The remote work trend has been catching on faster than anticipated. One Upwork study estimated that over 87 percent (36.2 million) of Americans will be working remotely by 2025.
A boost in productivity is one of the top reasons many companies are switching to remote setups. According to a report by Owl Labs, 90 percent of the workforce say they are experiencing the same level of productivity – or higher – when working remotely. This could be attributed to the fact that remote employees work more than 1.4 extra days every month.
But remote work has its drawbacks as well, like challenges with collaboration and communication. These issues, if not addressed, can negatively affect a team’s productivity and efficiency.
To ensure your remote team’s productivity never takes a dip, here are useful strategies you can implement.
Establish Effective Communication Strategies
When teams work in the same office, communication is easier. You could just walk over to a colleague’s desk and discuss ideas. In a remote work setup, things get complicated. Streamlining team communication is key to improving workplace productivity and collaboration.
You want every team member to know what they should do, and when, as well as what’s expected of them. When everyone’s on the same page, there’s little room for confusion.
Keep in mind, working from home can make communication efforts stressful, considering issues like time zone differences. While the various remote communication tools have bridged this gap, there are still limitations, especially when trying to convey the right message.
One way to make team members understand you better is to use emojis. Studies show that 73 percent of people agree that using emojis in internal communication facilitates faster idea-sharing and efficient decision-making.
On top of that, these points can help ensure seamless communication with your remote teams:
- Limit the number of communication channels to avoid confusion. For example, if you choose Slack, stick to it for all company-related interactions. The app allows you to create several channels for different kinds of communications.
- Set clear guidelines on how to use the communication channel. This includes stating when to use the tool and giving a time limit for response to avoid delays.
The main challenge is to maintain the right balance to avoid information overload. Don’t share anything and everything, only essential information.
Improve Scheduling And Planning
Flexibility in how employees spend time is one of the chief perks of working remotely. One possibility to make this happen is establishing better scheduling and planning strategies.
For example, you can use digital calendars or spreadsheets to assign tasks, add or remove projects, and organize the workweek. Setting clear deadlines also gives workers a sense of direction. When employees know what their workdays look like, they’ll be more in control of their time.
This kind of flexibility allows them to plan their days or weeks better so they can spend more time outside of work. In return, employees will be happier and more productive.
Get To Know Your Team
Understanding your team members individually is a step closer to making them more productive. The best approach is to implement an employee tracking software, which gives you an unrivaled level of visibility with the gathered data.
For instance, you can learn about your workers’ engagement levels at different times of the day. You can also keep track of their productivity levels and detect issues early.
In essence, getting to truly know your team allows you to work closely together and understand their work habits. In doing so, you can devise the best workplace practices that fit each team member.
Another effective strategy for increasing remote work productivity is to create clear procedures and structures. Productivity thrives in the workplace if there’s predictability.
For example, if you hold meetings regularly, set a precise timetable that outlines the dates and times to ensure full participation. Send out the agenda in advance so that everyone comes prepared.
Likewise, take advantage of collaborative software to streamline workflows. This way, all employees will be on the same page on which projects to handle. Plus, it makes project planning and execution seamless.
Be sure to create clear job descriptions, so that you have the right people doing the right jobs. Streamlining workflows also ensures fair distribution of workload and prevents workload overlapping.
Make Meetings Shorter
According to a Stanford study, holding too many video meetings can be harmful. The research elaborates how people spending hours on video meetings are likely to experience:
- reduced mobility, and
- extreme exhaustion.
These issues affect a worker’s ability to perform well, which results in reduced productivity.
Whether you use Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or other video chat platforms, find ways to leverage the features of video conferences to reduce fatigue. For starters, you don’t have to use video every time, unless it’s absolutely necessary, like when making presentations.
You could also consider cutting down on video conferences and schedule weekly or monthly meetings. You can use other communication channels like Slack to chat and update teams and reserve meetings for major updates.
Manual work processes can be time-consuming and prone to errors. Modern technology allows managers to automate processes and get more work done.
One of the biggest challenges for remote workers is time management. If you want to see increased productivity, it’s your responsibility to ensure they utilize time more efficiently.
If you’re stuck with manual timekeeping methods, it’s time you upgraded to automated time trackers. You can start with a free clock in and out app to understand how it can be useful to your organization before going fully in.
Other crucial processes that you should consider automating include accounting, invoicing, and payroll processing. Technology makes all this possible, all you have to do is to find the right tools that fit your business and teams.
Keep Teams Motivated And Inspired
Employee engagement in the workplace is one of the secrets to increased productivity and company bottom line. However, to maintain that top level of engagement, teams have to stay motivated.
There are various approaches to keep teams motivated:
Promote team-building activities
Just because teams are off-site, it doesn’t mean they can’t participate in team-building exercises. There are dozens of virtual team-building activities for remote teams you could try. Team building enhances better collaboration, boosts morale and happiness, and promotes strong company culture.
Promote recognition and feedback
A 2018 report shows that HR leaders agree employee recognition and ongoing peer feedback and check-ins contribute to successful outcomes. Make employee recognition and feedback regular, not just when there’s a big win or things go wrong. Celebrate the little steps as well by showing appreciation and rewarding employees. Workers become more engaged when they feel seen. Consider organizing one-on-one feedback with your remote teams to show that you’re invested in your employees’ future.
Provide learning opportunities
Employees will be more motivated and productive when given the chance to develop new skills and grow in their roles. Find out what types of skills they are interested in and empower them by paying for courses.
Remote work is not going anywhere. So, managers will need to find ways to maintain remote work productivity. The best strategy is to leverage modern remote work tools to help teams stay on track and achieve the best results.
With all the hard work they are putting in, don’t forget to promote self-care within your remote teams. Working in isolation can be depressing and stressful. If you want a healthier, more productive team, it’s important to ensure everyone is taking good care of themselves, physically and mentally.