Keeping Remote Supply Chain Employees Productive: 8 Strategies
The supply chain workforce is changing. This sector is increasingly leaning towards remote working like many others, allowing more people to work from home (WFH) and even hiring people across borders. While this change has many benefits, remote productivity management can be a challenge for some organizations.
While WFH employees say they are about 9% more productive at home than in the office, some have more problems. Helping workers reach their peak productivity looks different in remote environments than in in-person environments. With that in mind, here are eight ways supply chain companies can ensure their remote employees stay productive.
1. Hire people who are a good fit for remote work
Ensuring remote productivity starts before people even begin their roles. If companies want to get the most out of a remote workforce, they must first seek candidates who work well in these environments.
Not everyone is ideally suited to remote work. More … than 60% of American workers who can work from home but choose not to because they feel more productive in the office. Supply chains must ensure that they are not placing these workers in remote positions if they hope to maximize their productivity.
Companies should look for characteristics such as self-motivation and strong communication skills in candidates for remote roles. Questions about candidates’ previous remote work experience, independence, and handling deadlines can also help find ideal work-from-home candidates.
2. Communicate carefully and often
Communication is another key consideration for increasing remote productivity. Without regular communication, staff can get distracted, feel isolated, or lose sight of upcoming major and minor deadlines. In contrast, consistent check-ins and meetings can help remote employees stay on top of work and engaged.
This communication should be both frequent and thorough. If remote workers don’t understand what managers expect, they’ll have a hard time staying engaged. To combat this, superiors need to be as informative as possible when speaking with their remote workforce. Encouraging these workers to ask questions can also help, as two-way communication will provide the most assistance to everyone involved.
3. Use multiple communication channels
When supply chain managers communicate with their remote workers, they must remember to switch between different channels. Modern technology offers many options for remote communication, each with unique advantages and disadvantages.
Video conferencing is the most attractive form of remote communication, but it shouldn’t be the only tool businesses use. Almost half of the professionals report high feelings of burnout during frequent virtual meetings – a phenomenon known as “zoom fatigue.” Switching between communication channels avoids this, ensuring increased productivity.
Zoom and similar tools are ideal for regular check-ins and more in-depth meetings, but not for everyday use. Email may suffice for more mundane and repetitive communications, while instant messaging is perfect for urgent but simple requests.
4. Establish routines
Flexibility is one of the main advantages of working from home. However, too much freedom in an employee’s work schedule can make it harder to engage. While it’s necessary to offer schedule flexibility, supply chain companies also need to establish some routine to keep remote workers on track.
Putting parameters on remote work hours — like giving an acceptable range for workers to start and stop — is a great first step. Likewise, leaders can have virtual office hours that remain unchanged so that staff know when they can contact them. Regular meetings and check-ins can also help establish routines.
5. Help employees build their home office
Another common productivity killer for remote workers is the lack of boundaries between their work and personal life. It can be difficult to stay engaged with work when employees don’t feel like they’re in a work environment. The solution is to create a dedicated home office space and organizations can help.
Remote workers can convert their garage into an office with the right tools. Converting a garage to a wide range of benefitsincluding:
- Fewer distractions
- Added value to the home
- Easy customization
Employers can provide the necessary equipment — like lights, computer monitors, or desk chairs — to help them create these workspaces. By easing the financial burden of building a home office, companies are making it easier to maintain productivity at home.
6. Provide emotional support
It’s also important not to overlook the impact remote work can have on the mental health of workers. While many remote workers appreciate the flexibility and improved work/life balance, many also find it isolating. It can make it hard to stay engaged, but now more online options exist to meet new people.
Regular health checkups are a great time to help provide the emotional support employees may need. Managers should be upbeat and friendly and avoid talking only about work on these calls. Asking workers how they are doing and if there is anything they need to be more comfortable can go a long way.
Companies should also consider providing staff with access to resources that could help them. This could include articles on managing remote work, self-care tips and tools, chat groups, or similar options.
7. Host social events remotely
As part of this support, supply chain organizations should also host non-professional virtual events. Social events are a great way to break up the monotony of a job and boost engagement in any work environment – remote work is no exception. Although these activities may look different than in person, they can provide the same relief.
Occasional video conference meetings are a great option. Businesses can host virtual happy hours, play online games, or do virtual teambuilding activities on the same platforms they use for business calls. Encouraging employees to talk to each other and build stronger working relationships at these events is also essential to help increase productivity.
8. Measure and reward productivity
Supply chain companies should implement systems to measure productivity remotely. Defining key performance indicators (KPIs) and implementing tools to measure them can help reveal business shortcomings and pave the way for improvement.
Luckily, tracking productivity and time tracking remotely has never been easier. The Time Tracking Software Market Is Booming and Could Surpass $1.9 trillion by 2030many tools are therefore available to measure these KPIs.
Employers should also reward remote workers who meet and exceed targets based on these KPIs. Rewarding high productivity with cash bonuses or other incentives will help encourage increased engagement.
Follow these steps to maximize remote productivity
If supply chain organizations know how to manage them properly, remote workers can be just as, if not more, productive than an in-person workforce. Following these steps will help employers and managers ensure their employees reach their full potential, no matter where they are.
As working from home becomes more common, these steps will become increasingly important. Learning how to keep productivity high among remote workers now will help supply chains excel in the future.