Are you working from home? Are you the boss of a remote team? Congratulations! You're part of a growing group of professionals who find that the flexibility and freedom of remote work is a great way to run a business.
While working remotely offers many benefits for business owners and teams, including greater flexibility and improved work-life balance, managing a remote team can be tricky and comes with some challenges. Most business owners working with remote teams or those about to start a remote business wonder how they can know if their team is keeping their end of the bargain when they're not coming to the office every day and don't have someone who oversees them all the time. Or how they can keep remote workers happy and productive when working from home or another remote location.
In this post, we'll go over seven of the most important things to remember when working with remote teams to make them as happy as possible and to get more out of them than you would if they were in an office. These tips are also crucial in traditional office settings but become more relevant when working with remote teams. Others only apply to remote work situations, but all of them are important to any remote business's success.
- Track productivity & engagement
- Offer the right incentives
- Set monthly & quarterly goals for your team, but let them set their weekly & daily goals
- Keep a routine yourself & encourage your team to do the same
- Choose the right productivity tools
- Be timely & generous with constructive feedback
- Create opportunities for face-to-face contact
They say that what isn't measured isn't managed, which is as accurate for remote team productivity as it is for anything else. Before applying any of the other tips on this list, you want to have a clear view of how your remote team is performing so far. This translates into measuring their productivity.
Productivity metrics and KPIs are usually specific to each industry, and they can be different within the same industry when considering in-person or remote collaborators. Depending on your particular industry, some common metrics you can use to assess productivity are:
- Number of tasks completed
- Number of new clients acquired
- Sales figures generated
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score
- First Call Resolution (FCR) rate, and more.
On the other hand, measuring engagement may help identify possible causes of underperformance and give you a better idea of how to motivate your team. Also, engagement is one of the best employee retention strategies as employees who feel engaged tend to stay longer in the organization. Engagement reflects how motivated, invested, and enthusiastic employees are about their work, so measuring it is key to a remote team's success.
There are different ways to measure engagement, including:
- Number of completed tasks vs. number of abandoned tasks
- Number of suggestions for improvements within a set period
- Levels of proactivity shown in day-to-day work
- Feedback from 1-on-1 or group meetings
- Average response time to 1-on-1 or group messages
In addition to these general metrics, you can also look at specific tools your team uses and see how often they use them.
Tracking these metrics before and after implementing the rest of the tips you'll find below is a great way to see your progress in action and to know what works for your particular team and what doesn't.
The type of incentives you offer will depend on your company's goals and what you feel would be most motivating for your team. Incentives can be financial, such as bonuses or commissions, or they can be non-financial, such as time off, flexible work hours, or additional vacation days.
You can explore creative ways to give out financial incentives, such as paying bonuses in crypto. Your team members can use any cryptocurrency exchange platform to trade the crypto for fiat currency (cash) if they want to, or keep the crypto as an investment and let it grow over time.
If your company uses crypto or NFTs to add value to your customers, incentivizing your team with the same tokens will be a strong incentive for them to work harder and better. The company's success will mean your employees' tokens will become more valuable, giving them twice the reasons to do their best.
Another type of incentive that is often overlooked with remote workers is insurance. Many fully remote businesses neglect to provide these benefits that can become solid incentives for workers to do their best. Although we've come a long way, remote work still feels less stable and secure than working in an office. Offering your team members health, life, or even disability income insurance or other types of security can help improve employee satisfaction and, as a result, productivity.
One of the most notable characteristics of remote work is flexibility. People who prefer working remotely usually seek the freedom and flexibility to set their schedules and work at their own pace. While completely flexible schedules may be disruptive to your business's processes and may not be an option, giving your remote workers some degree of flexibility regarding how they'll work and use their time can go a long way in employee satisfaction. This, in turn, will boost productivity in most cases.
One smart way to do this is to establish medium-term goals for each team yourself and give each collaborator the freedom to set their own short-term goals and timeline. Of course, you'll have to verify that their goals align with the longer-term goals you set, and you can offer feedback if you feel that the goals they set won't help the company as a whole reach the monthly or quarterly goals. While this may seem like more work than usual, letting your team members set their own goals gives them a sense of ownership over their work and allows them to be more creative in finding ways to achieve those goals.
Working from home can be a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it allows for much flexibility and freedom regarding hours and working from wherever. On the other hand, it can be easy to get caught up in work and forget to take breaks or take care of yourself. Some remote workers also tend to feel they have to work harder and produce better results than in-person teams because their work is sometimes less visible. This can quickly lead to anxiety, burnout, low satisfaction, and less productivity.
It's important to encourage your team to find a routine that works for them and to stick to it as much as possible, even though they don't have to go to the office. This may mean getting up at the same time every day, taking regular breaks, and avoiding working into the night or on weekends if possible.
In this sense, it's good to establish a routine that psychologically tells your brain that you're done working for the day and that it's time to rest or relax. In a regular office job, this usually means hopping on a bus or driving back home, which is unavoidable. But if you're already working from home, the end of work can easily merge with making and eating dinner and everything else you do before you go to bed. Therefore, finding something that will get your mind off work completely when you're finished for the day is essential.
These types of routines are something you should talk about with your remote team. It doesn't have to be formal, like a point you would address in a meeting. It can be as simple as bringing it up as small talk before or after a meeting, during virtual happy hours, or similar team-building activities.
There are many productivity tools out there, and it can be hard to know which ones to choose. However, no modern business (especially if it's a remote business) will reach its maximum potential without using tools that make work and team management faster, easier, and better.
The right productivity tools will vary from business to business and team to team. But there are some basics that every remote team should have, such as:
- A project management tool like Asana, Trello, or Jira
- A chat tool like Slack or Zoom
- A file-sharing tool like Google Drive or DropBox
Besides these tools, new technologies are emerging that promise to change remote work for good. I'm talking about virtual offices in the metaverse, where remote teams, represented in VR as avatars, can meet almost as if they were going to the office in person. These metaverse-based virtual offices are not to be confused with traditional virtual offices or virtual business address providers, B2B businesses that provide real physical addresses where remote companies can receive incoming physical mail.
Many big tech companies are working around the clock to make the metaverse and the new virtual office a reality. They've already integrated these virtual spaces with the most popular productivity tools like the ones mentioned above. These virtual offices effectively remove distance from the equation and make remote work feel more like regular work, only a lot more fun.
Nothing kills productivity like waiting for a superior's feedback that never comes. That's why managers and business owners need to be as timely as possible when giving feedback, whether it's positive or negative. The sooner your team knows what they're doing right or wrong, the sooner they can make changes and improve their performance.
And when it comes to negative feedback, it's crucial to be as specific and constructive as possible. This way, team members can understand what they need to work on, and they won't feel like they're being attacked.
It's also important to remember that you should give feedback regularly, not just when there's a problem. Positive feedback and focusing on what was done right are more effective at improving productivity than negative feedback. So, make sure to give your team members a pat on the back whenever you can.
Even if your team is fully remote (or, especially so, even), you'll all benefit from some face-to-face contact. It's common for some remote business owners to work for years without ever meeting their team members in person. While this is sometimes unavoidable, like when team members are on a different continent on the other side of the world, it's vital to make an effort to have face-to-face contact now and then. If you have the resources, you can fly everyone in for an annual company retreat or have quarterly meet-ups in different cities to reduce costs. This will go a long way in making your team feel more connected and appreciated.
Maintaining a remote team can be challenging, but it's definitely worth the effort, especially considering that more and more businesses are working with partially or fully remote teams. If your business is one of them, following the tips in this article will help you build a stronger, happier, and more productive team. Start by setting clear expectations, giving your remote workers the flexibility and autonomy they expect, offering the right incentives, investing in the right productivity tools, and being timely and generous with feedback. And don't forget to create opportunities for face-to-face contact, even if it's just a yearly company retreat. Finally, leveraging new trends in remote work, such as the metaverse and true virtual offices, is an intelligent way to future-proof your business and reach long-term success.
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