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How to Keep Your Remote Team Productive and Successful

Posted On05/01/2020

ContributorSheri Pepper

As we continue to work remotely during shelter-in-place orders, many challenges that at  first seemed daunting are now familiar. Even though re-entry is on the horizon, physical distancing is likely here to stay, at least for the near future. As companies adjust to new work environments and protocols, many will continue to offer remote work options—and managers will continue to need strategies and tools for monitoring and managing their teams’ activity and productivity.

Working remotely isn’t a new concept. Organizations of all sizes were successfully using this model long before COVID-19 changed the work world. As greater numbers of employees work from home during the coming months, the definitions of how and where we work will be part of the cultural mind shift defining how we conduct business.

What should managers know about remote work environments as they revise their long-term strategies? Here are some best practices you can use both to support your teams and track their productivity.

Develop/Maintain an Environment of Trust

Establishing a culture of trust is critical for remote teams to be successful. By remaining focused on the work that needs to be accomplished, both employers and employees can measure success, despite the particulars of where the work is being done. Some teams new to remote work may need to proactively discuss the topic of trust and accountability in the new environment, while others may simply need to reinforce the measurements of success.

Hold Regular Team Meetings

Holding weekly or even daily team meetings keeps everyone up to speed on projects, keeps goals front of mind, and enhances accountability. But for remote teams, where spontaneous collaboration in the breakroom isn’t an option, regular check-ins are vital to mitigating the isolation of social distancing. The human element is essential to staying motivated and on task. It keeps co-workers “real” and demonstrates how each person’s contribution matters.

Have Regular 1:1s

Connect with direct reports via video conference for cadenced 1:1s. Having consistent face time with your team is crucial for building the trust needed for successful outcomes, especially when employees are working from home. It provides the opportunity to connect with individuals personally so you can understand what’s working and where they need more support. Feedback enables improvement on the individual, team, and business level. Employees are more motivated and committed to shared outcomes when they see you’re responsive to them and interested in their contributions.

Set Clear Deliverables

It’s easy to judge performance remotely when you set clear deliverables and deadlines for your employees. Setting clear expectations enhances employees’ productivity and allows them to structure their day so they can best meet objectives. Defined goals set up employees for self-accountability. This also helps cut down on the inclination of managers to constantly check on employees to ensure they’re working — a common tendency for first-time remote managers. If employees are getting their work done, they’re working. It’s that simple.

Measure Metrics that Matter

This will look different for every team. Take a look at what outcomes matter most for each individual and for your larger group’s success and measure those activities. Measure the items that will drive ROI or that tie back to each team member’s KPIs. This could be the number of qualified marketing leads brought in, the mean time to resolve IT tickets, or the accuracy and timeliness of producing financials or processing vendor invoices. 

Publicize Project Management

Visibility is a strong motivator. Use cloud-based project management software like Trello or Asana so team members can see what everyone is working on. Here you can assign tasks to people, monitor progress, and set deadlines. These platforms make it easier to see what each person is working on, facilitate multiple-project collaboration, and allow team members to track each other’s action items.

Ask Employees to Track Time

Some managers are overseeing remote teams for the first time. And while most fully remote companies advocate measuring outcomes not hours, it may be helpful to understand how your employees are spending their time. If that’s the case, ask workers to use time tracking software to keep tabs on their work hours and assignments. This holds employees accountable, motivating them to stay on task, and it puts your mind at ease knowing exactly how your team is spending their time.

Adjusting to the new remote workplace can be challenging. This shift can be especially tricky when you’re managing a team. The good news is that you don’t have to figure it out alone. 

Contact Nelson today to learn about how we can support your staffing needs so you have one less thing to worry about.