to stay, and managers must now adapt to leading their teams remotely, without tipping the scales of work-life balance. So, what is the best way to manage a remote team? And how do you ensure it doesn’t impact the business? Here are the top ways you can manage inefficiency in a team of remote workers—without affecting their work-life balance.
Keep in contact
Staying in regular contact with your employees can do wonders for efficiency amongst remote workers. Staff members that still feel like they are part of something despite their isolation are more likely to be engaged with their work. Have regular video calls with your staff, on both a one-to-one and a group basis.
A webcam opens up a window into the lives of your staff members, offering a glimpse of who they are outside of work. Healthy social interaction may boost employee engagement, helping staff members to work more productively and effectively.
Allow an adjustment period
If you have only just returned to a remote working environment, try not to micromanage your employees as they adjust to working from home. Employees may be struggling to find a routine that works for them, especially if they have children at home. While they find their footing, try easing off the pressure so they are less likely to make mistakes. You may find that your team just needs time to adapt, and their usual rate of efficiency will return, or even improve, once they are settled in.
Instead of simply chasing up your team members for updates on work projects, ask them how they are finding their new remote work set up and offer solutions to any challenges.
Use digital collaboration tools
It can be difficult to replicate the friendly atmosphere of an office in a remote work setting, but there is a lot of software out there to try. It may just be the perfect time to invest in that digital collaboration tool you have been eyeing up for a while. If you are saving costs on office space, why not use the extra cash to boost employee engagement and work towards more efficient processes? Project management and instant messaging tools can be a lifeline to keeping your business running during remote working periods.
Not only will this bring opportunities to correct inefficiency, but it may even improve overall business performance, too.
Creating an open feedback culture is an important part of running a healthy business—especially when your team is made up of remote workers. Feedback is about give and take, and if you don’t already have one, you should create a channel for your remote team to share feedback on how processes could be improved. Coupled with healthy and supportive advice on how your team can meet their goals, you will have the perfect recipe for managing inefficiency in your remote team.
Though it is certainly not ideal to adopt an ‘open-door’ policy while working from home, try taking the concept online. You could do this by allocating a time slot for giving and receiving feedback on a weekly or monthly basis.
According to a recent study, remote employees work 1.4 more days every month than people who work in an office. So, it might be a good idea to give your staff a little more flexibility with their working hours. If there are parents among your workforce, consider allowing them to work the hours suitable for them to boost their work-life balance. If your remote workers aren’t stressed or distracted, they are more likely to work productively.
Flexitime is a great option for giving your team flexibility with their start and finish times, while ensuring they still work enough hours overall.
Time management tips
It may be tempting to keep tabs on your remote team by scheduling more video conferences and sending them more emails. But with communication taking up their time, they will be less productive in their actual work. Instead, allocate an hour a week to catch up with your team, and give them the freedom to manage their own time. Remember, if something can be communicated quickly in an email, there is no need to waste time on a video conference.
Try sending your employees tips on how to manage their time effectively, sharing links to articles or free software they can utilize.
If you would like your remote team to spend more time on meaningful activities, make sure you look at opportunities to automate the monotonous jobs. There is a huge variety of software and digital tools available to take on tedious tasks like invoicing, scheduling, or ordering equipment. For example, you could allow your employees to request holidays through a scheduling tool or use accounting software to take care of invoices automatically.
Find opportunities to improve
If you think that inefficiency is an issue among your remote workforce, look at any opportunities you have to improve processes. Could you communicate with your team better? Are there tools available to help you collaborate or automate menial tasks? Is there a need for flexibility or a lack of time management?
Managing a remote team isn’t the simplest of tasks, but it’s important to address inefficient practices before they become bothersome for your business. Correcting it doesn’t need to take up a lot of time, and there is a world of information and tools available to help you and your team work as productively as possible. To summarize, any employee – whether office-based or remote – will appreciate guidance, advice, and flexibility while they acclimatize to this new normal.