One of the most exciting ways the internet has changed the workplace is that it has decentralized it, making it easier than ever for people to work remotely.
This is good news for everyone. For workers, it means getting to finally take advantage of all the benefits remote work has to offer, and for employers, it means being able to hire people from around the world and also take advantage of the increased productivity of remote workers.
Yes, you read that correctly. Remote workers tend to be more productive than those working in the office, with 77 percent of remote workers reporting this is the case.
This might seem backward, as the image most people have of remote workers is of them slacking off, working while watching Netflix, and cutting out early because no one is watching. But this image is misguided and outdated.
Here’s why remote workers tend to perform better, as well as a few tips on how to maximize their potential.
The Case for Better Productivity
Improved productivity is not a guarantee, and it comes about for many reasons, but here are some of the most compelling:
Allowing an employee to work remotely instills them with a tremendous amount of autonomy. It demonstrates that you trust them to do their job, and most people – there will, of course, be exceptions – will respond to this positively by working harder and trying to do a better job.
Plus, this autonomy makes it easier for people to find more time to work. They don’t need to rely on the office being open, which means they can log in and get things done even if it’s after hours.
This doesn’t mean they should, and you need to make it clear to people that they don’t need to be working all the time. But it’s certainly something the company will appreciate and is a big reason why remote workers tend to be more productive.
More Flexibility and Balance
The most obvious draw to remote work is that it allows you to have a flexible schedule, and for most people, this means more time to spend on the other things going on in their lives, such as family, friends, hobbies, etc.
This makes it easier for employees to achieve a better balance in their lives, which most people will appreciate. Over time, remote workers will grow to love this, and they will respond by working harder to ensure they are doing what they need and more to maintain this arrangement that has had such a positive impact on their life.
This one depends slightly on the home office environment you have, but, in general, working from home frees you from a lot of the distractions present in an office that can harm productivity.
Of course, if you have young children at home or don’t have the discipline to keep the TV off and social media apps closed, this might not be the case. But if you can establish boundaries and set a schedule, the peace and quiet you can find at home is likely going to make it much easier for you to focus and blast through that to-do list.
Taking Full Advantage of Remote Workers
Hopefully, you now see why remote work can have such an impact on productivity. But this isn’t an automatic result. You need to take some steps to ensure the success of your remote workers. Here are a few that will help you do this:
As mentioned, one of the most important reasons why remote workers are more productive is that they have the freedom to make their own schedules. However, this freedom evaporates if the people they work with, or for, are constantly writing or emailing them with questions or concerns.
It’s much more effective to establish guidelines and boundaries for how each remote work arrangement is going to work. For example, you may need to set up a time when remote workers must be online so that people can reach them, or you could schedule regular meetings that allow everyone to communicate as needed.
This also speaks to the importance of establishing a strong work-from-home policy. It ensures everyone is on the same page so that you can reach remote workers without invading the space they have worked hard to create for themselves as a result of working remotely.
Give Them the Tools They Need
It’s important to ensure remote workers have everything they need to do their jobs. This means making sure they have the right communication tools, the right internet specs, and the right access to all the systems they might need to use.
But beyond this, you need to make sure people are trained in these tools and are willing to use them. Video chatting can be extremely useful for remote workers, as can project management programs, so make sure everyone is comfortable with them so that they can work remotely and not fall behind their in-office peers.
Keep Them Engaged
Lastly, you must work to keep remote workers engaged. Since they’re not in the office, it’s easy for them to disconnect and feel left out from the rest of the team. Doing this means setting up regular one-on-one communications, but it also means establishing ways for remote workers to interact with the rest of the team.
You can do this in group meetings, but another good way is to establish channels on your communication apps (such as Slack) where people can share non-work-related things, such as funny memes, vacation photos, and family updates.
This small measure can really help keep the team together, helping boost engagement, and productivity, from your remote workers.
The Future is Now
Remote work is going to be one of the biggest work-related trends of the future. But, in many ways, we are already living through this phenomenon. People love the idea of working from home, so if you can embrace it now and give remote work a chance to transform your business.