In this article, we share productivity hacks that will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of remote employees.
More employees are moving to a remote or hybrid role, which inevitably changes how work is done. These productivity hacks will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of remote employees.
Working remotely is far from a new concept, but how remote work is done and how employees communicate has evolved. Without the structure of a commute and sharing a workspace, there is more self-regulation required of a remote worker. But it’s more than start and end time.
How can they minimise distractions at home? What’s the best way to brainstorm with a distributed team?
The volume of remote employees has increased, creating demand for evolution in software and collaboration methods.
No matter where you work, it’s a good idea to go into each day with a general idea of what you need to do. Schedules are often driven by meetings, priorities around projects, ongoing tasks, etc.
Do you know what your priorities are going into each day? Plan out your day the night before, including any personal obligations and even a lunch break, to help you get started faster instead of spending time determining what has to be done in the morning. Going into the day with a plan sets the structural foundation and can impact motivation.
Hourly remote workers can manage their days and work hours with time-tracking software like Moonworkers. You can clock in and out within the app, automatically generate timesheets, and get paid directly.
One crucial step to improve productivity is identifying tasks that take too long. What manual tasks fill your time? What tasks are repetitive? Chances are, if you find them time-consuming and repetitive, others have too and have created workflows for them.
More and more software integrations are available, making it easier to connect workflows. For example, Zapier has a broad portfolio of applications to help you automate manual tasks like data entry. Slack has a workflow management feature that can be used for reminders, repeat messages and more. You can also schedule slack messages. These are great small hacks to speed up your process, in addition to traditional task management software like Asana, Trello, etc.
Not all tasks can be automated through software. But if you find yourself doing manual and straightforward tasks, you may benefit from getting external help. For example, Fiverr, outsourcing firms, or freelancers can help open your time for more strategic and complex tasks.
There will always be distractions throughout the workday, whether one works in an office or at home. At-home workers face distractions with chores, children, pets, deliveries, etc. Pets and families usually prioritise but discuss any standard requirements that may adjust work hours with your managers, such as school drop-off/pickup, regular appointments, or other ongoing obligations. Workers should discuss with their employer so their availability is clear.
Some distractions are hard to avoid, like emergencies that need to be handled immediately, questions from teammates, or incoming communication that can pull workers away from other planned projects.
Sometimes distractions are purely procrastination. For example, if there are 30-minutes between meetings, how is that time used? It’s easy to use that time to handle chores like laundry and dishes that wouldn’t usually be relevant for in-office workers.
Not all distractions are avoidable and will always arise, but there are some ways to help limit them.
You can set your computer and phone to do not disturb or install software that holds all notifications so you can stay focused on your work. Software like Freedom, LeechBlock and Forest can help you block websites you determine will distract you (like social media or news sites), set a schedule/timer, and motivate you to put down your phone.
Create a schedule to create a structure to associate specific times for ongoing tasks. For example, walk your dog at lunch every day or block time for a workout in the morning. A home office or dedicated workspace will also help you focus your attention on work instead of other things in the room.
Video calls and instant messaging through Slack or Microsoft Teams have become more prevalent in the remote workforce. They make communicating with a distributed team easier.
Brainstorming exercises are typically very different amongst remote employees. A whiteboard can be hard to see on screens, it’s easy to get distracted by computer notifications, and ideas can be missed due to people going on and off mute. Go into the brainstorm session with a framework and structure vs a blank slate to keep people engaged and speed up the result.
Tools like Figma and Miro are great for organising thoughts across a remote team. They offer pre-built and user-generated templates for various discussions, so you don’t have to. Many users can contribute simultaneously, so you don’t need to send a file that one person put together.
Use collaboration tools like Coda or Notion to allow multi-user editing and auto-saving. We’ve established that distractions are easy when you’re remote, so documenting decisions, next steps, and outlining projects will reduce confusion between colleagues and inevitably save time. These tools also integrate with many other business applications, making it easy to pull everything into one place.
Set the tone about productivity from the start with new hires. Efficient onboarding creates confidence in the team and makes employees feel impactful sooner. What documentation should new employees read? Who should they meet? What software will they use?
Don’t start from scratch every time you have a new hire joining your team. Software like Moonwokers automates routine tasks during onboarding to save you time doing paperwork, task assignments and checking in on how everything is going.