How to Maintain Productivity with a Dispersed Group

As the Coronavirus pandemic began to spread, resulting in the government issuing stay-at-home orders, it presented a unique challenge for businesses: how to continue operations in the absence of physical contact. Each industry had to find its own solution, but for many, the only viable option was to switch to working with remote teams.

Given that the implementation of remote working was a novel concept for many organisations, it was not without its difficulties and a certain degree of doubt. As such, the major concern for managers when it comes to managing remote teams is how to ensure the same level of productivity as they would get from an in-house team. This is an issue that can often cause sleepless nights.

Many individuals who have experience working in distributed teams may be apprehensive about the efficiency of such arrangements. Nevertheless, these anxieties are baseless, as evidenced by the success of businesses that have already embraced a remote working strategy. Research has demonstrated that home-working can increase productivity and surveys have highlighted that the majority of employees favour this approach.

It is possible that organisations may begin to view remote working as a valid and beneficial alternative to the traditional office environment, even after the present pandemic has been resolved. This is especially true if the organisation is willing to implement the three essential strategies necessary for maintaining productivity in a remote working situation.

1. All relationships depend on open lines of communication.

In this day and age of globalisation, it is remarkable that communication is still one of the most difficult challenges we have to face. Those businesses that are just beginning to explore the opportunities of telecommuting should pay close attention to this. It is common for teams that work side-by-side in the same office to have a natural tendency to approach any team member for further discussion on any topic, including following up on digital exchanges such as emails and direct messages.

Without the option of being physically present in the same office, remote workers must make do with whatever forms of communication they have access to. This can be a considerable challenge, particularly for businesses that are new to using distributed teams. To ensure that everyone remains included and up-to-date, it is essential to create a solid communication plan. For companies that are aiming to successfully manage remote workforces, communication must be at the forefront of their strategy.

In addition to using telephonic and online meeting tools such as Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom, it is essential to ensure that all of the team’s discussions are properly recorded. This is in order to avoid the loss of any important information. Keeping accurate records of all conversations is essential, whether this is in the form of emails with meeting minutes, a project management tool such as Jira, or a team communication platform such as Slack.

Maintaining regular contact with remote staff can be effectively achieved by taking a redundant approach. It is important to ensure that all relevant information is documented, even if you assume that everyone is already aware of the details. This process of over-communication may seem excessive, but it is an effective way to ensure that all parties have the same understanding and to create a reliable communication system for when working from a distance.

2. Accept some wiggle room

In an office setting, two elements play a role in forming working habits. On the one hand, the organisation sets the framework for working hours, provides necessary equipment, and monitors employee productivity. On the other hand, each individual worker adds their own routines to enhance their work. However, when employees are working remotely, these elements are no longer necessary.

When you initially start working from home, it can be difficult to adjust since your usual methods and processes of working can be disrupted. This can lead to a range of issues such as employees struggling to achieve the right balance between their work and home life and bosses becoming overly controlling of their staff. Consequently, this can have a negative effect on mood and productivity. That is why it is essential to be able to adapt to new situations.

It is essential to be open and honest about any issues which may arise during the process of transitioning to remote working (particularly in the initial stages), such as limited internet access or the need to look after children. Enhancing the adaptability of your organisation does not mean that you should go ‘all out’, but rather it is about allowing your employees some flexibility to explore different methods until they find a solution that works most effectively for them.

Having an open-minded attitude towards people is essential, but this flexibility should also be extended to the work itself. Recognising that you may not have the same level of control as you would in a work environment, it is preferable to focus on your objectives rather than the amount of time you spend working. Furthermore, relying solely on the traditional method of recording progress by measuring the number of hours spent on each task is no longer sufficient; new ways of tracking progress must be established.

Consequently, you may find it imperative to hold meetings more often, introduce a ticketing system to address issues, alter your overall plan, or devise completely new key performance indicators. Don’t panic. All of these are beneficial developments as successful remote work necessitates its own regulations to be adhered to.

3. Make time for friends and family.

In many work environments, employees are encouraged to engage in more than just the basic day-to-day conversations with their colleagues. Working together as a team can often generate a sense of camaraderie, which can manifest itself in the form of ‘watercooler talks’ or after-work socials at a local bar. Unfortunately, this feeling of togetherness is lost when working from home, which has become increasingly necessary during the Coronavirus pandemic. Utilising methods such as instant messaging and email to stay in contact with colleagues can have a negative impact on the human quality of communication. Furthermore, it can also inhibit employees’ ability to be spontaneous and creative.

It is not necessary for remote teams to lack morale and engagement. Maintaining high morale and participation is critical for any team, regardless of whether they are remote or not. It is true that activities such as karaoke nights at the bar cannot be replicated digitally, but there are still ways to facilitate bonding among team members outside of work. Examples of this include gatherings where the focus is on discussing the latest film or playing a multiplayer game online, or even just having a virtual happy hour. These activities can help to create a sense of camaraderie and solidarity amongst the staff.

The availability of various communication tools allows colleagues to stay in touch and serves as a reminder that there are real people at the receiving end of the emails. This can encourage employees to be more compassionate and may lead to the emergence of new ways of interacting with each other which can be beneficial to both their professional and personal lives. Possessing these chances to communicate with others can significantly enhance the work environment, making it feel more like a meaningful contribution than a job.

It’s Time to Embrace Tomorrow’s Proven Model

Since our inception, Works has adopted a policy of utilising remote teams, and this has been instrumental in driving our success as one of the foremost companies in our sector. We attribute our achievements to the advantages of remote work, such as the ability to collaborate with the best talent regardless of their location, the enrichment of our corporate culture, the increased productivity that this approach enabled, and the fact that we have been well placed to adapt to the changing work environment of today.

After conducting an extensive period of experimentation, we have come to the conclusion that remote working is an effective way of conducting business. However, there are a number of challenges to be addressed when making this transition. We wish to emphasise that this change should not be viewed as a negative; instead, we would encourage you to embrace the potential of remote collaboration, adjust to a new way of working, and evaluate the effect it has on your productivity.

It’s anyone’s guess. You may wish to continue using remote teams even after the epidemic is finished.

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