Home worker productivity

Written by Chris West

The important question remains: how do you make sure remote workers stay engaged and productive? After all, employee productivity plays a crucial role in the success of a business. Recent studies, including a multiple-year-long study by Stanford University showing higher-than-normal productivity from WFH employees, have been encouraging. And the predictions for the future are also positive. But more research is needed post-pandemic to confirm those forecasts.

What to look out for

Broadly speaking, if an employee is coasting it means they do the minimum just to get by. Their heart isn’t in what they’re doing. ‘Coasting’ isn’t a new concept, but with so many people now working from home, it could have new implications.

Remote employees who coast may appear to be engaged. They may well be logging on and off at the normal time. They’ll probably be replying to emails promptly and joining meetings as scheduled. Chances are they won’t be underperforming, but nor will they be excelling either. It’s unlikely they’ll be going above and beyond in their role or looking for opportunities to grow and stretch themselves.

The good news is that active management, making sure employees have the correct equipment, and monitoring employee wellness have all been shown to keep WFH employees productive and motivated.

Here are 3 things that can we recommend:

Beware of micromanaging WFH employees

If you’re worried your remote employees may be coasting, there’s a real temptation to try and micromanage them.

One major gripe of remote workers is having to deal with managers who demand they account for every minute of their workday. Others don’t enjoy having to let someone know if they need to step away from their screen for a moment to do something else.

It’s clear: micromanaging to try and police employees’ productivity levels is a bad idea. It makes people feel controlled, patronized and most of all mistrusted. And it’s easy to see why it can push some employees to quit.

Checking in: Use smarter management rather than micromanagement - Keeping remote workers motivated, moving forward, and connected is really the key to getting the best from them – and avoiding the dreaded ‘coasting’.

Often it can help to reflect on what happened the previous day and being able to keep track of a project’s loose ends can also be powerful. It also helps colleagues find ways they can contribute to the projects of another team member or provide their own particular expertise.

Focus on employee wellbeing - Clearly, the pandemic and the restrictions around it have taken a toll on the nation’s mental health. And being isolated as a remote worker, even if that's your employees' choice, can also have mental health consequences.

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