I don't feel like I am getting the same productivity from staff working at home, how can I address this?
Many businesses have, for the safety of their workers, allowed home working where this has been possible. As the guidance remains to continue home working where this is possible then I am certain this has been for a much longer period that business owners initial anticipated and so challenges are presented when managing a remote workforce that may not have been considered.
Although there may be many benefits for employees to work at home, where they are used to being in a team environment, this can over time become quite an isolating experience. You lose the ‘banter’ and natural chats that occur in a workplace and this is missed.
When considering managing workloads and performance, having regular discussions and monitoring progress is also essential. Consider how this can be done when not face to face.
Can you use a platform such as Zoom or Teams to have a daily update with your team so you all remain aware of the workloads and pressures on each other? A time to share experience, frustration and generally motivate each other for what the day ahead may bring?
Can you utilise workflow management software such as systems like Monday (or others) that allow you to allocate tasks and track the progress so you have a clear overview of what your team are progressing with.
2. Is the home working set up fit for purpose?
The first step to tackling any productivity issues is to consider whether the home working set up for an employee is conducive to them working in the same way they would if at the business premises.
When home working was recommended, as a temporary measure then the adjustments made will have been minimal. This may mean you have employees working on a Dining or Kitchen table and chairs. You are relying on internet connections that have been installed for home use and so may not meet the speeds and reliability that your business premises provide for employees. Do they have the tools needed to work from home such as can they print documents, do they have a work phone or just their mobile, do they have office stationery like letterhead available etc.?
3. Are your expectations set clearly?
Ensure that your employees are aware of the expectation or objectives you have for them and their roles. These may be adjusted to take into account the conditions in section 2. If they are not aware of the standards you expect for their performance then they cannot attempt to deliver this.
4. How flexible are you?
When working from home, employees may have other distractions such as having their children at home at the moment.
We are in exceptional times and so offering some flexibility to help support your team can go a long way. It is important that your employees know of any restrictions or limits this flexibility may have.
For example, are you happy that providing the daily workload agreed is completed, that your employee can work at a time that best accommodates other responsibilities such as children at home. They may for example work on an evening when the kids are in bed rather than working their traditional hours. If that is a problem, make this clear and explain why. It could be for example, that the telephones need to be covered and if they are taking time out with their kids at certain times of the day, you miss calls and therefore compromise the service to customers.
Just because you are not face to face with employees, do not forget the value of having a 121 or review with them on a regular basis.
If you had this process in place prior to working remotely then carry this on via Zoom / Teams as you would if you were in the workplace together.
If you didn’t have a regular review process in place then this would be an ideal time to implement one. A 121 can give the opportunity for you to check in with your team individually, to discuss their performance – both the positives and areas to work on and to set clear goals together for the weeks to come.
If you would like to discuss any frustrations you may have with managing performance with a remote team then please feel free to contact us to arrange an initial consultation at no cost with one of our experienced HR Consultants. Alternatively, if you are planning to make home working a permanent feature then you may need to speak with a Health & Safety expert to understand your obligations to a permanent home worker. You can reach us on 0844 8797286.
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