Good interpersonal communication is the catalyst for action. Although working remotely was practiced and embraced by many even before the pandemic, COIVD-19 has forced almost all business sectors to accept a new way of work wherever possible. There are many upsides of remote work, from reduced business expenses and lowered risk of illnesses to increasing employee satisfaction and reducing the carbon footprint.
However, there are many challenges and potential pitfalls related to remote working, especially for businesses (and employees) who are not used to the practice. The biggest concern that more managers have is the lack of control and overall lowered productivity by the remote team members.
To ensure you can keep your employees productive even at a distance, we have compiled a list of methods that have worked for us and might help you too.
1. Set a regular schedule for communication
That this doesn’t mean that you should monitor your employees all the time. Even when they are working in an office, they don’t like being micromanaged. If you become overly controlling, you will just add pressure that will negatively affect productivity.
Still, keeping in touch and setting up accountability systems is a good idea to keep everyone at pace. And don’t focus only on task logs. You need to talk to your employees. Set a regular schedule for communication. Good interpersonal communication is the catalyst for action. Stay in touch and enable them to express their ideas, opinions, and voice their concerns.
This is important because direct verbal communication will not only prevent misunderstandings and frustrations but remind the employees that they are valued as individuals and that the organization’s goals still depend highly on their work.
2. Use digital tools for everything
There are so many great remote work tools that can make remote work like a dream. Tools like Zoom and Slack are musts that you are likely already using, but there are other more task-specific tools that can help your team do just about anything virtually – just like they would in the office.
Start coordinating work with looks like Asana or Trello, carry out brainstorming with Miro or MindMup, or collaborate on designs and other work through Canva and Google Docs.
All of these tools will enable your team members to communicate and collaborate swiftly, increasing accountability and creativity, and improving productivity as a result.
3. Define due dates and deadlines
When working remotely, employees have greater freedom to organize their work however they want to. However, to ensure that all the deadlines are met, you have to provide a detailed schedule of the time when their work needs to be completed.
Right now, it’s probably more important than ever to retain a reputation as a reliable company so keeping to the client’s deadlines is really important. When setting deadlines to the team, leave extra time for corrections and completion, but be strict about their due dates. This will help everyone stay focused and accountable.
4. Ask your remote team for opinion
When everyone is under one roof, it’s easy to notice if someone is not doing well. However, when working remotely it’s a lot more difficult to keep tabs on everyone. Some employees might not be coping very well with the situation.
Stress impacts productivity in a major way, and taking care of your employees means keeping in touch on a regular basis and asking questions. You can ask about their biggest challenges, and ask for feedback on your leadership style. If you think your employees would not be comfortable giving you feedback face to face (or camera to camera), opt for an anonymous survey instead.
5. Reward good work
In the office, praising good work is something that happens organically. However, when things are done in a virtual way, we often forget to do so.
Public praise is not important just for the single employee’s motivation – it sets an example for others as well. It’s a great way to boost drive and productivity.
And when it comes to motivating individuals who have been doing great to continue and do even better, financial rewards and promotions are also a great way to show your appreciation.
6. Be efficient when resolving issues
Noticing and resolving issues is another thing that comes very naturally in the office environment. On the other hand, in the virtual world it’s more difficult to notice issues early on. While you should definitely encourage constant communication and openness, issues will still come up.
Mistakes happen and conflicts arise, and when that happens it’s important to deal with them immediately. Responding quickly allows the workflow to continue will little to no disruption to the working process. Take charge and focus on the lesson everyone should take away from the situation.
7. Introduce new strategies to your remote team
Every team is unique, and it’s important to adjust your approach to their specific needs and challenges. This is a time of rapid change and content adaptation is a requirement. That might mean that you need to adjust the workflows or change your leadership style. Don’t forget that as a manager, it’s your job to help your employees do better work, and overcome challenges as a team. Productivity is a result of many other influences, and while you should always strive to improve it, it’s important to focus on the root causes of everything that might be deterring it.