There’s no denying that remote work has its upsides and downsides, and impacts everything from project management to basic team communication.
Working remotely even affects how individuals and the team as a whole manage time on a day-to-day basis. Since time management is paramount to effective collaboration, you need to find workarounds in a remote work setting.
In this guide we’ll explore the impact of remote work on time management and how you can ensure it’s a positive one. In addition, discover how Insightful’s call center monitoring and remote employee productivity monitoring tools can help.
More Control over Schedules
In the remote work environment, employees often experience greater levels of autonomy than they might have had while working in an office.
Working from home implies that some of the onus of getting organized and adhering to a work schedule sits with the employee. As such, many remote workers have at least some degree of control over how they work.
This increased autonomy has two significant implications for time management:
The need for structure
First, working from home invites employees to create - or at least stick to - a work schedule that suits their lifestyle.
Unlike being at the office, employees don’t have the same visual and audio cues that can help them shift into a work mindset the moment they clock in. Anything from the chatter of coworkers first thing in the morning to the ringing of phones or the sight of office cubicles can spark that sense of familiarity and help you snap into the right frame of mind for work.
At home, it’s unlikely that employees have the same cues to get them tuned into their work. That’s why it’s so important to figure out a useful way to structure time that accounts for the increase in autonomy.
For example, some employees might work best when they imitate their morning commute by walking around the block before work. Others might thrive with a slightly shorter lunch break so as not to get too caught up in non-work-related activities around the house.
Increased scope for time management techniques
The other issue that the increase in autonomy raises is that it can be difficult for employees to sit down and focus on work for long periods of time.
Besides the lack of work-related cues, remote employees will also often have to contend with roughly assembled work setups and a new environment in which to build a work-centric mindset.
While the extra autonomy can be rewarding, the trade-off is that remote employees will often have to experiment with various time management techniques to see what works best for them.
When the typical shared 9-5 is no longer in play, some employees may turn to task batching to get their work done for the day according to context while others may work with a prioritization system to ensure they get important tasks squared away first.
Introducing your remote team to a range of time management techniques such as the following can help support them in their wfh silos:
- The Pomodoro method
- The Eisenhower matrix
- Task batching
- Time blocking
Increase in Distractibility
Distractions at work are everywhere, regardless of location.
Yet it can feel as if distractions encountered at home are more challenging to overcome than those in the office.
Because the office breeds a certain level of predictability, which over time you can grow accustomed to and even take a degree of comfort from. The various sounds, sights, and smells in the office tend to be the same, and after a while become easy to drown out as white noise.
At home, distractions are much more unpredictable and as a result can have a much greater impact on time management.
Until settling on a perfect home-work setup - if ever - many remote employees have to contend with anything from family members moving around to dogs in the neighborhood barking and packages being delivered.
The sounds and sights can vary wildly in a home-work environment, and this level of unpredictability makes it challenging to manage time in an effective fashion.
The best way to counteract this is to have your remote team set up their home workstations to mute distractions around them.
Here are some ways of minimizing wfh distractions:
- Muffle sound with noise-canceling headphones
- Use lamps to create consistent lighting
- Let everyone else in the house know your working hours
Employee monitoring examples often mitigate this issue as companies implement corporate monitoring software to monitor work from home employees and visualize the time they spend to create productivity reports.
Employee monitoring devices and tools can help you support your remote teams and ensure they get the most out of the time they’re clocked in.
Lack of Coordination
In a remote team, it isn’t just how employees work alone that matters but how they coordinate and collaborate together.
Time management in the context of a remote team often means planning and coordinating across time zones to meet deadlines and work together effectively in real time.
If you’re not sure what your coworkers or remote team members are working on at any moment, it can be challenging to collaborate on a task or project and see it through to completion.
The question of who’s working on what can be solved by employee monitoring solutions like Insightful which provide insights into how everyone spends their time. With a real-time dashboard view, you can oversee projects remotely and see what apps and websites team members use throughout the day.
You can use this time data to pick up on productivity trends, and identify the best moments for collaboration based on when each individual member works best.
Increased Reliance on Technology
Due to the growing prevalence of remote work, there’s been a new wave of technology tools and software solutions that can solve many issues created by the physical distance between employees.
If you want to encourage effective employer monitoring work from home in your remote team, you have to encourage the use of various technology tools such as:
- Project management software - Project management software allows team members to collaborate in either a synchronous or asynchronous fashion. Labels and comments allow coordination across time zones while video calls and instant messaging allow for real-time communication.
- Employee monitoring solutions - With the best computer surveillance software, you can be monitoring work performance to inform company productivity. Using the tools and techniques of time management and the productivity reports you generate it’s easy to find work schedules that work for every individual.
- Communication tools - Communication tools help bridge the gap created by the physical distance separating remote team members. They can help avoid time-related issues as everyone can stay on the same page.