The COVID-19 outbreak has forced many businesses to offer, if not require, work-from-home options for employees. With people working remotely, employers face many challenges with maintaining the same level of productivity as before the pandemic. Here are five guidelines to help ensure your employees are maximizing their time outside of the office and inside their homes.
Require a Set Schedule
Contrary to popular belief, a large number of employees end up overworking when they work remotely. One reason is because they don’t maintain a set schedule of working hours.
Be sure your employees have a start time, a designated lunch break, and an end time. Working set hours not only provides a consistent schedule during which you can reach them for assignments or questions, but also gives their minds time to rest.
Enforcing a hard limit at the end of the workday prevents employees from working nonstop. Additionally, setting a schedule for your nonexempt employees and accurately tracking their hours is especially important for correctly paying overtime, if any.
On average, remote employees lose at least 27 minutes per day on distractions, including text messages, phone calls, and conversations with other household members. Encourage them to manage the distractions by:
- Silencing their cell phones;
- Making it clear to other people in the house they shouldn’t be disturbed except for emergencies;
- Choosing a quiet location to work such as a den/office or spare bedroom; and
- Using a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
If employees are working on company-provided computers or laptops, have your IT department block all social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram.
Provide Access to Programs
Equip your employees with tech and productivity tools. If they had access to specific programs in the office (e.g., Outlook, Adobe, and Word), be sure they have the same options at home.
Also, think about how working remotely may have affected certain work tasks. For example, do employees need a DocuSign account to send documents electronically for signatures? Do they need an external webcam to attend video conferences?
On average, people can focus on any given task for about 90 to 120 minutes. After that, they need a 5-minute break to recharge.
You should encourage employees to take appropriate breaks to prevent fatigue. Statistics show regular breaks increase productivity, improve mental well-being, and boost creativity.
Require a Productivity Log
Productivity logs are gold mines for increasing output. They boost employee efficiency, motivation, and focus. They cause employees to become aware of wasted time (searching the web, doing household chores, browsing social media) and minimize the time spent not working.
In addition, productivity logs allow you to identify which employees are close to burning out, who needs more work, and who needs help staying on track. They also help you to analyze whether the work is being distributed evenly.
During the pandemic, many employees are searching for a sense of normalcy after being faced with working from home in unsuitable spaces alongside spouses, children, pets, and other distractions. The above tips can help employees get back to normal while improving morale and increasing productivity.
Janet McEnery is a shareholder with Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A., in Tampa, Florida. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also contributing to the article was Katie Lee, a labor and employment paralegal in the Tampa office.