Remote work: One of the keys to improving performance

We bring you the latest study from Harvard University on the adaptation that companies need to do for more efficient work.

Man sitting in front of a computer

Biosecurity measures have forced workers to carry out their work from home to avoid contagion. / Photo: Unsplash

LatinAmerican Post | Thomas Handley

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Leer en español: Trabajo remoto: Una de las claves para mejorar el rendimiento

With the appearance of Covid-19, many companies have turned to telework as an adaptation so as not to interrupt their operations. In turn, this methodology ensures the health of its employees. The change has brought with it certain unknowns that each employer must resolve with their work teams, such as production hours, communication channels, and group and individual methodologies. Fortunately, many experts have put their hands to work to try to solve these problems and accompany both group leaders and their members in their work. Harvard University was no exception to this rule and has come out with valuable advice.


The Harvard University Report

After analyzing different variables in remote work, Harvard University has produced a report in which it proposes “work bursts” as one of the most efficient methods. These consist of moments of high activity, an explosion of group productivity. After the burst ends, it continues with a period of low or no activity. Business experts affirm that, in this way, the potential of the workgroup is concentrated in short periods of time in which each member expresses himself and works simultaneously with the rest.

In addition, the report by business experts also mentions that teleworking is based on the premise that the workspace is one's own home. This leads to endless distractions that would not occur within an office. Therefore, between bursts of work, Harvard University proposes moments of low activity. In them, each person can choose to satisfy these distractions and work at their own time, preparing for what will be the next burst, where they will have to present what they have prepared during that interval.

Also read: Does being fed up with quarantine lead to disobeying restrictions?

Communication channels in remote work

The article prepared by Harvard also considers the communication channels between employees, or between leaders and other members of a remote workgroup. With the appearance of work from home, the sending of emails or messages has increased. Experts indicate that this causes a lack of synchronization, in which the schedules for each task are not made clear. As an alternative to improving the performance of a team, communication should also follow the burst principle mentioned above. These messages should be found in a period of time that concentrates the greatest potential for worker attention.

In turn, the content of the communications must also be adapted. Messages or emails must have a single purpose. The lists of tasks to be completed or of topics to be discussed cause a diversion in which each person responds with their opinion about one or another item on the list. Instead, content should be concise and tackled one at a time within a team. In this way, the concentration of the whole group is achieved during a burst of work on the same topic. This improves performance and efficiency as it will shorten the time these issues are resolved.

How to adapt work video calls

Lastly, Harvard business researchers indicated that video calls or online meetings can also be adapted to improve performance. Although at times it is necessary to see the person with whom you are speaking, the omission of video in cases where it is not relevant implies an improvement in communication. By not seeing or being seen by the person we are talking to, aesthetic care is put aside, so the focus is on work. This implies an improvement in the efficiency of said calls that, following the line of the report, should also be used in bursts, and not indiscriminately.