Working remotely has evolved from an emerging trend to the new normal. Productivity is the assumed result of eliminating the commute to the office, yet getting more hours to work is not the same as actually getting more done.
Achieving success in remote work stems directly from nurturing an effective, cohesive culture. Here are 9 ideas to ensure your team is flexible, integrated and ultimately, more productive.
- Create a Productive Environment
A home office must be comfortable, well stocked and above all else, private. Effective remote employees should be able to focus on work without the distractions of the household. Expenses, including a strong internet connection, monitors, a desk and more pay big returns in productivity and may even be covered by the company.
- Immerse Yourself in Technology
Technology is essential for naturally communicating with team members and clients as if you were in the corporate office. It’s the key ingredient for everything from calls, task lists, timelines and screen sharing, to whiteboard sharing and simple calendar-keeping. Technology that doesn’t allow multiple people to communicate simultaneously makes discussions frustrating and even impossible. Not properly investing in home office technology means you will have to be task-oriented, not results-driven. In a home office environment, technology is directly tied to meaningful discussions and meaningful work.
- Establish Interactive Team Norms
Certain behaviors make everyone feel more like a team. Poor communication, if it isn’t working, will kill even the best team. It’s as simple as remembering to greet team members in the morning, alerting others when you leave for lunch or offering a friendly sign-off at the day’s end. It’s helpful to establish boundaries, like answering calls during “home office” time instead of “home” time. Remember to keep your calendar up-to-date and keep all shared documents stored in the central repository for easy team access.
- Be Mindful of Balance
Just because you’re working “in your home” does not mean that your work should become focused “on your home.” During work hours, answer all calls and ensure your calendar indicates your availability to speak to other team members at all times. At the same time, know when to close the home office door to honor your non-work time in your home. It’s easy to blur the line of work and life but to sustain a high-functioning group and your personal sanity, keep them separate.
- Establish Consistency
While teams may be distributed remotely, everyone must work to establish a consistent work approach. Teams should hold core working hours to facilitate communication, regardless of their location. This allows for a closer bond and more predictability in the communication.
- Prioritize In-Person Meetings
While it is not possible for some, organizations that can bring its people together should for things like company or one-on-one meetings and project kickoffs or planning sessions. If possible, try not to operate in a remote mindset, as much as function as a high-performing team that sometimes works from distributed locations.
- Build the Culture
A strong culture is your best asset. Make time to connect on a personal level, whether through one-on-one conversations or “water cooler talk” to help build a cohesive team. Even in informal ways, teams should take time to take a break and chat over lunch or in an open conference room. When teams feel connected, their performance is naturally elevated.
- Focus on Performance, Not Time
Measure the productivity, not the hours. The difference between remote employees that focus on productivity over the hours they work is a stronger bottom line.
- Honor the Privilege
Remote work is a privilege, not a right. One of the amazing things about human beings is their ability to adapt to new situations. After time, those situations become routine, expected and eventually demanded. It is important to make sure that everyone remains focused on the reason you are distributing the team and that the team stays focused on its mission and commitment to performance.