At the time of writing this blog, COVID-19 has forced many businesses to accept remote working thus changing the logistical landscape of the modern workplace. This is fast becoming the new standard by which businesses operate, teams collaborate, and employees work outside the office space. Companies expect modern technology to enable them to maintain connectivity and business continuity without compromising on productivity and performance.
As this remote working culture becomes more mainstream, it may even be the new norm. This paradigm shift has forced executive leadership to come up with a remote working plan. Working from home can provide benefits including increased flexibility and time saved by avoiding the commute. But there are various pitfalls too; employees might not be doing their work efficiently due to the difficulty in communicating or lack of adequate supervision. There can also be a sense of social isolation between team members due to the geographical distance separating them. It is a learning process for everyone; the employees working from home and managers managing a remote team. One of the most important ways to effectively manage a remote team is finding new and better ways to operate.
Unfortunately, many companies struggle with creating a work process that harnesses the benefits of remote teams. If you find yourself managing a remote team, consider these tips to improve remote team productivity and communication, and create a working culture that is more transparent, motivating and empowering.
- Streamline and Restructure
Working with an ineffective process is the number one block to productivity. Methods that work in the office may not make sense when your team is working remotely. Businesses may use numerous applications in a desperate attempt to ensure continuity and boost productivity. All the steps within these new workflows may force remote workers to carry out activities outside their normal scope. In most cases this ends up in duplication. On the other hand, you may need to integrate additional steps into an existing workflow to avoid occasional bottlenecks.
You will need to get feedback from your team about how you can streamline and restructure some of your processes to maintain continuous optimization. Look for tasks that can be removed to make the process as effective and streamlined as possible; it’s about finding ways to increase clarity and to simplify.
- Set relevant goals
Clear goals and objectives allow you as well as your team to have a clear vision and set milestones. When goals are actionable, employees can track their progress, follow through on deliverables, and know where they stand without feeling lost and confused.Remote teams need to be result-oriented. Having a well-documented goal for each and every project is crucial to guarantee that your remote teams are on target.
- Communicate regularly
Communication is the key to remote team productivity. However, it is difficult to communicate with someone in a remote working environment. Setting up periodic virtual meetings is crucial to help everyone stay on the same page. Simplify the process of communication and allow your teams to collaborate as much as possible. Be mindful that virtual communication may be less comfortable and effective for some, and coach employees on when and how to escalate ineffective virtual exchanges.
- Create Visibility and Transparency
When you have a clear goal for your overall project, the next step is to break that uber-level goal into actionable tasks. Every member of your team should know how they can accomplish these tasks, and how their tasks add to the overall objectives.
Transparency within your remote team should also be about informing the rest of the teams when their department has worked on something new or gone live with their work. Keep them aware of how the organization is doing. This habit makes employees feel appreciated and gives them a sense that they are an important part of the organization.
- Empower your employees
Remote workers want to be a part of decision-making. Employee engagement is the cornerstone to keeping newly remote teams productive. Empowered employees are more engaged and productive. According to a survey, employees who felt a low level of empowerment were rated with 24% engagement. On the other side, those with a high level of empowerment rated with 79% engagement.
- Enable and encourage knowledge sharing
For remote teams or employees, fostering a culture of knowledge sharing is critical as they may have less opportunity for in-person knowledge sharing or social learning. They also promote team bonding, helping members to get to know each other thus exceeding a mere exchange of files or on chat.
- Offer career growth opportunities
When working remote, your team tends to miss out on training and skill development courses that are taught in person. Career growth opportunities is one of the main factors that attract and keep talent within companies. In order to keep the employees engaged, some career advancement opportunities should be made available.
- Encourage consistent feedback
This is just another way to encourage team collaboration and communication and to learn from each other. Surveys point out that good remote working team leaders give continuous and personalized feedback and inputs at least once a week.
- Highlight successes
For feedback to be more successful and motivational, you can implement rewards and recognition programs to highlight successes. Rewards are a powerful way to let your team know that they matter.
Remote work comes with a lot of freedom and benefits, but also a lot of responsibility. The trick to successful remote working is asking the right questions when structuring your remote team. This will help you keep the most common pitfalls at bay. You have to optimize the processes, integrate the right tools for productivity and enrich team work.