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How to keep your remote teams productive

In 2020, life as we know it has completely changed. As we shift our focus to flattening the curve to keep ourselves and others safe, staying home has become a top priority. For many, this shift includes working remotely, in some cases, for the first time. Whether you are forced to switch to remote work or just adopt a new, remote-friendly strategy, it’s vital to ensure that you have done your due diligence.

Want to know the secret of 10X employees?

Employees who work from home are proven to be exceptionally productive, take fewer breaks, and be more invested in their work, according to a Stanford University experiment. If you want to achieve these benefits while managing your team, you’ll have to do your utmost to promote a culture and dynamic that focuses on productivity.

Here’s everything you need to know about keeping your remote team productive and what you can do to achieve it.

Hold meetings and daily check-ins

Communication is the key to success, whether you're working on a major project or are simply trying to improve team member relations. When working remotely, it can be challenging to keep up with your own assignments, let alone somebody else's. Not to mention, it’s hard to keep track of the status of projects.

Hosting daily check-ins or meetings is the best way to ensure that you and your team members are on the same page. It is a surefire way to boost productivity, as they work to move a project forward. In short, daily communication can solve a host of problems, and it’s a great way to check-in with team members during this troubling time!


Choose your perfect tool kit

To pick the right tools for remote working, focus on your needs. Your tech stack may need to support video conferences, daily communication, and general project management. You’ll need to ensure that every solution can be fully integrated into a home workspace setup.

Your tech stack will determine the efficiency and productivity of your remote team. That’s why you must choose the best tools to help your team thrive. Here are some suggestions to get you started building the best tech stack for you and your team:

  • Zoom - Whether you are hosting a webinar or a daily meeting, Zoom is reliable and painless to use (even for tech novices!) video conferencing solution. With Zoom, your daily check-ins and small talks become easy and smoothless.
  • Trello - A top-tier project management solution, Trello is where collaboration and organization come together. Trello is fully customizable with a plethora of seamless integrations and bots that are designed to work with the platforms you already use!
  • Temviewer - when your office desktop suddenly becomes more like a pipe dream for you, Teamviewer is a must-have tool to access key resources from your office desktop. Beyond a wide range of remote control features, Teamviewer provides you with extra options, such as holding online meetings or sharing files.


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Make communication a priority!

While communication used to be as easy as holding a daily in-person meeting and task management used to consist of walking over to a team member’s desk with an assignment — that’s no longer an option.

Target speed and efficiency in all of your remote communications; this helps everyone stay informed and provides the least distractions. Choose a platform that supports chats and calls such as WhatsApp or Slack. Not only is this method faster than email, but it also gives you a chance to check-in with your team regularly.

However, it’s important to organize communication and optimize it for maximum efficiency. Whether you plan a daily call or have each team member check-in at a set time, keeping things organized can limit distractions. This can also help you avoid bombarding your team with an unproductive excess of calls.

Accommodate flexible work schedules

If your goal is to optimize your remote team’s productivity and output, flexible scheduling is the way to go. Findings by Harvard Business Review in a study done on remote workers provide evidence supporting granting employees greater autonomy in their work schedule is beneficial.

This study showed that workers who transitioned from in-office work to a remote working environment saw a measurable 4.4% increase in productivity with no significant decrease in the quality of their work.

Keep in mind that your team members aren’t the only ones who have had their schedules flipped upside down. From children who have been let out of school for the year to spouses who may have to work new hours — households are trying to shift their schedules to accommodate this new reality.

This reality can increase stress, which causes a significant decline in work performance. Allowing employees to choose their work schedules can help them avoid high-distraction environments and reduce stress, which translates to better efficiency and productivity.


Track work output

It’s no secret that employee motivation depends on rewards and consequences. The shift to working from home may cause a significant drop in productivity, simply because our homes are where we go to relax at the end of the day. It can be difficult to reprogram your brain to focus on the task at hand with your favorite armchair and a television nearby.

To combat this, you’ll have to enact a system to track team member’s work output. Whether this is as simple as assigning tasks with strict deadlines or utilizing time-tracking software, employees will be motivated to get their work done on time.

That said, in remote work environments, it’s better to focus on task completion, as opposed to hourly tracking. This gives your team flexibility and makes it easy to ascertain whether an assignment has been completed. At the end of the week, you’ll be able to determine just how productive your employees were — or not.

Set up the right tech environment

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” - Abraham Lincoln

Preparation is key. Successfully leading a productive remote team requires a focus on preparation and planning. You’ll have to work with your team to map out everything from which digital tools you need to use to who should be working on what and when.

When everyone is informed about what they need to do, how it should be done, and the tools available to them — magic happens. Enlist your team member’s help with this, as they can give you a realistic timeline of their own assignments.

Additionally, it is crucial to take the time to iron out all of the details of transitioning to an at-home work set up. This will require a lot of technical planning to establish a working infrastructure. Without these things taken care of, you will run into technical difficulties that will make it near impossible to get anything done.

Here are some critical technical details to take care of to maximize productivity:

  • secure internet connection (Wifi, VPN, Ethernet)
  • remote desktop access
  • established line of communication
  • cybersecurity measures put into effect
  • software and hardware planning (web cameras, updated desktop and laptop setups)

Improve your personal interactions

Personal interactions don’t have to be limited to face-to-face conversations. In fact, you can make a significant impact on your employees by making an effort to interact with them on other platforms. Collaborate and interact via new social networking channels such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and more.

Social media isn’t just a business tool. Informal Zoom meetings or even a virtual happy hour can provide a much-needed morale boost in these trying times. Many remote teams are scheduling after-hours virtual meetups or gaming sessions to keep in touch. While we are practicing social distancing, these virtual meetings can help to alleviate the feeling of disconnect.

Think about it

These are unprecedented times. As a leader, you’ll need to put in the effort to be the person that your team can rely on. In turn, your team will need to work hard as they are making the dramatic shift from office life to remote work.

To make the transition easier, give your employees all the tools they need to succeed, be understanding, and hold daily meetings. Don’t forget to take this time to check-in on your employees, the best thing we can do now is to remember that we are all in this together!

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