Small business owners and managers were left scrambling mid-March when faced with a forced shut-down. Many businesses opted to allow employees to work from home as an alternative to shutting down production. This proved challenging for people with children at home. Employers were forced in some cases to allow flexible working schedules to accommodate employees with no childcare options. Managers questioned how to effectively lead their teams. How could they assign tasks and effectively manage their team’s production when employees were scattered throughout the community?
Working from Home Seems to Have Proved Popular Among Employees AND Employers.
A recent survey indicated the employees are more productive working from home than in their normal work environment. Business News Daily cited that employees work 1.4 more days per month when working from home! If work from home is permanently implemented in your business, you might receive an additional week of production per employee! This can have a clear impact on your bottom line.
Gas prices were very low during March and April since there were few cars on the road making the commute to work. Some car insurance companies issued refunds since cars were sitting in driveways for long periods. Employees, still working during the pandemic from home, saved money in gas, parking or toll fees, and general wear and tear on their vehicles. If this were a permanent situation, these employees could save thousands of dollars a year in the costs associated with commuting to and from work. Commuting time (which can often amount to more than 1 hour each day) can also either be spent working or mentally refueling/relaxing, which also improves the efficacy of employees.
Many small businesses and large corporations have already decided to make work from home a permanent solution to improve productivity while offering their employees the opportunity to improve their work-life balance and lower their expenses (commuting costs, etc.).
Whether you are temporarily offering work from home or considering offering it as a permanent solution, you may be experiencing a learning curve in managing the new normal.
One challenge of remote working is facilitating connection and collaborating within your team.
2020 has been a year of rapid change and, technology has can help meet the challenges created by a dispersed workforce.
Zoom has been an incredibly popular substitute for face to face meetings, BUT what other applications can resolve challenges faced by home workers?
Here is a list of five different applications that address different needs of managing a remote workforce contributing to an increase in production:
1. Project Management Software (TRELLO) –
The lack of face to face interaction may make collaboration on projects a little more challenging. Implementing a project management tool, such as Trello, Basecamp, Asana, or Podio in the workplace can significantly boost productivity. These applications allow teams to create to-do lists, assign responsibilities, set deadlines, and interact with team members when their schedule permits. They allow a group to manage an idea from fruition, all of the way to implementation. Think of these applications like the whiteboard that may have appeared in your conference room in a reoccurring meeting. Some of the advantages of implementing this software within your organization may be:
- Elimination of confusing email threads.
- Effective task management.
- Increased accountability.
- Ability to view a project status on-demand.
- Enhanced capability to set and monitor deadlines.
Bonus: If your employees work a flexible schedule or are in a different time zone they can interact during their scheduled work hours.
2. Scheduling Software: to Make, Track and Manage Appointments With Clients or Prospective Clients and Subcontractors (Doodle) –
Scheduling appointments is a breeze when you can see one another’s calendar within the Microsoft Outlook Calendar functionality. For those in business development that are prospecting, account managers that are servicing existing clients, or organizations that work with independent contractors or consultants; this application eliminates the back and forth involved in settling on time for a meeting. For organizations working remotely or working with clients or vendors working remotely, you may not be easily able to make a phone call, and let’s face it voice mail tag can be a time drainer, as well. Implementation of this software could be as simple as adding a link to Doodle on your email signature!
3. Training, Retraining, and Tech Support (LogMeIn Rescue) –
New technology can be frustrating, and not being able to walk to a co-worker’s workstation does present a problem when learning a new system or a new process. How about the employees that were offered positions during COVID-19 and had to begin employment remotely? How were they trained and how was their onboarding effective? LogMeIn Rescue is a great tool when an employee needs tech support and is working remotely. This application allows a seasoned technical support representative to not only log in and fix the problem but educate the employee so that in future instances, in which a similar problem occurs, he or she may be able to provide their solution saving time and resources.
4. Increase Your Productivity by Improving Morale with Coffee Chats, Happy Hours, or Team Lunches (Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Other Virtual Meeting Software Applications) –
It’s a proven fact that maintaining high morale results in less absenteeism, higher production, and less turnover. Perhaps you were a tight group that spent more time together than you did with your family before the pandemic. Your employees may have a best friend at work that he or she went to lunch with or had coffee with regularly. Perhaps you arranged monthly happy hours or team outings to celebrate your successes. It is important to keep up the momentum and you can connect virtually, whether it be for solely the purpose of having coffee every week or a remote group cocktail hour, to remain connected. “A connected culture is a productive culture!” Consider exploring applications such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, and other applications designed to connect virtually for purposes other than business meetings.
5. Synchronize Schedules to Manage Coverage and Flexible Working Hours (Shiftboard.com)-
Managing schedules that allow employees to work at times when they can be more productive, for example, to accommodate childcare, can contribute to increased productivity. Your organization may have needed to have adequate coverage to service customers or be available to ensure production standards are met. Understanding when your talent is available to assign projects can be cumbersome and allowing technology to aid you in the process can be an extremely valuable tool for crafting schedules and increasing your productivity in managing your employees. Employees will feel valued and more loyal to an organization that allows them to have a voice in their schedules. Third-party applications, such as Shiftboard, can also help track tardiness and absenteeism, which can be valuable in enforcing a corrective action plan.
Whether you have decided to implement work from home permanently, temporarily, or are just looking for alternative ways to manage your team and improve productivity, some of these applications may be worth considering.
Visit their websites and explore free demonstrations to see if there is value in implementing their software in your business.
As with any change that is implemented, employees respond better when introduced with a good communication plan, appropriate training, and the opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions.
PaySmart is a payroll provider located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania supporting small businesses in the Central PA region. PaySmart is dedicated to helping small businesses take care of their payroll needs. To learn more information about how PaySmart may provide payroll solutions please contact 717-766-1777. Our New Client Concierge is waiting for you