The coronavirus pandemic may have forever altered the modern workforce, pushing sudden adoption of work-from-home opportunities at unprecedented levels.
According to one study recently shared by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, at least 37% of U.S. jobs can be performed entirely remotely. That’s good news for many businesses still grappling with mandated social distancing requirements and the “new normal” of doing business with fewer people close together at most on-site locations.
With an increasing number of remote work teams, and some teams adopting a hodge-podge approach that blends work-from-home and on-site work groups, how do you help your employees stay productive and improve efficiencies in this blended environment?
Here are 5 ways you can boost employee productivity at home or in the office:
1. Acknowledge That It’s More than Slacking Off and Zooming Around
When it comes to working from home or blended remote and on-site teams, you may get laser focused on adopting new software and related technologies that replace some of the key functions in your normal on-site operations.
For example, if you need to talk with someone, instead of walking across the hall for a chat, you might use an app like Slack for instant communication. Or, if you manage tasks with daily brainstorming sessions and meetings, you may replace those with tools like Asana, Trello, or Monday. And of course, if you want to still meet to stay connected, you might adopt tools like Google Meet or Zoom.
Those are all great tools, but what about your critical business functions? Does your accounting software work independently of your invoicing solution? In a typical day, does someone on your sales team create invoices and hand them off to your accounting team for collection and reconciliation? Do your team members manually input or import and export data from one system to another to handle key tasks? That might work okay (albeit inefficiently) for on-site operations, but how can you do that successfully with a fully- or partially-remote team?
This is where you should consider adopting a business management software solution. One that facilitates integration of all your critical business operations and enables quick and easy access to data to stop those manual imports and exports or repetitive keying-in of core operational data.
2. Choose a Solution That Works for You
Before selecting a business management software solution, evaluate your existing critical operational systems and functions. Here are some core questions to consider:
- What are our most critical business systems?
- What are our most critical business functions?
- Who is responsible for these functions?
- What is the impact on business if we can’t do these functions or they don’t operate efficiently?
- What are our existing processes?
- Where are these processes the strongest?
- What are our existing issues with these processes?
- Do we have any duplicated workflows in our processes? If yes, why? Can we eliminate them?
- What gaps and improvements can be addressed with a business management solution?
- How well do these existing functions operate in a fully remote or partially remote work environment?
- How can we improve these processes with business management software to make them work optimally in this environment?
When it comes to adopting new technologies, many have shiny features that look great in the ads, but aren’t functions you may actually ever use in your daily operations. Don’t just choose the shiniest solution on the market. Choose the one that best meets your unique business needs and helps you improve your daily efficiencies today and can scale with you in the future.
3. Break Down the Silos
Silos are often the biggest obstacle to efficient business. Whether those silos are caused by geography, departmental autonomy, technology, or specific knowledge retained by key employees, disparate workflows slow down operational efficiencies.
In many organizations, especially those that have experienced rapid growth, this is most evident when it comes to data and information sharing. The culprit is often technology that’s been grandfathered along as the organization has grown, trapping critical business data in software that either doesn’t communicate with other systems or can only be operated effectively by a limited number of people on your team.
To break through these silos and improve worker efficiency, consider adopting a business management software solution that enables your critical business operations to communicate with one another, freely share data between departments and locations, and ensure everyone on your team has access to the most current, accurate data and information when they need it—no matter where they are working from.
A business management software solution can unite many of your key business functions, from accounting to customer relationship management (CRM). You can even integrate enterprise resource planning (ERP) to get a full picture of your operations like purchase orders, inventory, and shipping, all in one single solution.
4. Empower Your Staff
While improving productivity begins with making sure your employees have the tools and resources they need to be successful, it’s only as effective as your training and education. You can put the tools in your employees hands, but if they don’t know how to use them — and don’t understand how learning will make their jobs easier — they may become more inefficient.
When planning for a new business management software solution, including your awareness and education strategies in that process is critical. If your employees don’t understand what the software is intended to do — and how it can make them do their jobs better with less time and frustration — adoption and usage can be low.
A great success starter includes involving key team members — those whose day-to-day functions will be supplemented by your business management platform — in your planning strategies when reviewing and selecting your solution.
Empower them to be a part of the team that makes your platform selection. Involve them in the implementation phases where appropriate, and solicit and respond to their feedback about what works and what needs improvement throughout the process. These team members can become internal champions to help get employee buy in across your organization. The more employees who understand what your solution is intended to do, and understand how to use it, the more likely you’ll see improvements in both employee productivity and efficiency.
5. Keep a Pulse on Your Team
Pandemic fatigue is real. Not only are your employees dealing with the added pressures of job performance in a new environment, they’re also carrying the weight of a changing world around them. Whether that’s spousal or familial job losses, family illnesses or loss of life, financial pressures, or children now home-schooled, employee mental health is just as important as ensuring they have all the tools and resources they need to be successful at work.
As your team adopts new strategies and technologies to help them be more productive and efficient at their daily tasks, don’t forget about the value of routine check-ins just to see how they’re doing. What challenges are they facing? Are their resources your company can provide to help?
And don’t forget about the value of recognition. As your employees journey into this new normal, acknowledge them for outstanding work and helping your company accomplish your goals. A business management software solution helps you have complete visibility into your operational successes and challenges so make sure to routinely review your efficiencies and acknowledge your team members for improvements and exceeding expectations.
Want to know more about how aACE can help you boost your team's efficiency? Register now to save your seat in our upcoming webinars.