10 Ways to Maximize Productivity from Your Remote Team

Businesses are always faced with scaling operations while being faced with strong headwinds, increasing overheads and trying to maximize returns on investment. One huge, viable solution has been the emergence of the remote worker.

Remote working teams are becoming all the rage and come with a whole package of benefits; from using less office space to working more efficiently, without distractions. Remote workers spend less time nattering and more time with their head down and their fingers out.

Your team is like a moving machine that requires love, care and maintenance. We’re going to help you squeeze more cents out of your dollars and get more bang for your buck. That’s why we’ve compiled 10 ways to gain maximum productivity from your remote teams.

Great Leadership

When leading a team, you need to be able to communicate and motivate them remotely, as much as you do in person. Boosting motivation remotely may sound like a difficult task but can be done by encouraging your team to get excited about the company’s vision.

Furthermore, generate excitement and foresight by communicating your own vision for your project and what the outcome will be when you complete it.

As a leader, you’re accountable for around 70 percent of employee engagement variance. Communication is the key to building sustainable relationships. To make sure your team is performing efficiently, they need to speak freely and speak often. Whether it’s via a Skype call or an email.

Checking-in with a quick email to see how everyone is doing and if they’re getting on with their tasks is cool but to get real engagement and productivity from your team, you need to go beyond that. According to a study by Gallup, you need to establish these 4 key qualities.

  • Trust
  • Compassion
  • Stability
  • Hope

Trust is a valuable asset to have when managing your remote team. According to the same study by Gallup, establishing a bond of trust improves your engagement to over 50 percent. Having a positive effect on your team can improve speed, performance and your team’s ability to think more clearly on their feet.

Only about half of employees indicate that they can identify what is clearly expected of them. As a leader, it’s your duty to execute a strategy that clarifies the expectations of your workforce. This includes the correct work to accomplish, the amount of work and your expectations on performance.

Empathy plays a big part in being a great leader. Understanding your team, their needs and their pain points. Being compassionate can give your team the hope and direction that they need.

Work Together

From China, all the way to Carolina—you can use project management and communication tools to collaborate with your team, worldwide. The constant evolution and innovation of technology have driven change for many industries and now we’re able to benefit from mingling with each other on a global scale.

Akin to communication, collaboration requires team members to use platforms to discuss, bounce ideas back and forth, evaluate and escalate. There’s a multitude of platforms available at the ready for teams to collaborate, we’ll go into those a little bit later.

Creating a virtual space for your team is essential to form a community bond. A study from Harvard Business Review concluded that when team members find a likeness with each other, they are more likely to collaborate organically. This means that it’s crucial to mix your meetings up with video conferences and calls so that teammates are able to identify with one another.

Communication is critical but too much can be detrimental. It’s important for the team to reach out to be clear about their objectives and when they’re in need.

Constant communication can have a detrimental effect and distract the team from their tasks. Ultimately, you want to create a stable environment for your team to be able to work, without the distraction of the loud “Susan” in the background, talking about her weekend.

Feedback

Wanting your team to run like a well-oiled machine means that they have to grow, evolve and get better at what they’re assigned with. When you help your team to grow, you help your business grow.

Employee feedback is pivotal to their happiness, motivation and retention. Feedback helps you to engage your employees at their strengths, weaknesses and how they can perform better to be more productive.

According to a study be Office Vibe, 40 percent of office workers are disengaged when they get barely any feedback. Furthermore, 43 percent of employees that are highly engaged receive feedback at least once a week.

Eighty percent of Millennials prefer their efforts to be recognized on the spot, as opposed to waiting for a formal review. Don’t wait until that quarterly review or even worse, a yearly review. Provide your remote team with regular reviews and feedback on their performance, whether it’s good or bad.

One on one feedback with employees through a video call can help you, as a leader to provide comfort and show empathy to your team. It displays that you’re invested in their future as a part of the company and want to help them in areas where they might be struggling.

It doesn’t have to be a daunting task, it’s an important part of ensuring that they’re as productive as possible. With the right approach, praise and constructive criticism will hedge against your open company culture.

Reciprocate

You’ve gotta give if you want to get, also known as the reciprocity principle. Satisfying your employees means rewarding their efforts, verbally and physically, if you want them to be on top form. A team that’s praised for their skills and efforts will achieve greater results than a team that’s driven by fear.

To keep your team’s morale at its peak, there needs to be an incentive for them to perform at their best. This is a big factor in having a team that’s highly productive and accomplishes their tasks, without dawdling.

Annual revenues are 3 times as much in businesses that implement employee incentives. Furthermore, companies that use incentive programs report a 79 percent success rate in achieving their company’s goals.

Depending on the nature of your business, budget and organizational structure, it’s up to you to decide how you want to incentivize your employees. From a greeting to a gift card, making your employees feel valued for the work that they put in pays off.

Availability

A common misconception about remote employees is that they feel like they have to always be poised and ready, at the drop of a hat. Working remotely from home, a coffee shop or pilfering a friend’s Wi-Fi doesn’t mean that your employees should have to prove that they’re not slacking off.

Creating leadership and culture that’s built around trust means that you respect when your remote team needs their downtime. They won’t always be available to respond to emails or for a chat. This is especially important if you have a remote team that’s located in different time zones.

Reinforcing the company’s positive workplace culture is ensuring that the remote team is happy. Employees are 12 percent more productive when feeling happy. By respecting and recognizing your workers’ boundaries for their availability, you contribute to their happiness and mental well-being.

The Right Tools for the Job

People skills aren’t the only thing that’s going to help you to squeeze productivity out of your team. Take advantage of modern technology and myriad of tools that are available at your disposal.

Time-tracking

Whether your employees are being paid hourly, daily or with a fixed salary, it’s important to track time. Not only is it essential to track time so you can assess your expenditure but tracking time gives you the ability to evaluate how long it takes to complete tasks.

Apps will let you track activity rates and based on that information, you can build strategies to suit.

Communication and Collaboration

As previously mentioned, collaboration and communication are the golden geese of successful employee engagement to develop a remote team that brings home the bacon.

Inefficient project management can be a huge time suck; according to research from The National Business Institute, employees admit that a lack of processes wastes a substantial amount of their time.

Tools such as Wrike, Basecamp and Trello are great for project management. You can regularly keep the team updated as projects progress. Share documents, create a to-do list and schedule milestones and events.

For instant communication between all members of the team, Slack allows real-time communication, with a chatroom GUI that allows teams to seamlessly speak to each other. The platform is great for working on ideas, collaborating and brainstorming with one another.

Zoom, Skype and UberConference can be used to audio and video call your team and check in on them. Better yet, you can set up a conference and have everyone chime in with their 2 cents worth. This can be utilized to ensure that all of the team are on the same page.

Invest in Your Squad 

Investment? We can practically see you running for the door. Investing time, money and effort into your team can help you ramp up that productivity to the next level. If everyone is better at what they do, it pays dividends for you.

According to a study by the Association of Talent Development, businesses that put their employees through their paces with comprehensive training programs, earn 218 percent higher income, per employee. The same study also indicates that those companies benefit from a 24 percent increase in profit margin.

In a study by the National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce, they concluded that investing in workforce education increases productivity by 8.6 percent.

So you’ve assembled a squad of skilled coders, writers or savvy software solution experts that are adept in their field. Now we know what you’re thinking, how do you train and invest in remote employees that are in different cities, parts of the country or even the world?

Here’s a real-world example; General Electric has some of the most efficient remote teams in the world. Over 90,000 people are employed by the company worldwide and it’s no walk in the park to manage efficient communication and training.

GE used a method of virtual classrooms to inform, educate and escalate. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune or be boring for your employees, GE uses interactive e-learning to train their teams through quizzes, whiteboards, role-playing scenarios, and games.

Encourage Autonomy

According to the Harvard Business Review, senior managers need the ability to be more strategic in their operational efforts. Nobody likes a leader that’s constantly breathing down their neck. Learn to give your remote teams a bit of space to work and accomplish their objectives, by themselves.

Psychology tells us that people are more inclined to be motivated by autonomy than they are from financial gain. You’re thinking “so, I should manage less, for bigger results?” and the answer is yes, absolutely. To increase productivity, you need to back off once in a while and let your team do what they’re skilled at.

Going back to forming a bond of trust; when you put your trust in your team to work independently you send out the message that you trust in their ability and them as people. This is greatly beneficial to motivate your employees. You expect a result or a milestone to be hit but you fully trust that your team will get it.

Focus on the Future

Working symbiotically with communication, focussing on the future enables the team to keep on pushing forward.

Tying in with communication, a great leader should speak and listen. Two-way communication can make a business boom, with a fully engaged remote team.

According to CRM Learning, a whopping 80 percent of work-related conversations are about discussing problems in the past. Only 15 percent of those conversations are about what’s happening with work now and 5 percent are about future work. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that this is bad.

Bringing up past issues can be a great way to learn from them. However, if you’re not introducing an actionable strategy for the future, your team isn’t learning from those past problems.

Self-Care 

Stress, anxiety, and depression can be crippling to your remote worker. Seeing your team as people and not just a productive part of your plan is vastly important in having a team that performs well.

Depression affects 16.2 million people across the United States and it’s estimated that around 300 million people suffer from it worldwide. Business owners and leaders need to factor in the health and mental well-being of their employees when assessing their levels of productivity.

Taking better care of yourself and your mental health has been becoming more of a thing over recent years. In the United States, the number one cause of stress is occupational pressures and fears, according to the American Institute of Stress. Successful businesses are beginning to allow employees to take self-care days, that try to relinquish employees from the burden of stress before they get burnout.

The right amount of stress can be leveraged to steer your team in the right direction and motivate them to hit their targets. However, too much pressure, without the right leadership and your team will buckle.

To develop a healthier, more productive team; signify structure, stability and strong leadership, Actively listen to employees and empathize with them.

Adapt your self-care strategy into the company culture by:

  • Establishing a clear vision with the parameters of success.
  • Give your employees the ability to grow and shift within job roles, if they are suited to another role.
  • Give employees meaningful, challenging work that will make them feel satisfied.

Another thing to note about respecting your employees and their health is to avoid locking down social media usage. Social media can be used to procrastinate but it’s also an outlet for escapism. It gives your remote team a chance to take a mental break from their work and by restricting it, you send the message that you don’t trust them.

In a study by Evolv, they concluded that power users of social media are more productive and better multi-taskers. Social media power users develop and enhance particular skills that make them more proficient in their work.

Maximizing productivity from your remote team doesn’t have to be a costly endeavor. Communication is at the heart of establishing an autonomous team that produces quality work and hits their deadlines. Communicate through a variety of channels and be ready to listen to the team.

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