Productivity Preservation in a Virtual World

The Covid-19 crisis, followed by the lockdown, has changed everything in the office and personal life. It has affected the whole 9 to 5 office routine. Just imagine how your team works now. Are they actively seated in the work environment?, Do they wear formal office attire?, Are they in the working mood? These are the questions that directly relate to workplace productivity. “Working from home” earlier was a catchy phrase for only a few, especially freelancers. After the corona crisis, it is now a new mantra of office life. The studies reveal that in the initial days of the lockdown, the productivity curve was dropping down. There were clear reasons for this. 

  1. Work from home does not suit everyone for reasons, both practical or psychological.
  2. The companies did not have clear SOPs for working from home. 
  3. Every employee was not on the network due to limitations of soft or hardware facilities.
  4. The leaders were not able to effectively lead, manage, and evaluate remotely scattered teams. 
  5. All employees were not familiar with the remote working methodology and its importance. 

Productivity After Covid-19 Crisis

The emerging second phase of the corona at least has confirmed one thing that the remote working is going to live as a permanent reality of life. It is not going away even if the corona completely wipes out. We still have to live in an environment of mixed work routines. The future work is no more a 100% formal office work. It will be a hybrid working, even if work from home do not thrive to reign back again.

Companies and leaders need to take well thought of, concrete steps to plan performance evaluation to ensure that productivity may not suffer. Developing evaluation apps means a lot of investment in technology. Staff training in the new normal is another area that can retain and improve employee productivity. The following are the points that need serious consideration when developing performance systems and employee engagement plans for improved productivity in a virtual work environment. 

A Validated Set of KPIs. 

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the buzz word for a meaningful performance evaluation. It is a set of indicators showing employee’s work achievements, failures, weaknesses, and strengths against well-defined work goals. In a changing virtual environment, a new set of KPIs is needed for collaboration of remote teams, network effectiveness, focus, and accountability within the ranks. The redefined KPIs must be tested, evaluated, amended, and validated through an intensive validation process. 

Connecting Teams 

Connecting on tools like Zoom also serves the purpose of a virtual meeting. Meeting even virtual is a time tested way of team engagement. In-house app development can help the inclusion of tabs and options to better address company needs. Regular meetings help to engage a well-connected team in knitting together a community committed to a common cause. 

The touchpoints provide chances for performance discussion, employee well-being, setting priorities, and assessing all other work requirements. Remote working tools and apps can help improving employee engagement. The employees have started taking the virtual working an essentially must, of the new normal. They are increasingly getting attuned to it to compete with the rival businesses. 

Re-defining Role of Leaders. 

Leading a virtual team no more remains business as usual. The new hybrid work phenomenon requires new skills like empathy, a sense of community, and command over technology. The leadership training programs require more emphasis on training leaders in the above skills. The virtual environment demands complex practical leadership skills than academic ones. Remote workers must be empowered to develop their preferred work style within the organizational parameters. Leaders must be more intuitive. 

Businesses now need to develop leaders capable of bringing out the best from the remote teams. Leading virtual teams means taking care of virtual teams, understanding and meeting their needs, and getting the work done, within tight schedules. 

Recognition & Rewards

Recognizing performance is an effective way to boost productivity. It leads to generating a sense of achievement among the employees for boosting their morale. Regular and timely recognition becomes more relevant in a virtual work environment. Virtual working inherently depends more on the mood and initiative of an employee. A manager does not have physical access to monitor and supervise the work. Rewarding the superheroes and high achievers and rewarding them well sends a positive signal across the organization, creating a healthy competition among all ranks and files. 

Eliminate Distractions. 

Employees were wasting about 30% of their work time on non-productive distractions before the lockdowns. This ratio is supposed to increase in virtual working. Child care, attending phone, watching breaking news all serve as good valid reasons for work distractions. Live networking, interaction, and scaling working hours can help in eliminating such work distractions. People have started accepting hybrid working, a new reality, and adjusting their habits to fit themselves in the frame of time. Only those organizations will emerge as winners who thoughtfully plan and place virtual work strategies to maintain and boost productivity. A decrease in productivity prompted by the failure to learn to live under remote working compulsions will lead to the demise of the organization itself. 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

  • Umar Hayat
  • The author has rich management exposure in banking, textile, and teaching in business administration.