The COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to switch to remote work overnight. While some employees have returned to the office, remote work is here to stay. Recent data shows that 70% of full-time employees work remotely at least one day per week. Managing a remote workforce comes with unique challenges—especially when it comes to monitoring productivity.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover key stats on remote worker productivity, common struggles managers face, and actionable solutions to boost productivity for distributed teams.
The Productivity Problem: Stats and Struggles
Recent data reveals the complexities of optimizing productivity for remote employees:
- 22% of companies say measuring remote employee productivity is their biggest struggle.
- 65% of remote workers struggle with collaboration and communication.
- 69% of employees admit to wasting time while working remotely.
- 87% of remote workers feel more productive at home. But only 47% of managers agree.
Why do remote workers struggle to remain productive? Here are some of the most common issues managers’ report:
- Lack of oversight – Without being able to physically monitor employees in an office, it’s much harder for managers to prevent distractions and ensure work gets done efficiently.
- Isolation – Remote workers often feel disconnected from their team and company culture. This lack of socialization and collaboration can negatively impact motivation.
- Communication barriers – Technical issues, time zone differences, and lack of face-to-face interaction make it harder to collaborate effectively. Miscommunications happen more frequently.
- Distractions at home – Remote workers must resist distraction from kids, pets, chores, and more. Self-discipline is required to stay on task.
- No separation between work and life – Remote workers struggle to set firm boundaries between their professional and personal lives. Working from home blurs the lines, leading to burnout.
- Measuring meaningful output – Managers tend to rely on simple metrics like hours logged and tasks completed rather than evaluating work quality. This fails to provide a complete picture.
- Lack of technical support – Remote workers often lose productivity waiting on IT support and troubleshooting technical problems on their own. Having reliable tools is critical.
- Employee monitoring concerns – While oversight is needed, workers may resent strict monitoring like screenshot captures or video surveillance. Managers must find a comfortable balance.
Tracking Productivity: Tactics and Technology
Boosting remote worker productivity requires a multifaceted approach. Below we outline actionable strategies and tools managers can implement:
- Set Clear Goals and Expectations
Remote workers need clarity on what they should be achieving. Set SMART goals that align to business objectives and key results. Define quantitative and qualitative success metrics for goals. Communicate availability expectations and response time requirements.
- Foster Communication and Collaboration
Actively work to prevent remote teams from feeling disconnected. Encourage employees to overcommunicate progress and seek clarification, especially when collaborating on projects. Make use of digital tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Asana, and Zoom to enable real-time discussion. Host regular video calls for social facetime.
- Track Time and Progress
Gain visibility into how remote teams spend their time. Use time tracking software like Time Tracker to have your team track their hours remotely. Review reports regularly to verify time investments and identify efficiency opportunities.
- Prioritize Wellbeing
Prevent burnout by encouraging remote employees to take breaks, unplug after hours, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Consider providing wellness benefits like gym memberships, meditation apps, or mental health counseling. Emphasize work output over hours logged.
- Leverage Asynchronous Communication
Accommodate remote workers across different time zones. Utilize tools like Slack, Trello, and Asana to facilitate communication that doesn’t require real-time discussion. Empower employees to work when they are most focused and productive.
- Automate Repetitive Processes
Look for ways to automate repetitive tasks like data entry, documentation, and reporting. Tools like Zapier, IFTTT, and Integromat can connect apps to streamline workflows. Evaluate processes that can be optimized or eliminated altogether.
- Conduct Regular Check-ins
Don’t just rely on progress reports. Schedule weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with remote employees to provide feedback, recognition, and guidance. Ask about any roadblocks or issues impacting their work. Check-ins help build trust and keep teams feeling motivated.
- Encourage Peer Learning Opportunities
Capitalize on the diversity of skills across remote teams. Enable employees to share expertise through mentoring programs, lunch-and-learns, documentation, and more. Dedicate time for peer knowledge transfer during meetings.
- Monitor and Refine Processes
Continuously assess what’s working and what’s not. Encourage remote workers to share feedback on their biggest productivity challenges. Use tools like surveys and focus groups to identify areas for improvement. Refine processes frequently based on learnings.
- Set Up Proper Equipment
Provide remote employees with essential hardware like laptops, monitors, headsets, and keyboards. Offer tech support and equip workers to troubleshoot basic issues on their own. Proper tools and infrastructure prevent productivity lags.
- Recognize and Reward Success
Motivate remote teams by calling out great work. Highlight productivity gains publicly. Incentivize goals through rewards like gift cards, additional PTO, or company swag. Celebrate wins virtually.
- Lead by Example
Managers set the tone for productivity expectations. Be available when expected. Meet deadlines consistently. Don’t burn out your team with unrealistic demands. Set up your own home office properly. Learn productivity best practices yourself first.
Manage Remote Teams with Time Tracker
Time Tracker can optimize productivity for remote teams by allowing teams to track their hours spent on projects and tasks. This will provide visibility into how remote teams spend their time with automated time logs. Our comprehensive time tracking platform gives managers the oversight required to keep remote teams productive. Become the leader your distributed team needs to thrive in the future of remote work and try Time Tracker’s free 14-day trial.