- Michael Jones
As many businesses have started to adjust to the ‘new’ normal, remote working teams are surging in number. For many employees, working from home can be a struggle with added distractions and little experience prioritizing—especially if sharing a home with a spouse or children. However, it is important to understand that with the right tools, remote work teams can outperform their in-office counterparts. Remote work teams often enjoy reduced stress from not commuting to work and increased availability as a result of a more flexible schedule. This article will discuss 10 tips for increasing a remote team’s productivity.
Implement the Right Tools
For any workforce, being equipped and trained to use the right tools for the job is hugely important. Having the right tools can be the difference between a highly efficient team and a team that struggles to communicate and accomplish its goals. When choosing tools for your workforce, remember that one size doesn’t fit all and having tools that integrate well with one another can help increase efficiency. Below is a list of five tools all organizations need to secure and implement within their remote work teams in order to maximize productivity and efficiency.
- Collaboration Platform
- Meeting Software
- Scheduling Software
- Digital Signature & Digital Transaction Management Software
- Hardware & Internet
For further details on the five tools, please read our blog article, Five Tools for Increasing Efficiency When Working from Home.
Set SMART Goals
Goal setting is like using a maps app to get to a new destination. The maps app allows you to anticipate each turn until you reach your destination. Setting goals allows you to clearly define steps needed in order to achieve the goals. In order to develop effective goals, they should be SMART:
- Specific – state what you will accomplish using action words
- Measurable – ensure you can evaluate if the goal has been accomplished, think data
- Attainable – Is the goal within the scope of your team? If it isn’t then consider changing
- Relevant – Does the goal improve the business?
- Time-bound – set a deadline and stick to it
Setting SMART goals is a great starting point to ensuring transparency for the team and ensuring everyone is working towards common goals.
Getting the day off to a productive start is a sure-fire way to increase the odds of an overall productive day. Setting times with team members to check-in each morning can help set the tone for the day and ensure every team member understands how they fit into the day’s goals.
If you are a team that is in relatively close geographic location, consider establishing a daily virtual check-in. This morning check-in can be a quick stand-up meeting where everyone briefly says their top three priorities for the day. Remember, setting the tone at the beginning of the day can help employees who are having trouble with productivity start their day off on a positive note.
However, maximizing mornings to set the tone for the day doesn’t mean taking away remote teams’ flexibility. Remember that working remotely also allows for you to work when you are most productive, so you should take advantage, if possible.
Encourage Dedicated Work-spaces
If you are a manager or supervisor of a remote team, you have little control of your employee’s work-spaces. However, setting guidelines and providing tips to employees about creating a workspace that is conducive to increased productivity is a great way to show you are invested in your team’s success. Here is a short list of recommendations for a dedicated workspace:
- Identify a dedicated workspace that is self-contained. If you do not have the space for a self-contained space, set-up your office in an area with as few distractions as possible.
- Make sure your workspace has as much light as possible, preferably natural light.
- Utilize multiple computer screens.
- Limit clutter in your workspace.
Having a dedicated workspace will not guarantee increased productivity. However, a dedicated workspace can be a very effective tool if you share your home with others. When you are in your dedicated workspace it signals to everyone in your space that you are working and should not be bothered unless there is an emergency. A dedicated workspace helps you set boundaries with other people in the home while you work.
Stick to a Routine
Creating a routine when working remote can be a very effective way to increase productivity. A routine allows for you to manage your time appropriately while also being intentional about scheduling time for things you want to accomplish, and not just work tactics you must accomplish. When developing a routine, here are a few things to include:
- Get dressed and prepare for your workday.
- Set office hours.
- Schedule breaks.
- Create daily goals and achieve them.
- Don’t forget to include professional and personal tasks in your routine.
Developing a schedule and sticking to it is a great way to hold yourself accountable for meeting daily goals. Sticking to a routine also makes it easier to get your day started. If you share a home with someone, a routine like making a cup of coffee before starting work can help signal to anyone in the space that you are about to start working and need to be left alone.
Stay Focused, Work on One Thing at a Time
Many people feel that they are wonderful multi-taskers, and this may be true. However, multitasking is proven to decrease productivity. Staying focused on one task at a time increases efficiency and allows your brain to stay focused on one thing, increasing the capacity you have for the task at hand. While you may be able to multitask, it is important to understand that it is proven to decrease efficiency and even accuracy. If you want to truly maximize your productivity, work on one task at a time and then move on once that task is complete.
Transparency is paramount for remote work teams. When remote work teams have full transparency all team members have the necessary data and information needed to effectively complete their work. Full transparency reduces unnecessary meetings and keeps track of all team members performance. When possible ensure all team members know where to go for pertinent information—collaboration software helps greatly.
One of the pitfalls about working with a remote work team is the inability to just pop-in on someone in the office and get an impromptu update on a project. In order to make sure all team members who have a vested interest in your projects have a clear understanding of where you are with each tactic, it is extremely important to over-communicate project status. Consider both formal and informal project updates. You may want to send an email detailing where you are with a project and what is still needed, then perhaps use a collaboration chat tool to get any necessary feedback.
The point is that over-communication will always be more effective then not communicating enough when working as a part of a remote work team.
Don’t Forget Employee Development and Training
Within a remote workforce it is easy to overlook the need for employee development and training. Often with traditional office work environments, companies will arrange for training opportunities on-site. With remote workforces it is sometimes overlooked that employees should continue to develop their skills and seek training opportunities.
Companies should either provide continuing education and training for their employees or create a system that encourages employees to continue to develop their skill set. Investing in employees through training is an excellent way to create loyalty and show the company is vested in its employees’ professional development.
When employees work from home, feeling isolation and disconnected from the company and team can occur. These things can lead to feelings of inadequacy and feeling unappreciated. Managers and team leaders can help by recognizing the achievements of their team members—big and small.
Celebrate wins as a team and encourage all team members to join in when recognizing employees who are achieving excellence is a great way to show your team that you notice their accomplishments and appreciate their hard work. You’re never too busy to say, “Great Job!”
Improving the productivity of a remote work team can be difficult at first. With the proper tools it is possible to have your remote work team working even more efficiently than your in-office work team.
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