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How to boost your remote team's productivity

By Suchita Chopra

6 min read

How to boost your remote team's productivity
Image by Jimmy Foulds

After working from the office forever, corporate professionals across the globe were confined to their homes and asked to work remotely all of a sudden. All the brainstorming sessions, weekly team meetings, and coffee break conversations vanished at a moment’s notice. With absolutely no time for any preparation or planning, the corporate world executed the biggest experiment to date—carrying out their operations from home. 

Everyone had to quickly adapt to the new mode of work—this was not as smooth a shift as we consider it to be. As per a study by Buffer, 22% of employees felt that they’re unable to detach from work after office hours while working from a remote location. 

This has resulted in over-exhaustion and lower productivity levels. The study also stated that 19% of the employees felt isolated and lonely since they were confined to being at home. These statistics indicate that there's still a lot of figuring out to do, concerning remote work, to keep the team’s morale high and by consequence, also boost the team’s productivity

Fortunately, there are several tried and tested strategies that you might want to consider to ensure that your team stays productive while working from home. This blog post will take you through the top seven strategies that you can use to increase teamwork

 

Taking the asynchronous route 

Zoom fatigue is what happens when an individual uses virtual platforms beyond the usage that’s considered normal. This leads to them feeling burnt out, exhausted, having massive eye strain, headaches, and much more. 

As per a research article by Stanford University researchers, Zoom fatigue isn’t just extremely mentally exhausting but also makes communication harder for professionals. 

During remote working, when most employees are constantly not just participating in back-to-back meetings but are also working on the laptop for a minimum of 8 hours a day, Zoom fatigue gets as real as it can. This eventually leads to the loss of productivity. 

One of the most effective ways to beat this problem is to use asynchronous ways for communication. For instance, instead of having calls all the time, use recorded video messages so that all team members can view the video at their own time and convenience. This allows them to enjoy increased flexibility, focused time, leading them to feel less fatigued and become more productive. 

 

Invest in tools for remote teams

There are many tools for remote teams that you can choose from for your team to streamline communications, manage meetings, and execute seamless collaboration and management. 

The key to executing this step accurately is ensuring that you know exactly what the requirements of your team are and what tools will help meet those requirements. A study by Ultimate Software states that a whopping 92% of employees feel that having access to technology boosts their efficiency at work. 

Pro tip: As a team lead, you must periodically evaluate the efficiency of these tools for your remote team. As your remote team matures and workload changes, the requirements of the team will also shift. Hence, it’s an absolute must to periodically re-evaluate the efficiency of the tools for the team. 

The top 6 tools every remote team must have are:

These tools allow transparency and avoid miscommunications, the two most important factors to ensure your team works in sync to enhance productivity.

 

Delegate tasks like a pro

The dynamics between a manager and team members are very different while working remotely versus working together, physically in the office. 

In the office, a manager can always walk up to a team member’s desk and check on what they’re up to or what issues they’re facing. However, while working remotely, if a manager constantly keeps reaching out to ask for updates, it becomes stifling for team members. It also shifts their focus from the tasks they’re currently doing to respond to the manager. 

The key to making sure your remote team is productive during their work hours is by giving them autonomy. This is one of the crucial leadership qualities that every manager should have. Assign responsibilities to your team and let them know that you trust them enough to ensure that the entire task will be carried out successfully. 

To support this thought, an experiment measuring neurophysiology (the physiology of the nervous system) proved that giving responsibility to team members increases their productivity levels. 

 

Create an accepting environment

Global jobs website, Glassdoor’s survey results state that more than 5000 surveyed employees would consider a strong and positive company culture more important than the salary they drew. 

This implies that nobody wants to work in an environment where they’re constantly micromanaged, snubbed, or not appreciated. Creating a fun, happy, and positive environment for your team, more so when they’re working remotely, is an essential factor to boost the productivity of your team.

Doing so will ensure your employees get a break from the monotony of work, build a more positive outlook towards work and end up being a lot more productive

 

Smart time management

While working remotely, it’s easy for your team to get distracted and drift away from the tasks at hand. This can be detrimental to the entire team’s progress. Managers can consider using time-tracking tools to manage and track the work done by your remote team, like time spent on individual tasks. 

These tools are generally used to give you an overview of how your team members spend their time during work hours so you can allocate tasks accordingly

One thing to keep in mind while using time tracking tools is that there’s a very fine line between tracking your remote team’s progress at work and micromanaging them. 

While the former will lead to productivity, since it'll involve helping the team members whenever they encounter a bottleneck, the latter is detrimental. It leads to a lack of trust and frustration within the team. As a leader, you need to know where to draw that line and how comfortable your teammates are with this technology!

 

No-meeting days

With remote work being the new normal, the number of meetings has shot up exponentially. From this study, middle management spends about 35% of their working hours in meetings and upper management spends 50% of their working hours in meetings. That's a lot!

These synchronous means of communication hamper the productivity of the team since it leaves professionals exhausted and there’s very little time left in the day to focus on other tasks. 

A study by Owl Labs, a leading video conferencing organization, stated that 80% of employees were in agreement that there should be one pre-decided day every week where they’ll not be a part of any virtual meeting. This allows them to have dedicated focus hours and get things done. 

While asynchronous means of communication can help a lot in solving this problem, the impact of having a day with no meetings at all would be a lot greater on the overall productivity of the team.

 

Agenda, meeting minutes, and follow-ups

Remote working has seen a rise in meetings; professionals are shuffling in and out of several meetings in a day. 

This situation may leave important tasks waiting, since precious time for executing on actual work is wasted on the onslaught of meetings.  A way to solve this is to ensure every meeting has a clear agenda that’s immediately followed by the minutes of the meeting, and ends with a clear call-to-action. 

This very process ensures that all follow-up meetings have a reference point so that these virtual sessions become more productive. It also helps with the continuous conversations, keeping employees accountable for responsibilities and tasks assigned to them.

 

We hope that helped!

Every team is different with a completely unique set of culture, dynamics, and work ethics. Just because certain strategies work for a team, doesn’t mean they’ll work for your team too. 

The key to finding the perfect strategies to boost your remote team’s productivity is to keep trying different methods, be open to ideas, and collect feedback. This way you’ll be able to figure out the best ways to keep your remote team productive.

As a team lead, you must also regularly re-evaluate the efficiency of a particular strategy. With time, the needs of the team change and so must your management methods.

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