Has your team been less productive this year? Let’s be honest—this year has been something of a ride. From COVID to wildfires to endless political upheaval and social unrest, it’s a wonder anyone can focus on anything. COVID closed businesses and sent people home, and we’re still dealing with it almost a year after it first came about. I think it’s safe to say that none of us thought we’d end up here!
Still, ensuring your team remains productive doesn’t have to be rocket science. In this short guide, we’ll go over the six best ways to improve your remote team’s productivity. These tips are universal, so they can apply to both remote and in-person teams alike.
Let’s dive in!
1. Better Communication
The cornerstone of any successful relationship is good communication between both parties. If you’re not communicating feelings, expectations, and directions clearly, there’s going to be a misunderstanding somewhere. When misunderstandings occur, we tend to point the finger and look for someone to blame, when in reality, it probably came down to a simple miscommunication.
How can you improve communication in your team? First and foremost, you need to set clear expectations. The clearer you are with expectations, the more on point the team will be. If you’re the team leader, the responsibility to set those expectations clearly and concisely falls on you. The tools you use to communicate also play a huge role in setting expectations.
Remember that a large percentage of communication is actually body language. So, a text/email/phone call isn’t always the best way to communicate your expectations. A video web conference or video chat can often be more impactful and concise and seeing a friendly face certainly helps lessen the stress of the day.
Of course, a good team also needs a good leader to act as the glue that holds everything together. Many people think that being a good leader means maintaining strict control of your team, but if you look at history, that hasn’t exactly worked out for some. A dictatorial approach will more than likely leave your team feeling resentful rather than cooperative.
So, what is the best approach to leadership? According to AICPA.org, the four pillars of good leadership are:
Integrity: Integrity is being honest with yourself and others and upholding that honest behavior even when others aren’t looking. You can be honest face-to-face and dishonest when no one is looking; which means you lack integrity. Practice what you preach, and lead by example with a strong moral and ethical code.
Accountability: Accountability is something that everyone on the team needs, but especially the leader. You need to own up to successes and failures, and hold others accountable as well.
Learning: A good leader should always learn new skills and methods to better themselves.
Sharing: What’s learning if you’re not sharing it with the team? When you learn new skills, methods, or approaches to problems, be sure to share that knowledge to improve your team’s overall skillset.
3. Reduce Distractions
Distractions are the death of productivity, and working from home certainly comes with its fair share of distraction. Even at the office, distractions can derail productivity and erode your team’s focus. How can you avoid distractions? It’s simple; don’t host meetings where they’ll be distracted.
Encourage employees to participate in online meetings by turning their cameras on. Hosting a video call is the best way to hold everyone accountable. If you’re at the office, try to keep the work area(s) free of distracting things like TVs and restrict internet access.
4. Project Management Software
Team and project management software can help you get projects back on track and hold everyone on the team accountable for their part in the project. There are tons of programs out there, but even something as simple as Google’s GSuite (Google Workspace) can help. With GSuite, you get the tools to host meetings, collaborate on documents, and store/share files across multiple Google accounts.
This can help your team become more organized and better at passing along projects and fulfilling their part in them. Keeping everyone accountable is half the battle, but in order to hold themselves accountable, they need the right tools for the job.
A team with no goals is a team that doesn’t get anywhere. Setting goals not only helps hold everyone accountable, but it also gives both individual team members and the groups as a whole something to reach for. Maybe you’re setting attendance goals, or maybe you want everyone to complete a certain training module by the end of the month. Whatever the case may be, you need goals to keep your team motivated and productive.
Rewarding the team for a job well done can help bring them together and improve their respect for you as a leader. It doesn’t matter how old you get, everyone likes to hear that they’ve done a good job. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should sugarcoat mistakes to make them sound better, but you certainly should reward when goals are met, the quality of work is above average, or when the team has worked really hard to meet a deadline/goal.