8Working with remote teams is becoming more and more common. Organizations can save a great deal of money on taxes and labor costs by hiring staff in different states or countries. But working remotely comes with a number of challenges. Coordinating groups operating in different time zones can be challenging, and communication is also a challenge. Follow these seven tips for improving and tracking your remote team’s productivity.*
1. Encourage good relationships between your teams
If you want to get the most out of your team you must create the conditions for team camaraderie to thrive.
You could encourage helping each other out on difficult tasks or if there is too much work for one but not as much for another person. Most of the time, you really don’t need the team to be that close to each other in order to work well together. What matters is that they show respect for one another and that the work is done. Don’t have too many business meetings as they are often unproductive and unnecessary. However, keep them in the loop – this helps make them feel like they are really a part of something. You could let them know how their specific tasks have reflected on the end product or service, show them real-life examples of their work – if they worked on a website, send them a link etc. Let them know everything that they normally would if they were in an office – important meetings, dates, events etc.
2. Make processes as efficient as possible
Go over your processes and review their efficiency, remembering that it may be necessary to go over them client by client as well. See what can be eliminated in order to make things more streamlined and effective. Because you’re working with lots of different people spread out all over the world, technology becomes extremely important. Technology like Nozbe can help centralize your processes so that everyone knows what is happening. Using one application is much more efficient and clear than using many, in an attempt to increase productivity. Keep it simple.
3. Assign short but realistic time limits for tasks
Limit the time your team spends on each task. Your team will take as much time as you give them to complete a task. Give them short windows of time to finish something, chances are it will get done. Unless you’re giving your team a ridiculously small amount of time to complete a task, they will finish it. People have a way of making their work expand to fit the deadline they’re assigned.
4. Remember that you’re not all in the same timezone
When you’re assigning deadlines keep in mind that your people are potentially spread out over different time zones. Set your deadlines based on the team’s local time, so that they’re not trying to finish a task for 3AM local time, make deadlines logical for their work schedule. Use complementary schedules and have your teams work in cycles. This means not having a team work all night just because that aligns with your normal working hours. Choose a time where time zones overlap during a reasonable hour for calls and virtual meetings.
5. Trust is better than control
Obviously, you can’t observe from your office as your employees come and go. Remote teams are a completely different environment. You may feel like you need to control them and their hours – but, instead, try trusting them. People might expand their work within a deadline but what matters is that the work is done, on time. Flexibility is one of the best things about having remote teams.
If you want to help them be more productive, you can recommend using tools like Time Doctor or simillar where they can track their time on social media, their most productive time and how much they procrastinate in certain situations. This can even make them realize what they need to do to be more efficient.
6. Foster some healthy competition
Having your remote teams see a leader board can instigate some friendly competition – between each other and between the teams alike. This can also give you a chance to see how your teams and individual employees work. At the end of the month or a quarter, you could give the best employees rewards and find a way of talking with those who didn’t do so well.
Try and avoid directly criticizing an under-performing employee. Instead take a more subtle approach that will work on their ego and conscience, since nobody likes to drag down their team. Instead of telling them that they did badly in the previous month, for instance, and bother them about that, you could say that you expected more from them or that you are planning to involve some good rewards next month for those who show excellence etc.
7. Any communication should be effective
Communication can be fruitful in some cases but in most, it’s simply unnecessary and there is nothing important to share. Make sure that everyone is prepared for a meeting before you let them know that there is one – it can be quite stressful even if you are prepared. Often times these meetings can become toxic if they are not conducted in a productive way.
So, keep the meetings to a minimum and let people work without adding the stress of a meeting.
Working with remote teams has its benefits and challenges, luckily there are strategies and technologies that can significantly mitigate those challenges. Promoting good relationships among your remote team members through technology is key to improving their productivity. You can also use technology to keep track of what your team is up to and even foster some competition. Use these seven tips to improve and track your remote team’s productivity.