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The Rise of Remote Work and How to Assess Growth and Development

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COVID-19 has accelerated the rate of remote work adoption globally, but what have we found out? We have discovered that remote work is not bad, after all.

In the past, many companies have been wary about transitioning to telecommuting, even when most of their office operations do not require the physical presence of employees. The main fears expressed by leaders include a possible decline in employee productivity and a lack of clarity about the measurement of employee performance.

The performance of individual employees determines the trajectory of the company. Without reliable methods to assess its employees’ work, it is difficult for any organization to achieve growth and development.

This article addresses the concerns of managers who are hesitant about remote work and those who have already implemented remote work but have trouble with tracking performance for workplace productivity and office growth.

Set Clear Objectives and KPIs to Assess Growth

How do you know if your employees are getting stuff done? The inevitable first step is to define what it means to get stuff down. In business lingua, that means to establish work objectives and set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Effective KPIs are aligned with the company’s overall goals and must contribute to the company’s growth and development.

Communicating to employees the metrics by which their performance will be assessed helps them to understand their priorities. Clear expectations, keep employees focused.

Acknowledge Unquantifiable Performance Indicators

In setting KPIs, though, you need to acknowledge that numbers don’t tell the full story. Not to suggest that you should discount the importance of numbers, but you should also be cognizant of the Key Intangible Performance Indicators. Admittedly, working remotely can compound the vagueness of such indicators — leading employees to feel their efforts are not recognized enough.

Some aspects are just not quantifiable, such as leadership, creativity, innovation, organization, and engagement. There are quantifiable indicators that may make us understand employee engagement and organization, but the subjects themselves are indefinite.

Until new ways and means of measuring these intangibles are discovered — company leadership should acknowledge that Key Intangible Performance Indicators exist, and look for ways to recognize employees who go above and beyond.

Support Employee Development

Assessments should be more supportive than they are judgmental. Employees appreciate frequent check-ins when the aim is to keep them on their toes and support them through difficulties. However, the manager that goes around constantly pointing out his team members’ flaws (without thoughtfully helping them overcome their challenges) is only seen as grumpy.

The rules also apply in remote work, where managers (out of fear of losing control) begin acting intrusively by implementing extreme corporate surveillance. Tracking and assessment are not the ends themselves; the goal of tracking employee performance should be to improve team productivity. In essence, remote work management and performance should usher us into a new era of trust, more autonomy, accountability, and team collaboration.

“Nowadays, it is not enough to equip teams with new digital tools for remote collaboration, which many rapidly did when the pandemic began. It’s only the first step,� says Maxime Bouroumeau-Fuseau, co-founder and CTO of Paris-based Digicoop, a worker cooperative behind the work management platform Kantree. “The changing workplace calls for an environment where employees are empowered to take control of their work.

In our experience as a co-op, when employees are given more autonomy and when micromanagement is replaced by collaboration, teams deliver better results while individual employees feel more invested in their work.�

Allow Autonomy

Many people choose to work remotely because they want to feel a greater sense of ownership of their time and schedules. Therefore, even though time tracking is important for many remote teams, it goes without saying that hourly input is not always a good measure of performance.

The true measure of performance is the work outcome. Remote work allows employees to choose their own work hours; what does it matter if an employee works less per hour but still meets targets consistently? Researchers have shown that autonomy increases productivity.

Use the Right Tools and Analytics for KPIs

With physical offices out of the picture, it is the tools that a remote team uses that define the structure of work and operations. There are tools that keep employees accountable and provide actionable insights into how work gets done in the organization.

The rise of remote work has promoted the importance of analytics of everyday work data to ensure that employees are more productive.

The insights gained help team leaders and the management to understand if the organization is meeting set targets of performance and productivity and determine the rate of growth and development. Tools such as Trello, Kantree, Jira, Asana, Microsoft Teams, Slack, etc., are useful for assessing work progression.

Establish a Culture of Accountability

Note, though, that tools are only as effective as the culture in which they are situated. Your team might be using the best tools, but poor communication can derail employees from the main goals of the company.

When there are issues with employee performance, you must be able to recognize if there is a problem with the tools being used or with the management. Accountability should not only be down-up; it should be top-down too. Managers should be accountable to their subordinates and transparent about office dealings.

Conclusion

Going by statistics, remote work actually improves employee productivity and performance. This, in turn, leads to the overall growth of the company. However, this growth must be intentional. Organizations should implement proper (and flexible) assessment models to know when their work is really progressing and when there are problems that must be solved.

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How to Find Inspiration During the Post-Quarantine Burnout

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I remember finding myself completely collapsed after another missed deadline right before my favorite day of the year — my birthday. In October last year, I worked as a content writer at Lemon.io (and I still do). Aside from that, I was picking up some freelance projects from time to time. Also, I was attending different marketing and business conferences to keep my mind sharp and to keep up to date on new marketing trends. I know, it is totally unfair that project deadlines and awesome events are always happening simultaneously.

Pfew, it was a busy month. At first, I took great pride in my productivity, marveling at how much I could squeeze into 24 hours. But after a few weeks of running on less than 4 hours of sleep and working 12 hour days, I fell, quite suddenly and spectacularly, into a procrastination loop.

To my horror and my employer’s consternation, I realized I couldn’t do anything. I would create a new Word Document then proceed to stare at that white screen for hours, quite unable to get past the article’s title.

For a few days, I repeated the same cycle: waking up, opening the laptop, closing the laptop, feeling bad about myself, opening the laptop, closing the laptop, feeling sorry for myself, and so on ad infinitum. That’s when I realized — it was burnout.

Given all that’s happening worldwide right now with the Covid-19 pandemic and quarantine, I bet many people felt the same as me a year ago. It certainly isn’t easy to switch to a work-from-home routine, let alone worry about your health.

Perhaps in telling my story of escaping and overcoming burnout, you can find some tips to help you during the coronavirus quarantine times.

How to get out of the burnout?

To answer the question above, I decided to look for the answers in books. I’ve read Charles Duhigg’s ‘The Power of Habit’ and Hal Elrod’s ‘The Miracle Morning.’

Yes, I know, many of you might think that reading such literature is a waste of time. But for me, it was quite useful. Of course, the ‘miracle’ didn’t happen after I finished the books, but they showed me a way out of the burnout.

Improve your daily agenda

‘The Miracle Morning’ suggests a few important things, which worked for me perfectly:

  • Wake up together with the rise of the sun (or at least earlier than you are used to);
  • Spend at least 10 minutes for yourself in the mornings.

I decided not to try all the author’s tips (not like I think they are unhelpful), but rather to create my morning routine. (30 minutes every morning for breakfast while blasting my favorite music, then practice my yoga).

I’d suggest designing your own routine, but be sure to include:

  • good 8-hour sleep
  • regular workouts
  • time spent with family and/or friends
  • hobbies
  • education or self-improvement
  • taking time off and unwinding

The most important thing which ‘The Power of Habit’ taught me was — never try to change all your habits at once. Do it step by step, implementing changes slowly and gradually. Try different things for 10-15 minutes per day, search for other tips, experiment and enjoy it.

Learn how to deal with negative feedback

As negative feedback is the most significant source of self-deprecating thoughts, you have to manage it. Working with different clients all the time has taught me one thing — you can’t satisfy everyone. There will always be that person who will leave a one-star review with a comment, “This company sucks!”

Even if part of you says, “C’mon, you did a great job. This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” another part is always hesitating, “What if he’s right? What if my job truly sucks?”

Well, this mindset isn’t helpful. Negative feedback should encourage you to improve but not to spread self-destroying thoughts. My strategy of dealing with it is easy and consists of a few essential points:

  1. If you are as sensitive to critics as I am, you should better focus on positive references for the work done instead of concentrating on negative ones. Give yourself a high five every time you hear something nice about your job. Good words are always a great motivation boost.
  2. Don’t take negative feedback too personally. Always remember it’s only offered to improve your performance, not to offend your personality. If vice versa, maybe you are working with the wrong people.
  3. Think of negative feedback as another source of knowledge necessary for professional growth. It is impossible to progress without working on your weak spots. Don’t get obsessed with occasional little mistakes. But in case you see a pattern, that’s when you have to take negative feedback seriously.

Reconsider your work strategy

Unfortunately, bad reviews are not the only source of anxiety at work. If your job is not valued and fairly paid, if your brain thinks about work 24/7, if you feel too much pressure on your shoulders and don’t have support, any bad word might be the last straw.

Here are some simple rules to avoid this:

Respect your time and never work for free

Very often, people who work for a startup tend to undervalue themselves, their skills, and their time. If you don’t have years of experience working for a big corporation, you are ready to do anything to impress the colleagues: to work all night on the article, to give up on your favorite hobby, to work extra hours without being paid for it.

Honestly, I was exactly the same. But the truth is that at some point, you will lose motivation to go the extra mile if nobody values it. That’s when the burnout knocks on the door. Don’t let this happen to you.

Avoid overloading yourself by setting priorities.

If you see that your workload is growing faster than you can handle it, maybe you should give up some of them or hire an assistant. You can’t do all the work by yourself, even if you think you can do it better than anyone else.

To help your future self, you should only be working on the highest priority tasks, leaving all others for later.

Optimize the working process

After prioritizing your tasks, you’re ready for the next step – doing the actual work. Easier said than done. Distractions are everywhere. One notification from Facebook, and you are back in the infinity pool.

To help yourself, turn off all the social media notifications and download Pomodoro browser extensions. This program will help you to track your working time according to the 25 to 5 work-rest cycle.

Find out what you want from your job.

Be honest with yourself and your colleagues. If you are unsatisfied with your work conditions, salary, job duties, you should talk it out.

Worst case scenario, you will find another job which will match your desires perfectly. What’s the point of wasting your time on something you don’t enjoy doing?

Have a break from work

No matter how important you are to your company, you need to have some rest. The longer, the better. If you can’t manage a proper extended vacation, take at least a couple of days off.

The one thing which helps me the most is going on a short trip. It can be anywhere you want a visit to your family, a hike through the woods, or a bike ride to the neighboring city.

A change of scenery will do you a world of good. Amidst new surroundings, your brain will hit the refresh button, and you will come back to work charged up and completely reinvigorated.

Get out of the procrastination cycle.

You have to accept the fact that nobody but you can break the loop. If you think that your boss, your partner, or your therapist can do it for you, you’re dead wrong. The sooner you realize this, the faster you’ll escape:

  1. Get rid of a toxic you-can-do-better attitude and respect yourself.
  2. Analyze what and then address the causes of the burnout.
  3. Define the things your job lacks and search for the ways to get them.
  4. Set up your priorities and follow them.
  5. Consider hiring some extra help (here are some advice about hiring freelancers (lemon.io/best-freelance-websites), independent contractors, and extra tips on how to outsource in general).
  6. Have a nice vacation!

Make sure this never happens to you again!

While working on this article, which I was supposed to finish more than a week ago, I was reminded how easily one can fall back into the procrastination cycle. But this time, I knew how to deal with it right at the beginning, not letting the problem get any worse.

If you face the same issue, I can assure you that the recipe above works. If it helped me (more than once!), it’s definitely going to help you too. The main thing is to start slowly, taking baby steps. Take care of yourself!

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The Future of Work is Powered by Technology that Connects People

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The future of work is all about people. It’s about enabling and empowering people to work their way — and to bring the best of themselves to work every day. Technology plays a key enabling role in this work. But the nature of work shouldn’t be driven by technology; it should be driven by people and their ingenuity and creativity—with the right technology enabling them to exercise their talents with minimal obstacles and distractions.

People lead, technology facilitates the future of work.

My advice to business leaders is to understand what propels people to do their best work and what inhibits them. Use technology to serve your people, not rule them. Use work management technology to connect people, share information, unlock communication barriers, and increase visibility between cross-functional teams who need to coordinate their efforts and align with the company’s strategy.

At Informatica, I lead a team focused on B2B demand generation, digital marketing, and customer success. We’ve recognized for some time that the concept of work and how it gets done is changing. The way we meet, collaborate, and support each other is changing. It doesn’t always happen face to face, and not always between 9 am and 5 pm.

Our work management technology is central to facilitating and organizing work as we adjust to constantly changing workplace dynamics.

There is an increasing appreciation that work happens within the context of everyone’s wider life, their family life, their leisure time, their personal commitments. Never has that been more starkly apparent than in the times we are living through now.

New normal prioritizes the well-being.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed working life for everybody. Priorities and perspectives have changed, and above all else, there is an emphasis on wellness. At Informatica, like many others, we have put our employees’ well-being first. When the crisis hit, there was a huge focus on ensuring our employees had the resources they needed to communicate, connect with each other, and work from home.

Adjusting to working life under Covid-19 has been a complex, emotional experience that has required a great deal of sensitivity to navigate. People are now living—and trying to work—in a range of different circumstances. Some are alone, some have children at home, some are caring for at-risk relatives, and others are dealing with the most serious impacts of this pandemic. It means that we have to bring an element of sensitivity and prioritization whenever we are talking to colleagues.

People’s well-being now bubbles up at the front of every conversation. It means that now, more than ever, we have to consider individual circumstances and how those impact people’s ability to work. Informatica’s leadership was very pragmatic about the situation as we all rearranged our working lives. They assured us that we were not going to work from home, but we were working at home during a pandemic, which has a very different feel to it.

Personal approach to customer messaging.

As a digital marketer in these times, working on projects like the transformation of our website, I personally felt an immense amount of pressure. We needed to use our digital tools more effectively than ever and to be more personal in our interactions with customers.

The challenge was finding a way to maximize digital return on investment during this unprecedented situation. We had to convince salespeople they weren’t going to be able to engage in traditional ways and were going to have to switch to online channels. And we had to get our messaging right.

Some companies and some sectors have been hit much harder than others, so we didn’t want to take a one-size-fits-all approach. You can target customer messaging using a chainsaw or a scalpel.

With the scalpel comes precision. When we considered the breadth of our customer base, we needed to talk to customers about the issues that mattered to them—in their vernacular. That added pressure on marketing teams.

Some people believe we reach more customers if we have broad “vanilla� messaging, but in reality, the extra work required to personalize messaging is worth it. You can’t be caring and altruistic about Covid-19 when talking to colleagues and employees and then not manifest that care and attention in the way you speak to your customers or prospects.

As a marketer, I am customer-obsessed, and helping customers underpins everything I do. Getting our messaging right at this critical time was absolutely vital to gaining and maintaining trust and confidence with existing and prospective customers.

Marketing insights inform conversations.

As a long-established business, we knew that if we went through the rigor of producing content that’s relevant right now, then organically, customers would come to us. So, we prioritized using marketing data to create more targeted messaging and conversations for our sales teams.

We are now informing sales about the topics that customers are concerned about and creating rich dashboards that enable sales teams to respond favorably to customers in different situations. It’s about engaging customers in meaningful ways in uncertain times.

Governance is important too. We don’t want to bombard customers, but we do want to give them multiple opportunities to engage with us. As a result, this crisis has ushered in a new era of creativity and curiosity that enables our sales teams to engage in the right ways with customers.

Everyone now recognizes that the blanket approach to customer communications can do more harm than good since it risks being insensitive to the circumstances different businesses find themselves in. We are better served to let people know that we are 100% sensitive to the times we are in and that we absolutely want to help them.

Mindset shift for customer success

I have stated before that my overriding ambition is to deliver such a great customer experience that we acquire every net new customer and win every deal. That ambition has not changed since the pandemic struck.

Given the size of my goal, I need my teams to shift their mindset from simply doing more work to focusing on doing the right work. If my team isn’t obsessed with removing friction from the customer experience, then they’re not doing the right work. Focusing on the right work maximizes our productivity, it gives us the best return on investment, and helps us get in front of the right customers.

Work management technology maximizes effectiveness.

This is where work management technology really comes into its own. Our Workfront platform enables everyone in disparate teams—and now in disparate locations—to share information, view progress against tasks, create content collaboratively, share ideas, and manage complex processes.

It helps people see how their work aligns with that of other teams and our overall customer objectives. It gives context to our work because we know what other teams are doing, so that together we can move forward in the most productive way.

For us, having a single work management platform that connects all our work results in better transparency, better visibility, better decisions, and better business outcomes. There’s a shared responsibility when, for example, you see someone on your team has a heavier load; you get the chance to redistribute resources and be selfless in the pursuit of your goals.

It’s a key way in which technology is enabling us to work more effectively and efficiently. It helps us to ensure that everyone in the team can focus on being productive, rather than just being busy.

Managing work one step at a time

The distinction between being productive and being busy is an important one when it comes to the future of work. At Informatica, one thing we have learned about effective work management is that productivity is enhanced when you put more intermediate milestones in front of people, rather than giving them a single ultimate goal.

By breaking down major projects into a series of smaller tasks, leading to a series of clear milestones, people can focus much more on what needs to be done now to complete each task. It’s about dividing up the conveyor belt of what has to be produced into smaller increments to enable people to be more productive on our journey toward each objective.

All these stages can be coordinated and managed via our work management platform. Everyone can see all the tasks involved and the progress against each one. This has helped us to become tighter and more agile as a team so that we work together in a coordinated way without duplication of effort towards clearly defined goals.

The future of work has arrived.

I stated at the outset that the future of work is all about empowering people to bring the best of themselves to work every day. And work management technology plays a key role in enabling people to do that. It connects them wherever they are and allows them to contribute and create—particularly now we are all physically isolated—in ways that complement their individual working circumstances.

In many ways, the future of work that I envisaged has already arrived. It has been ushered in sooner than anyone expected by the intervention of the global pandemic. It seems now that attitudes to work management and working practices have shifted so significantly that returning to the old ways of 9-to-5 office working might feel like a backward step.

How do we manage work without boundaries?

So what now for the future of work? If work in the future is without boundaries, if it transcends location and time and other previously held conventions about when and how work is done, how do we maintain a balance? If work parameters become boundless, then how do you compensate people for the work they do? If we no longer measure work by how much time you spend on it, how do we fairly reward people for their efforts?

As we have all seen vividly during the current pandemic, individual well-being must come above all else. Work cannot be allowed to take over people’s lives; we need to maintain a healthy work-life balance. To do this in the future, employers will need to invest in and deliver comprehensive health and wellness programs to ensure employees can achieve that balance.

When we are recruiting in the new world of work, conventional benefits packages and on-premises perks may become irrelevant. Instead, well-being initiatives will take on new significance, and how successful businesses invest in these programs will be an important differentiator of workplaces in the future.

Let’s continue to put people first.

Technology will have a pivotal role to play in enabling this new world of work. Centralized, shared work management platforms will be vital in connecting people, in facilitating effective collaboration, and in maintaining the focus on productivity among teams working in different locations and to different time schedules.

But people’s needs must remain at the heart of the way work is organized so that individuals can bring the best of themselves to work while maintaining a healthy balance in their lives. We will need to ensure that the compassion and consideration we have all shown towards each other throughout this pandemic is not put behind us but that it is used to inform the way we work together in the future for the benefit of our organizations and our customers.

Image Credit: anthony shkraba; pexels

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How to Enable Successful Remote Environments

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Work-life has changed drastically and unpredictably since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly everyone that can work from home has done so, and with little time to prepare. While this is non-traditional remote work experience, many business leaders are considering supporting remote work permanently – at least in some capacity – as we emerge from our current situation.

This is largely due to the competitive advantages remote work provides over office-first businesses, including increased employee productivity and engagement. This increased productivity drives better performance and, in turn, more profits. Decades of Gallup research shows that highly engaged employees are 15% more productive when they work remotely, and highly engaged workplaces claim 21% higher profitability.

Given this, businesses who have adapted successfully to remote work aren’t expected to rush back to the office any time soon. In fact, a recent study conducted by Motus found that once stay-at-home orders are lifted, as many as 30-40% of companies could permanently spend more time working remotely than in an office – a substantial increase from what business looked like before the pandemic.

The Business Advantages of Remote Work

Having a large remote workforce has numerous advantages for both businesses and their employees. Without commuting, employees can increase their focus on their work, reduce costs on once-necessary items – like gas – and find their own work-life balance. This has led to greater employee satisfaction and retention for businesses. Furthermore, as they are no longer limited by geography, employers can access a larger talent pool when looking at potential recruits.

Many have also experienced near-term savings on utility bills and in-office perks. But beyond these immediate savings, there are much larger savings opportunities when businesses embrace a remote work culture, for example:

  • Office space: Dedicated office space costs businesses $12,000 per employee every year, and office space leases are typically one of the least flexible costs of running a business. By reducing the number of workspace businesses need, they can reinvest office real estate spend into other initiatives that benefit their workforce. This includes investments like employee development and engagement and even perks like childcare or travel stipends, onboarding retreats, or home office setups.
  • Reduced absenteeism and business continuity: Unscheduled absences cost U.S. businesses $300 billion every year. Employees equipped to work remotely are more adaptable and can continue work through unplanned interruptions that disrupt work—for example, an HVAC problem in the office building or inclement weather.
  • Lower voluntary turnover: Losing a valued employee can cost a business $10,000 to $30,000, and 95% of businesses say that remote work has reduced voluntary turnover.

Enabling Successful Remote Work Environments

With increased flexibility, autonomy, and work-life balance for employees – and greater productivity and continuity for businesses – remote work benefits are numerous. Our current work from home situation is unique because they need to act swiftly at the onset of COVID-19 gave employers limited time to prepare employees for productive work in a home environment. Looking to the future, they have more time and ample options to consider that will enable successful remote work scenarios.

In the absence of a dedicated office environment, employers’ most important thing to do is to provide and deploy the tools and equipment that will enable employees to productively carry out their work – namely, a computer and a phone. They can provide these devices in a few different ways.

Company-provided approach:

One option is to supply employees with everything they need through a company-provided approach to supply computers, phones, and sometimes a dedicated internet connection.

However, even with enough time to procure and deploy equipment to every employee, this approach is expensive. Along with providing the actual devices, employers need to provide support for them. While expenses like a computer are one-time costs, phones are a mixture of a one-time device cost and recurring costs for data and service.

For every 500 company phones provided, the average company spends more than $3,000 per month in support. Considering that most employees already have a personal cell phone and an internet connection in their home, it might not make sense to supply these a second time.

BYOD programs:

A second approach is to enable a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program in which employers most commonly choose to pay a stipend to those who work remotely regularly. However, many employers are inconsistent in their approach to stipends. Sometimes amounts depend on when an employee was hired or what an employee negotiated when they were hired.

Additionally, when stipends are rolled into compensation packages, and employers don’t have the data to substantiate the amount paid, stipends are taxable. This means employees who receive a $100 taxable stipend each month; they only take home $70 of that stipend. Furthermore, remote work has costs beyond the mobile phone that should be considered when deciding what a stipend should cover. Frequently overlooked costs include high-speed internet and the space employees use in their homes as a dedicated workspace.

With employment laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which require employees to be reimbursed for any business-related expense, employers who follow a stipend approach put themselves in danger of failing to reimburse employees on-the-job expenses fully and can become entangled in costly lawsuits.

Localized reimbursement rates:

The third (and most accurate) approach is to reimburse using localized reimbursement rates, which factor in geographic costs. This is important — as phone, internet, and home office costs are not the same in every location — and different roles require different levels of availability. Some jobs require employees to be responsive outside of business hours, while others require more limited connectivity.

The average national cost for these expenses ranges between $90 – $126 per employee per month – so what is the right amount? By factoring in the amount of connectivity required and geographic costs, employers can ensure that their employees are fairly and accurately compensated for the costs they incur at the benefit of their employers.

More than 90 million people in the U.S. today have a job that could be performed at least partially from a remote location. As businesses look to the future, some have already announced that they will be transitioning to permanent remote work environments. Companies that empower employees with the tools and resources to be successful will find themselves at an advantage as the way we work continues to evolve.

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How To Keep Work-From-Home Teams Engaged

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Working from home is more than a temporary trend. Given that economists at the University of Chicago estimate 37% of jobs in the United States can be performed entirely at home, most experts believe it’s here to stay. Here is how to keep work-from-home teams engaged.

NatureBox assembled an All-Star panel of speakers for a webinar.

The estimates keep rolling in that tell us the work-from-hom (WFH) trend will continue — at least through the next year. NatureBox assembled an All-Star panel of speakers from some of the most progressive companies to answer questions, share best practices, and offer insights about how to keep work-from-home teams engaged and address the most pressing topics and challenges facing managers and employees working from home today.

The topics we covered in this webinar include:

  • Concerns about managing teams remotely
  • Decreased employee morale
  • False reads on productivity
  • Home/life distractions
  • Keeping an eye on sustainability, thought leadership, and the new impacts on the environment

Startling statistics

According to Global Workplace Analytics, 80% of employees want to work from home. The trouble with this? 85% of managers are concerned about their ability to manage their teams remotely.

Check out the graphic below for specific managerial concerns.

  • 81% of managers are concerned about decreased employee morale
  • 76% of managers are concerned about a false read on productivity
  • 75% of managers are concerned about home/life distractions
  • 74% of managers are concerned about the lack of visibility on employees

That’s a lot of concern. So, what’s the solution? We asked our panel of experts and here’s what they said.

Employee and management engagement during COVID

Distractions at home are rampant. Productivity is getting harder to manage. We’re finding it harder to take breaks and sign off at a decent hour while working from home. A great question from our audience was what guidance do you have for leadership to encourage boundaries?

Roni Sternberg from Lyra Health said when it comes to her company, 12 PM is blocked for employees. It’s their time – no meetings, no outgoing emails, no scheduled anything. “It’s coming from our leadership. He’s encouraging everyone to take that break, to take that pause,â€� she said.

John Ruhlin from Giftology spoke about using thoughtful, personalized gifts as a way managers could engage with employees. “I think there are opportunities to surprise and delight your teams at scale… but the details have to be dialed in.� He also spoke about how leaders set the tone, echoing Sternberg.

Practical tips

While all companies are learning to manage engagement online the best they can, large companies have their work cut out for them. An interesting question from our audience was for companies with over 1,000 employees, what are some ideas for rolling out coffee nights, movie nights, etc.?

What is the main question on everyone’s mind about WFH employees?

The main question on everyone’s mind is: How do you engage with employees virtually on a grand scale? Lynne Oldham from Zoom chimed in first: “We use Zoom, obviously.â€�

Oldham suggested leveraging “Breakout Rooms� of 2-3 people, which makes for a more rich experience. She said that at Zoom, they send people a movie coupon, let people watch it on their own, and will get together to have a discussion after.

This virtual experience is similar to what NatureBox put together a few months ago – a book club about social justice. “We wanted to educate ourselves about it. It was a meaningful conversation on Zoom and showed we cared as a team about what we were doing,â€� John Occhipinti, CEO of NatureBox, said.

How to manage Zoom fatigue

Understanding that we’re on Zoom much more now than ever before, it’s also important to know how to manage “Zoom fatigue.� We heard from Oldham first. “By taking some degree of control and figuring out how you can set aside time. Are there things we can do, like block 12 PM off?

Breaks

The importance of taking breaks, even if you had to schedule them in, was repeated time and time again throughout this webinar. And not only that, but how it’s up to managers to set the tone and lead by example.

Predictions for the future

Out of all the great questions from the audience, the most pressing question of them all was this: Will we ever go back to normal? Are there systemic changes in the workforce we should look out for?

“Based on the statistics you shared, people are saying they’re enjoying working from home. We’re making it work and finding some success in it. That’s why it’s important we identify the challenges before they become large challenges. I think we’ll have a good mix of in-office and remote working when the world changes,� Sternberg said.

Ruhlin had a similar thought about there being a mix of remote and in-person working because “companies are realizing, ‘Do I really need all of that space or could I cut it in half, by quarter and have times we’re getting together as a team?’� Where he disagreed was that as human beings, we still want to interact with people. We’re all craving that. So going fully remote? Ruhlin wasn’t convinced

Lynne Oldham thinks the winners of the future are going to be the companies that adapt, we agree.

The ones that think long and hard about what work has to happen in person and then think long and hard about how to make that happen. Instead of returning to work as normal, they’re going to rethink work as a whole. “This is one grand experiment,� she said.

Occhipinti closed out the discussion on the future with these final thoughts: “As leaders, it’s about authentic leadership and how we remain engaged with our employees.�

Right now, NatureBox is in the business of helping companies keep their employees engaged while they work from home. That’s what it’s all about. Our mission to change the way people think about snacking – from an unconscious effort to a mindful snacking experience – is why we created the largest collection of great-tasting adaptogenic snacks. And made them accessible in-office and at home.

NatureBox Snacks

Our snacks work great as employee morale boosters, one-time gifts, tasty treats for events, and ongoing micro-kitchen snacks. If your in-person or remote teams are looking to stock up on healthy, flavorful snacks that taste as good as they’ll make them feel, head to www.naturebox.com/office

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AI automation Culture digital intelligence employee engagement Employee Experience employee retention future of work Productivity Recruitment remote work work from home work structure

Knowing WFH Preferences Key to Employee Recruitment and Retention

employee recruitment and retention

It’s no secret that there’s substantial competition in the tech industry for great talent. Understanding what motivates employees and what type of work environments they prefer can go a long way in attracting the best tech talent.

As a result of the pandemic impacting the future of work, major tech companies are taking note and implementing policies that allow for greater flexibility and are now bolstering their Work from Home options. For example, Twitter recently announced a new policy allowing employees to work from home forever. Facebook and Google also extended their remote opportunities for employees through the end of the year and summer 2021, respectively.

When organizations listen to and understand their workforce’s preferences about what type of work environment drives motivation, productivity and work satisfaction, it enables them to create a work culture in which employees are engaged, which is especially vital during times of disruption and fundamental change.

New trends in WFH preferences

According to a Gallup poll, 62% of employed Americans say they have worked from home during the COVID-19 crisis. Of those, three in five would prefer to continue working remotely even once current health restrictions are lifted.

In a recent global survey from ABBYY evaluates the ways that quarantine has changed the way employees work. Respondents (53%) said that going forward, they would prefer an arrangement that enables flexibility between working from home and working in the office. Many indicated they prefer either splitting their time 50/50 or working mostly from home with some days in the office.

Employees cite greater productivity working from home

The ABBYY survey found that 43% of respondents noted they were more productive working from home than in an office. Other studies have also found increased employee productivity in remote environments. A Stanford study found gains of up to 22% when it came to employee performance and productivity while working from home.

Reducing employee attrition rates

In the Stanford research, employees who worked from home noted improved work satisfaction, and their attrition rate halved. Employee motivation can play a key role in overall work satisfaction levels. In the ABBYY study, 35% of respondents said they felt more motivated working from home than in an office. Furthermore, almost half (44%) of respondents said that working from home has decreased their overall stress levels. Understanding what motivates employees helps organizations to effectively develop work cultures, policies, and structures that enhance employee retention rates and can also help attract the best talent.

Enhanced work-life balance

Work-life balance has always been a prime concern for employees. Even more so now as the lines between professional life and personal life become blurred with many employees balancing homeschooling their children and managing new household responsibilities all while learning to work in, what is for many, a new type of environment.

One of the most significant advantages for employees in being able to work from home is increased time with family and loved ones. In the ABBYY survey, half of the respondents (50%) noted that spending more time with their families was one of the most significant advantages of being able to work from home. The majority of respondents (56%) also noted that working from home has impacted their work-life balance positively.

Improving the employee experience

Work from Home Preferences Have Evolved as a Result of the Pandemic

The recent disruption in traditional office structures has led many organizations to re-evaluate many longstanding notions of standard work structures and consider new ways to enhance the employee experience and productivity.

Organizations that motivate their employees and create a desirable work environment empower employees to contribute at their highest level. In some organizations, business leaders have accomplished this by reducing or eliminating mundane, repetitive tasks from employee workflows by leveraging automation.

For example, many banks have recently accelerated the adoption of automation tools such as robotic process automation (RPA) and content intelligence to free their employees from paperwork-heavy and time-consuming tasks of data entry, sifting through paperwork, preparing loan applications and processing supporting documentation. This has freed a significant degree of employee time and employer resources.

Understanding what motivates employees can go a long way in attracting the best tech talent.

Recent research from IDC reveals that in the next two years, 18% of administrative tasks will be performed by software robots. Leveraging automation tools to automate repetitive, mundane tasks can go a long way in enabling employees to focus on creative, engaging and meaningful responsibilities.

In addition to freeing employees from tedious administrative responsibilities, automation tools can also help employees make better decisions. The IDC research also found that technology evaluating information will grow by 28% in two years.

Automation can also help provide employees with new capabilities. Equipping employees with new skills via easy-to-use low-code automation solutions strengthen their role as citizen developers and empowers them to assume a greater role in enterprise digital transformation initiatives.

 

Thriving in the new era of work

The overnight shift to WFH highlighted the many inefficiencies with internal workflows and business processes, and that most staff do not follow processes very often. To identify which processes would be the best fit for automation opportunities, and how the staff interacts with them, it’s valuable to have visibility into all operations across the organization.

However, trying to do so manually or with standalone systems is often insufficient. Innovative technology has emerged, such as process intelligence tools, that leverage an organization’s real-time data to provide a bird’s eye view into its ecosystem of processes. This enables leaders to enhance process efficiencies and choose the best processes for automation that free employees from repetitive tasks and enhance the employee experience.

The future of work is changing rapidly. Organizations that are agile, able to adapt quickly, and create engaging work environments that motivate their employees and attract the best talent will be well-positioned to lead in the new era of work.

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