By Adrian Johansen
Remote work is the way of the future for many companies. As each enterprise settles into a long-term remote business environment though, it can expose some warts on the classic work perk.
Working remotely has long been heralded as a flexible, time-conscious, resource-saving activity, and it certainly comes with those benefits. But remote work can also create some struggles, especially where productivity is concerned.
Distractions, a lack of motivation, and even things like isolation can sap a team’s desire to stay focused over time. If you’ve found that your remote team is struggling to produce, here are some tips to increase your team’s output.
Create Clear Remote Work Guidelines
One of the best ways to eliminate ambiguity and keep your team moving in the same direction is to create clear remote work guidelines for them to follow. These shouldn’t be hard and fast rules so much as recommendations tailored to boost their productivity.
For instance, encourage employees to define boundaries between their personal and work lives. One way to do this is by stressing the importance of having a dedicated workspace in the home.
This can be done through anything from converting a spare room into an office to building an exterior structure that is literally separated from their living space.
Having guidelines like these in place is important for multiple reasons. On the one hand, it gives your employees a structure to help them focus on their work during work time. On the other hand, it helps them detach from their professional responsibilities and care for their personal needs when the time comes.
Flexibility is a hallmark trait of remote work. While it may be inherently present, though, it’s easy for managers to squelch the benefits of flexibility through their virtual management style.
Even before the pandemic, companies were waking up to the fact that creativity cannot thrive when it’s being confined to a specific time and place. Both technology and evolving workplaces should be embraced by companies. Forcing employees to work in an office during specific hours of the day can put a serious damper on creativity in the workspace.
Remote work naturally removes the office part of the issue. But it’s still tempting for leaders to force employees to align themselves with specific work hours.
It’s fine to offer a general work schedule for employees to try to work within, and you can expect your workers to show up for meetings. But resist the urge to restrain their individual, deep work time.
Be Smart About Meetings
Meetings are necessary. But that doesn’t mean they’re any easier when you’re working in a remote setting.
In fact, the complexity of gathering everyone online and managing a virtual meeting space is anything but simple. That’s why it’s important to be smart about how you run your online meetings so that you don’t drain too much time from everyone’s work days.
You can do this by ensuring that you go into each meeting with a clear plan in place. Create a detailed agenda. Define roles. Avoid inviting people who don’t need to be there. Basically, do everything you can to set the stage beforehand. This will help you use your meeting time wisely.
Another option is to embrace an asynchronous meeting style whenever possible. These are meetings that don’t require everyone to be present at the same time. While the asynchronous meeting concept may seem simple, though, it’s important that you, as the boss, maintain firm control of the direction and momentum of each meeting as it plays out.
Follow the Numbers
Stats and data are critical pieces of a modern functioning office. Among many other things, they allow you to monitor the progress of your business.
By keeping track of certain data points, you can look for the places where your team’s efforts are succeeding. You can also identify where you need to improve.
KPIs (key performance indicators) are a common way to set metrics and collect data. However, OKRs are a more impactful way to guide your team through the numbers.
OKR stands for objectives and key results. OKRs consist of aligning your objectives with key, measurable results that can help you track your progress. Whether it’s OKRs, KPIs, or anything else, make sure to use statistics to inform and guide your team’s productivity.
Increasing Productivity with a Remote Team
There are many advantages to keeping your team remote. If you find that your productivity is slipping, don’t get discouraged. Instead, utilize the tips above to help get things back on track.
Set clear guidelines to help your employees structure their days. Stay flexible by letting your employees do their deep work time on their own schedules. Be smart about how you use your meeting time, as well, and make sure to use metrics and statistics to inform your productivity efforts as you go along.
If you can prioritize these kinds of efforts, they can breathe a new sense of life, purpose, and vision into a deflated or distracted team, improving efficiency, focus, and productivity in the process.