Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.
As COVID-19 upends the world, we have to figure out ways on how to stay on task, on schedule, focused, and connected while working remotely. Consider these five strategies to improve remote team productivity and communication.
Many businesses today have been turned upside down due to the COVID pandemic we are all facing. There are numerous workplace-related changes, the most prominent one being the fact that more and more people now have to work remotely.
A huge number of offices across the globe are being abandoned to reduce the chances of contracting and spreading COVID-19.
However, many employees find it hard to transition from an office to working remote smoothly enough to keep the productivity levels at a satisfactory level.
If you have a team of workers or if you are a worker struggling with this problem, below you will find some valuable strategies to help you increase remote work productivity.
1. Stock up on patience
When the whole office starts working remotely, the first month is crucial. The adjustment phase is usually challenging for people that have never worked outside of an office.
Both managers and employees have to be patient and flexible during this period. Getting used to conducting meetings virtually, understanding new apps and technologies, and learning to adjust to a new work-life balance takes some time.
So, the most important thing now is patience. Patience and flexibility are vital when it comes to keeping the spirits up and increasing productivity.
Every team member has to be open-minded to try new things. As a leader, it is up to you to do your best to make this period as painless as possible. On the other hand, it is up to employees to embrace the new environment and routine to continue working productively towards a higher cause.
Finally, be ready to provide training for any new tools or platforms the team will use to make working remotely as convenient as possible.
2. Do not hesitate to use collaboration tools
Communication is undeniably one of the biggest hassles when working remotely. Companies rely on chat apps, collaboration platforms, and even email clients to send tasks, materials, and instructions to team members.
Still, sometimes things get out of hand. People are late to reply, or simply forget to run the apps that are supposed to be the main channel of communication and collaboration.
To help you avoid this, you should introduce policies. For instance, determine the hours when people are supposed to talk about projects and get together to lay down the duties and assign tasks to each other.
This can be done through daily or weekly meetings on Skype or Zoom. Zoom has become incredibly popular during the quarantine period, since the video and audio quality are good, and there is even a free version that can be helpful.
Another type of platform that has become popular is the so-called social intranet software. This kind of software is like a social platform for employee collaboration.
It focuses on the end-users, and it runs on social elements. It can also be described as a knowledge center that makes sure that the voice of employees is projected in a meaningful manner.
Now let’s take a look at some useful tools that can help improve collaboration and communication:
- Chat apps:
- Collaboration platforms:
- Time-tracking software:
- Social intranet platforms:
3. Monitor employees closely
A person that holds a managerial position has to keep track of every employee’s progress. It does not sound fun, but it has to be done. When you regularly keep up with the progress of each team member, you provide a similar feeling to the one you would experience in an actual brick-and-mortar office.
Employees will not get a feeling that they can slack or avoid work just because you can’t see them in person.
Check on their progress but also check if they have questions, concerns, or difficulty in doing their tasks. Also, make sure that you are available by opening your communication lines regularly. Employees should be able to reach out to you whenever they are in doubt or can’t manage to complete a certain task.
Try to track hours and allow some flexibility for employees to do their work within their preferred hours. If you have people that are located in different time zones, this should be a priority.
4. Be quick to fix problems
Shifting from an office to a remote way of working can cause many problems. However, most of them revolve around communication.
Miscommunication and conflicts between you and your workers are inevitable. Sometimes these problems happen because of tasks, miscommunications, or even internet connection problems. As a result, objectives are not achieved, and deadlines are missed. So as soon as you encounter a problem or see that your employees are struggling with something, act!
Determine the problem and nip it in the bud.
For instance, if there was a delay in delivering the documents to a client, ask why it happened, and then act on it. Furthermore, if a section of the assignment is missing and has not been submitted yet, check with the employee that had to deal with that section if everything is okay.
Diagnose the problem, resolve it, and take action to prevent the same problem from happening again.
5. Provide valuable feedback
If you want your team to function like a well-oiled machine, you need to grow, evolve, and get better. To do that, you should also provide feedback to every employee after you finish monitoring their progress.
Employee feedback is crucial for employee happiness, motivation, and retention. It helps managers engage their workers at their strong sides, shortcomings, and what they can do to perform even better and be more productive.
Fail to deliver quality feedback, and your workers will be disappointed and disengaged. They will feel like their efforts are not appreciated, and most of all, they will feel like their work has little to no significance for the business. But if you manage to recognize their efforts, you may even improve their performance.
So, do not wait for the quarterly or yearly performance review. Evaluate their work when you feel the time is right, and don’t hesitate to tell them what you have in mind through a video call now and then.
Also, do know that one-on-one feedback with employees through a video call is the most convenient way to deliver your evaluation.
This shows that you are invested in their future as a part of the company and want to help them improve in areas where they might be struggling.
In the end, regular feedback ensures high productivity levels. That is a fundamental and very beneficial element of your company’s culture and work ethics.
Combine the tips you have seen in your strategy or use each method separately. Do everything in your power to make the transition smooth and then routinize the new way of working.
Once you manage to establish a routine that suits your employees, you will see that productivity will rarely be a problem.
One thing that makes the team unproductive is the feeling of isolation. Adjust yourself to the new way of operating a business and make sure that all employees are on board. This alone is a great step toward keeping your business efficient and productive.
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