Unleashing the power of human potential comes with a unique set of challenges for managers of remote teams. As employees transition to a distributed model, the benefits of flexibility can quickly be outweighed by a plummet in productivity.
The good news is that these challenges are not insurmountable. When managed well, distributed teams can operate with the same productivity, purpose and potential as co-located teams. In the first part of this series, we shared tips on how your team can structure and plan for success. Today we’ll share a few additional ways to kickstart productivity on your remote teams.
Create balance with boundaries
One of the benefits of refining routine and structuring for success is the ability to draw cleaner mental boundaries between work and personal life, which leads to increased effectiveness in both areas. Defining these boundaries not only maximizes employee productivity, but also prevents employee burnout.
As a manager of a remote team, it’s important to encourage your team by word and example to create separation and balance between their home offices and… home. Even something as simple as not sending emails to your team outside of business hours can set the tone for remote employees to establish a clean detachment from work to focus on family and self-care.
Beyond structuring time, there are other simple hacks to trick your mind into entering the productivity zone. For example, while there’s novelty (and comfort) in wearing pajamas all day, designating clothes as specific to work – even if they’re more comfortable than professional attire – can help mentally draw the line between work and play (or, more often, sleep).
And perhaps most importantly, employees should dedicate a clean, distraction-free space to work. Even if there isn’t space for a separate home office, or even a full desk, working from the same place every day helps create a mental association that signals the brain to focus simply by sitting down. And on the flip side, they should stay away from that designated workspace as much as possible after hours.
Educate, equip and enable
Whether this is your first time managing a distributed team or you’re a seasoned professional, remember that maximizing productivity when working remotely isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone. Erase any assumptions that your team already knows how to fully tap into their productivity, and be proactive in educating your team on helpful tips, tools and hacks like those outlined in this series. Consider adding a learning session to your weekly sync, creating a resource document or sending out curated email communications.
Remember that ultimately fostering a sense of belonging and purpose for your team is what will have the largest impact on their productivity. With remote employees physically isolated from you and one another, embrace the challenge of being creative and intentional in elevating their engagement.
Set aside opportunities for team members to connect by scheduling virtual hang time, celebrating work anniversaries and birthdays, and even playing games (here on the Talent Acquisition team at Greenhouse, we love a good round of Sporcle!).
Take the time to recognize accomplishments and, in doing so, remind employees that their work matters – no matter where it’s done from.
Provide space for employees to voice their concerns, anxieties and any other blockers that might inhibit their productivity. If you’re managing an employee who is transitioning to a distributed model for the first time, asking questions like “How is remote work going for you so far?” can help unearth important information.
Clarify expectations so that employees can focus their time on the work itself, rather than navigating vagaries. Resist any urge to micromanage and focus on communicating clear targets and deadlines, trusting that they will deliver.
And of course, be sure to run effective meetings. The refrain “That meeting could have been an email” still rings true in a Zoom room, perhaps even more so for remote workers who are trying to balance their time with family obligations.
Set the tone
Lastly, don’t forget to lead by example. Even if you are new to managing a remote team, exhibiting authenticity, openness, confidence and optimism sets the tone for your team to do the same – and helps unleash the power of human potential, no matter what challenges come your way. Good luck out there!
For more work from home tips, be sure to download our eBook, Distributed hiring and remote working – The essential guide.