How to keep employees productive in a pandemic

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Ruslan Satsuik)

Working from the ‘home office’ has become the new normal for employees across the UK.  For businesses, the two main challenges are relocating workers and making sure they stay on task to keep productivity levels high. But there are easy ways to maintain productivity and deliver strong results - from taking control of home workspaces success to improving team communications.

Here are six ways to keep your employees productive at home:

Think practically:

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a home office. Businesses need to ensure all employees have access to essential hardware, equipment and office basics to minimise disruption from home. This may require some investment, but making sure there are enough functioning devices such as laptops, headsets and chargers will minimise tech frustrations. 

Enable open communication:

Most people spend their days in close proximity to their colleagues, making communication easy and effortless. But that goes out of the window with remote work. Communications breakdowns are likely to occur if your company isn’t used to remote working. Businesses should maximise the use of mature, proven, cloud-based technologies such as Microsoft Teams and Slack to encourage social interaction via video calls. These collaboration tools exist to ensure effective business communication and help to maintain a fun, positive office culture.

Pay attention to partner preferences:

It’s important to know what other virtual tools your clients and customers use. For instance, your client might not be used to managing people virtually or only use Google Hangout to host calls. It’s vital your company has a ready-to-go suite of tools for remote workers to ensure client and customer liaison is seamless.

Deliver technical training:

Our research shows that just four in ten (43%) remote workers have had training on flexible working technologies, and this is likely to be significantly lower for the wider working population. In this remote working period, technical training is crucial. Businesses should ensure virtual training packages on how to use certain software or accessories is available online or on their employee portal. Companies which invest time in training will reap the rewards from happy and hardworking employees.

It’s also important to ask employees for feedback on the technology they’re using, especially if new technology has been rolled out to keep teams connected. Businesses should send round a quick survey via email at the end of the month for employees to fill in on how they’re getting on with the technology. This will identify any underlying issues and who needs additional training.

Keep everyone in the loop:

The enforced and abrupt nature of the transition from an office to a home environment could leave some employees feeling isolated. This could also potentially impact morale and productivity. Scheduling virtual team lunches or a pub quiz will ensure employees feel connected.

Watch out for high-risk individuals:

Our research found that introverts are at greater risk of feeling isolated than their extroverted colleagues when working remotely. While many assume that introverts enjoy a quieter working life, they crave communication just as much. It’s important to discuss communication preferences with employees. Companies need to keep all workers connected so no one gets left behind.

Remote working seems to be the antidote that isolates businesses of all sizes from global shocks — and can help them turn adversity into competitive advantage.

Optimised technology will ensure continued productivity and profitability when employees are working from home. Businesses that use technology effectively, and manage disruption better than the competition, will turn adversity into an advantage.

Steve Haworth is CEO of the TeleWare Group of companies, including 99&One.

Steve Haworth

Steve is the CEO of the TeleWare Group of companies, including 99&One. He has a fundamental belief that technology can improve business productivity. With a focus on cutting edge innovation, Steve understands the impact that culture and behaviour have on business transformations. Appointed CEO in 2007, Steve has overseen the transformation of TeleWare from a telecoms business into a creative technology service provider, more recently creating 99&One to improve UK productivity from technology that employees love. 

A graduate in Media Technology from the University of Teesside, Steve has over 20 years’ experience in digital technology and spearheads the TeleWare Executive Board.