Remote work is becoming an increasingly popular business structure for more and more companies these days. The benefits of offering employees the remote work option are numerous and far-reaching. For one, studies show that remote workers are happier and more productive than their in-office counterparts, meaning remote work can often be equated with greater business efficiency. Additionally, numerous reports show that allowing remote work has a hugely positive impact on the environment by cutting down on commuter travel and reducing the energy costs of running an office. Given that 15 percent of employees are willing to take a pay cut of up to 15 percent to help the environment, there’s a strong argument from a business perspective in favour of going remote.
Some companies are taking this remote revolution one step further by ditching the traditional office space altogether. The freelance platform Toptal, for instance, doesn’t have a single office, and they’ve turned remote team management into a precise science. Clearly, remote work can be done and done well, but it’s also very different from the traditional office environment, meaning remote teams have to devise new tactics and workflows in order to maximise their output.
Whether you’re a startup staying lean while you seek out funding or a major company looking to trim costs by going remote, consider these productivity tips to get the most out of your remote team.
Given that remote work means you don’t have the ability pop over to your co-worker’s desk to ask a quick question, it might come as a surprise that “minimise emails” is the first order of business to boost productivity. After all, you have to revert to digital forms of communication since you can’t chat face-to-face. While it’s true that you’ll need to find other means of communicating with your team (more on that later), email should not be the go-to medium for replacing typical office back-and-forth. Why not? Just think of how many times you’ve found yourself confused trying to follow a complex email thread when a handful of people reply to one original message. Email is a great tool, and it is still useful for longer, less frequent communication such as end-of-week updates, but when it comes to quick chats and micro-level detail, email threads will do more harm than good.
So you’ve cut down on the emails, but since you’re working remotely, you still need some way of communicating digitally so that everyone is on the same page despite not working in the same physical location. Luckily, there are plenty of great messaging tools out there that allow you to have instant communication with coworkers in a productive, team-oriented way. Take Slack, for instance, a messaging app that allows you to divide up your remote groups into “channels” based on team or project. Slack has many integration options with other apps, making it a great mission control for your remote setup. You can quickly communicate with team members, share documents, easily collaborate on projects and more, all on one easy-to-use platform.
Streamlining communication so it’s intuitive and simple will make your remote team considerably more productive by eliminating the communication barrier and keeping everyone on the same page. You could even promote company culture, something a little tougher to do in a remote setup, by creating a Slack channel for out-of-the-office chatter, where co-workers can get to know each other’s lives better.
In a physical office space, meetings can be quite effective, breaking the desk-bound routine and getting people together to check in, collaborate with each other, and even inspire one another. The remote work structure is very different, though. Remote workers get to choose their ideal work environment, a setup designed to be most conducive to maximum productivity. In this light, meetings can be seen as an unnecessary disturbance, an interruption that can disrupt a worker’s momentum from a good working routine. To that end, in the same way that you want to limit the use of email, keep your required meetings to a minimum, ideally one per week. As long as you set your goals for each week clearly, remote workers will do their best knowing exactly what needs to get done and when, so they can be left alone to do the work and then come into your meeting on Zoom or Skype with a good understanding of their contributions each week.
All remote teams are unique and will thus operate a little differently from one another, but the remote setup is one that requires special attention to maintain productivity. Prioritise these three tips as a good starting point when you build your remote team. What other productivity hacks have you found useful for remote teams? Tell us in the comments!
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)