Remote working is becoming increasingly popular. With the advent of modern technology, online platforms, and the Internet, it has become easier than ever to separate what and where we need to work on. The reasons for its increased popularity are plenty, from cost reductions to flexibility and time savings. Organizations are breaking free from geographical restrictions. That said, remote work does bring its own set of problems, hurdles, and inefficiencies that need to be remedied. Meeting the common goals at the same time can be one of them. Teams can get out of sync and some may lag behind others. Time zone differences, lack of eye to eye contact and supervision can all be great challenges. Never the less, remote teams and remote work are prospering. Here are some basic concepts to go over in order to make the most of this modern working concept.
Employee’s productivity is directly impacted by their motivation relating to what they are doing. Put simply, the more motivated they are, the better job they will do. But how does one motivate someone that is not even present in the immediate vicinity? Motivating a remote team or individual is like a muscle, you practice it regularly to keep it in shape. There are several ways this can be achieved. Video chats have become ubiquitous and make it easy for teams to retain that sense of connection to one another. Remote teams can get the feeling of being left out of the loop. Transparency is our friend here. Rewards, recognition, and promotions need to be clearly defined as if one is there in person. In a more traditional setting, skill advancement is pretty much an everyday thing. Translated to a remote environment, we can encourage and sponsor online skill enhancement via the many online education platforms around. Another thing commonly present in a traditional office setting is small talk. Engage remote employees in small talk as if they were in-house employees to make them feel as much a part of a collective as possible. Communication requires a whole separate paragraph that we will go through but keeping open channels is a must. These are just some of the ways we can keep remote workers motivated. Mostly it revolves around bringing the in-house experience as close to them as possible.
Work structure and guidelines are essential for remote teams. It can be easy to lose is not being able to communicate eye to eye. Guidelines can be directed towards an entire team or towards an individual. These have the same common goals in mind, productivity, focus, and comfort. The team needs to have a clear goal in sight that corresponds to the organization’s objectives and a defined plan on how to achieve it. Long and short-term goals need to be clearly communicated to all teams and individual employees to keep interests aligned and have a sense of direction. Teams need to have their dedicated working spaces for themselves. A clearly defined space optimizes productivity, especially in a remote environment. It can be a room specifically meant for work or just a working desk. It helps to stay focused and minimize distractions when we have a dedicated space meant for only one thing. As the modern work process often demands, teams will be working on multiple projects simultaneously with different time zones. Prioritizing projects based on factors that we deem important is essential to meeting deadlines.
3. Multimedia tools
The use of different tools meant to transfer multimedia messages and facilitate advanced forms of communication cannot be overstated. These tools are most understood by the video production companies as they are the perfect ways to minimize the distance between the people involved. There are plenty of platforms like Skype or Google hangout that can facilitate these needs. It is all about the real factor as it brings us to the next best thing compared to a face-to-face exchange. It brings a personal touch because we can see, hear and observe everyone involved.
4. Meaningful connections
In the end, workers do need to spend some time together. Companies that rely on successful distributed teams realize the importance of every once and a while getting everyone together. Budget and resources need to be allocated to help team members meet up for fun activities and business meetings alike. A dinner or a fun outdoor activity are some of the examples of a bonding exercise that would bring otherwise remote employees together. A single, one-time meet is pretty common but companies are investing more and more in periodic meetups every quarter or so to keep the connection going.
Finally, feedback is worth its weight in gold. It is also a key ingredient in building teams productivity and morale. It is easy to collect feedback in the form of a chat message. But it can be misinterpreted, especially in a non-face-to-face communication situation. When someone is not sitting in front of us, the feedback has a much higher chance of being interpreted as criticism. Being specific, trying to make it one-on-one as much as possible and ending on a positive note are some of the ways we can minimize those risks.
A virtual office is an increasingly appealing working environment for many. It does come with its set of issues and responsibilities. But as we have seen, these can all be remedied and worked upon in order to reach peak productivity and motivation for all.
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