While working remotely has its benefits, it can make keeping your team on task more difficult. Flexible schedules, varying time zones, and the inability to physically see your team work on the tasks at hand can lead to miscommunications, rushed work, and missed deadlines. We’ve covered ways to boost your productivity while working remotely. In this sister post, we will discuss 6 ways to keep your remote team on task:
Develop a bond with your team
Create opportunities for them to chat professionally and casually. While working remote, it’s easy to feel like you’re not a part of a team. Unlike your office, where you can visit with and talk to your co-workers in person, the only contact you typically have with your remote team is virtual.
By getting to know one another both professionally and personally, your team can form the kind of connections that they’d build in employee break rooms and over after-work happy hours. This also familiarizes you with your team’s varying work style and personalities. Developing a bond with your team increases camaraderie and will improve their work ethic because they will care more about the people they’re working alongside. Thus, they will also be more encouraged to remain on task.
Keep communication lines open
Your team should know how and when they can reach you and the rest of their team. If they send you a message, they should know when to expect a reply. You should also encourage your team to leave that chat rooms open in the background any time they are working. This allows them to receive messages from yourself and other teammates and makes sure they’re available to ask and answer questions as needed. This is also an easy way to check in with quieter or less active team members, see how they are, and receive an update on their progress.
Establish a regular meeting schedule
Consistent communication is critical when managing a remote team. You need to treat your virtual office as a physical one and set up check-ins, 1-on-1s, and team meetings.
Check-ins or virtual standups should happen daily. They don’t have to be longer than a few minutes, but during that time you should say “hi” to each member of your team and ask how they’re doing. Ask about their progress, what they’re working on that day, and if there’s anything that you can do to help them achieve their goals.
The team leader should establish weekly 1-on-1 meetings with each member of their team. These meetings are longer than check-ins and delve deeper into the progress, comments, and concerns of each team member. These meetings will give you a clearer understanding of each team member’s development and if there are problems that need to be solved.
Team meetings can occur at the beginning or end of the week. Here, the team leader can receive project updates from the team as a whole, dole out new assignments, and address any work-related issues or concerns that the team may have. These things are usually short and meant to ensure that everyone is on the same page and prepared to continue working on the tasks at hand.
Be mindful of time zones and work schedules
Often, virtual teams will be working from all across the country—sometimes all over the world! Furthermore, some people get their best work done at varying times of the day. When you first establish bonds with your team, get to know where everyone is located and what times you can expect to see them online or working. Whether it’s 3pm or 3am, make sure that each member of your team is consistent in the times they are working and, most importantly, in the work they produce. Be sure to set meeting times that will work for everyone, and be respectful about when you send emails or instant messages.
Don’t overwhelm your remote team
Keeping in touch with your team is great, but be mindful of how many emails you’re sending and how often you’re asking about project updates. If your team members are spending an exorbitant amount of time responding to your multiple, daily emails, Skype calls, and instant messages, they will feel micromanaged, distracted from the project they are working on, and grow annoyed with you.
Instead, try and communicate the information you’d otherwise send through these channels in your daily check-ins, 1-on-1s, and team meetings. You can get a lot more across during these times than if you break it up into multiple messages or novel-length emails. When you do contact your team members outside of meetings, make sure you’re concise and to the point.
Use software tools to help manage your projects
Tools like Slope can help you and your virtual team organize all of your work on a dashboard that you can use from start to finish. Software like this allows you to easily assign tasks and due dates to your team and keep track of when deadlines are approaching. Features like automated stage tracking makes it easy for you to track the progress of your team without having to having to constantly remind them to manually update their project’s status.
As more people trade their cubicles for remote workspaces, it’s important to bear in mind that — even if they’re working from home — they still have projects to work on. It’s easy for team members to get distracted in the confines of their living rooms, but these 6 tips will help you keep your team on task and projects completed on schedule.