Remote workers boast about being more productive than traditional office workers. Instead of wasting time at the water cooler and trying to look busy a remote worker actually gets stuff done. This is because remote teams have always been result-oriented and not otherwise. The workforce is less stressed in a remote environment resulting in higher productivity. The ability to choose their own working hours and space and ditch the stressful office commute help them stay focused.
But as we all know nothing is constant. Distractions come easy for a remote worker as well. Though remote workers are self-motivated, continuous efforts are needed to maintain high productivity. To keep the work going smoothly one needs to put a defined process in place.
Improving productivity while working remotely
Flexible hours and autonomy do not translate to no-structure and working in silos. Structure and guidelines are absolutely necessary for remote teams. Apart from the guidelines set for the entire team for continued productivity, it is highly recommended that one should have a set of personal guidelines to keep up with the team and stay focused.
- Identify goals - The team needs to identify the organization’s objectives and have a defined plan towards achieving them. It is recommended that the long and short time goals should be well communicated to all the employees to keep their interests aligned.
- Set a working space - Make sure your team has dedicated workspaces for themselves. A defined working space boosts productivity in a remote environment. It could be a work-room in your own house or the regular table at the coffee shop next door. Defined working spaces will further help you and your team members in staying focused.
- Prioritize work - The team will often be working on multiple projects, with people in different time zones, at the same time. They should be able to identify which project is more important than the other and keep that as a priority. This will help in differentiating between urgent and not urgent work and help you in meeting those deadlines.
- To-do’s - To-do lists are a remote worker’s saviour. These lists will not only help your team keep a track of their work but also assist you in tracking their progress on various subjects. It is also a great way to manage time in a remote environment.
- Work transparency - Work transparency makes remote work easier. Firstly, this gives every team member access to all the data and reduces unnecessary communication. Secondly, it helps you in keeping a track of every member's performance and progress.
- Allen Christensen's DO system- Allen Christensen, follows a Do system within his remote team. His team works for straight six months and then the entire team takes a two week off. At the beginning of the six working months, they make the agenda for the entire working period using their Do system. This agenda is inclusive of all the goals that need to be achieved, the time period within which they need to be completed and how to achieve them.
Set up Communication and collaboration guidelines
While hopefully, your team is readily available to answer questions, it can hamper productivity if you stop what you’re doing to answer a question. To avoid this situation you need a defined communication system.
- Select the right tools - Cloud-based tools are the go-to solution for communication for remote teams. Selecting the right tools for the different type of communication avoids a heap of messages in an employee’s inbox and maintains hygiene.For instance, Emails can be used for asynchronous communication while Slack or direct text messages can be used for urgent or synchronous communication.
- Chat communication channels - Ditching emails altogether will save a lot more of your time than you think. If you haven’t already, exit out of email and into the brave new world of real-time communication. Use a tool like Slack or HipChat to facilitate easy and immediate conversation.
- Communicate with each other - Each member of your team has to be willing to answer calls, texts, emails, or direct messages regularly, even when they consider themselves off the clock. If any member is going to be unavailable for whatever reason, you and the other team members should know about their unavailability. This saves time and gets work done faster.
- Clear and specific communication - Always think before you send. You need to value other team member’s time and keep your communication clear and specific. Keep your communication to the point and clear (except for when you are having a water cooler moment with one of your team members.)
Have Feedback Mechanism In Place
Providing feedback is an integral part of every organization whether remote or traditional. This holds a special place in remote work culture because this is what checks and puts balance to what we lose on one-to-one human interaction front. Regular feedbacks help in enhancing productivity and the quality of work. Here are a few suggestions on how to bring sanity to the feedback process.
- Check-ins - Weekly or biweekly conference calls are a must. While you might stay in touch on your group chat daily, setting up conference calls with a specific agenda helps everyone stay on the same page and gives them an outline for their responsibilities in the immediate future. Conference calls also create a layer of accountability because nobody wants to appear unprepared in front of the entire team.
- Progress reports - Progress reports can help in instantly increasing productivity. A negative report will push your team towards working harder and improving yourself. While positive things will pull them towards getting better. Every single employee in the world wants to stay best in the game - whether working remotely or otherwise.
- Focus on results - Focusing on results will help in maintaining a positive environment. In a remote environment, the only metric of evaluation is the outcome. This will not only increase productivity but also improve collaboration between you and your team members.
Over to you - What do you do to maintain balance within your team?
Productivity, communication, and collaboration are all linked to each other in one way or the other. Maintaining a balance amongst the three will only lead you towards success.
Do you have any other strategies that you use in your remote team? Or do you want to learn more?
We’ll leave that to the experts. Doist, a remote-first software company and has been successfully ensuring productivity, collaboration, and communication on their team. Today, the company’s two products, Todoist & Twist, are used by millions of people worldwide to enhance productivity.Learn from their CEO Allan, about how to create a more balanced, more fulfilling way to work and live.