How to Ensure that Remote Employees Stay Productive

BY Kathy Crosett
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How can you ensure that your remote employees stay productive? Now that COVID-​19 has forced so many employees to work from home, managers may face a new normal. As social isolation drags on and employees lack the usual childcare options, employees may be working from home a lot longer than initially planned. This reality is a game changer for managers.

Remote workers have long caused uneasiness in the corporate culture of businesses that also maintained physical offices. Managers worried and coworkers believed that remote staff members had a better deal than everyone else. Here’s what employees have to say in a new Remote Work 2020 survey.

The Joy in Working Remote

Over 300 workers took this survey. Many of these folks have long worked remotely, while others have just started to do so as a result of the COVID-​19 pandemic. 82% say they never plan to return to an in-​office setting. Remote workers enjoy the experience so much that 65% say they would recommend it to people they know.

Here’s what your employees appreciate most about their remote work arrangement:

  • Flexibility in when they work 39%
  • No commuting 25%
  • More time with friends/​family 21%

In this survey, when asked whether they always wanted to do remote work, 58% said yes. Only 26% said they just happened to get hired for such a role and 16% need this kind of arrangement for personal reasons.


Managers often worry about whether employees have a good remote workspace, one that allows them to be efficient and focus on their tasks. At least 63% have a dedicated home office. This setup is ideal as employees won’t have the distraction of TV and household traffic while they’re working. About 21% of employees work anywhere in the home and another 8% are going to co-​working spaces.

Remote Employees Stay Productive

Not every organization can support remote work options for its employees. But those that do have a dilemma if they are trying to run a culture that includes both in-​office and remote staff members. Hiring managers often justify remote status because they are trying to hire the best individual at the right salary. The downside to this arrangement is not knowing whether those remote workers stay productive.

At least 44% of remote staff members say they work over 40 hours a week. While that sounds great, we all know that measuring time spent on work effort is not an indicator of productivity. It’s best for managers to stay in close touch, especially with newer employees, to be sure they understand their tasks and other expectations you have. Follow up your spoken instructions in writing. Having a document to review can help employees when they are learning a new process. Remember that they won’t always want to ping you on the office chat channel to ask simple questions.

Remote workers also need camaraderie and a sense of belonging to a team. They particularly appreciate having dedicated video chat channels for informal exchanges (34%). From time to time, meetings that bring the entire team together make a big difference (25%). Both managers and co-​workers should stay in touch with informal chats as well (21%). When you sense a remote worker is having a tough time, don’t hesitate to reach out for a brief video call. Seeing a familiar face and hearing a friendly voice can make all the difference. 

Remote workers, whether they are temporarily or permanently out of the physical office, require as many touch points as your in-​office staff. To make sure your remote workers stay productive, stay in touch with video calls, phone calls and email. Build the cost of in-​person meetings into your budgets because nothing takes the place of these kinds of connections. When your remote workers feel they are part of the team and see opportunity for advancements, they’ll engage and increase productivity.