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10 ways to manage employee productivity working from home

Working from home became the new normal for millions of people during the pandemic, but while it began as a necessity, more and more organisations quickly discovered a number of benefits.

This has led to a new era of hybrid working, which looks to combine the best of traditional offices and home working. Of course, alongside the benefits, there are also challenges to managing a distributed workforce, particularly how to oversee and maintain productivity when your colleagues are at home.

While many people have found their home environment more stimulating than the office, others have referenced facing more frequent distractions and a lack of technology and resources compared to the workplace. This presents a unique challenge for managers. How do you manage employee productivity when they are working from home? Let’s take a look:

1. Set up daily Zoom calls

While home working can be more productive than a busy office, it can also be more isolating, and emails alone are sometimes not enough to help colleagues feel connected. Thankfully, video conferencing technology such as Zoom has come on light years recently and has become a great way to simulate face to face meetings. Zoom calls bring a more personable and social element to daily work communications and can help home workers feel like they’re in the same room as colleagues. It’s recommended that managers set up daily Zoom calls at agreed times to check in with remote workers for both 1-to-1 and team meetings.

2. Access to files / documents / drives

One of the biggest complaints from those sent home at the beginning of the pandemic was a lack of resources and technology, including access to files, documents, and drives. This was particularly an issue for individuals and organisations who were new to home working and didn’t have the infrastructure in place to support it.

IT directors had to move quickly and adapt to the changing times. In many cases, this has meant accelerating any existing plans to take a cloud first approach. Cloud storage solutions, such as OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Apple iCloud, can enable teams to work on files from any location and from almost any device. Virtual desktops are also an excellent way of ensuring home workers have the same experience as their colleagues in the office.

3. Variety of communication technology

Working from home revealed that traditional communication technologies, such as email, were not always the best way to keep teams connected. Surprisingly, instant chat platforms usually reserved for friends and family to message each other were adopted by many organisations to enable fast-paced work conversation.

Platforms like Slack and Teams also became increasingly popular for businesses looking at ways for teams to quickly chat, exchange information, and message as they would in an office setting. These platforms are much faster than email and feel more like a conversation. Now, with hybrid working being the norm, organisations are looking to keep these channels in place going forward.

4. Social interaction opportunities

It can’t be all work, work, work. Studies show that social interaction is an important part of working from home productivity. In an office setting, this might happen over a cup of coffee in the kitchen area, but with a distributed workforce there is more of an emphasis on managers to make time each day for team chats and catch ups that aren't focused on work.

5. Set deadlines

Deadlines help give structure to our working day and help set and manage expectations. They are even more vital when your workforce is distributed across multiple locations as it can be easy to feel like you have less control over your teams and their projects. Work-management software like Trello or other platforms have come to the forefront during the pandemic as a way of automating deadlines with the ability to add comments and update on progress.

6. Be flexible

While flexible working has existed for many years now, it’s never been more applicable than in the era of the hybrid office. The days of the 9-5 office worker are largely over. Today, home workers might start work earlier because they don’t need to commute before taking a break to drop the kids at school or take the dog for a walk, and then return to work.

Managers need to be equally flexible with their workforce. As long as your staff are putting the hours in and their output is high-quality, it doesn’t matter what time of the day they work – within reason. The flipside, however, is to also make sure your teams don’t work around the clock to the extent that they lose their work-life balance. After all, being productive doesn’t mean working all of the time; it means working smart and making the most of your time.

7. Provide a way to collaborate

Collaboration is king. Whether you’re using the cloud for collaboration, platforms like Slack or Trello for team communication and project management, Zoom for brainstorming meetings, or WhatsApp for a quick chat, there are a plethora of ways that technology can support collaboration. Working from home doesn’t mean working alone. It’s vital for managers to prevent silo working by enabling regular communication, pairing up colleagues on projects, and promoting collaboration wherever possible.

8. Give praise

Just because you’re not in the same office together doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate successes. While this may have to take place virtually, it’s important to show staff how much you value their contribution by making time to give praise and involve the whole team/department where appropriate. From small wins to major milestones, let your staff know you appreciate their efforts wherever they’re based.

9. Listen to staff

It’s long been said that successful managers need to be great listeners. This trait has never been more important with a distributed workforce. Staff need to feel seen and heard by their organisation and one of the best ways to do this is simply to listen. Communication technology is connecting teams like never before, but good old fashioned listening never goes out of fashion.

10. Build connections

Managers may need to work twice as hard to create a personal rapport and bond with staff who they don’t see face to face, but it’s still possible and arguably even more necessary in a hybrid office. It’s not just managers and teams either. Organisations can help encourage connections between colleagues by teaming them up on projects or setting up a buddy system.


Many organisations were surprised to discover the benefits of more employees working from home during the pandemic. In fact, it worked so well in some cases that businesses are now adopting a hybrid office model as standard going forward. While many individuals reported greater efficiency and flexibility, home working does bring challenges too. Managers have a key role to play in maintaining productivity and helping home workers strike a healthy work-life balance.

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