How to stay productive when working remotely?
With the advent of digital technologies in our modern world, the definition of the “workplace” is becoming more flexible and is no longer associated with one physical work location. With Internet allowing for easy and effective communication, remote workers or distributed teams are becoming an extremely appealing option for both employees and employers. It creates the opportunity to hire individuals from a worldwide pool of talent while giving them the flexibility to live wherever they want and not waste time on a daily commute.
As the concept of distributed steams is still relatively new, there remain several questions around its implementation and efficiency. Distributed teams have been noted to increase both productivity and employee satisfaction when managed in the correct manner. Therefore, this article will take an in-depth look at how exactly a happy and productive distributed team can be built.
1. Creating an optimized work setup
There are three main aspects of an optimized work setup: you must have a strong internet connection, you must be comfortable, and you must have the right equipment and technology to get the job done. Most traditional offices aim to incorporate these three things into their workspace, and it is just as important when working remotely! If anyone of these aspects is missing, you will notice a significant drop in your productivity.
A good internet connection is the foundation of a distributed team as it facilitates strong lines of communication between team members. Communication is key to productivity – remote teams often do not feel like a “real” team due to the lack of interaction between colleagues and this leads to a decline in productivity. When the members of a team are spread across different time zones, it’s even more difficult to promote this interaction. Scheduling regular video calls is a good way to overcome this issue; not only are they an efficient way of checking up on everybody’s progress, but they also allow team members to create working relationships with one another, therefore improving productivity.
Comfort is another key aspect here – after all, the reason many people prefer to work in a distributed team instead of in a traditional office is due to the flexibility and comfort it provides. When people are more comfortable, they are happier and therefore, more productive.
Lastly, it is important to remember that a distributed team is only efficient if they have the right gadgets. While it is easy to supply employees with computers and other gadgets in a traditional office, it is not always easy to do so when it comes to remote work. Therefore, it is up to the employer to provide the needed gadgets for the staff to complete their work. If you manage a distributed team, you should also consider using platforms that are specifically designed to facilitate remote work, so important information is not lost or compromised. We will discuss the tools and technology that can be used in the section below. Read this article to help you choose your best equipment for remote work or for your home office setup.
2. Using the right tools
WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype – there are so many different apps out there that could be used by distributed teams. However, many of these apps are not optimized for remote work or using them inappropriately would result in an increase your overall workload. In this section, we will focus on a few different platforms that have innovative features to improve the productivity of distributed teams.
For communication, Slack or Basecamp are useful tools. They both allow group chats for distributed teams to update one another and ask questions about the tasks on hand so that everyone’s e-mail inbox remains clutter-free.
For projects that require simultaneous collaboration on a document or cost-effective cloud storage, Google Drive is the way to go! Whether it is a document, a table sheet, or presentation slides, Google Drive allows users to simultaneously work on the same file with all changes updated in real-time.
When it comes to project management, TeamWeek or Asana are our best options. Asana’s easy-to-use interface allows team members to create to-do lists for each project so everyone can keep track of what’s currently in progress and what has been done. TeamWeek is well suited for simple tasks allocation and remote team organization.
Distributed teams must have a clear idea about when and what applications to use under certain situation. This will allow work to proceed in a smooth and organized manner as each team member will be able to quickly obtain the information they need from the relevant platform. Less time will be wasted, for example, if we no longer have to wait for an e-mail response regarding to the status of a project. Using the right platform will definitely improve productivity. Read this article for a detailed analysis of the best communication tools for your distributed teams.
3. Results vs time
Many employers make the mistake of assessing their employees’ productivity based on the amount of time they spend working on one project. They correlate working a lot with good work, however, this is not always the case. When we make the shift from looking at the amount of time spent on a project to the results of the said project, we get into the right mindset to focus on productivity. After all, there’s no point in spending 5 hours working on something if it brings you poor results.
In a distributed team, having a results-oriented mindset is very important. Due to the nature of remote work, it is impossible to accurately identify the amount of time each team member spends on work. Focusing on their results is the only way to truly measure productivity. Therefore, employers must set clear objectives and goals for each team member to meet, and allow them to figure out the steps to achieve the said goals. As communication is naturally slower in distributed teams, micromanagement will result in time wasted and a loss of productivity.
In conclusion, there are several aspects to improving productivity in a distributed team, including the use of appropriate tools and technology, building trust among team members and adopting a results-oriented mindset. Manage a distributed team effectively is not difficult but it simply requires a different approach. If managed correctly, a distributed team can even be more productive than a traditional team.