So many more people are working from home these days. Whether it’s because of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) or because more companies are allowing employees to work remotely, it’s prompted the need for productivity training strategies.
When employees work remotely, they need some of the same skills they use in the office in addition to new ones. Training for remote teams includes:
- Time Management
- Problem Solving
- Healthy Habits
These so-called soft skills play a pivotal role in productivity. One study done by Harvard University, Boston University, and University of Michigan researchers demonstrated how training in soft skills resulted in a 12% increase in productivity. Based on a 40-hour week, that’s an increase in productivity of more than 31 additional workdays a year!
When teams are working remotely, it can be easy for them to become highly task-oriented. They are less likely to collaborate and brainstorm with team members. It’s crucial to foster open lines of communication and find ways to connect.
When communication becomes limited to email, text, and chat, it becomes a back and forth rather than a live conversation. Training should include how to use technology and when it gets in the way of productivity. Video conferencing or a phone call may work better for some projects.
Most offices have a “rhythm” throughout the day. The ebb and flow of work, breaks, lunch, and quitting time by fellow employees help calibrate the workday. When working remotely, employees often miss these signals. Working remotely also means less oversight. It can be easy to be distracted when you don’t have to worry about the boss looking over your shoulder.
Employees need the proper training to develop consistent schedules and learn how to pace themselves and take regular breaks.
Learning problem-solving techniques benefits every employee at every stage of their career, whether they are working remotely or in the office.
Working remotely means employees will have to develop their problem-solving skills since many of the tasks they’ll do will mean working alone. They won’t be able to rely on others to help.
When employees are motivated, they can move mountains. Motivated employees are three times more satisfied with their jobs. Measurable creativity improves as much as 3X as well. And, they are ten times more engaged with their work.
We all want self-motivated employees. However, we know that not everyone works this way. Training can help develop tactics for self-motivation and provide tools for managers to keep an engaged workforce.
It’s also important to make sure your remote workers are taking care of themselves. When working at home, it’s easy to fall into bad habits. It’s hard to be productive when you’re not eating in a healthy manner or sleeping well. In fact, one study showed that people that had trouble getting a good night’s rest are 56% more likely to have impaired work performance. The National Safety Council estimates the U.S. businesses lose more than $63 billion a year in productivity and absenteeism from sleep deprivation.
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It sounds simple, but helping remote workers to establish consistent habits, including exercise, sleeping, and eating well, can improve performance.
Additional Productivity Strategies for Remote Employees
There are two other key factors to think about when it comes to productivity training for remote employees: tech and management. If they don’t have the right tools (and know how to use them) or work with managers that have been trained to lead remote teams, productivity will suffer.
Remote workers will need additional tools. In the office, they might have a desktop computer with a direct connection to company resources. At home, or working remotely, they might need to use a laptop and navigate a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access the same resources. They might need to install a firewall themselves or use new software to connect with co-workers. Or, they might have to work differently than they are used to.
Not everyone that works is tech-savvy. While some remote employees will be fine on their own, others may need intensive training to be productive.
They’ll need training on any new equipment or software they will be using. They should also get additional training in online security. Using tech tools away from the office opens up more connections to the outside that could be exploited by hackers.
Managing remote teams takes different skills as well. While during the coronavirus pandemic, many managers were forced to accommodate remote workers, few mastered it. 56% of employees in one study said their managers need to update their skills to support remote teams.
With employees working remotely, perhaps the biggest area where training would impact productivity is in the area of pro-active communication. Taking the initiative to consistently communicate – rather than wait for a defined need – is crucial. Managers need to learn the right way to do it so employees don’t feel like the boss is asking for constant updates or worried about whether they are working when not in the office.