Keeping a Workforce Virtually Engaged and Productive

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Employee productivity and engagement has long been on the minds of corporate leaders as they seek to get the very best from their employees. Long before employees were sent to their at-home workspaces and conducting meetings over RingCentral, organisations focused on employee engagement as a way to increase employee productivity.

While these programmes do indeed pay dividends (research shows that engaged employees are 21% more productive than those that are not engaged) companies still have a long way to go. A study conducted by VoucherCloud in the UK found that the average UK worker is only productive for two hours and 53 minutes per day in a typical eight-hour workday. A myriad of other activities conducted during the workday was the culprit for the lack of productivity; including checking social media, reading news sites, and engaging with colleagues. 

If this lack of productivity was evident before home offices were the new normal, imagine the challenges that present themselves to companies and employees in today’s environment? This is where leadership needs to play a pivotal role—ensuring they are keeping their workforce virtually engaged and productive. Here are a few suggestions on how that can be done. 

Practice emotional intelligence 

It is an understatement to say that the last number of months have added stress to virtually every professional environment. I have spoken to many colleagues and professionals who feel the strain of being removed from their team, having to manage a home office (if they have an office), kids, and a new routine during the workday. As a result, they are finding themselves with an increased level of stress and emotion that can impact engagement and productivity.

One of the best things leaders can do to help their teams is to recognise these emotions, give space for employees to be open about their stress levels, and, if needed, invest in counsellors that can connect with their teams to help them process these emotions.  

As I have written before, business is about people and now more than ever leaders need to take good care of their teams. 

Now more than ever, having an engaged and productive workforce is vital to the health and success of any business. Click To Tweet

Be present 

A friend of mine was recently telling me that since going virtual they have seen more of their leadership. Their leadership team has made a point of using video to communicate, holding town halls with the staff to answer questions and give assurances. In a word, they have been present.

My father has been known to say, “In the absence of communication, the imagination runs wild.” This is never more true than today, so it is imperative that leaders be present, be ready to listen, and lead by example. Doing so will increase your employee engagement and productivity.

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Help them set boundaries 

Numerous studies have shown that over the last six months of going virtual, the average workday has increased by two to three hours per day. I have not seen any study that says productivity and engagement have improved as a result.

In fact, a recent study has shown that teams are more productive when they have clear work-life boundaries. The idea of boundaries is something that I have spoken about quite often, and it is something that leaders should promote among their employees.

As human beings, we are not able to work continuously with no downtime. We are not wired to be always on, working well past “business hours,” and at the same time able to be productive. Science has proven this to be the case

If leaders want employees who are highly engaged and equally productive, they need to build a culture that enables employees to set boundaries and discourages continual overworking; all parties will benefit.

Now more than ever, having an engaged and productive workforce is vital to the health and success of any business. Following the steps above is a good start to ensuring your business will realise the benefit.

What else do leaders need to deliver in preparing their businesses for the new world of work?

Originally published Dec 08, 2020


Carlos Hidalgo is a 25-year business veteran. Over the span of the last two plus decades, Hidalgo has held corporate roles, started his own entrepreneurial ventures and served in non-profits.

In addition to his various roles and business pursuits, Hidalgo is the author of two books Driving Demand, one of the Top 5 Marketing Books of all time according to Book Authority which was published in 2015 and The UnAmerican Dream which was published in 2019.

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