Guest post by Anastasia Masters, Content Marketing Associate at G2.com
As technology advances and we become more interconnected globally, the workplace is no longer confined to a single location. Many teams are spread across nations and countries as companies become more global and flexible in regards to policies surrounding remote work and working from home.
If your company offers a flexible work environment or even is entirely remote, you don’t want quality and productivity to suffer from the creative working environment. Let’s make sure that you are set to lead your team no matter their location.
Making sure your team’s productive in a work from home environment
Whether you are new to a leadership position or you’ve been leading others for years, managing a group that isn’t fully together has its own set of difficulties. You’re measured on your team’s performance, and allowing for remote work shouldn’t change performance levels. There’s a few tips and items to prioritize in order to make sure your team is able to meet expectations and continue hitting the goals set.
Encourage normal working hours
Working from home gives the flexibility to pick up the computer whenever it’s convenient in the day- that could be 6 a.m. or even 10 p.m. In order to have productive employees and avoid burn-out, encourage your employees to work during normal working hours. If your company is dispersed through only a few, close time-zones, working during normal hours makes collaboration easier on all parties involved. Communication can take place through an instant message instead of drawn-out email threads.
Your company may be spread internationally or single employees may be. If this is the case, encourage them to work the normal working hours for wherever they are. It’s obvious that your team is going to work late sometimes in order to reach goals or finish a project (not something specific to remote teams), but it’s important to help encourage a healthy balance no matter the location of your team.
You can’t force a remote member to work specific hours but encourage regular schedule by emphasizing how it will make life easier for all parties involved. It will help create a clear line between work and life.
Define the line between work and life
One of the biggest factors of burn-out is the inability to feel as if you can decompress from work- often due to being overworked. In order to avoid burn-out on your team and ensure that your team doesn’t take their work home- figuratively that is.
Encourage your team members to have a dedicated spot to work from when they’re at home. This shouldn’t be their comfy spot on the couch- it’s an unproductive area to work from. A spot such as their kitchen table or even an actual desk can help in their ability to keep work and life separate. If one of your direct reports enjoys working from public places such as coffee shops or libraries, consider allowing noise-canceling headphones to be expensed. They’ll be able to better focus and more productive if they aren’t distracted by the background noise.
Encourage your team to step away from their working space to take some time for lunch. A healthy lunch can encourage productivity, plus a break every so often is important for focus. Consider encouraging your team to track their time since when working from home, it’s easy to get lost in your work and forget to take breaks.
Implement time batching
A great practice to implement on your team, regardless if your entire time is remote or not, is time batching. You don’t want to force this practice on your team, it may seem like you’re micromanaging, but by stressing the effectiveness and benefits, your remote team members can stay productive while at home.
Time batching is a productivity hack where you group similar activities together and do them all at the same time. Additionally, you can take time batching to the next level by blocking off periods of time in your calendar that you only dedicate to a certain group of activities.
Using time batching can help you stay on track and finish projects before moving on to the next one. It’s also a great way to stay focused and avoid the constant noise of notifications. Encourage your team to use time batching when working remotely in order to stay on track. Using a calendar event and time management apps can help your team stay as productive as possible during their working time.
Limit the notifications
If your team is in crunch mode trying to reach their goals or perhaps they’re easily distracted, perhaps consider suggesting a notification free period each day. This can include anything from muting computer applications to silencing your cell phones.
Turning off notifications doesn’t necessarily mean becoming unavailable to others online. It simply means customizing notification preferences so that you are only notified of things of the utmost importance. It can help keep your team and you focused and on task when there is pressing work at hand. Working remotely can lead your team to become distracted more easily, but by suggesting they limit their notifications, they can get in the zone and focus.
With remote team members, workforce communication platforms make it easy for the team to bond no matter the distance. However, these channels can easily go down a rabbit hole in conversation. Establish a team and company internal communications policy. Identify the use for each communication tool and the appropriate tone to be used. You don’t want to seem controlling, but these policies can help the team stay to deadlines and recognize that private channels may be more appropriate for side conversations.
Stick to deadlines and to-do lists
In order to stay organized as a leader and ensure that your team is meeting goals, it’s important to implement to-do lists and deadlines on your team. Keeping everyone in the know about when things are expected to done will make sure that you can accurately report on the team’s progress to upper management and can jump in if someone is falling behind.
Deadlines can be used for bigger projects as a whole and even the smaller tasks involved in the whole project. By setting several, smaller deadlines, your team won’t feel as overwhelmed by projects since they will have time to work on the project little by little. There’s not an infinite amount of time in the world, so using deadlines can keep your remote team on progress and make collaboration easier on each party.
To-do lists are an old organizational tool that are still relevant in the digital age with the presence of online digital to-do lists. Many project management software tools allow your team to break down their day into smaller tasks that can be done. Breaking down big tasks into a bunch of smaller tasks makes big tasks seem more manageable and allows for the use of time batching. Make sure your remote team members prioritize work correctly especially if others are involved in the project. You don’t want your team to be held back due to the lack of action of one member.
Work and home: separate but together
Working from home provides a great amount of flexibility and the ability to work from anywhere- whether that is your local coffee shop or in a café in Amsterdam. However, remote work needs to be as productive as it would be if your team was local. Make sure as a leader you’re setting your team up for success by giving tips and tricks to make them most productive. Remember, just because you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean that your work should become your life.
Anastasia Masters is a Content Marketing Associate at G2.com. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in history. In her spare time, Anastasia enjoys eating her way through Chicago’s different neighborhoods, planning her next trip, and binging a new show on Netflix. You can follow her on Twitter at @anastasia_mm0.