Remote work is still taking over globally, thanks to its financial, health, and performance benefits. And it’s being favored by small businesses.
According to an Intermedia survey of 250 small and medium-sized businesses, 57% of employers said they’ll maintain remote work options for their employees. The SMB owners also reported that remote work increased employee life satisfaction by 7% and availability by 19% while reducing overhead costs.
However, like every other thing, telecommuting has its ups and downs.
Teams that work without seeing each other often struggle to communicate and collaborate effectively. And this challenge is a serious threat to productivity.
That’s why getting remote teams, small or large, to maximize productivity has become a cause for concern for employers. This concern prompts business owners to reevaluate their decision to shift to a virtual office.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to ensure your remote team thrives. This article will show seven tips to boost your small remote team’s productivity.
1. Organize Team Building Activities
Teams that work in cohesion are the true backbone of any organization. That’s why team building is one of the secrets of successful businesses.
The exercises behind team-building operations are used to strengthen the pillars of teamwork. They involve tactics and strategies that boost social relations between team members, motivating them to work in harmony.
Team building activities are especially important in remote work environments where workers can easily forget they are part of a team. Organizing these activities from time to time will help renew the team spirit, increase work knowledge, and boost job satisfaction.
Once these elements of collaboration are present, you’ll see clear results in productivity.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), companies with intelligent and collaborative teamwork will see 30% lower employee turnover, 30% higher productivity, and 30% higher revenue per employee than the competition by 2024.
Types of Team Building Activities for Remote Teams
Organizing team-building activities for remote teams can be more complex than doing the same for an in-office staff. That said, they are doable.
You can host virtual workout and meditation sessions, workshops, and games. From time to time, you can play online multiplayer games where team members work as different units.
You can also organize competitive activities where you divide employees into teams and have them collaborate against opposing teams.
2. Encourage Communication
Communication is critical to teamwork, especially in a remote environment.
Since team members can’t have face-to-face conversations, they may be less motivated to reach out to coworkers to resolve what they see as minor issues.
This work behavior results in remote employees working in silos as they increasingly see themselves as independent.
It also doesn’t help that the remote work environment isn’t ideal for synchronous communication where workers get instant replies from colleagues.
While these challenges are true, you must ensure you encourage your team to communicate. To do that, organize regular meetings to remind everyone they’re still part of a team.
You should also build a culture of collaboration by encouraging people to ask colleagues any question, no matter how minor.
Providing the right communication tools is also essential. From teleconferencing platforms like Zoom to robust communication apps like Slack, ensure workers have the suitable means to communicate.
3. Avoid Micromanagement
According to Gartner VP analyst D.S Reina, Employees will contribute less and be less confident if they don’t feel trusted.
It’s easy to think that because the team is small, it would be best to monitor their every move so that they can do more. But sadly, that is not the case, as research shows that teams working under micromanagement tend to be less productive.
According to a Trinity Solutions survey published in the book, My Way or the Highway by Harry E Chambers, approximately 69% of respondents said they considered changing jobs because of micromanagement. Another 36% actually changed jobs. Additionally, 71% said being micromanaged interfered with their job performance, and 85% said their morale was negatively impacted.
For a remote team to thrive, there must be a level of autonomy. They need the freedom to create their work schedule in a way that would work for them and the company.
Yes, the company’s schedules and plans are also important. So it’s best to balance autonomy with accountability. This creates a result-based workflow, not a process-based one, and the team thrives.
Another thing to adopt, instead of micromanagement, is cognitive trust. This kind of trust says, “I see you as a professional capable of producing results.”
This policy is a charm for remote teams because it builds team confidence and can-do spirit. It tells them you trust them to get things done, even with the distance barrier.
4. Daily and Monthly Performance Evaluation
The famous management guru Peter Drucker has stated: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
Performance evaluation has grown to be one of the most essential aspects of human resource management. It acts as an accountability booster that keeps workers motivated. When they know their work is being assessed, they put in extra effort to produce quality work.
Although it does wonders to give remote teams autonomy, it is vital to maintain accountability between team and company. This is where the daily report system comes in.
Each team should be able to present their daily report. That is, what they have been able to cover or achieve by the end of the day. This builds up the monthly performance to be evaluated, along with other parameters.
These evaluations are based on different parameters, such as attendance, productivity, adherence, etc. In addition, you can use time-tracking software to measure work rate and productivity as these tools monitor how much time workers spend on each task.
These performance reviews must be based on clearly defined systems.
For example, KPIs (Key Point Index) and objectives enable a manager to identify areas of improvement in employees’ performance, practices, and policies.
Using Productivity Numbers to Shape Workload Strategies
Once you gather data on each employee’s strengths and weaknesses, you can adequately assign tasks. This way, everyone gets to work on things they’re good at, boosting the team’s collective productivity.
5.Use Project Management Solutions
Project management tools help you organize tasks, break projects into smaller, manageable chunks, and improve teamwork and collaboration.
There are different project management solutions designed to help small remote teams excel. You can use them to set reminders, assign hierarchy to tasks, provide feedback and comments on tasks, and communicate project progress.
Your choice of a project management tool should depend on your team’s needs. For example, do you need a tool that integrates with other platforms and tracks time or one that just uses a Kanban board?
With the right tool, you can accurately track your performance and progress, provide concrete reports, and significantly boost productivity.
6. Avoid Multiple Projects
Large teams could easily pull off 3 or 4 projects simultaneously with proper management. However, for a small team, it’s advisable to only take on what you can handle.
First, evaluate your team’s capabilities and determine how many projects it can handle at a time. One project at a time is the ideal pace for small remote teams with five to seven members.
Using that pace allows you to execute projects without errors and deliver quality work.
Still, there must be fair task delegation amongst members. You must set clear roles so that each person understands their place in the scheme of things.
If you get multiple project requests, consider expanding your team or hiring outsourced remote workers to handle the work. You can also tell clients when you’re available to get things done without promising unreasonable project delivery dates.
7. Appreciate and Reward Remote Workers
A “job well-done” message does more than you may realize.
Appreciating hard working team members makes them feel valued. And as a result, they’re motivated to do more of the same and even better, boosting your team’s productivity.
A Glassdoor survey found that 81% of employees are inspired to work harder after their bosses recognize their work. The study also found that employers will retain employees longer if they show more appreciation.
You can recognize your team members by mentioning their contributions during meetings, promoting them after a streak of stellar performances, and offering them gifts.
It’s important that you appreciate them right after they achieve an important milestone or pull off exemplary feats. This way, they remember what they achieved and will aspire to do more of that.
Keep Building the Ideal Remote Team
The tips in this article shouldn’t be one-offs. You must continue to reward your workers, organize team-building activities, measure performance, and encourage communication. You should also collect feedback from your workers to identify things they’re not comfortable with and those they want you to improve on.