We are a little over a year into working from home, and remote teams are starting to learn what works and what doesn’t. While for some people eliminating the commute time has encouraged them to go for a morning jog, for others it meant to sit down to finally eat breakfast for once or even to get just a few extra minutes of sleep.
Removing our regular commute time is a small example of how working remotely has given us back a precious resource: time. Still, it is up to us to make the most of it. We might not put much thought into it, but even the minor adjustments in how we decide to invest our time can change the trajectory of our workday.
The biggest concern companies had last year when sending their employees home concerned their employees’ productivity. Employees’ biggest concern, on the other hand, was how working from home would alter their work-life balance—both crucial considerations, but not necessarily as different as we tend to assume.
If you have been working remotely for the past year, ask yourself: What do you miss most from work? Who do you miss the most? Has your productivity increased, decreased, or stayed the same? Consider these questions and new strategies to help improve your happiness and productivity as you get accustomed to your new ‘office.’
Keeping a Team Productive is Key to Driving Superior Performance
Contrary to belief, employee productivity has increased since the pandemic started for many companies. While it varies by case, implementing the right practices at home can help employees find the work-life balance they need to stay productive without burning out.
The following are key ways in which teams can remain productive while working remotely.
1. Keep a Routine
Not making big changes to your regular work routine will ensure that you keep your productivity up and allow you to appropriately balance your time with your personal life. The last thing we want to do while working remotely is making our day longer than it should be.
2. Choose the Right Work Setting
Physically differentiate between your work and personal boundaries. Set a designated area for work and a designated area for relaxation. Keeping strict boundaries will prevent you from getting distracted and allow you to keep an efficient work routine. [REMINDER: The first office setting comes from the right mindset. Practice prayer, meditation, journaling, or any activity that will help you stay grounded.]
Have a clear routine to the end of your workday, whether it is posting results or scratching out items from your to-do list. Make sure you have a clear indication that you have concluded your day. For instance, at the end of your remote workday, you may want to shut off and put away your laptop. Trust me, there’s nothing that can’t wait till tomorrow. This will help eliminate any straggling thoughts of work in the time you have set aside to enjoy your other activities.
4. Take Breaks
Taking just a few minutes to breathe and stretch can help boost your ability to focus and retain important information when working remotely. Make it a commitment, set a reminder to take a pause to breathe – it will also help you avoid burning out.
5. Stay Active
Having something to look forward to at the end of the workday is a good motivation to push through the day. Find activities that will keep you productive after your remote workday is over or make sure you left some time at the end of your day to practice the hobbies you enjoy the most. Work hard to play hard.
6. Set Daily and Weekly Goals
Documenting your activity is a great way to stay motivated and constantly remind you of how those small wins fit into the bigger picture. Ask yourself: What tasks have you accomplished today? What tasks will you set yourself to achieve tomorrow? What are the week’s goals? Keeping your eyes on your targets will empower you to become a proactive goal-oriented person.
7. Have Someone Hold You Accountable
Working with the right team can make any job more enjoyable. If having a little competition, or just someone to reassure you that you are doing a great job is something important to you, find a partner you can rely on to help you stay productive and vice-versa. There’s very little that can be done alone. And, why go at it alone when together is always better?
Happiness is the Key to Creativity, Imagination, and Problem-Solving
Keep the ties going! Many employees feel that one of the biggest flaws to working from home is the loss of connection with one another. Having the right strategies can help avoid this and keep the connection intact, regardless of the physical distance the COVID-19 pandemic has forced upon us – all of which can result in a happy and productive team.
1. Virtual Happy Hours
Schedule a lunch break you can take with your team and catch up on all the small talk you have been missing. Even though some may say that the feeling of a virtual happy hour might not be the same as an in-person one, virtual happy hours create opportunities for creativity and fun!
Virtual happy hours present opportunities to play some games to get to know your teammates better. Games such as ‘Would you rather,’ ‘36 questions to fall in love,’ ‘Most likely to,’ and others are fun ways to get to know a whole new side of your colleagues!
2. Build Upon the Company Pride
Have giveaways with company merchandise to show appreciation and remind your team to have some company pride. Merchandise such as water bottles, stickers, T-shirts, and others is a great way to build that team spirit up while keeping employees’ morale high.
3. Bring in Motivational Speakers
Remember your time back in college when a guest speaker came to speak to your class about his or her experience in a field of your interest? That same excitement tends to happen in the workplace as well! Keep your team engaged and motivated by inviting guest speakers to lift their spirits and remind them to think big.
4. Friendly Competition
Healthy team competition has never hurt anybody, and it can help employees ensure they will stay productive and engaged. A suitable reward during the competition can both motivate and spark a fire within employees.
5. Appreciation Posts
In today’s digital world, everyone uses social media to voice their opinions, highlight something that happened to them, or celebrate a moment of fun or pride. There is no better way to make someone feel special than by sharing your positive opinion on their work ethic publicly. A small shout-out can have a significant impact – and social media can provide the best medium to do so.
6. Invest in Mental Health
In today’s socially distanced workplace, it’s important to make sure your team’s mental health is prioritized. Making sure your employees have an appropriate work setting starts with making sure they have the right mindset. Having brief meditation segments or investing in apps like WHIL can help any employee have the right resources and attitude to continue working happily.
7. Have Healthy Meals Regularly
A hot lunch or home-cooked meal always keeps people well-grounded. Promoting healthy eating habits within your team can keep them from snacking and feeling lethargic after a meal.
Do We Have To Go Back?
It is almost hard to remember what it looked like to have a regular workday. While some companies have started to adopt a hybrid workplace model, some have already set a date in place to lure employees back to the office. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that it is possible to work without leaving our homes, so the question remains: “Do we have to go back?”
While companies are encouraging their employees to make their way back, some experts are starting to re-think what the future of work would look like. Leaders like Apple CEO Tim Cook and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have publicly shared their positive experiences with their employees working from home and have suggested that there is no rush to return to the office setting anytime soon.
Now, while this is not the case for all industries, and it is still important for employees to stay connected. Returning to the office will not be as quick and flawless as it might seem, but this past year has proven that being a good team player is not about being the first one in and the last one out. A good team player is one that is happy and productive.
At Topic Insights, we know that there’s a leader inside each and every one of us. It’s our mission to help you nurture and inspire that leader. For more actionable content like this, subscribe to our newsletter.