How to maximise remote staff productivity


Here’s what organisations should do to ensure they keep their remote staff motivated and performing well

Work is no more about clocking hours in the office, as technology has allowed most people to work from anywhere, anytime. This flexibility, however, comes with its own set of challenges for the organisations, with managing or ensuring productivity being one of the biggest. Now, be it at office or elsewhere, policing around to get work done may never have worked, but still, organisations have always struggled with apprehensions about remote workers honestly utilising their time well to achieve their deliverables or whiling away time on other unimportant tasks.

At the same time, using remote performance tracking software solutions, organisations run the risk of trust issues or privacy issues. It has often been seen that managers fall trap to apprehensions and suspicions related to the integrity and honesty of remote workers, only to ultimately lose trust of the employees. So, what should organisations do to ensure they keep their remote staff motivated and performing well, without really having to turn them off? Here are some simple things to focus on:

Output matters most

Richard Lobo

Different individuals have different working styles, which is why there is no point fretting over how many hours a remote worker spends working on what. What should really matter is, whether the output is as expected. Richard Lobo, senior vice-president & head-HR, Infosys, says, “Productivity is not about the number of hours spent working, but the quality of output and its timeliness. Irrespective of whether one is working from office or elsewhere, it’s only the output that matters.”

Clearly communicate the KRAs

Communication issues can destroy even the best of workplace relationships, and especially when it comes to remote workers, communication gaps may potentially hamper productivity of even the most capable ones. Hence, it is crucial for managers to keep in constant touch with their remote staff.

Shalini Pillay, head-people, performance & culture, KPMG, shares that a lot of people in their organisation work remotely on client projects. The first step to ensuring that they perform up to the mark, is to make sure they are clear about their specific role and tasks in the project. “Irrespective of whether one is working from office or from a client location, if the project expectations are met and the deliverables are achieved within the timelines, it means the remote staff is productive as desired,” says Pillay.

Mutual trust is key

Shalini Pillay

Furthermore, when a manager and his team are scattered across locations, what keeps the team intact and the team spirit fortified is mutual trust. Of course, technology does help, allowing people to maintain constant and real-time virtual connect, but in the absence of trust a team may not be able to function well. “Measuring and tracking output is one thing, but human to human interaction may at times be unavoidable. In such cases, ensuring or managing productivity for remote workers may not come easy,” says Lobo.

Technology helps keep track

Policing around or forcing too much control may not be a great idea. However, it is technology alone that has allowed smooth remote functioning in various roles. Technology helps manage the remote workers by enabling real-time connect with them, be it audio-visual or even holographic 3D in the near future. For now, even the simplest of tools, such as Whatsapp, may come handy in coordinating, instant knowledge sharing or just keeping in touch with the field staff.

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