This is a guest post from Time Doctor which integrates with Teamwork Projects One of the greatest things about modern technology is that it gives people the freedom to be able to work to be part of a remote team from just about anywhere. More and more people are moving out of the office and working from remote locations: anywhere from their homes, to parks, to coffee shops, and just about any place they can get a wifi connection.
At Time Doctor, we’ve learned that the trick to successfully working remotely is to be sure that you and your team are productive. It can be really easy to become less and less productive when you have the freedom to work whenever you want, and from any location. The key is to be able to coordinate your team from anywhere, and at any time. Everyone needs to know their roles, and exactly what they need to do in order to get their jobs done properly and efficiently. You and your team need discipline, and you also need the following 10 tips about how your remote team can be more productive.
1. What, not when – A lot of remote workers tend to create schedules based on when they feel that they are most productive. While this may seem like a good thing, it can actually be detrimental. By doing this, they are micromanaging the when, and not the actual what, which is the work itself. When you start focusing on the what, you are going to start getting a lot more done.
The success of a team is based on the results they achieve, not what time of day they did the work. Some people tend to work better at different times of the day, but they should never limit themselves to that set schedule, because then they are more worried about their schedules and not the work they are doing.
2. You are a team – One of the drawbacks of being involved with a remote team is that there are often times when some members don’t receive messages, and they aren’t in the loop. Every member of the team needs to be included in meetings and recognized publicly for the contributions they have made to the team.
Don’t leave anyone out of last minute meetings. A simple email or text is all you need to do to make sure that they know they are part of the team. It is also important to include remote workers in any brainstorming processes. If they are not involved, they will start to feel isolated, and they will become less productive over time. Teamwork is key.
3. Get some face time – It may be that the members of your remote team are scattered all over the world. This is a great time to start using video calls and meetings. This way, everyone can feel like they are a part of things, and that they are important members of the team. It is also a great way for everyone to get to know each other better.
Chatting via text is all well and good, but you learn more about people when you can watch their mannerisms and facial expressions. Many companies are starting to rely on video calling, because they are able to really connect with the members of their teams living in different parts of the world.
4. Keep track of work – As previously mentioned, it can be really easy to slack off when you are a remote worker. People are people, and if they have a chance to get lazy, most will take it. For this reason, it is important to have some way to monitor and track work hours.
This way, team members will get paid for the time they work, and the company won’t be paying for a lot of unnecessary down time. There are many different time tracking tools you can use that will log all hours worked. You likely will never be able to keep track of employees in a virtual setting as you can in a traditional office, but this will come pretty close.
5. Communication should be specific – Make sure that you and your team members always keep the lines of communication open. In addition, all messages should be extremely clear, concise, and to the point. Make messages specific, but easy to understand at the same time.
Using video chat apps helps with this, because you can really get your message across. Skype is free to use, and there are also some great video conferencing tools, such as GoToMeeting and Google Hangouts. This helps you to be able to see facial expressions and body language, so you can get an idea of what they may be thinking as opposed to what they are actually saying.
6. Use the right tools – It’s time to start using apps and tools that will help to improve the production of your remote team. Some apps may not be right for you, but many will be, and they should be integrated into your platform and used in your workflows. Look for apps for each conversation. Use Teamwork Projects for progress updates around an editorial calendar.
Be sure to use well documented step-by-step guides that will help to train coworkers for different types of projects. Once you have the right tools at your disposal, your team can really get into the work and get things done.
7. Take advantage of different schedules – For various reasons, including different time zones and different preferences, members of your team are going to have different work schedules. You may think that this is going to slow production. But, it can actually make your teamwork even more productive.
For instance, there may be assignments that are due in the middle of the night. You may be sleeping at that time, but another member of your team will be hard at work, getting the job done. Another benefit is that when people have flexible schedules, they tend to work harder and faster because they want to get things done and enjoy more spare time. Customer-facing roles are also going to benefit from the ease with which customers can reach someone at different hours of the day.
8. Be available when needed – The most important aspect of collaboration is communication, and this is something that can easily slip by the wayside if you are not careful. In a traditional office setting, you can simply look over at a coworker and ask a question. When you work remotely, this isn’t so easy to do. You don’t always know when other team members are online, and you may end up not communicating with the team as you should be.
Encourage all team members to make sure that while they are working that they have a core messaging app and keep their status as “available” or “online”. This way, everyone will always know who is available and who is not.
9. Hang out together – One of the worst things about working remotely is that it can become very lonely at times, even when you are engaging in conversations online with team members. There are going to be times when you just want to talk about non-work-related things, and simply hang out.
Of course, this is not going to help anyone to be productive. So, why not schedule some real hanging out time? While this may not always be possible when there are team members in other parts of the country or even the world, there are likely to be team members who are right in your area. Take time to get to know each other better outside of work.
Having a positive personal connection can help you collaborate with more enthusiasm on work-related issues.