Managing remote teams comes with several unique challenges.
In fact, for some managers, the idea of not sharing a space with their team members equates to a loss in control, dents in productivity levels, and, ultimately, chaos.
But things don’t have to be that way.
Remote work (even if only practiced a couple of times per week) is not only beneficial to employee job satisfaction and overall wellbeing, but it can also have positive effects on the collective output of a team.
So, if you’re looking to get more productivity out of your remote team, the following are some practices you can implement to make things run more smoothly.
Be Clear About Expectations
The main prerequisite for a well-functioning team, remote or on-site, is a company culture that encourages effective communication.
Setting attainable goals and clear expectations is a big part of that.
Consider this: almost half of US employees don’t have a clear idea of what they’re supposed to be doing. Not only does the absence of defined expectations introduce confusion into the work process, but it also opens up room for mistakes that can be costly to fix.
Fortunately, you can take several actionable steps to ensure your team is on the right track.
For one, if you’re not already using a team calendar, consider introducing it in your routine. It will allow you to assign tasks in a more streamlined way. Plus, you’ll be able to export the data and analyze your team’s performance to identify their most significant challenges and find opportunities for improvement.
Secondly, don’t forget that, when working with a team, it’s essential that everyone is on the same page. A daily or weekly team meeting can help iron out any uncertainties, as well as encourage engagement.
Furthermore, when combined with written notes, virtual face-to-face communication can be especially beneficial for addressing safety protocols and other changes in workflow. After all, a productive team needs to function as close to flawlessly as possible. And that means ensuring everyone is familiar with the tools and processes they’re expected to use on a daily basis.
The thing about remote teams is that there’s a high chance your workers are scattered around the world. And while this holds the potential of numerous benefits (like 24/7 customer service), it comes with its own set of challenges as well.
To avoid overstepping boundaries, make sure that you only communicate with your employees through official communication channels such as email and Slack. Don’t get in touch through social media, or call them on their private number.
Furthermore, avoid contacting employees after hours and on weekends, unless, of course, it’s an absolute emergency.
If you’re one of the many entrepreneurs who happen to have bouts of inspiration in the middle of the night, you can make use of the scheduling feature on your email client. It’ll ensure that each message is sent at an appropriate time, as well as that you don’t risk coming off as unprofessional or overbearing.
Establish a Culture of Wellness
One of the main benefits of establishing a culture of wellness is that it boosts emotional and physical health, which directly correlates to an increase in productivity.
Encourage employees to take time off. Where possible, provide them with benefits such as health and dental insurance. Even gym memberships and goodie baskets filled with healthy snacks can have a positive impact on their overall output.
Of course, don’t forget to give them some control over their schedule, especially if they’re in a different time zone than your own. Sleep deprivation, which is one of the leading causes of cognitive fatigue, happens most often among shift workers who work nights. So, if possible, give your employees the chance to work when their energy levels are at their highest, which will prevent costly mistakes and allow them to do great work.
Motivate and Engage
One of the best ways to improve your remote team’s productivity is by nurturing a positive relationship with their work.
And to do this, you need to understand what drives them.
Most surveys emphasize that younger generations seek out work opportunities that prioritize flexibility and a healthy work-life balance. However, the fact that remote work makes these easier to achieve does not mean that you’ve done your work in meeting their needs.
First and foremost, do your best to encourage employee engagement.
Research has shown that high levels of employee engagement directly influence business outcomes. And the simple reason behind this is that enthusiastic employees don’t just feel motivated to contribute to the collective company effort but, even more, they’re ready to go above and beyond to do so.
Secondly, give your team the opportunities they feel would genuinely contribute to their job satisfaction.
Some people will benefit from a learning opportunity, while others might prefer time to dedicate to a work-related passion project.
To make sure that every member of your team is motivated, practice open and honest communication. Ask them about their experiences and actively listen to their feedback. By doing so, you’ll get direct suggestions on what you can do to boost motivation and positively impact productivity.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy the Process
The most widespread misconception about productivity is that it requires an almost robotic approach to work. But the truth couldn’t be farther from that.
Teams that achieve the best results don’t necessarily succeed because they work longer hours or eliminate all the fun from the process. On the contrary, the most productive employees tend to be those who find satisfaction in the tasks they’re assigned.
Fortunately, as a leader, you’re in the perfect position to motivate your remote team to be more productive. All you have to do is find what works for them.
It can be anything – from time-saving tools that speed up repetitive tasks to fun team-building sessions that let everyone relax and build stronger relationships. So don’t be afraid to experiment. As long as you uphold a positive company culture and take good care of your remote team, you can rest assured that they’ll have the potential to do great work.