How to Improve Productivity on Your Remote Team
Many businesses and employees were forced into a remote business model in 2020. For those who have spent their entire careers working in an office setting, the change can be jarring. This overnight shift leaves many leaders and team members wondering how to navigate the new normal.
While studies show that remote workers are often more productive, it can take time to find a good workflow. Here are some helpful ways to improve productivity on your remote team.
Simplify File Sharing and Communication
One of the biggest challenges when shifting to a remote work environment is ensuring everyone has access to the information and documentation they need. When you’re in a shared office setting, it’s simple to leave a file on someone’s desk or print off a new copy from an email. When everyone is working in their own locations, sometimes worlds away from each other, it adds complexity.
Using cloud-based messaging programs, such as Slack, can help improve communications in a remote environment. Simplify file sharing by ensuring everyone has access to shared cloud storage. Implement online fax services to capture digital signatures and send important contracts. Fortunately, there are numerous tools designed for online and flexible work environments — you just need to find the right ones to suit your specific needs.
Set Business Hours and Boundaries
Setting boundaries and managing expectations is also a challenge when working remotely. It’s important to encourage everyone to stick to regular office hours or use flex time properly, to ensure they are getting time for self-care. Consider disabling the work email system in the evenings and on weekends, so no one gets pulled into tasks on their downtime.
Set clear policies about what’s expected regarding response times and downtime. Allowing flexible work hours can help employees stay engaged and find balance in the new normal. However, communication is key to make this approach work with a team.
Use Time Audits and App Blockers
Many people aren’t aware of how much time they waste scrolling or getting distracted by other tasks when working from home. Encourage everyone to conduct a time audit to better understand where their productivity black holes are hiding. Using a shared team productivity tool that uses time tracking and notes inactivity can also help set the right environment.
Consider adding a fun element with app blocker apps that encourage everyone to have dedicated working times and break times. The Forest app blocks background applications while a tree grows, threatening the sprout’s death if you navigate out before the timer is up. This app has a team function that requires everyone to be on board, adding a fun, practical approach to productivity.
When using time audits and app blockers, be sure to communicate and be transparent with employees. This method shouldn’t be a Big Brother type monitoring exercise; the goal is to get buy-in from all team members.
Schedule Regular Check-Ins
Keeping in contact is essential when working with a remote team. While there’s no need for a drawn-out daily meeting, it can be beneficial to have everyone check-in each day. Consider adding a Slack channel in which people post what they plan to accomplish in the morning, and update how it went in the evening. Implement a cloud-based project management tool to keep everyone on the same page.
It can also help schedule one-on-one check-ins with team members to discuss any challenges they’re experiencing. Working remotely can be isolating, but one-on-one check-ins can help you get deeper insights into employee morale and wellness.
Set Clear Priorities and Action Items
Finally, clear communication is the foundation of a productive remote team. Every meeting should have a list of priorities and finish with a summary of action items with names and dates assigned. Ensure everyone knows what’s at the top of the list, and where the focus should be.
With these tips, you can keep your remote team productive and engaged.