There’s an unfair stereotype around remote productivity. The first thing that might pop into the minds of managers when they hear words like “telecommuting” or “remote worker” is an image of their employee dressed in pajamas eating cereal in front of the latest Netflix show.
According to studies, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, according to a recent Forbes article on working from home productivity statistics, remote workers stated that they were 77% more productive when working remotely. Of these, 30% claimed that they accomplished more (in less time) than when they were in their physical office.
With impressive stats like these, the future or remote work seems bright. However, can we assume that these stats are valid for all remote workers? What does productivity research tell us that managers and remote employees can do to capitalize on this opportunity and ensure productivity remains high?
Why Does Working from Home Increase Remote Productivity for the Remote Team?
The skeptical manager is likely to wonder why working from home would increase remote productivity. Don’t employees need in-person collaboration and a slight dash of fear from constant supervision to remain on task?
Productivity studies disagree. A Stanford work-from-home study, architected by professor Nicholas Bloom, uncovered some surprising facts about working remotely that mirror the claims made by remote employees in the Forbes’ article.
Bloom’s two-year study found that remote workers gained a remote productivity boost equivalent to an entire day’s work. This surge in productivity could be for multiple reasons – for example, not being late to the office or leaving early.
Also, as most remote workers can attest, it’s often less distracting to work in your own space (vs. the constant interruptions of the office). Concentration is critical, and being able to create the perfect work environment can give massive benefits.
Should Telecommuting Office Workers Work Remotely Full-time, or Visit the Workplace on Some Days?
However, there’s a downside to working remotely. This drawback might not phase the most introverted workers, but other long-term remote workers can agree.
Working remotely can be isolating. Although you’ll often find yourself on a productive multi-hour work streak as you fully enter the “zone,” the lack of face-to-face contact with other colleagues can be devastating in the long term.
You’ll knock items off the to-do list in record time. Still, it’s easy to become a remote productivity robot without enough human interaction. If your after-work hours don’t involve social activity, it’s easy to quickly become isolated. Psychologists agree that it can be a dangerous place for the human psyche.
Another drawback is reduced visibility. If a remote worker’s only exposure to management is a name on a list, it’s harder to stand out and be recognized. Unless promotions are given based purely on spreadsheet statistics, the fully-remote worker might find themselves with a surprised manager who barely remembers that they work at the company.
Remote workers might also find themselves “out of the loop” – one of the challenges of managing remote employees. Sometimes the distractions of the office, like impromptu meetings, can be the medium of communication for important information.
Will one of the participants remember to summarize the results and send them to John Doe (who they haven’t seen in three months)? Maybe, but there’s a risk John is left unaware of the most recent developments and his remote productivity suffers.
Productivity Hacks for Telework and Remote Workers
Want to learn how to be a successful remote employee or manager? Telecommuting and productivity don’t have to mutually exclusive, as studies have shown. Here are a few remote productivity tips you can apply.
Choosing the Right Workplace for Telecommuting Office Workers
Your mental state is everything when it comes to success in life. One way to control your mental state is to choose the right space for work.
A distracting, noise-filled room could be as detrimental to your remote productivity as a traditional office environment. Although software like Krisp can help cut out the background noise from your calls to your colleagues for a better experience.
If you work best from the comfort of your living room’s couch – go for it. Others will find that a coworking space (which you can find anywhere in the world) provides a better work vibe as well as some community.
Employee Engagement While Working Remotely
Remote team communication is vital for work-from-home productivity as well as keeping an individual’s remote productivity high. While it can be tempting to create a (mostly incomprehensible) string of emails to share vital information, it’s 2019 – there are better ways to maximize employee engagement.
Use the Right Remote Team Management and Collaboration Tools
We now have many remote collaboration apps available to us. Apps like Zoom or Google Hangouts make virtual face-to-face talks as simple as a few button clicks. Chat servers like Slack or Discord help teams communicate, plus provide a venue for the in-office banter on work-from-home days.
Tracking Employee Activities
For example, are you a manager concerned that your employees might be shirking their duties instead of focusing on work? Time tracking and remote productivity tools like Time Doctor helps managers monitor remote employee’s website and app usage and collect screenshots every few minutes of employees’ screens – giving some peace of mind that their employees at least appear to be productive.
While this might sound like “Big Brother” level snooping, there are also benefits for remote employees. Time Doctor can send reminders to stay focused, and also provides time tracking. These tools can help motivate employees to analyze and improve their productivity strategies.
Remote Work Is Here to Stay – It’s Time to Hone Your Productivity
As one of the rapidly increasing trends during the last two decades) due mainly to advances in technology), we can rest assured that remote work will only become more commonplace.
If you aren’t already a remote worker, the chances are that you will soon find yourself working remotely at least part-time. Take the time to hone your remote productivity skills to ensure that you make the most of your ambitions in this new world of remote work.