For many of us, the transition to the remote work model represents a substantial change from the norm. Gone are the water-cooler moments, casual catch-up chats, and managerial supervision.
As a result, it’s not uncommon to suffer a slump in productivity in the first few weeks and months of switching to a remote work environment.
It’s natural that employees might feel less connection to their work when they’re isolated at home, away from the usual work cues such as their coworkers typing away, the sound of frequent phone calls, and regular team meetings. This is
However, remote work doesn’t have to spell the end of productivity. In fact, it can do wonders for employee output, if you know the right questions to ask. As this survey shows 52% of workers find it easier to be assertive on a video call.
The importance of checking in
In a remote work environment, accountability is no longer a case of having the supervisor peer over the shoulders of individuals to check they’re doing what they’re supposed to. As such, you need new ways of checking in.
Not only do you need to hold employees accountable for productivity purposes, but you should also do so to ensure employee wellbeing isn’t suffering as a result of being disconnected from one’s coworkers.
One way to check in is to hold regular virtual meetings, briefings, and get-togethers. This can help you foster a new sense of connection among coworkers even from afar. Other ways are to request that your employees fill out surveys periodically so that you can take stock of the situation, or use software for employee monitoring to collect feedback automatically.
Surveys can be useful for soliciting feedback too, as, unlike video calls, they can be anonymous. As such, they don’t require the individual to speak up in front of a group which can be intimidating.
So what questions can you ask your employees to help them work better?
In a video call
How can we help improve your remote work experience?
With this question, you’re acknowledging that there may still be some issues you need to iron out in the transition to remote work. By asking if there’s any way you can help, you take some of the pressure off the employee and help them understand that the company, and team, is there to support them.
The question can also help you allocate resources better and give employees everything they need to be successful.
Is there anything preventing you from being productive while working from home?
This next question is about the employee’s home work setup, and invites them to bring up any distractions they may be facing. This question can open up the floor to a discussion about common distractions while working from home, which can lead to positive responses as to how to effectively deal with them. It also provides the team with an opportunity to relate to each other and communicate their struggles.
Do you feel connected to your coworkers?
This question may be best for a one-on-one video call, but it can be important for evaluating the team dynamic. If the answer is no, then you can follow up by asking why that might be, which can help you address the problem head-on.
In a survey
Is there anyone in the team you don’t get along with?
In a survey, you can ask questions that employees might not feel comfortable talking about over a call. This question, for example, might be uncomfortable, but it can help you identify weak links in the chain or address conflicts that might have arisen before they cause rifts in the group.
Are your work instructions clear?
Another question that’s best asked behind closed doors, this one gets to the root of any issues that could stem from the team leader. It could be that a team is struggling to be productive because the lack of in-person meetings and instructions is causing confusion and slowing things down.
If many employees find that their work instructions aren’t clear, then this could prompt a meeting with the team leader to discuss optimal communication methods, or a search for software that can help promote team cohesion.
Do you feel like the company is supporting you enough?
Answers to this question will let you know whether there’s more you could be doing as a company to support your workforce. It could be that some employees feel like they need better equipment or more reliable internet connection for their home work setup, or simply that they feel that certain tools would help them do their job faster.
This question doesn’t have to be an invitation to criticize the company. It’s an invitation for employees to be honest and open about what might be holding them back from producing their best work every day.
If you want to maintain high productivity levels following a transition to remote work in your company, you need to regularly check-in with your employees. Touch base often and you’ll be able to build a clear picture of what’s working well, and what isn’t.
The more data you have, the better, as it will help you develop the conditions for each employee to thrive under.