At these challenging times, more and more people adopt the growing trend of working remotely. But switching to remote work comes both with its own pros and cons. On the one hand, your employees save time on lengthy commutes and have fewer interruptions from work as well as more flexibility. On the other hand, each office creates a highly collaborative environment for its workers. And if people come together and brainstorm new and innovative ideas, it helps your company deliver the best possible results.
Clearly, some businesses will embrace the new lifestyle and continue to operate remotely (at least partially) even after these uncertain events come to an end. However, to foster effective collaboration when working remotely, you need to devise a certain strategy for creating a productive work environment. In this article, we will dive into the tips and tricks of cultivating and maintaining efficient work across distributed teams.
1. Create step-by-step guides
Transition to a new working environment can be a tough and stressful experience for each team member. Help your team to adapt quickly and save your employees’ time by eliminating answering the same questions repeatedly. Create and share a detailed step-by-step guide with your entire team. It should cover all commonly asked questions like when the team should perform daily standups or monthly retrospectives, what tools your colleagues need, where they can access passwords or colleagues’ phone numbers, etc.
Use Google Docs or your built-in knowledge base to organize an easy-to-navigate and effective knowledge directory for your team. Keep it up-to-date, well-organized and review your articles regularly.
2. Determine a work schedule
Many believe that a remote employee is similar to freelancers who determine their own labour hours and work at their own pace. Like remote employees, freelancers can operate from anywhere in the world. But this is exactly where the similarities end. Unlike freelancers, a remote employee must work according to the schedule defined by the company.
Besides, when working remotely, it’s hard to break away from tasks because there are no boundaries between personal life and work. So, the pivotal thing here is to establish rigid work hours for your team so everyone can follow them. If your work timelines are disorganized, it may seem that you’re working round the clock which can eventually lead to a burnout.
3. Assign tasks effectively
Define and allocate tasks clearly, set adequate deadlines and detailed goals to let your teammates know what is expected from them. Use task management software like Flowlu to distribute tasks among employees, discuss work in context and track progress with ease. Keep in mind that there is no need to make calls on each arising issue. Most of the questions can be solved via messenger. We’re all busy, so do not expect an immediate answer. When you need an instant reply from your teammate, show that by using request a response feature instead of the @mention.
4. Select the right tools
Enumerate the tools your team might need when working remotely. There are two main areas these solutions should cover: team’s communication and actual job performance. For effective team’s communication and productive meetings, you need a software for video conferencing (Zoom, Microsoft Teams), a desktop sharing software (TeamViewer), a virtual whiteboard (Miro). Then, depending on your business needs, select tools for task management, sales or project tracking, accounting — everything to help your coworkers reach their goals.
Also, you might want to consider saving money and selecting a software that will include all the tools in one single place especially if you’re a small or medium-sized company. For instance, in Flowlu, your teammates can break down projects into stages, milestones and tasks, and clearly estimate what is expected from them every day. They can easily track time spent and issue invoices for the work performed for each client. It also provides solutions for handy collaborative work such as mind maps or built-in messenger.
5. Devise common activities
Humans are social beings, we need to communicate with each other. Utilizing tech solutions cannot replace an absence of real and emotional communication. Your workers might feel isolated and left out. Ask your HR department to come up with a list of possible team’s activities aimed at cultivating your company culture and team building. Keep it informal and entertaining. For example, arrange virtual lunches, announce photo challenges (best remote workplace), watch online concerts or movies and then discuss them in a separate channel for sharing non-work related information.
6. Show your co-workers you care
As it has already been mentioned, transition to a new working environment might impact your coworkers’ overall productivity and cause anxiety. As you go through your day, remember to ask for your employees’ ideas and feedback, discuss their achieved objectives. Explain to each teammate how their daily work helps the company achieve its goals so that they feel more valued. Keep your team in the loop about how your company’s priorities and goals are changing. You may also send out questionnaires to your coworkers at least once a week to learn about issues that occurred during their work. Continuous communication is a key to successful adaptation.
7. Demonstrate your trust
While working in a traditional office, some managers are accustomed to track working hours in the following way: if an employee is in office, then the work is being performed. When your team is working remotely, you don’t have immediate visibility into what everyone is doing. Check in regularly but do not be too persuasive. Remote work requires a high level of trust. Adapting to remote work can be a struggle; your coworkers need time to adjust to working in a new way. And people are more effective when we trust them. Look at the outcomes and use digital tools to track work progress, the most important point is to establish the core principles for remote workflow and follow them constantly.