Are you trying to work remotely, but feel that you and your team are not as productive as you would when working from the same location? We know exactly how you feel. In today’s workplace, being flexible comes with the need to adapt to changing working situations – including ones that require you to work away from your team. Although remote working offers the freedom of working anywhere, the lack of direct interaction often leaves team feeling isolated and demotivated, which makes it harder for you to achieve your goals.
When you can’t interact directly with your team, the most viable option would be to turn to the internet. This article offers proven tips to help you maintain your productivity through a series of activities you can do virtually.
1. Clearly Define and Prioritise Your Goals
The first thing a team needs to run effectively is to have a clear vision of what they want to achieve. For every single product/project goals your team wants to achieve, create a clear breakdown of the goal and associated actions needed to make it happen, and give priorities to each item. This can be done in a project planning meeting over video conference, where everyone contibutes their thoughts and ideas to achieve those goals. Once you have a list of items needed, arrange them based on priorities and treat the list as the single source of truth and keep it where it’s accessible for everyone at anytime.
2. Setup a Clear and Attractive Work Visualisation Board
For all the items you captured from the planning meeting, put it on a single location on the internet where it’s accessible by anyone from anywhere. There are many cloud-based collaboration tools that exist today – try out a few and choose the one that works for you. Most web-based collaboration tools now offer kanban-styled boards where you can lay out all your itemised goals on a single board and track its progress. Regardless the tool you choose, ensure the priorities between items are clearly identified so you can be sure to always work on the highest priority item first. Also, make it a habit of updating the board as soon as new info is available, so the board can act as information highway between team members.
3. Establish Routines Through Daily Checkpoints
Once you have all your itemised goals on a centralised place, go through each items in a daily checkpoint meeting – or what some might call daily standup/huddle. Although indirectly, we can still maintain a consistent communication through the web. The goal in these meetings should be:
- Ensuring team morale stays high through regular interactions between team members
- To ensure the team makes daily progress towards the goals
- Celebrate achivements and continuously align the efforts needed to complete remaining goals
- Everyone has clear goals to achieve every day, moving the project forward
But, doing checkpoint meetings just for the sake of doing it is also not a guaranteed success. We also need to do it right with these strategies
- Opt for video conference meeting where everyone can see each other. Compared to audio calls, video calls offer better visual cues when talking with others – maximising the chances of effective communication. Video calls should always be the prime choice, followed by audio. If all else fails only then should you revert to text communication.
- Do your daily checkpoint at the same time everyday. From my experience, teams who perform their daily checkpoint first thing in the morning usually perform better in nailing their daily goals compared to those who do it in the middle of the end of the day.
- Ensure all team members are present and on time. Now this sounds like a no-brainer, but ask yourself if this is already happening in your current team. If this was important back when you’re working from the same place, it’s even more important now that you’re working away from each other. Having consistent team interaction can really help get things done.
- Limit your checkpoint meeting to run max 15 minutes. By limiting the time, you will start doing effective communication that focus on the essentials. Your discussions should be short & sharp, minimising time wasted from aimless chats.
- To finish your meeting within 15 minutes, try to have a pre-defined template of what you want to focus on. One example is to have everyone take turns answering these 3 questions:
- What did you accomplish yesterday?
- What do you plan to finish today?
- Do you need help with anything, or can you offer help to others?
You can phrase the questions however you like, but the point is so everyone comes out of the meeting armed with the right mindset and goals to accomplish for the day.
4. Do Frequent & Casual Discussions
For any other discussion that lies outside of the daily checkpoint scope, setup separate meetings. During the daily checkpoints you will often find topics where longer discussions are needed by certain team members. For these situations, make it an agenda to directly schedule follow-up discussions for the topic. This way you can ensure everyone keeps progressing without having to be dragged into different topics that don’t concern them. The main idea is although working remotely, we can still reach out to anyone for discussion, as if we’re in the same location.
5. Invest in Proper Collaboration Tools
Since most of your interaction is now done through the web, it’s very important you have the right tools to support seamless collaboration between team members. Some recommendations of what you need:
- Communication: Google Meet, Zoom, Telegram, WhatsApp, etc
- Collaboration & Visualisation: Slack, Asana, Trello, JIRA
- Fast Internet
- Video/Audio equipment
6. Get in the Zone
Whether you work from home or any other place away from your office, designate a space exclusively for work. Whichever space you choose, ideally this should be a zone you feel most comfortable and productive working from. You might want to set up a nice work desk and chair on one corner of your living room and make sure you have all the essentials around you to work seamlessly. Such as access to water, toilet, or even some ornamental plant decorations to help you focus. Having this zone in place should make it easier for you to switch into productive mode, compared to working in a spot where you normally lay around doing nothing.
7. Find the Right Coach/Facilitator
This goes without saying, but calling outside experts to help implement your remote work policy can bring huge impact. Aside from having relevant knowledge on the subject, having a dedicated coach means your teams will always have someone to guide them through the process, making sure the team have everything they need to achieve the goals – especially when they just started working remotely. A good expert loves to share their knowledge. They know building an remote team culture takes time and consistency, so they’d be more than happy to work with you to come up with suitable plan to help you build an effective team culture remotely.