10 Easy Steps to Make Remote Working More Productive
By Human Capital Group
14th May 2020
In our latest webinar, Human Capital Group’s Managing Director Gerard Ball speaks to Karen Eyre-White who is a productivity coach and the founder of Go Do. Go Do is a coaching business which helps busy, overwhelmed people find more balance and get more done. Karen spoke to us during our webinar about helping people to take control of their time and find a productive way of working at home.
Karen has extensive leadership experience and obviously the concept of working from home is very topical and relevant at the moment due to COVID-19.
High achievers – CEOS, directors, company owners – are often very productive by nature but the housebuilding industry is known to be quite a traditional one and working from home is a fairly new concept for many people in the sector.
So, what are the top 10 ways you can boost the productivity of yourself and your teams as they navigate the new world of remote working?
1. Structure your day
There are certain associations between office and work that naturally make people more productive (things like the commute, the furniture and even the reception) so you need to make similar associations at home.
Create a physical area where you can focus and structure your day with time boundaries to make it easier for your brain to get into work mode.
2. Blind spots in productivity
Working From Home can be really positive and many people find they can get more done. However, there will always be blind spots in productivity.
One pitfall to avoid is to stop being in crisis mode. As the COVID-19 situation unfolds, we have to transition and focus on the strategic side of things again rather than ’firefighting’.
3. Human contact
The effect of human contact on productivity is really interesting and depends on the kind of person you are. Extroverts get energy from others and will be boosted by lots of video calls, whereas introverted people will be finding the opposite is true.
You need to find the right balance for you and your staff members, so set boundaries and be honest with each other about what is helping.
4. Managing teams remotely
It can be a real challenge to effectively manage remote teams. The most important thing here is communication.
Check-in with people regularly and, importantly, make sure they know they can contact you directly in return. You don’t want anyone to feel isolated because picking up the phone is more daunting than walking across an office.
Make sure you’re measuring real outputs rather than ‘time at desk’. Don’t judge people on how often you see their ‘green light’ but rather on the quality of their work. If people feel like they have to reply to things quickly, then the arguably more important tasks won’t get done.
5. Change the culture
Change your mindset first and the likelihood is that others will follow. This is a great opportunity to ‘experiment’ with remote working and to see how productive it can be.
Trust your people to deliver high-quality work from wherever they are doing it rather than forcing them to adhere to a set of traditional parameters.
6. Be kind
Give people some freedom and don’t be too prescriptive in telling people how they should be working. Try to understand people’s individual circumstances and what else is going on at home.
There is not a one-size-fits-all approach. You need to empower your team so they can understand what helps them to be productive.
7. Be realistic
Optimism bias means we think we can get more done in a day than is actually possible. It is best to set 3-5 chunky tasks for the day and get the majority of them done before lunchtime.
Break your day into sprints – set a timer and give yourself 45 minutes to concentrate on a specific piece of work and then give your brain a change of scenery.
8. Don’t fill your day with meetings
Some companies have taken online meetings too far, so people don’t physically have the time to do the work they need to do.
‘Having a meeting’ is not a solution and shouldn’t be an automatic response to every problem. If they are essential, then find a way to make them productive i.e. have an agenda, allocate someone to be the ‘chair’ and make sure everyone has a chance to contribute.
9. Performance processes
Set clear objectives and timescales for your staff and understand that remote working is a skill that needs to be learnt. Everyone needs to be given some time and space to get it right and find the best way to do it.
It would be fantastic if the legacy of this situation is that housebuilding companies can offer more flexible working as this would help to recruit and retain staff. Make sure you:
- Have the right IT systems and technologies
- Ensure the correct HR policies are in place
- Provide proper training and support
- Focus on culture, communication and collaboration
Our podcast episode and webinar – The Modern Housebuilder Company Webinar on Productive Remote Working – will be available for download soon.