Companies all over the world have been operating remotely since 2020. But when we managed to flatten the curve sometime in 2021, many commercial establishments reopened, and office work resumed. But we ended 2021 with a new challenge: the omicron variant. It can spread faster than previous variants and the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. It has contributed to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., which recently reached one million in a day.
The holidays are partly to blame for this surge, so this means people can’t gather in groups yet. As such, companies have either delayed their return to the office or brought back work-from-home. This can create new workflow challenges. Companies expecting to go back to the office might’ve already prepared new strategies to increase productivity. Companies that haven’t gone back to the office since 2020 might already be facing greater productivity issues. After all, staying at home longer also increases one’s household responsibilities. Coupled with work, a remote employee’s life can feel miserable.
Are Remote Employees More Productive?
Several studies show that productivity is greater among work-from-home employees. Compared to office-based workers, home-based employees spend 10 minutes less a day being idle. They also work one more day a week and are 47% more productive overall.
Companies that didn’t normally allow working from home thought the setup would result in a disaster. After all, it’s easier to get distracted at home. How will you focus on your job if you have chores to perform, indeed? Well, it turns out that most employees got more work done at home. Their productivity is at its peak on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and between 10:30 AM and 3:00 PM.
Thanks to video conferencing apps and cloud-based software, remote work is easier than ever. Meetings can be held virtually, helping companies reduce costs. Cloud-based software allows data to stay secure and be shared safely anytime and anywhere.
Of course, work-from-home isn’t without challenges. A Stanford survey has found that only 65% of Americans had an internet connection fast enough to handle video calls. It’s also uneasy to manage time at home because household matters demand employees’ attention. The line between personal and professional lives has also been blurred. Working with your family in the next room could tempt anyone to “switch” as often as they wanted. For example, if their kid needs something, a working mom can’t just neglect that need because they’re working.
For those reasons, the workflow could get disrupted. Workflow is a series of activities that lead to the completion of a task. Hence, if a disruption occurs in the workflow, the task can’t be completed on time. This affects overall productivity.
Improving Workflow While Operating Remotely
Addressing bottlenecks in the workflow can be challenging if done remotely. But it’s not impossible, and it’s not rocket science. Below are the ways to improve workflow remotely:
Use Workflow Monitoring Software
Since your company operates remotely, relying on online tools to boost workflow is just what it needs. Consider the esteemed ServiceNow IT asset management software. ServiceNow streamlines tasks, activities, and processes. It also uses machine learning to leverage data and workflows. In turn, your company can be more scalable and faster.
All employees, not just the IT team, can benefit from ServiceNow. Non-IT staff can use it to request IT business services. Meanwhile, the IT team can use it to manage service requests and incidents.
Keep Communication Lines Open
Managers should keep their communication lines open not just for approvals but also for concerns. Their team should be able to reach them when workflow issues hinder productivity. That way, the issue can be resolved immediately, preventing other teams from feeling the impact of the problem.
Breaks allow employees to unwind and start a new task with a fresher perspective. Work-from-home employees take fewer breaks, so this may be the reason workflow faces issues. Managers should advise their team members to use their breaks as they did in the office. They should step away from their desks during the lunch hour and every few minutes afterward. Well-rested employees are more focused and energized.
Use Collaboration Tools
Aside from ServiceNow, companies can use other collaboration tools or apps like Slack, Google Drive, and the like. An email management software will help as well. It moves important emails to one place and less important ones to another. This will prevent urgent emails from going unanswered for a long time.
It may take a while before normal business operations resume. For now, let’s come to terms with the possibility of remote working becoming the standard. Its benefits make office-based work less tempting to return to. With online tools available, productivity may always be higher from home.