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How to maintain employee productivity through a second wave

Published: Thursday 22nd October 2020

A lot of attention is being given to employee productivity during shutdown. Furthermore, many people now face the prospect of long-term remote working. As predictions of a second wave continue, ensuring long-term employee productivity has become vital to companies. However, with all companies different, no one solution guarantees employee productivity. Therefore, we look at the many different methods that can help maintain employee productivity through a possible second wave. 

Keep talking

Consistent employee engagement is vital for maintaining employee productivity and employee performance during remote working. Once difficult, technology now enables us to talk and see each other easily. Therefore, it is essential for businesses to have the right tools in place. Zoom has emerged as one of the major winners in this field. This and similar video and online chat tools make conference calls and one-to-ones easy. 

Such video group meetings have proved to be very effective. Group meetings should be held regularly, such as weekly team/department meetings. This provides important opportunities to provide updates, assign tasks and get staff feedback. Enabling team members to see and chat as they would in an office helps promote team bonding. This is particularly important in reducing feelings of loneliness among staff.

young modern people in smart casual wear communicating and using modern technologies while working in the office. employee productivity concept

Remember to listen 

Listening to staff is just as important as talking to them. Such two-way communications should be performed in both group and one-to-one settings. Employee feedback is important for many reasons. One of the biggest is it allows companies to better gauge workloads. Too little work and employees can become bored and complacent. Too much work and staff can be overwhelmed and burnt out. Achieving this ‘Goldilocks’ zone is difficult and can only be achieved through regular two-way discussions with staff. 

Taking a personal interest in staff also helps improve employee engagement. Talking about subjects other than work, such as family or topical news issues, will help. The more empathetic a company is, the more motivated and engaged staff are. The ongoing pandemic and subsequent lockdown have changed everybody’s lives. Companies need to understand this and take a much more rounded and individually tailored approach to dealing with staff and support morale.    

Dolly Parton was right 

One thing that may not return to normal after all this is standard working hours. Flexi-time and remote working are eliminating the traditional 9-5 day in many sectors. The longer people work remotely, doing the hours they want, the harder it will be to go back. However, providing employees with a working hours structure to follow remains important. 

Man is typing on laptop with ginger cat sleeping on keyboard. Top view. Man working from home on laptop in wireless headphones. Home office with pet cat

Companies must maintain a normal working routine as much as possible for staff working remotely. This can be done in various ways. Including regular team meetings at set times, establishing working hours and even promoting a dress code. The last one may sound quirky and unenforceable. However, getting staff out of their dressing gowns, even just for meetings, will help productivity. 

An office at home 

Nobody is sure how long the pandemic is going to last. As such, many employees have been and continue to simply make do. However, as the months go by, there is still no end in sight for many sectors. Therefore, some employees now face the prospect of long-term remote working. Employee productivity can be hugely affected by their working environment. 

It is essential that staff working from home have the correct set up. This includes everything from having a desk and suitable chair, to ensuring the right tech is in place. This is particularly true for those unfamiliar with such technology. Companies must ensure all staff are trained and comfortable with the equipment they are using. 

Measuring employee productivity 

Businesswoman clapping hands after successful meeting in the office.

This continues to be a sensitive issue. Done correctly, and your staff can be working efficiently and at optimum levels. Done wrong, and employees can feel micro-managed and under constant pressure. It is important to ensure staff are working when they should. However, companies must understand the unique circumstances people are now in. Any tools introduced to measure staff productivity must be done in a transparent way. Companies must explain what is being measured, why, any sets targets and what will happen if these targets are not met. Whilst employee productivity can remain high with remote working, this is not true for everyone. As such, employers must communicate with staff regarding any targets to ensure they are realistic and achievable for every individual. 

There are many ways of measuring employee productivity. Firstly, regular employee engagement ensures constant feedback. This enables progress to be reported on and allows any issues to be identified quickly. Secondly, employee monitoring software is now available in many different formats. These allow companies to measure the performance of staff working remotely much more accurately. Such software measures productive hours, idle hours and time spend on specific projects. Information like this is invaluable if used correctly and improves employee productivity. However, such software can feel intrusive to staff, and that is why full transparency is needed. 

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