Over the last year, many businesses have been affected by Covid-19. The way we work has changed, with remote working no longer just a perk offered by some businesses, but a vital option to maintain work output throughout the pandemic.
A survey on workplace burnout has found that 37% of workers have seen a decline in productivity since the beginning of the pandemic, with over half of employees in the US experiencing increased anxiety, stress, or frustration at work. Understandably, the pandemic has hugely affected communication at work, with a lack of face-to-face contact leading to employees feeling disconnected and demotivated.
Positive work culture is vital both for maintaining current staff and hiring the best possible talent, and it is particularly important to retain this positive culture when adapting to remote working.
With this in mind, we’ve put together some top tips to help avoid burnout, improve efficiency, and ensure well-being among a remote workforce.
1. Establish communication preferences and get everyone on the same page. The first thing to establish when switching to remote working is simply how communications will occur across your business. Each situation requires a different communicative style, so your business should create guidelines for collaborating to ensure everyone is on the same page. This applies to contact times and communication channels: are there any specific times meetings shouldn’t be booked in? Which communications are suitable for IM or email, and which should be a video call?
As well as establishing the best communication methods for each task, you should find out how often your team wants to connect. Where possible, this should match your usual office systems. So, if you usually meet with a team to discuss workloads first thing on a morning, this should be rebooked and replicated over Zoom, Teams, or Meet.
2. Provide staff with the equipment they need. 17% of respondents to the survey said they lacked the tools required to do their jobs from home. Fast, efficient equipment and an ergonomic setup are vital to ensure productivity, motivation, and job satisfaction among a remote workforce.
When setting up your employees for remote working, check they have everything they need to carry out their responsibilities as effectively at home as they would in the office. Is their laptop in good working condition? Do they need additional screens or a webcam for video calls? As well as technical equipment, assisting staff by providing a comfortable office chair and suitable desk can go a long way when it comes to efficiency and productivity at home.
3. Be over-supportive. Thirty-two percent of those surveyed stated they want an increase in the level of communication from their business. A further 37% don’t think their organization is doing enough to support them through the crisis. This highlights the need for sympathetic communication from managers and seniors. While all staff should have regular one-on-one meetings, it is important to check in with everyone and determine the level of support they require. Some may be happy getting on with work, while others may require a higher level of communication. It is up to managers to ensure all staff are getting the support they need to counter feelings of isolation or disconnection, which can be common when working remotely.
4. Beware micromanaging. While managers need to ensure communication and support, it is important to avoid micromanaging. While it can be difficult for managers to adapt to a lack of visibility when teams are working from home, you should resist the urge to constantly monitor work and check what staff are doing.
Micromanaging shows a level of distrust that can ultimately reduce productivity and contribute to a negative culture. You hired them for a reason, so show trust in your staff and they are more likely to remain motivated when working remotely.
Positive communication is vital in any workplace. When working remotely, it is even more important to ensure staff feel connected and productive. With the above tips, you can work on a communication strategy that will ensure a positive workplace culture and allow remote workers to thrive in their new environment.