Remote work is now more commonplace for major companies worldwide, as present-day uncertainties have driven employees to work from basically anywhere in the world. It’s estimated by 2025, more than 87% or 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely, according to a 2020 Upwork survey.
With the advancements of remote working technology and collaboration software, teams who can now work without the need to be present in the office every day are finding it a lot easier to work from the comfort of their homes.
Organizations have found that remote teams are more productive when working from home, as their schedules are more flexible and daily routines more relaxed. One study found that those who do can work from home — will work more than 1.4 days extra per month, adding to around three additional weeks of work per year.
While this may help increase productivity and boost annual revenue, the same study found that 29% of remote employees find it challenging to have a healthy work-life balance. This has brought forth a new challenge for departmental managers, as they seek innovative ways to assist their remote teams while at the same time ensuring they can remain as productive as those who work from the office.
We see how remote teams and working from home have become a double-edged sword in many ways. While it offers excellent flexibility, it can also become a bit lonely as employees are disconnected from face-to-face meetings or social interactions with their colleagues.
What are some of the challenges for remote teams?
Workplace Disconnection: Over time, employees may start to feel more disconnected from their current employers and colleagues. One study found that remote employees may become more socially isolated from their fellow employees and organizations.
Over time, social isolation may draw in a lack of professional support from colleagues and result in some remote employees completely leaving their organizations.
Distractions: Remote employees may have better flexibility in their schedules, but distractions at home can quickly become a burden for remote teams and managers. Research indicates that around 37% of remote workers have struggled to complete a task on time and have procrastinated until an assignment’s deadline.
Whether big or small, family demands and having to deal with a busy work schedule make it difficult for employees to concentrate and fulfill their daily routines or assignments.
Lack of Routine: Routine at home can look a lot different compared to the office. While working from the office creates a routine in some employees’ schedules, working from home makes it a bit more challenging for remote teams to find their feet at the start.
Eliminating weekly face-to-face meetings or peer-to-peer collaboration projects takes a toll on someone’s routine. As a result, remote employees will need to establish a new routine and how they’ll be juggling both working from home and remaining as productive as their counterparts working from the office.
Here are five things that can help remote employees be more productive
With the help of technology and collaboration software, remote teams can now easily be in constant contact with each other. This has enhanced the remote working experience, and team managers have better leverage over how to track and monitor tasks, projects, and what their teams are currently working with.
Intuitive Calendar Management
Better scheduling and planning helps not only remote teams but also other professionals and entrepreneurs to be more productive. For example, it makes adding and removing items or projects easier, prioritizing tasks, assigning new collaborations, and helping remote employees be more effective with their time management.
Digital calendars also put more control in the hands of employees and how to keep track of everything. Employees who implement intuitive calendar management can simplify and organize essential tasks. Having clear-cut deadlines for each new item onto digital calendars forces employees to establish estimates for priority work.
Effective Communication Strategies
Being productive or improving daily productivity doesn’t just mean having a better schedule, but also ensuring each team member has an idea of what they should be doing and what will be expected from them.
Effective communication is one of the core factors that can help remote team managers achieve success and improve team productivity.
Working from home has made communication efforts a bit more stressful for some remote team members. Quick chats and interactions with other colleagues are somewhat limited to the tools and platforms employees access.
Implementing a communication strategy helps team members have a constructive plan for projects and new tasks. Still, when a problem or issue arises, team members will be better equipped with the proper know-how to solve the specific issues without managerial intervention.
Leveraging Better Collaboration Software
When many teams first went remote at the start of the pandemic, digital platforms and collaboration software were somewhat scarce and limited in their capabilities. Now, almost two years later, these platforms can handle various tasks, and teams can easily communicate, share and upload new projects.
Depending on team needs, using the right tools means that remote employees can leverage their capabilities and how they can improve their productivity.
Some tools, such as Calander.com, showcase a variety of integrated features. Team managers will have the ability to coach their team members on how to use each tool or platform to its best power while ensuring employees are on track with their current assignments.
Although we now have many great online tools to choose from, helping remote teams work more effectively, team managers should make the overall experience more streamlined through manual intervention.
Streamlining workflow, not only for yourself but also for remote employees, makes the overall job experience less stressful and highlights what is more important. More so, it helps remote teams function better in stressful situations, and can help them feel less overwhelmed.
While the streamlining process takes some time to figure out, team managers should plan how they will be working to better productivity and implement new and recurring ideas.
As with office or hybrid teams, remote employees should have an end goal that they’re working towards. Again, having a clear idea of the company or the organizational goals helps determine where more focus and energy should be attended to.
When a team shares a collective goal, they can work together to achieve this a lot quicker and easier. Identifying goals can also mean that work is divided equally among team members and that employees will have better control over their tasks.
Setting up new goals for every project can take some time, but it helps prove productivity. Remote employees will now simply view some projects as more important than others. Still, it collectively gives them the ability to work more efficiently and use digital tools to help them achieve better results.
Remote working is here to stay, and for some team members, that means that social interaction with their colleagues will be limited to online conferences, phone calls, and email. While this may be the case for some remote employees, software and technology have made it easier to connect and more in contact with fellow peers and team managers.
The advent of remote working has, on the other hand, made it a bit more challenging for remote employees to stay productive throughout their day. Distractions, lack of proper guidance, or not having adequate communication strategies can put remote team members in a complex space.
Team managers can leverage both digital and manual tools to help boost team productivity, ensuring employees are on board with organizational goals and how to achieve better results when working in isolation.
Image Credit: Athena; Pexels; Thanks!
Carma Khatib is a passionate innovator and product manager with significant experience driving digital products from conception to launch. My mission is to find and create solutions to real-world problems that ultimately impact a company's triple bottom line: People, Planet, and Profit.