How will COVID-19 Affect Productivity?

The Coronavirus has changed nearly all aspects of our lives, and the way we work is arguably one of the areas of our lives most affected, with so many people having to work from home during the pandemic.

Understandably, business leaders everywhere are wondering about the best ways to stay productive in this new environment.

That being said, the fact is that it’ll take a bit of distance and perspective to fully understand the impact this pandemic has had, and will have, on productivity.

That being said, it is the right time to think about the ways we can already see our own teams adapting to this “new normal” and think of ways of making the digital workplace better for everyone.

With this in mind, today’s blog post will talk about ways COVID-19 has already affected productivity and what we can all do to foster higher productivity and better levels of employee wellbeing.

Traditional wisdom around remote work

When done correctly, studies show that working from home can be very conducive to increased productivity.

Homeworking staff routinely report higher levels of job satisfaction and productivity as they can better balance work-life with their personal lives.

Remote work can also help your organisation save money and attract and maintain highly qualified employees wherever they may be based geographically.

Remote work during the pandemic

The above all sounds fantastic, but things are not quite as simple as that during these – and pardon us for the following cliché – “unprecedented times”.

Some of the things that can understandably affect our productivity during this pandemic include the stress around the health of ourselves and our loved ones as well as potentially having to homeschool children or care for vulnerable relatives.

And that’s not where the difficulties end.

There are some big differences between remote work before, during and after the pandemic.

In the past, this mode of working was voluntary, could be meticulously planned and staff could work from home some of the time and still come to the office a few times a week.

However, during the pandemic, everyone who is not deemed an essential worker has been suddenly forced into homeworking quickly and on a full-time basis.

With all of the above in mind, it’s no wonder many people are struggling to be as productive as they’d usually be at work.

While many people undoubtedly feel more comfortable and productive working from home even in the midst of the pandemic, it’s no surprise that just as many, if not more people are having a hard time bringing their best self to their work.

Are we more or less productive?

With the world still very much in the midst of this pandemic, it’s impossible to get conclusive data on how it has affected our productivity levels.

This doesn’t mean no one has tried to do so.

For example, Deloitte has reported that 55% of people believe that their colleagues are just as productive, if not more so, during this pandemic.

The same study found that almost a third of people miss collaborating with their colleagues in person. This is a sign that many people do feel like they’re missing out on something conducive to higher levels of productivity and wellbeing in the workplace while working solely from home.

However, despite this, 61% of those surveyed said they’d like to work from home more after this pandemic.

This shows that despite the difficulties, people have discovered how beneficial remote work can be for their work life.

And managers tend to agree: 62% of American business leaders surveyed reported that they want to increase remote working within their organisation in the post-pandemic future.

What you can do to better support your work from home staff

All of the above highlights that while we’re yet to be able to see the full picture when it comes to COVID-19’s effects on productivity, chances are that we won won’t see a clear-cut positive or negative impact on productivity.

This means we have to do all we can to support our employees in the here and now so they are able to cope with stress better and bring their best self to work.

There are many ways you can better support your remote staff during this difficult time and beyond.

Apart from being realistic about workloads and catching up with team members one-on-one regularly, you should also take advantage of technology designed to support staff wherever they are.

This starts with cloud-based productivity suites like Workspace or Office 365 whose tools allow you to work simultaneously and collaboratively on documents with your coworkers.

Furthermore, solid video conferencing software and messaging apps allow you to easily keep in touch with the whole team.

These two forms of technology can help you feel more like a team even when you’re not inhabiting the same physical space.

To help you as a business leader support your employees even better, we’d also suggest that you consider investing in workforce analytics software.

The term “employee monitoring” might send shudders down the spines of some people as they envision their employers spying on them and constantly pushing for unattainable goals.

But in reality, employee monitoring or productivity management software can be hugely helpful in getting a clear picture of where you and your team are excelling and where you could improve, as well as recognising when an employee is struggling and in need of additional support.

This provides an important resource whether your team works from the office full time or engages in telecommuting on a regular basis.

We have several articles that go more in-depth into the benefits of software like this, so make sure you check out our articles on workforce analytics software to get more information.

Alternatively, you can get in touch with us to find out how you can support your team specifically during this pandemic and beyond.