Managing a remote team is challenging, but the effect of remote work on employee productivity can be positive. To increase team productivity effectively, you need to take a holistic approach to company health by focusing on:
- Trust & ownership
Creating real change takes time, but if you put in the effort, you’ll reap the rewards. Below, we reveal our six top tips to help leaders effectively increase team productivity and performance in remote businesses.
- Create a strong work culture and hire accordingly.
- Clearly define communication guidelines and expectations.
- Offer a variety of workplace setups.
- Invest in your employees’ career and personal development.
- Train managers to manage remote teams effectively.
- Request regular team feedback for continuous improvement.
1. Create a Strong Work Culture & Hire Accordingly
Remote employee productivity starts with company culture. Without a strong culture rooted in trust and ownership, your staff won’t feel empowered to do their best work.
Some managers believe in monitoring and tracking remote employees’ every working hour to improve productivity. However, micromanaging often has the opposite effect. Instead, you should focus on hiring value-aligned talent and create a framework for success by giving them the tools they need to do their job well. This means measuring performance by outcomes rather than how busy an employee seems.
Flexibility in how employees work and engage with each other is also key to a productive team. It’ll help your colleagues achieve a better work-life balance, boost well-being, and improve engagement - all critical ingredients for a productive workforce.
While remote working is inherently more flexible than traditional office work, you still need to build a culture that actively encourages it. To do this, you must create a clear policy about what flexible working means at your business. Enabling employees to work flexible hours, take breaks when needed, and disconnect outside of work hours are good starting points. On the other end of the spectrum, total flexibility would be allowing employees to work wherever they want, whenever they want. Ultimately, you have to find a balance that works best for your business.
2. Clearly Define Communication Guidelines & Expectations
Effective communication is crucial for productivity, especially in a remote work environment. Without it, your teams will struggle to collaborate successfully or produce high-quality work aligned with your business goals.
That’s why you need to create clear communication guidelines. These guidelines will look different for every business, but here’s the fundamental information you should include:
- How and when to use your chosen communication tools and channels
- Language and tone of voice guidance, including a focus on inclusivity and written communications
- Meeting etiquette (e.g., always prepare an agenda, only invite necessary attendees)
- Documentation expectations for the whole team, from senior leadership to your most junior member
- Feedback processes (the how, when, and why)
- Conflict escalation and resolution processes
When it comes to meetings, remember a Zoom-packed day isn’t necessarily a productive day. If you really want to prioritize productivity (and your employees’ well-being), you need to facilitate distraction-free, focused work with fewer meetings. Check out our asynchronous working guide to learn more.
3. Offer a Variety of Workplace Setups
Working from home isn’t productive for everyone, whether due to a lack of space, too many distractions, or the blurry line between professional and personal life. But remote work doesn’t have to be synonymous with home working.
If your remote employees need the buzz of an office or the quiet solitude of a meeting room, why not give them access to local co-working spaces? With flexible pass options available, it’s much cheaper than renting permanent office space. You can even access global co-working spaces through our partner, Hubble.
For those who feel most productive at home, you should ensure they have all the equipment they need to excel. Providing a work from home stipend allows your team members to buy desks, chairs, second screens - or anything else they need to work effectively.
The traditional office setup is an outdated concept; optimal productivity requires flexible solutions that suit everyone.
4. Invest in Your Employees’ Careers & Personal Development
Employee engagement is key to remote productivity and performance, and professional growth is a crucial driver of engagement. To get the best business results, you need to invest in your individual team members and their development.
Providing a learning and development (L&D) budget empowers your team members to take charge of their growth - it’s completely personalized. Employees can use their allocated budget to buy books, attend training courses, earn job-related certificates and qualifications, and more.
Managers can then meet with their team members to discuss how they can apply these learnings to their everyday work, using SMART goals as a framework. Not only does this boost engagement, but it also allows your business to tap into newfound skills and ideas.
You should also consider building a career development framework to provide your remote employees with a clear, structured, and fair path to career progression. This will further motivate them to pursue continuous learning and growth while enhancing engagement and productivity.
5. Train Managers to Manage Remote Teams Effectively
Managing remote team members isn’t easy. Both micromanaging and a completely hands-off approach can cause more harm than good. You have to find a middle ground. Providing some basic staff management training can help your senior employees become great remote leaders.
Here are some best practices for managing remote teams effectively:
- Organize regular one-to-one (virtual) meetings to check in with individual team members. This will give you dedicated time to go through any blockers they may be facing - and celebrate their successes too!
- Track progress using remote team management tools like Monday.com. These tools give you a broader insight into your employee’s ongoing projects without monitoring their every move. They also provide employees with clear direction and structure, so they can work more autonomously You can then use this information as a basis for discussion during one-to-ones.
- Work with team members to set ambitious but achievable goals aligned with the wider company strategy. Clear objectives help motivate your employees and set appropriate expectations of their performance.
- Measure performance using unbiased key performance metrics (KPIs). KPIs shouldn’t be a measurement of how much people work but of how they work, as well as the quality of their output.
- Implement a 360 feedback model to help reduce the impact of bias. During a 360 review cycle, employees are reviewed by themselves, their manager, and their peers to create a well-rounded picture of how well they’re performing. This feedback should be transparent and actionable to help employees stay productive. It should also be complementary to more regular, informal feedback sharing.
- Understand and accept cultural differences, especially within a global team. For example, some cultures speak more directly than others, and some prioritize work-life balance more than others. To avoid culture clash (or any awkward misunderstandings), spend time getting to know your team and their unique outlooks, and be mindful of those differences as you manage them. Your company would also benefit from providing coaching or training to help others manage these differences too.
- Recognize and reward good work to ensure your team feels valued. Whether a shoutout in a team meeting or a raise, acknowledging and celebrating quality work will help keep your employees engaged, fueling sustainable productivity.
6. Request Regular Team Feedback for Continuous Improvement
Finally, employers need to seek regular feedback to best support team members and their ability to be productive. Without a deep understanding of their needs, you can’t optimize your business for long-term success.
For example, employee engagement surveys are ideal for gathering data to drive your HR strategy. As we know, engagement is crucial for effective productivity and performance. In addition to longer, quarterly surveys, you can also send out quick pulse surveys to monitor engagement weekly. This will allow you to take more immediate action as and when needed.
You should also consider appointing people partners to work within specific departments. This gives employees a direct line to HR professionals dedicated to their team. Supporting line managers, people partners can work with team members to overcome challenges and help them achieve their goals and stay productive.
Remember, productivity isn’t the be-all and end-all of a healthy, successful business. You need to focus on engagement, well-being, culture, and more to achieve sustainable growth.