7 Tips for Building a More Productive Remote Team
Telework isn’t going anywhere as the Coronavirus continues to surge around the world, but that doesn’t mean every business is ready to thrive in the remote work environment. Both managers and employees can find themselves struggling to assimilate, but embracing these challenges is the first step in overcoming them.
By adopting a trial-and-error approach to remote team management, businesses can start to unify themselves under common struggles and find ways to achieve their goals despite any learning curves workers may face. Whether all of your employees are local or global, these seven tips will help you strengthen a remote team and increase productivity.
Holding Remote Work Orientation
When hiring remotely, it’s important to understand that telecommuting is new for many people. Plenty of talented candidates and experienced professionals are available, and they shouldn’t be dismissed solely because they haven’t worked remotely before. Rather than narrowing your pool, consider implementing a remote orientation program that walks new hires through the environment.
From Zoom setup to communicating with remote team members, an orientation program helps new hires integrate and prevents common pitfalls and miscommunication.
Find Ways to Connect
Establishing genuine relationships with remote employees can be a challenge when everyone is just a username. Although workers may not share a physical office space, they still need to develop connections and feel acknowledged and valued as individuals. Managers should make it a top priority to connect with every worker and routinely check in. Team members should have opportunities to talk and get to know each other through chats, meetings, and even monthly virtual luncheons.
Embracing virtual teambuilding activities such as Zoom trivia and remote board games break the ice and help workers feel more connected no matter where they are in the world.
Create Opportunities to Learn
A remote hire is still an employee who needs a chance to grow. Any business that works with a virtual team should invest in development opportunities that not only lead to cost savings but also enrich employees’ lives. Personal and professional development includes free training for major skills that are in-demand such as programming and Adobe.
By investing in remote employee development, a company demonstrates a commitment to career advancement and helps establish a deeper connection with its workers. In addition, integrating new skills into existing jobs gives employees incentive to grow within their company rather than look for greater opportunity elsewhere.
The goal is to give every worker a chance to learn something that is exciting and meaningful to him or her rather than forcing unpaid and unwanted training on an entire team.
Integrate Remote Culture
Company culture is arguably even more important for virtual companies. When hiring remotely, cultural values can be integrated into job postings in order to attract stronger candidates. At work, culture underscores communication, guides productivity, and aligns goals.
Remote work culture should not be something left to collect dust in a mission statement; genuine culture is alive, expressive, and fluid. When a culture is strong, it fills every employee with a sense of inclusion and purpose. Team culture is rooted in collaboration, traditions, and accountability.
Take time to delve deep into your company’s culture. If it’s lacking or even non-existent, start including employees in the conversation. What matters most to them? What do they wish they had at work? How can the company become more than just a name and way to collect a paycheck?
The best company cultures provide a framework that gives employees a sense of comfort and confidence to confront obstacles and grow from challenges.
Use the Right Metrics to Track Progress
How do you know everyone is on-task and making progress? Remote hires shouldn’t feel as if they’ve been thrown into the workplace with no guidance; metrics such as time tracking, check-ins, and calendars help you stay on top of remote employees’ productivity.
In addition to helping guide management to areas that need attention, virtual team metrics also create structure. Rather than relying on abstract responsibilities, employees are given objective goals and established key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure they’re doing exactly what they need to every single day.
In many cases, implementing these metrics can be a teambuilding exercise. Host a Zoom meeting and have employees contribute various ways they stay on top of their work. How do they define what needs to be done on any given day? This conversation opens the window into your team’s existing organization and reveals what elements need to be prioritized.
Having employees collaborate immediately reduces mistakes, eliminates redundancies, and streamlines the work process. Although many team members are used to working solo and showing off their work after it’s done, a collaborative approach improves efficiency and provides an opportunity to improve internal communication.
Remote employees can strengthen their relationships and teamwork by working together in real time on Zoom or Google Suite. Systems such as Basecamp help centralize objectives and ensure everyone is focused on the right tasks. Having daily progress meetings also can help improve productivity by giving employees a chance to ask questions, provide important updates, and communicate ideas.
Respect Different Time Zones
Although your business may have a set schedule, remote workers often live in different time zones. To off-set any communication barriers this causes, try to arrange meetings at a convenient time for everyone. For larger companies with employees in significantly different time zones, this might mean appointing team leads in each zone and hosting meetings at the best time for each.
You also can establish an “official” schedule that reflects the majority of workers’ time zones and allows those who live outside it to still stay in-the-loop. When there is an official time zone, such as PST or EST, employees will be able to align their own schedules and ensure they always meet deadlines and attend meetings.
Teams also must embrace flexibility and understand that remote work and time zones often impact communication. The most important thing is to be mindful of everyone’s time and strive to accommodate. With appropriate communication, time differences don’t have to impact productivity or impede success.
Brandyn Morelli is the co-founder of Grapevine, an asynchronous video meeting platform that keeps remote teams connected.