Working from home is great, but it also comes with many unique struggles that can impact productivity and hinder growth. According to Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work survey, 17 percent of respondents reported that communication and collaboration as their greatest struggle working remotely while 8 percent of workers said that motivation was their biggest adversity.
Tuning into your team’s struggles and integrating preventative strategies like these will help you promote wellness and productivity for everyone. Before you get started, make sure that you have some time to set aside and ask for feedback. Although these tips are a great way to combat many of the common remote work challenges, it’s best to personalize your approach so you can address the most pressing barriers to productivity in your company.
Use Public Task Lists
Every employee will have their own itemized agenda for the day, but a team-wide task list will help coworkers stay connected and more conscious of how they spend their time. Collaborative software can drastically enhance productivity for a remote team by eliminating the need for cross-platform communication; instant messaging, progress tracking, goals, and project deadlines can all share a common space.
Working from home removes the pressure to perform that a physical office provides; this pressure is not negative, and it’s a fundamental aspect of a strong workflow for many people. Recreating that environment on a computer is a challenge, but remote team software like Basecamp, Asana, and Fellow make it easier.
Hold Midday Meetings
Halfway through the day, motivation starts to wane. People think more about dinner plans and Netflix than their current tasks, which results in many simple and easy duties being pushed to the next day. To prevent this from creating a decline during your work hours, hold a meeting shortly after lunch to talk about what’s been accomplished so far and set goals for the last half of the day.
Acknowledging accomplishments first, however small, has two immediate benefits. First, it shows employees that you are aware of what they do each day and not only see but appreciate their effort. Second, hearing about what others have done can reinvigorate employees and inspire them to refocus and try their best for the last few hours of their shift.
Setting goals and connecting them across various divisions or individual workers creates a sense of unity. Teamwork boosts remote team morale and inspires everyone to take pride in what they do. Rather than slogging through tasks, they are able to see the bigger picture and know that even the mundane items on their to-do list have greater significance.
Check-in With Everyone Regularly
Only hosting virtual meetings or sending out reports won’t keep a team close together. As the leader, you need to model engagement and hard work by routinely reaching out to your employees. Every hour, send a message to your remote team. It doesn’t have to be a major ordeal to be significant. Something as simple as, “Hey, team. How are we doing so far?” can go a long way.
Employees who struggle to motivate themselves at home will be more likely to prioritize work when they know you are actually paying attention. It’s easy for people to slip into the mindset that their contributions don’t matter; give some extra one-on-one attention to any members of your team who are falling behind or appear distant.
Focus on Your Own Routine
Make sure that you are practicing good remote work habits while helping your team stay on track. Wake up on time each morning, get dressed and eat a nutritious breakfast away from the computer. Stress the importance of a healthy work-life balance by sharing personal tips and tricks with your team.
Self-care is difficult for many leaders because they always focus on solving everyone else’s problems; you may get so involved in monitoring and managing your team that your own productivity falls to the wayside. By optimizing your own schedule, you’ll put yourself in the best possible mindset and mood to guide your team with the level of patience and compassion they need.
Live editing in G Suite can make many projects happen ten times faster. Rather than waiting for individual team members to review, edit, or offer feedback, let everyone connect at the same time and achieve goals together. Working as a group not only gets things done faster but also promotes a strong collaborative culture. Teams are built through shared experience, which means you must emphasize the importance of real-time communication when working remotely.
If your work can’t be done in G Suite or another collaborative platform, consider hosting daily scrum meetings. This project management philosophy is primarily used in software development, but it can be adopted by any team and help streamline the work process.
As you build a remote team, it’s important to consider ways you can connect their virtual professional life into the real world. Small incentive programs can do just that. Monetary rewards for a job well done can make people feel more connected to their work; other incentives are social and include short shoutouts during meetings or mentions in team emails.
Personalize incentives to match your business’s line of work and your team’s personal style. Vary your rewards but make sure everyone is always aware that they’re on the table and available to anyone; the point is to make everyone feel like a part of a team, not cause tension or competition.
Be patient with your team and know that change takes time. Reach out to the workers who are performing the best and ask for their secrets, and speak with those who struggle the most. Rather than immediately trying to correct them, seek to learn about their challenge so you can support and guide them to greater achievement. And don’t forget to prioritize your own well-being along the way.
Brandyn Morelli is the co-founder of HelloCecil, a SaaS platform helping small businesses make smarter hires through video interviewing.