A look at how tech and culture combined can help you to beat the remote working productivity slump with some top tips to boost employee engagement.

A new link has been made between remote working productivity levels and how visible an employee feels in an organisation.

Research from workplace software company Names & Faces found that while 75% of people say they are more productive since moving to home-based working, this may not be the case for those who are lacking visibility and connection with others.

The survey of 2,400 employees in the UK and the US, found almost two thirds (64%) of those who don’t feel visible, reported a productivity slump while their more visible colleagues were more inclined to report increased productivity.

Visibility is defined as their perception of how seen they are, who they know in the organisation and how easily they can identify and contact someone they don’t know.

The findings come as many organisations look to extend their homeworking provision as physical distancing continues in response to Covid-19 guidelines. In addition, some companies and employees have expressed the desire for a permanent remote model. Either way, an element of remote working is here to stay.

How important is productivity in times of change?

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Productivity is an important factor at any time of course, and especially when we’re all being asked to do more for less as budgets are cut and resources realigned. But, perhaps the more pressing issue is the impact a lack of visibility may have on employee morale and satisfaction – we all want to feel recognised for our contributions.

Many studies have also pointed to a correlation between job satisfaction and productivity. Pointing to an element of truth in the proverb ‘choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life’.

So, what can employers do to make staff feel more connected, valued and to help elevate their status within the organisation, while driving productivity as an added benefit? The answer likely lies in your IT investments.

Technology is an enabler

There are many tools within remote working solutions like Microsoft 365 that can help you to improve both connectivity and productivity. Particularly with regards to performance, organisations are looking to innovations in Power Platform to deliver automation and process optimisation – for further insights read our recent blog How Microsoft 365 can drive automation.

Microsoft 365 also offers a host of features to connect your colleagues and welcome them to the stage, so to speak. However, technology can only go so far. It is an enabler rather than a holistic solution. It is important that the right culture and approach is developed, alongside training and support to use the platforms. A study by consulting firm PWC found a vast disparity between how C-suites and other staff view the support they get when new tech is implemented with only half of staff saying they feel their needs are addressed.

Trustmarque can support with user training and adoption – contact us to find out more.

Top tips for boosting employee visibility

Here are some ideas for how you can leverage the technology at your fingertips to deliver cultural change and improve staff visibility and performance:

Encourage the use of profile photos in all Microsoft 365 accounts – no excuses. Putting a face to a name is important now more than ever in the absence of physical interactions.

Ensure colleagues are easy to find – make sure Microsoft 365 is configured so that your organisational charts are up-to-date. That way, employees can click on a colleague profile to see where they sit in the organisation, view their team members including line managers and direct reports, and make contact.

Prioritise video – where possible, put the phone down and do your 1:1s, project meetings and virtual Town Halls via video to encourage face to face exposure. Video can also be a great way to hold inductions and informal catch-ups to bring a social element to your remote team.

Project stand-ups – like the old ‘show and tell’, holding regular opportunities for employees to update on key projects is a good way to collaborate and can act to incentivise performance – giving teams a platform to share success with others in the business. Within Microsoft Teams you can screen share to go through project apps like Planner, Trello, Excel, PowerPoint and more.

Increase exposure to senior leaders – tackle a lack of visibility and access to key decision makers by inviting colleagues to speak at your leadership meetings. You could bring a different colleague to the table each month to represent the team.

Utilise SharePoint News – send targeted or organisation wide communications to announce key updates and celebrate success. With the Microsoft 365 user profiles set up you can tag colleagues in your updates for added exposure. And once posted, the news can live on SharePoint for everyone to view on-demand.

These are just a few suggestions to help elevate the visibility of staff during the remote working period. There are many more options available and each organisation may take a different approach. The most important thing you can do is have a regular open, honest conversations with your employees to try and mitigate the productivity slump.

Take your remote working to the next level with Trustmarque

Whether you’re planning a permanent move to home-based working or you want to lay the foundations for a more flexible future, we can support with agile IT.

Talk to your Account Manager or email [email protected] to see how we can enable better outcomes in your organisation.

We’re in IT together.

By Katherine Murphy, content enthusiast