Motivation and Productivity in Remote Work

Motivation and Productivity in Remote Work

Working from home is challenging productivity.

Several factors play into that challenge. Leading issues are children, space, privacy, lack of time boundaries, and importantly, the lack of professional social connection.

Stanford University Economist Nicholas Bloom, a noted work-from-home advocate, expects a productivity decline in the large shift to remote work, at least for a time. He also posits a dip in new ideas tied to the lack of interaction with other workers. Bloom is quoted by Adam Gorlick in a Stanford News article as saying in-person collaboration is necessary for creativity and innovation.

Several surveys indicate productivity and morale challenges to those who have suddenly found themselves clearing space to work from home. A survey by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) found that despite companies’ adaptions and successes in shifting to a remote workforce, respondents report problems. They’re working more but feeling less productive and engaged. Hours are irregular, and workers are feeling stressed.

IT workers are an apparent exception, according to a survey by Sectigo. “… nearly 50% of those polled reported that productivity had increased since they were asked to [work from home] WFH, while 35% “feel it’s stayed consistent,” and only 16% noted an actual decrease in productivity.” But there is a logic to that. IT workers are more accustomed to working head-down, uninterrupted.

For others, though, the complications of moving home have resulted in distraction and stress. Gone is the structure of the office environment—the physical space with its resources, the time norms, and in particular, the presence of other workers engaged in a common effort.

Working from home means isolation, at least from a professional standpoint. And that has its own negative impact. Writing in The Harvard Business Review Janina Steinmetz and Ayelet Fishbach report that social psychologists have “known for decades that people are motivated to work harder when others are watching.” They point to a host of studies on the effects of being watched while engaged in various activities. “People run faster, are more creative, and think harder about problems,” they report.

Take away the colleagues and managers and we no longer have an audience. It’s not just about accountability and making a good impression, though those are important. Having others observe or participate in what we are doing also gives us a greater sense that what we are doing is important and meaningful. This sense is absent when we work in isolation.

The research findings might explain why getting motivated to get work done is so difficult in social isolation. Interestingly, the research shows that the “magnification” of importance felt when being observed occurs not only when the observation is in person. It also occurs when workers merely feel observed. In one study, a camera that recorded workers was as effective as a human observer.

Steimetz and Fishbach write that study results point to ways to use “the motivating presence” of others while in self-isolation. Their suggestions stress communication through a variety of available means—emails, video calls, group chats and productivity apps. One idea is to leaving video meetings open and running during the workday, where you can see others also at work. They also recommend sending regular updates to colleagues. Managers must stay in contact, both with the group (Zoom anyone?) and one-on-one. At the end of the day, workers should write a list of things “done”—including the trivial tasks of organizing, or completion of that hard-to-write email—and share it either with colleagues, friends or family.

As for maintaining focus and concentration, here are tips gleaned from sources including Forbes, Headway Capital, and the career site Ladders:

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule
  • Get exercise in the morning to activate circulation and enhance alertness
  • Establish a workspace and reserve it for work; remove non-work items
  • Keep a normal work schedule
  • Schedule breaks
  • Communicate to cohabitants when you are “on the clock” and not to be disturbed
  • Play non-lyric background music (Baroque and Classical music have been reported as particularly good at boosting mental concentration)
  • Have some coffee
  • Monitor your mind wandering; figure out what triggers you to become distracted; watch and learn to catch it and refocus
  • Identify stressors and imagine depositing them in a drawer or box to come back to later

Managers must be in regular communication, provide clear goals and deadlines, and be encouraging. Group meetings should schedule in some conversational time in the agenda to compensate for the lack of social interaction that is a part of office life. Create a sense of being in it together and be encouraging. Everyone’s efforts are important. Team members and their work, important in the office, are no less important now.

Targeted software applications, such as InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo, can be very cost-efffective tools for increasing productivity in remote work environments.  To learn more, contact us.

Simple to Launch.  Simple to Use.

Request a Demo

Stop Calls and Emails, Enhance
Service and Increase Profit!

InvoiceInfo saves labor hours and cost by helping suppliers and internal staff easily and instantly get answers online to their invoice-payment questions.

If you are like many finance leaders today, you are being challenged to reduce costs more quickly. InvoiceInfo delivers real bottom-line results almost immediately, allowing you to deploy your customer service staff to focus on more productive, bottom-line oriented tasks.

Let us show you how InvoiceInfo's vendor self-service portal can help your organization eliminate invoice inquiry emails and calls while enhancing service to your accounts payable customers.


Get Up and Running Quickly and Seamlessly

InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are standalone applications that can be up and running in as little as two weeks, with little or no IT resources required.

The faster your online portal is up and running, the sooner you will start reaping the benefits. InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are dedicated solely to helping AP and procurement departments slash the time and expense of servicing vendors, while improving customer service for their suppliers.

InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are simple solutions with big results. They are easy to implement and easy to use. Here’s how one customer described the process: “You give vendors a URL, provide instructions about what they need to know and tell them to go use it.” It really is that easy.


Improve Productivity with a Self-Service Solution

For most organizations, deploying a technology solution is a significant investment, and like most investments, the decision point ultimately comes down to the expected return on that investment.

According to a recent benchmark study by The Accounts Payable Network, 60% of AP customer service calls are from vendors while 40% are from internal customers. Vendor issues actually make up even more of the AP call volume than the 60% identified. Many times when a vendor has an issue, the vendor contacts their buyer or purchasing representative, who in turn contacts AP. Even though the call comes from an internal customer, the question originated with the vendor.

Vendor calls affect productivity in your organization exponentially. When vendors call the requisitioner, they are affecting that person’s productivity. Your internal customer’s productivity shrinks when fielding the vendor’s call and again when making the follow up call to AP and getting back to the vendor. Finally, AP’s productivity suffers as a result of the internal customer’s call, the payment status research and the follow-up communication.

With a minimal investment of IT time and talent, you can start reducing customer service calls and expense in a matter of weeks. In addition, you improve vendor relations since you are giving your vendors what they want — answers to their questions immediately — a win-win for everyone involved!


Easy and Economical Solution to Serve Vendors Around the World

InvoiceInfo can help you provide best-in-class customer service to your vendors around the world at a fraction of the cost.

Many organizations today have offices and operations throughout the world and are dealing with many time zones, different languages, and in some cases multiple ERP systems. InvoiceInfo currently supports different languages and can easily work with multiple ERP systems in different locations.

The key to good customer service is to provide the information that the customer wants when they want it. Whether your customer is a vendor waiting for a payment or a colleague that needs information on payment status, they want their information right away. If your organization has vendors and offices in other countries, they can be challenging and expensive to serve. But, with InvoiceInfo, your international vendors and internal customers can access the information they need when they need it.

With InvoiceInfo, you won’t have to staff your customer service team with 24-hour coverage in multiple languages to provide high-quality customer service around the world.


Enhance AP’s Role As a Strategic Partner

Learn how InvoiceInfo can help AP do more with less while continuously improving productivity and bottom-line results.

Many automation technologies such as scanning, workflow, e-invoicing, ACH, and electronic invoicing require significant investments of money, time and talent, making it difficult to get buy-in from upper management. Not InvoiceInfo!

If your goal for your AP department is to reduce costs quickly, call or email us today to learn more about how InvoiceInfo can help you achieve this goal through a quick, inexpensive and easy implementation of a vendor self-service portal.


Enhance Vendor Relationships

InvoiceInfo helps suppliers’ AR departments with simple and convenient access to invoice payment status online at a cost savings for all involved.

It may seem that the organization paying the vendor should hold all the cards in the relationship. But sometimes the opposite is true. Past-due payments and customer service perceptions can harm supplier relationships and disrupt the supply chain.

Your vendors and vendor relationship managers are living in a dynamic, fast-paced environment, so when invoice information is required, it is needed quickly and expected to be of high quality. With InvoiceInfo, your suppliers get answers to invoice inquiries real time, 24/7 with no need to leave messages and wait for responses. Studies show that confidence in data increases when suppliers access invoice and payment information themselves.


Give Procurement and Buyers the Tool They
Need to Respond to Vendors Quickly

Not only can InvoiceInfo be used by suppliers to learn the status of invoice payments, it can also be used internally within your organization.

In addition to reducing calls from vendors regarding invoice status, you can also reduce internal emails and calls from co-workers wanting to learn the status of invoice payment, and save time and effort and boost efficiency and productivity across the organization. Studies show that 40% of AP customer service calls are from internal customers. Many of these are from requisitioners who have received calls or emails from the supplier checking on payment status. These calls are often more expensive for the company because the internal staff member has taken the call or received an email from the supplier, contacted AP for the payment status and had to return the call or email the supplier.

By providing the vendor with a convenient and credible online option to get the answers it needs regarding payment status, you can eliminate multiple calls/emails between the vendor and the requisitioner saving time and money.


Eliminate Difficult Vendor Calls and See
Productivity and Staff Morale Soar

Reduce invoice payment inquiries and “promote” your vendor service team to more satisfying and profit-producing tasks.

By sharply reducing inbound calls and emails regarding receipt and payment status that your AP staff must handle individually, your staff can focus their efforts on more productive, cost-saving activities, learn new tasks, feel more confident and boost their careers.

According to a recent American Express survey on customer service, more than one-third of consumers have lost their temper with a customer service professional in the past year. Of those who lost their temper, three in ten “hung up the phone.” Your staff will no longer have to deal with difficult collectors who can be upsetting and disruptive. Your staff will feel that their time and talents are being put to better use and will feel better about themselves, their jobs and their organization. Reducing these calls can be a real productivity and morale booster for your AP department!


Simplify and Streamline Vendor Onboarding

According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, the average organization spends about $20 in labor to file each paper document, approximately $120 in labor searching for each misfiled document and $220 in re-creation of a document.

Wouldn’t it be great to have all your W-9’s, W-8’s and other registration documents completed online and instantly filed online for easy access when needed? With Vendor Self-Service Onboarding Module, VendorInfo, you can onboard your new vendors in one convenient location and eliminate paperwork and hassles.


Verify the Accuracy of Vendor Information and Stay in Compliance with IRS and Treasury Department Regulations

Government regulators are increasing the complexity of regulations and penalties associated with vendor-related non-compliance.

Penalties for incorrect 1099’s have more than doubled in recent years. Over the last several years, OFAC has levied more than $1 billion in fines against American companies or subsidiaries that did business with restricted businesses, organizations and individuals on its SDN list. In addition to fining these companies, the Treasury Department posts the names of infringing organizations along with fines paid.

VendorInfo Onboarding Module verifies the accuracy of vendor information and helps protect your organization by avoiding embarrassing penalties and fines.

Book Your Live Demo