Remote working has been the new normal since the pandemic. The nature of remote work means that new strategies and techniques are needed to make sure employees are happy and productive. Some of the challenges of remote work include having more distractions and struggling to find a work/life balance. Here are some practical tips you can use to ensure the productivity of remote teams.
1. Provide structure
One of the challenges of remote work is a lack of structure. It is up to remote workers to set their own schedules. You can help them in the following ways.
A defined workspace: Having a more defined workspace at home can prevent disorganization, distractions and constant moving around. Encourage remote employees to have a dedicated workspace. Providing them with the necessary furniture and equipment can help.
Clear goals: If you set clear goals for remote workers, it gives them direction so they can stay focused. Giving them both short and long-term goals will help them to prioritize what tasks to do on a daily basis.
Communication guidelines: Setting clear communication guidelines can help remote employees to manage their daily schedules. You should outline hours when communication should take place, especially if you have team members working in different time zones. You can also specify what medium they should use for different types of messages etc.
2. Check in regularly
When everyone works in an office, it is easier to notice if an employee is battling to meet a deadline or is stressed out. When a team is working remotely, it is much harder to pick up changes in behavior that can have an impact on productivity. Some signs to look out for include withdrawing and shying away from speaking in meetings. Regular and consistent communication with remote employees will make them feel connected and that their efforts matter.
Daily group check-ins: It helps to make daily group check-ins via a video conferencing app. This will keep remote employees focused, help with setting priorities and create closer connections.
One-on-one sessions: For smaller teams, you could set up one-on-one sessions every two weeks or so. This can help you to find out what challenges remote employees are facing, pick up on their state of mind, and offer help. You can discuss their work, give advice and offer feedback. This shows team members you are invested in their future in the team.
3. Equip them with the right productivity tools
Remote work means that various activities, from having meetings to giving presentations, have to happen online. Without the right online tools, this wouldn’t be possible. Productivity tools are necessary for many purposes, including remote communication, file sharing, knowledge sharing, reward and recognition, approval management, and time management.
It’s important to make sure your team’s hardware and OS align with all the software they require. When using the new macOS Ventura on a device, downgrading it may be necessary to keep using other important productivity tools. Tools like Trello, Slack, Google Docs and Asana are popular productivity tools that many remote teams use. There are various apps they can use for brainstorming, such as Mindmeister and Miro. Toggl is a good time management tool.
4. Establish and build trust
If you establish and build trust with a remote team, it allows them to work productively without stress. The team is likely to bond and work well together when members know you trust them.
Don’t micromanage: Trying to micromanage a remote team can be very time-consuming. If you try to micromanage, you don’t give team members autonomy, and they will feel less responsible. They know you will always have a final look at a document before sending it to a client. If you trust your team to get the job done, this can be a major motivator.
Give them the flexibility they need: Trusting the team doesn’t mean you shouldn ’t still monitor that jobs are getting done and set deadlines. However, the team should have the flexibility it needs to work in a way that suits members best and makes them most productive.
Increase recognition: When employees feel their efforts are being recognized, it makes them feel valued and motivates them. Working remotely can come with feelings of being disconnected and isolated. Praising their achievements, both in private and in communication channels, will make them feel included and boost their morale. Sharing individual successes with the whole team can help to motivate others.
5. Encourage virtual team building
Team building can be more challenging when employees are working remotely. Don’t underestimate the importance of non-work interactions and what they can accomplish. Virtual team building can improve communication, decrease conflict, and keep the team more motivated and engaged. It can help team members to feel less isolated and disconnected.
It is fairly easy to modify traditional team-building activities to make them suitable for doing online. The recent increase in online work/virtual offices has given rise to innovative ways with which human resources has been able to engage the workers online. Here are some of the best ideas for virtual team building.
Virtual birthday celebrations
Virtual happy hours
Personal facts guessing game
Think about setting up a channel where remote employees can share jokes, memes, videos, songs, or other non-work stuff.
6. Prioritize mental health
Working from home does not mean less stress for the employees. The stress and exertion are found to be even more when they work online instead of the regular offices. Poor mental health can kill productivity. Taking care of the mental health of remote workers should be a top priority. If any issues regarding mental health come up during one-on-one sessions, you need to be empathetic and help to find solutions. If someone is suffering from mental exhaustion, it is important to find ways to address what’s causing it.
Anonymous employee satisfaction surveys: Sending out surveys like this could allow a team to freely share any concerns. You could ask questions about their workload, time management, communication issues, motivation etc. Analyzing the results could give you an overall impression of issues, and you could think about possible solutions. For example, you could encourage productivity through time management by offering time management tools and resources to the team.
Physical activity: Physical activity is well-known to have a positive impact on mental health. Encourage team members to exercise regularly. You could organize some fun virtual exercise sessions every month and set fitness challenges.
Increasing the productivity of remote teams can be a challenge. The lack of common working space and in-person interaction can be isolating and hinder productivity. It is important to use the right tools, strategies and techniques to make remote employees feel supported, included and valued. Make sure you check in regularly with them, build trust, and prioritize their mental health. This will ensure that you create a productive environment where they can flourish.