Has your organization gone partially or even fully remote recently? You’re not alone, thanks to the global pandemic.
Most organizations that had to adapt to remote work rapidly ran into plenty of issues early on.
They had to deal with issues of collaboration, communication, productivity, security, and employee engagement, to name a few.
Fortunately, both employees and management can take plenty of steps to mitigate — or at least minimize — these problems while reaping some unique benefits virtual work offers to organizations.
In this article, we’ll explore tips for employees to maximize their productivity while working remotely.
We’ll also look at ways managers can increase employee engagement despite a lack of face-to-face interaction — especially through the use of a Work OS.
What is remote work?
Remote work — sometimes called telecommuting or virtual work — is the ability to work from any location with an Internet connection.
The global pandemic forced the slow remote working trend to accelerate drastically.
Despite businesses reopening for in-office work in many areas, nearly 42% of workers still do their jobs entirely remotely.
That same report also found that 68% of hiring managers believe remote work is getting easier, indicating this trend likely won’t reverse. Which means companies had to adapt to the challenges of working in a distributed fashion.
Remote work does offer some benefits, though.
Employees can work where they feel most productive — whether it’s a coffee shop’s ambiance, a coworking space’s productive energy, or a home office’s peace and quiet.
It also saves employees time and money on commuting, gas, and car maintenance.
Census data from 2015–2019 found that the average commute time is just over 26 minutes. So working remotely could save almost 4.5 hours a week commuting time.
Stress also decreases because workers no longer have to fight traffic and have increased personal time. Less stress could mean happier and more productive employees.
How to be an effective and happy remote employee
Working remotely might be your dream, but there are some unique challenges to deal with.
Many solutions involve treating your job as much like a typical, in-office role as possible — just at home or in your favorite workspace.
Follow these steps to maximize productivity and job satisfaction while working remotely, wherever that may be.
Set and stick to a schedule
One of the most crucial steps to being a successful remote worker is to set clear work-life boundaries. That starts with your work schedule.
You do have some more flexibility here. You can run errands or attend that workout class at noon if you’d like — but you still need structure in your day.
Set a start and end time for your workday and stick to it. Schedule tasks — such as checking email — for the same time every day, too.
Such structure reduces your need to decide what to do when, leaving you more focused and productive on the work itself.
Keep your schedule in monday.com alongside your other work with this Remote Schedule template.
You should also track your time to see how well you stick to your schedule and refine it if needed.
Simply install the monday.com time tracking widget, and you can monitor how long each of your tasks takes.
Create a dedicated workspace
Working from the couch may be tempting, but you may not be as productive.
Adopt a space in your home as your virtual office — whether you already have a study/home office or simply an open few square feet in your bedroom.
Physically separate the workspace with something if possible.
While working, use signs on your door to indicate if you’re on a phone or video call or shouldn’t be bothered.
Once the workday is over, put things away and leave your workspace clear to solidify work-life boundaries.
Maximize every video call
Remote work makes it harder to get hold of coworkers or your boss to answer questions.
To avoid bugging others too much, make a list of questions before video calls and make sure you get thorough answers to each one.
You and everyone else will be more productive afterward.
Have you ever noticed that you lose focus after working on a task too long?
That’s because working too long without a break can make you less engaged with your work and feel more fatigued at the end of the day.
Also, take a longer lunch break where, again, you step away from work and enjoy your lunch.
The problem here is that many people get “in the zone.” Before they know it, hours have gone by with no breaks.
With monday.com, you can prevent this by setting up automated reminders to take breaks. Here’s an example of an automation recipe you can customize:
Build your virtual office and keep your remote team engaged with monday.com
Employees can do their best to stay on track and get their work done remotely, but it’s a management responsibility to make sure teams stay engaged from a distance to prevent dissatisfaction and turnover.
Here are some tips managers can use to keep their teams engaged in a remote environment.
Communicate regularly with team members
Communication is of the utmost importance when working remotely. You can’t just walk over to an employee’s desk or have them visit your office.
Continue to have regular remote meetings with your distributed team over video conferencing software. Ideally, find a way to integrate that video conferencing software into your other software solutions.
For example, monday.com integrates with Zoom, making the transition from work to video chat and back to work seamless.
You should also check in with employees one-on-one to make sure their work is going well. While doing so, ask if there’s any way you can help them be more productive.
Have virtual casual hangouts and chats
Replace those in-person happy hours and office events with virtual casual hangouts to maintain a sense of togetherness and offer employees a replacement for in-office social interaction.
Slack is an excellent software solution for housing both work and informal communication channels. It offers both instant messaging and video calls.
monday.com’s Slack integration makes it even easier to jump from important business to a video hangout and to stay updated on both.
Make collaboration and knowledge sharing fun and easy
It’s easy for employees to work together and share knowledge when in each others’ physical presence.
Recreate this by enabling and empowering collaboration and knowledge sharing in your virtual workspace. That starts with getting a platform that facilitates these activities.
monday.com helps with both, thanks to a variety of collaboration features you can build into your workflows.
For example, monday.com’s Updates section lets you leave comments and upload files on board items:
Employees can use the features to work together, share knowledge, and solve problems without ever being in the same building.
Provide access to a knowledge base
A knowledge base is a collection of tips, FAQs, how-to guides, and other helpful documentation and resources. These empower employees to solve issues on their own and be more productive in their work.
Inside your knowledge base, you can have information on company policies and how to solve common issues, but you can also add tips on successfully working remotely.
Here’s an example of a monday.com board for a knowledge base for your inspiration:
Ask for feedback
If your company is new to remote work, gather feedback from employees regularly.
After all, employees who feel like management listens to them are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best on the job.
A good cadence to gather could be once to twice a year, although you should err on the side of more frequently early on. Every quarter may be a better cadence if you’re just starting remote work.
As for how to gather that feedback, monday.com makes it easy to create feedback collection forms from scratch.
Here’s an employee engagement survey template created inside monday.com:
Simply customize the questions to fit your remote work processes, send the survey out to your employees, and review their feedback.
Thrive in a remote work world
Working as a virtual team and organization isn’t as easy because you can’t interact with others face-to-face.
By following the above tips, though, you can maximize productivity despite the distance between employees.
That said, you can create a complete virtual office using a Work OS like monday.com. With monday.com, you can build custom workflows, share documents, take advantage of an array of helpful features and widgets, and collaborate effectively as a remote team.