Remote work is the new normal for many businesses in 2021. Businesses have to deal with remote employees, distributed or global teams, all the while trying to maintain a high level of productivity.

Businesses need to focus on building productivity protocols that take into account both sides of the equation i.e. the effectiveness of work that the company is receiving and the well-being of the employees that are putting in the work. This is the only way to create an environment of success when managing remote teams.

When overseeing remote employees or remote teams, you face challenges that wouldn’t have cropped up if everyone was working from the office. The pandemic only complicates this further with the uncertainty it brings.

Let’s look at the top ways that successful businesses are keeping up and increasing the productivity of their remote employees and remote teams.

Set up processes to help your teams operate with greater autonomy

The dynamics of an in-office team don’t necessarily translate when working fully remote. You might feel inclined to keep closer tabs on your team and how they are performing. That’s a mistake you don’t want to make.

For your teams to deliver, you have to trust your remote employees. You hired your team because you are convinced of their capabilities. Give them a chance to show that. Allowing greater autonomy when managing remote teams has a direct relation to the way employees perceive job satisfaction.

Instead of constantly checking in with them, create a process based on goals, deadlines, and updates. This helps them from being distracted and sets a clear path for them in terms of what they need to do.

The greater the freedom and autonomy to work, the better their performance and productivity. This is because they can work with clear minds without worrying about someone keeping a constant oversight on them.

Give them the right tools and equipment to succeed when working remotely

The biggest asset for managing remote teams is having access to the right set of tools and to maintain seamless work practices. Technology plays an important role in the success of remote employees and remote teams.

Ensure that you are training your teams on the best practices of using the different tools for remote working that the business has adopted. It is not just about the communication tools that you use for IM, email, video call, etc. It is also about all the tools that the teams use to execute their tasks.

These could be tools used to track goals to ones used to provide feedback. Or ones used to communicate with clients and vendors. Map out a list of tools your remote teams need and make sure they have access to them. This will make a world of difference and will help them be more productive.

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Ask your remote teams to have a dedicated workspace

When working remotely, it is very easy to slip into the habit of working from anywhere in the house. While this might feel like freedom, it in fact has a negative effect on productivity. This is because people can become too distracted by what is going on around them.

Having a dedicated workspace will give them a sense of regulation in terms of how they conduct their workday. It helps in establishing a clear demarcation between their work and the ongoings of their personal life.

It could be a completely different room or a dedicated corner in a room, having a space that is only for work helps in staying on track. You could offer them a stipend to set up a home office or facilitate in any other way that helps them have a workspace.

The mental and physical separation goes a long way in keeping up productivity and is something you should encourage when managing remote teams.

Encourage your remote employees to maintain their physical and mental well-being

It is common to experience burnout for any employee, let alone one working remotely. Just like you would want to avoid that when your teams are in-office, it should be a goal to avoid it for your remote teams as well.

There are many ways you can encourage your remote workforce to look after themselves. A mental wellness workshop is a great start to this. It helps your teams to manage their stress and other issues that are bringing them down.

Great ways to encourage physical wellness can be through a fitness challenge within the organization. As a team, they can all set weekly and monthly fitness goals. The camaraderie and the company of their colleagues will help them to regularly keep up with those goals.

Maybe there is something else like gym memberships that you can give out. You have to find ways that work for your teams and make that a regular fixture.

The reason to look after the well-being of your remote employees is that it has a direct correlation to their productivity and performance. The better they feel mentally and physically, the better they are able to get their work done.

Make non-work interactions a part of the company culture

Remote work helps people stay productive, and is beneficial to companies in terms of their costs and overhead. But if not addresses properly, it can reduce the social component of working together. It is important to retain this social fabric as it helps in keeping teams together.

Activities such as the water cooler conversations, a talk over lunch, walking by someone’s desk, etc. provide opportunities for employees to interact with each other in a more casual manner. It is important to maintain a company culture working in a remote work environment.

Weekly team socials and calls where the employees can talk about anything except work helps in maintaining a friendly relationship between everyone. A group lunch via video or an after-work Zoom hang is a great way to encourage non-work interactions. Having an online game night or movie night is great too, just like you would have if the teams were working from an office.

These activities help employees bond and get to know each other outside of a work setting. Such bonding brings teams closer together and helps them when working. Such teams tend to be more productive than the ones where the employees don’t know each other well.

Final note

Managing remote teams can be challenging at times. But remote teams and employees that are managed correctly are far more productive than traditional teams working from physical office spaces.

It is all about recognizing areas that can/are hampering productivity and fixing them before they become a concern. Done right, there is nothing like the performance that a remote employee and a remote team can achieve.

Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss. - Lee Iacocca, American automobile executive.

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