Remote work, and working within a remote team, is now a part of the new normal—but not everyone was prepared to make that transition. This change happened suddenly, forcing employees and managers alike to plot a route across this new, and sometimes uncomfortable, reality. At the same time, we had to learn how to balance personal concerns—ranging from poor bandwidth to home-schooling while working—while dealing with anxieties about a global health emergency.
According to a 2020 research study published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), close to 71% of organizations are struggling to adapt to remote work. Communication and productivity were reported to be the areas of greatest concern. In addition, 65% of the respondents cited maintaining employee morale as a top challenge.
Without intentional efforts to create innovative solutions from both employees and management, remote work—especially during these tense, uncertain times—can leave staff feeling isolated, distracted, unmotivated and stressed.
Here are four proven productivity tips businesses can leverage to improve the overall performance and morale of their remote team:
1) Leverage Technological Solutions
With entire teams working remotely, technologies must be a consideration. In a recent survey conducted by FlexJobs, 54% of HR leaders indicated that poor technology and/or infrastructure is the biggest barrier to effective remote working in their organization.
Web-based applications such as Trello can provide you with a brief overview of the tasks assigned to your team at a single glance. Other important features such as client contacts and reminders are automatically organized and embedded so your remote workers always know what’s going on and what they should be doing next. Since every member on your team has access to everything happening on the work front in Trello, they are better coordinated, which leads to increased productivity.
Another technological solution that can help your company in more ways than one while working remotely is transcription. This is especially true if your business utilizes huge troves of data on a regular basis.
Audio-to-text transcription can help you convert unstructured data into a structured format, which can help you better manage your resources. By converting your virtual meetings and client calls to written text, you can make more informed decisions and better comprehend their requirements. This can also significantly reduce stress among your employees.
2) Promote Flexibility within the Organization
Under current circumstances, rather than taking a rigid stance, your company’s policies need to be more flexible in manner. Try leaning toward a flexible work environment and trusting your employees as opposed to constantly monitoring and measuring results.
Also, make sure the selected approaches and tools align well with your employees’ strengths. It also helps toreate efficient workflows where humans and technology can work hand-in-hand to deliver desired results. For example, Slack can serve as home for the virtual water-cooler conversations that no longer happen within the office.
Some company cultures, of course, value structure in equal doses with flexibility. So to provide security through structure, schedule regular team meetings. For example, consider a low-key, non-intrusive Zoom meeting on the same day and time every week. Not only will this keep your employees from feeling isolated and unproductive, it will likely encourage the building of trust and a sense of community.
3) Positively Over-Communicate with Your Remote Team
Communication, as many leaders have already discovered, is one of the most critical aspects of remote work. Managers need to over-communicate to make sure their remote teams have all the information they’re possibly going to need to be effective at their jobs. The more positive communication received, the less likely the employee is to feel disconnected.
Each communication should be relevant, frequent, and consistent. Whenever possible, it should be tailored to the needs of each employee. Since everyone’s candor radar is on high alert right now, communication must be sincere and transparent.
Also, consider sharing success stories of other teams, and perhaps other companies, that find themselves in the same situation as your team. After all, crises do furnish opportunities for businesses to recognize unique stories of organizational resilience. And they give us a chance to look at how others have overcome challenges.
Finally, give people a voice. Move from asking your remote employees “Are you safe and well?’ to “How are you connecting?” “How are you working?” “How are we responding?” Don’t just ask, listen. Then make sure the feedback loop is complete by reporting back what you’ve learned. The more you enable them to express what they are experiencing, the more productive they’ll be.
4) Encourage Employee Engagement
You want to keep your remote employees engaged. You also want to prevent them from feeling disconnected. And you need to strengthen your team by investing in low-pressure activities to promote camaraderie and friendly competition amongst them. Encourage them to tell dad jokes. Or share pictures of children or pets. The more team members know about how others on their team live, the more empathy they’ll gain. And more empathy means more engagement.
Also, consider tech solutions to help with engagement. QuizBreaker, for example, is a super fun way to keep a remote team engaged and connected. Players answer icebreaker questions and then have to guess each other’s answers in automatically generated quizzes. Admins can set up the quizzes to go out via email at set times during the week. The end result: a non-intrusive way to get people talking about something other than work.
In addition, leaderboards keep your team members aligned with your goal at all times and keep them motivated. They encourage healthy competition and improve engagement. To set up a leaderboard for your team, try Spinify. This app adds gamification to nearly every part of your team’s day. Through engagement and friendly competition, team members become more productive.
To achieve maximum productivity from each of your remote team, we must constantly innovate and create strategies that keep them motivated. And there’s no better time than now—while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to mandate work from home contributions—to create solutions that improve the performance of your team.