Let’s take a look at what you can do to hit the refresh button on your hybrid and remote teams’ processes and practices so they’re not just doing ‘work’, but their best work.
5 Tips for remote work productivity
- Keep communication open
- Make performance measurable
- Team catch ups
- Allow flexible working hours
- Get back to basics
No surprises here, but communication barriers are naturally one of the biggest challenges that arise from widespread remote work. Keeping everyone on the same page and in constant contact is essential.
You might have introduced a bunch of new tech when you first transitioned to remote work, but are they still working for you? Perhaps you’re not using some of them, or not using some of them as you should be (in which case, it might be worth contacting your customer success manager, or sourcing some training to see how you can get more out of it).
Tech can be expensive, so if you’re not using it, ditch it.
There’s a plethora of tools out there, but at a bare minimum to enhance communication you should be using a messaging platform, video conferencing tool, project/task management tool and some sort of document/file sharing. Here’s our favorites at intelliHR.
- Slack – for instant messaging, sharing files and replacing the need for endless emails
- Zoom – for video conferencing
- Asana – for tracking projects and helping teams collaborate
- G-Suite – for cloud storage and easy collaboration on live-updated documents
Now while we’re on this topic, it’s also worth noting that in keeping communication flowing, we also want a good balance between staying open but also not bombarding others with constant contact that can be distracting. This simply comes down to remembering there is a person on the end of every message, and continuing to respect their time and headspace.
The balance for us is still reaching out to people where needed, but also not expecting instant responses. Try to keep contact within core business hours and opt for Slack or email over unscheduled phone calls where possible. We love using Slack because users can snooze their notifications, helping them to stay focused on deep work and then come back to their inbox once it’s done.
Continuous feedback is also a must to ensure key issues or information isn’t slipping through the cracks. If you’re engaging in continuous feedback already (if not, now’s a good time to start) be sure to keep this going. If you’re already running it online, you don’t need to change a thing!
It’s also important that measuring employee performance doesn’t fall by the wayside with remote and hybrid teams. And we don’t mean a once-a-year performance review, because, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but those are dead. Even when your leaders aren’t face-to-face with their teams every day, performance should be tracked and monitored continuously.
How? Make sure you have one centralized, online space to record every employee’s goals and allow them to update their records when milestones are hit or tasks progressed. This gives leaders visibility over how their teams are performing, while HR can have visibility over the entire organization’s performance – from anywhere in the world!
On top of this visibility, the other key benefit of tracking goals across the organization is it helps keep everyone accountable. To close the loop and get the maximum benefit from this process, be sure to have managers keep up fortnightly or monthly one-on-one check-ins with their team members to chat through these goals.
This not only holds everyone to account, but more importantly, it provides an opportunity for people to ask for help if they’re facing a roadblock, or get some advice from their leader to improve performance.
Learn more about continuous performance management.
How are your team meetings going? Are they still going?
It might be time to reflect on how you’re currently running your team meetings, what team members are getting out of them and if you need to increase or decrease their frequency. To do so, you can use our team-retrospective template, which lays out an easy-to-follow process for evaluating meetings or projects.
Wait, but why do we even need meetings again? Regular meetings are a necessity for:
- ensuring tasks are being spread across the team effectively
- holding everyone accountable for helping each other
- reducing feelings of isolation
- limiting segregation between remote and in-office team members
So keep up the team catch-ups! If you’re doing them by video-chat, ask those who are there in the office to all join the meeting individually on their devices (even if you’re in the same room), so the experience feels equal for those at home.
Another tip to add accountability and make these meetings work is to ensure they have a set structure. This helps the meeting run to time, sets expectations for everyone to come prepared, and ensures the meeting is productive!
It could be as simple as asking everyone to contribute three things they worked on last week, three things they’re focusing on this week, one win they’ve had, and one challenge they’re facing that the team might be able to help with. Be sure to share this structure with teams ahead of time so they can be prepared with their contributions when it comes time for the next team catch-up.
See how intelliHR’s team management tools can help manage your remote/hybrid team.
Now more than ever we need to remind ourselves that when it comes to non-time-sensitive work our focus should be on outputs, and less on the hours they worked or what time of day that work was completed. While you want everyone to be available to communicate with their teams during core business hours, we will all need to be somewhat flexible around when work gets completed.
In particular, be conscious of those team members who are trying to work with children at home, those who live in shared accommodation or those with extended families (that can include needy pets!)
This means some staff may find it easier to be productive and do their best work at odd hours of the night, or really early in the morning. Our take on this is? As long as the work is getting done in a timely way and to a high standard, does it really matter when it happens? Not really. Plus, a mid-afternoon (dog) walk could be the productivity boost your team needs!
While there’s no way to enforce how people go about their work from home routine, there are healthier, more functional ways to ‘do’ remote work to maintain productivity.
It might be helpful to remind your staff of these basics:
- Use a dedicated workspace. It’s easier to concentrate when seated at a desk compared to being in bed, on the couch or at the kitchen table – not to mention it’s much better for posture and ergonomics!
- Stick to a routine as much as possible. This can help separate “work time” from “home time” which is important when you’re doing all activities under the one roof. This can also include getting up at a normal time and getting dressed for the day (which helps to get into the right mindset).
- Eat (and drink) healthily. No, we’re not suggesting you give up coffee, or you take up a mid-day GnT. But dehydration actually leads to fatigue and difficulties concentrating, and your diet also impacts your ability to focus, so double down on the water, and make sure you’ve got healthy snacks nearby.
- Take regular breaks, just like a normal work day. It’s easy to end up working excessive overtime hours when working from home because your laptop is never far away, and there’s no end-of-day commute to create a boundary. This could lead to burnout and productivity drops, so taking normal breaks is a must. Encourage staff to schedule these in their calendars and let team members know when they’re taking them so they know they’re offline.
Pulling it all together
Managing hybrid and remote teams has been named a key challenge for HR leaders and managers. So we’ve put together a handy toolkit to help you hit refresh on remote-work productivity, including a best-practice collection of checklists, templates and insights to help engage and drive your remote and hybrid teams in 2021. Download it now.