Especially in the technology world, working remotely has increased substantially over the past few years. In the U.S., 37% of workers say they telecommute, and 50% of the workforce holds a job that is compatible with telecommuting at least part of the time.
The noted benefits of telecommuting include reduced stress among employees, lower company overhead costs, lower employee turnover rates, and the list goes on. One of the main concerns among managers, however, is how to shift from running a team in person to running a team online.
For many managers, meetings (via Skype, Hangouts, video conferencing channels) have become the norm for keeping tabs on remote workers, but meetings can reduce productivity and cause teams to have to constantly start and stop workflow. Excessive email too has been implemented in order to manage remote employees, but this sucks up too much time in the day and reduces efficiency.
So how can communication remain fluid and remote teams stay productive without excessive meetings and emails? Here are 5 tips that can help.
1. Make Your Project Management Tool Mandatory
How often do you find that conversations go from Gchat to email to phone to text and then you can’t find the conversation or information that you’re looking for? This is a big problem for remote workers solved by implementing a work management tool such as Jira, Trello, or Wrike.
87% of high-performing companies use project management software, which can cut out confusion and eliminate the need for unnecessary back and forth. By making your work management tool mandatory, it requires employees to utilize all of its benefits.
2. Tie Each Employee to Metric-Based Tasks
Most companies simply track remote workers’ time, but that’s not the right metric to ensure productivity. Just because someone worked 10 hours according to a timesheet doesn’t mean they had an efficient day.
Having daily or weekly results-oriented goals that are defined by metrics is a great way to keep everyone on track and moving forward. Tools like iDoneThis measure progress instead of just time, keeping everyone on the team updated with just one email. ROWE, or “results only work environments,” is used by technology firm Dynatronix, who saw a 20% increase in on-time delivery rate since implementing the method.
3. Hire Carefully and Breed Trust within the Company
Remote work is certainly not for everyone. It does, however, work well if the employee is a strong communicator (when things are good and bad), proactive team member, and understands how to stay productive in at-home settings.
Once you have a strong team, it’s important that each employee is given trust so they don’t feel hounded and micro-managed while working remotely. If you hired correctly, these are workers that do their best when given freedom and trust, so remember that’s why you brought them on in the first place.
4. Always Have a Chat Room Available
Since you’re not going to run into each other getting coffee, it’s important to find another way to foster team camaraderie. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, productivity improves by 20-25% in organizations with connected employees.
Tools like Slack allow conversations to be segmented by clients, projects, or teammates. Having a place where the team can connect is a great way to make remote workers seem closer together, but not having to constantly check the chats allows workers to keep up their workflow as well.
5. Make Sure Individuals are Recognized for their Work – Even from Afar
If someone completes a big project early or launches a new time saving tool, you’re not going to be able to take them out for coffee. Instead, remote managers must find a way to make each employee feel recognized and appreciated, even from far away.
69% of employees say they’d work harder if they were better appreciated and recognized — which is extremely difficult to do from afar. Be sure individuals receive company-wide recognition for accomplishments, and you can always virtually purchase gift cards as a reward.
We’re bound to see telecommuting increase as the technology sector expands, especially since the ability to work remotely is seen as a huge benefit for many workers. But it’s important to maintain a well-connected, highly productive team, even if you span across different continents. Finding the right tools and communication methods are two key factors to ensuring your team works well remotely, so make sure to take time to discover what works best for your company. With Gain, your team can work remotely on social media content creation, reviews, and approvals all in one place. Try it today: gainapp.com