Ever since COVID 19 came into existence, the world has been chaotic. Everyone is stressing over this inescapable virus and wishing for the ‘normal’ days to return. The government shook hands with the World Health Organization (WHO) to take the matter into their hands. Work from home productivity has been in question ever since they implemented lockdown, advised the social distancing policy, and brought attention to the work from home option.
Work from home is simply working from a remote place, usually the employee’s home, rather than the office. Even though we had the technology and the resources to work from home, it was somehow considered a bad idea because of the prejudice that “…well, the productivity is not as high as compared to working at the office.” However, with COVID crises on the door, the companies had no other option but to implement work from home. A SAP Concur survey reveals that 88% of the Indian workforce prefers to work from home. Quite contrary to the traditional belief that work from home decreases productivity, 69% of the respondents believed that their productivity increased by working from home.
We all understand that working from home can be distracting. Employees who share their living space with their parents, spouses, or children may face difficulties concentrating due to distractions in their homes. We all have seen clips of children raiding their parent’s official ‘video’ interviews/ meetings. The employee’s efforts to focus on work and help with the household at the same time can often prove to be larger than life tasks. The first question that pops up in our brains after reading the statistics mentioned above is with all given cons, how can work from home productivity be increased?
The answer to the doubt mentioned above lies in taking simple steps. Here are some tips that an employer can use to enhance employees’ work from home productivity.
Remember when you were working at the office? You insisted the employees follow a fixed schedule from start to end in the workplace. But now that they work from home, these set boundaries tend to vanish in thin air. When the work keeps extending for longer hours on a regular basis, the employees may feel frustrated and might not give you their best. You should create a strict schedule with the timesheet tool of the software with fixed working hours and persuade the employees to follow it closely. Any work incomplete at the end of such working hours must be carried to the next day. This will ensure that your employees are not bombarded with work twenty-four hours a day, and seven days a week.
Changing the working areas daily is not practical. Sometimes, in migrating from one room to another, your employees might misplace something. It wastes a lot of time to start a search party for the lost thing. Encourage your employees to set up a separate working area in their home. Allow them to set up and organize a desk for all their documents, equipment, and tools to enable quick access to them when needed. This will save their time from moving from one place to another, and you will be able to divert their undivided attention to their work.
Miscommunication, or in some cases, no communication at all, disrupts the flow of work. Not having access to the office environment where your employees can communicate with the colleagues immediately might reduce their morale. To have a smooth workflow, you must ensure that they have access to continuous and steady communication devices. A constant connection to the network is unavoidable to stay available for communication when colleagues try to contact each other.
The biggest nemesis of productivity is social media. Unlike the workplace, an employee’s home does not have a strict smartphone policy. They likely have their cellphones with them when they’re at home, and hence it is easy for them to get distracted by the constant notifications. It is the case with everyone, even you and me – Once we take the phone to check ‘just one notification,’ we know the drill. A minute transforms into ten, and by the time we realize that we were supposed to be working, few hours are already wasted. The employee must avoid getting sucked into social media. It would help if you had control over how much time the employees spend on social media. With less time wasted on social media, your employees are likely to be more productive.
factoHR offers unique features that can assist the employers in enhancing their workers’ productivity. One of these features is the geofencing tool that virtually “fences” a particular area. When the registered device enters/ exits this area, the attendance is automatically registered.
Another remarkable feature of factoHR is the selfie attendance that prevents attendance theft by the employees by allowing the employees to click a selfie while registering the attendance.
The employee should use tools and equipment that help them run their tasks and time better. Having such mediums that manages their tasks and keeps them connected to the employees’ functions is a boon. Tools like Trello, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc. are examples that can keep the team connected and enhance the working from home experience. As an employer/manager, it is your task to insist them to have all the necessary applications and tools installed in their computer system.
A healthy mind and body is a sign of increased productivity. Your employees’ work efficiency tends to be the highest when they are healthy and happy. Take your time after or before office hours to talk to them and encourage them to focus on themselves. Advice them to eat healthy food and take proper sleep. While your employees are working from home, suggest that they take a minute or two to stroll around the house after sitting for long hours. Inspire them to create an atmosphere that helps them feel at ease. Your workers’ productivity will increase when they are comfortable and can focus better.
Working from home means that besides their family, no one else is going to see your employees the entire day, especially in the lockdown. The basic instinct of any person in such times is to wear comfortable pajamas all day long. However, during the work hours, make a policy for the employees to dress like they’re going to work. There are two reasons for doing so. Firstly, in case of sudden meetings, they can be presentable and ready, saving them from embarrassments. Secondly, it is impossible for anyone to feel productive in pajamas. There is a reason pajamas are meant for lounging and sleeping in.
It is a bittersweet experience of spending all the time with the family (more sweet than bitter). Usually, we would go home from work and spend a few hours with family, and then either we go to sleep or are busy with our cell phones. In the lockdown, however, we spend all the time with our family. The situation of the employees is no different. They have to spend their whole day with their families. The family members will likely enter their ‘workplace’ or unintentionally distract your employees with discussions. It is better to encourage them to set rules for the family members to avoid such distractions. If they have children at home, suggest that they give them some tasks to keep them busy. Give the family time slots where they can call or talk with them.
Like how one must refrain from working after the work hours, one must also refrain from doing the household chores during the work hours. Strictly set out rules for the employees to complete their house chores before or after work hours. Doing their tasks during work hours not only wastes the work hours but also delays the official assignments. However, setting separate work hours and personal hours will allow your employees to focus on their work and complete it within the deadlines, while still having enough time for their chores.
The main benefit of working from home is that your employees don’t have to worry about disturbing your colleagues. This is an excellent opportunity for them to tune in to their favorite jams and draw their focus into work. We are all well aware of how music can help any individual in increasing their focus. Using their favorite tracks or instrumentals can keep their spirits high, and their productivity eventually increases. The point to keep in mind is that the music shouldn’t be very distracting. Music can help them zone out from the surroundings and focus entirely on their work.
Working from home is not just about saving the time and money spent on the commute to and from work. It is about staying safe in these crises and yet, not compromising the work quality. If the company is taking the initiative to pay the workers for working from home, you must ensure that they work efficiently and they do not let the workplace’s absence affect your organization’s productivity. With approximately 67% of the companies thinking about making work from home a permanent change, it becomes essential for the employers to find a way to increase and maintain their employees’ work from home productivity.