Get Time Management Training for the Decentralized Workforce

Time management is important for remote workers and training can impart this skill.

An employee works on a laptop.

Time management is a key skill for newly remote employees.

Companies that transitioned into work-from-home models due to the global COVID-19 pandemic have quickly come to understand both the opportunities and the challenges of having a remote workforce. One of the main differences between working from home and coming into the office is the long unstructured and unobserved hours employees will spend in their own houses. If they use this time effectively, they can be just as productive as a centralized team. However, that level of time management is not a sure thing.

While it may be tempting to assume that a good sense for time and how to spend it is something innate – either people have it or they don’t – it is a skill that can be imparted through training. Just as it’s possible for employees to contribute valuable work from their homes, you can assign them online, video-based coursework they can take on a schedule that suits them, building essential skills such as the ability to spend time productively, even when there is no boss on hand to check on them.

What Does Great Time Management Look Like for Remote Workers?

Employees who are used to an in-office routine may have an adjustment period once they’ve been assigned to work from home. They will have to find new ways to keep themselves on task while removed from the usual rhythms of the workplace. Forbes contributor H.V. MacArthur pointed out a few ways to immediately make the home workday more structured and easier to manage. For example, employees who have previously let their calendars be passively filled up with meetings should take a proactive interest in scheduling. They should also push back if the remote meetings in their day give them a lot of “fragmented time” – these 15-to-30-minute chunks of the day are easy to waste, and that lost time adds up.

MacArthur also cautioned against workers spending long days logged on, far longer than they would have spent in the office. It’s normal for employees to spend extra time working when doing so remotely, due to the “guilt” associated with working from home. Employees desperate to prove they are being responsible and not overusing the freedom that comes with working from home may try extra hard to prove they are indeed contributing, but these extra exertions can lead to fatigue and burnout, making their work worse instead of better.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is just as relevant for remote employees as people who commute to an office. Employees who are used to working in person may find it tricky at first to budget parts of their days and weeks for relaxation. This is an especially great concern during an age of social distancing, when there aren’t many places to go after work. Learning the psychological and physiological reasons to take breaks and battle burnout can help keep workers from overexerting themselves.

An employee works on a laptop.Working from home is better with high-quality time management.

How Can Employees Set Up Their Environments for Effective Remote Work?

Working effectively from home isn’t just a matter of adopting habits. Entrepreneur magazine recommended using helpful technologies to transform the home office into a space more conducive to time management. For example, there are many apps designed to help people schedule their time. Companies that encourage the use of these tools can boost efficiency and give employees a platform where they can take an analytical look at their own division of their time. Fitness apps may also be a valuable addition to the tool kit – when team members know the ideal times to take a break and stretch, they are at less risk of burning out during long periods of uninterrupted work.

While some functions of smart devices, such as those productivity apps, can benefit employees, others will slow them down. Entrepreneur suggested shutting down push notifications for apps that don’t relate to work or silencing phones altogether. When messages and alerts are coming in, employees have a ready-made distraction, one that can take them away from important tasks. People whose home work spaces include televisions should also make sure these screens stay off most or all of the day, or they can move them into another room. Having a space stocked mainly with work tools can keep a remote worker on point with their goals.

While working from home once in a while may be fine with a more casual or ad-hoc approach, a long-term remote model demands a higher level of focus. Creating a work space that naturally favors time management is therefore a great idea for anyone who anticipates spending months contributing from home, or who is permanently shifting to this arrangement.

What Does Time Management Training Consist Of?

When assigning online training courses for your remote employees to take, you can choose general topics that cover multiple skills or more focused courses targeted to your team’s particular needs. Materials specifically dealing with time management can give participants a new framework for setting and achieving goals. This approach to work may prove pivotal for people who are not used to being self-directed and making their own agenda without a manager on-site to guide them. Digital courses consist of engaging video content and interactive quizzes to make sure learners have internalized the information.

Just as working from home requires a unique set of skills, so does managing employees who are not on-site. You can therefore benefit from selecting leadership courses for the personnel tasked with keeping their teams productive. These employees have time management duties that include keeping meetings on topic when none of the participants are physically in the same room, as well as giving their team members more structure in their days to ensure everyone is comfortable contributing from home.

Shifting to a remote work model doesn’t have to come with a decrease in productivity. When employees know how to maximize their time alone, they can make their contributions from anywhere and keep the company going at full speed. You can encourage this smooth transition through your choice of training materials, improving the soft skills that help employees excel in isolation. Time management is an ability that will always be relevant, so when workers are cleared to come back to their offices, the new competencies they’ve learned can continue to assist them.

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