Back to Blog Home

5 Ways to Boost Remote Team Productivity

Remote work was already gaining acceptance over the last few years, but teams were thrust head first into a remote-first world earlier this year - without much preparation. We've found that although there are clear advantages to remote work, many of these unprepared teams are now facing several productivity challenges. Some of the common issues include:

  1. Asynchronous working schedules creating communication challenges
  2. Trouble keeping teams motivated and engaged
  3. Team members finding it challenging to manage at-home distractions and taking appropriate time-off from work

To avoid this, here are five ways to ensure your remote team remains connected, engaged an productive:

1. Create accountability

One of the downsides of working from home is that work often goes un-noticed. What you type away on your keyboard all day is not typically seen by your team or manager. This feeling that no-one is aware of what you're doing, makes it easy to hide, get complacent or disengage with work.

Instead, find ways to make visible the daily work of each of your team members. Take it to the next level by getting everyone to state what they hope to achieve. Making intentions and progress transparent creates a healthy social pressure to achieve goals and a positive reinforcement when progress is noticed by others in the team.

Typically daily stand-ups follow this format (What I've done, what I'm doing), but this daily call can often turn into a monotonous status update when not done well. One easy way to create accountability is to create a dedicated channel on Slack or Teams, and get your team to post a check-in / check-out, to state their aim for the day and give an update on progress. To up your check-in game you could also use a daily check-in tool like Complish to get more out of your daily check-ins and ensure intentions are followed up on.

2. Set goals that can be connected to daily work

Startups and tech teams have adopted OKR's (Objectives and Key Results) recently to define measurable goals for their team. OKR's are great when done well, but they can be difficult to get right, and are often lost in a spreadsheet, disconnected from the tools your team use to manage their daily work.

This problem is exacerbated in a remote work scenario, where it's not as possible to keep objectives top-of-mind with posters on the wall casual conversation.

Look for ways to ensure that your team keep the goals/objectives top of mind each day and understand how their daily tasks connect to these objectives. Whilst you can use Complish as a lightweight way to define goals for your team, we've also listed a number of OKR tools below.

3. Ensure effort is recognized

Remote work is clearly less visible than when everyone is co-located; and with goals as forward facing targets, it's easy to lose ignore the hard work and little wins along the way. Remote teams need to make a conscious effort to find those who deserve recognition and seek moments to celebrate.

Making work more visible is the first step, but public recognition for a job well done goes a long way to keep your team engaged. A few tips to improve recognition of your team's effort:

  • Make time on your team Zoom calls to call out people who deserve it
  • Make work visible in your team chat too, and actively comment and react to celebrate small achievements
  • Use a tool like Bonus.ly to encourage even more public recognition via gamification

4. Make space for the non-work conversation

A productive team is a happy, trusting, connected team... so conversations should not be all work and no play. Leaders should intentionally create time and space for the non-work banter. Casual chats are absolutely necessary for remote teams to get to know each other, build trust, unity and also provide a much needed physical and mental break. A few ways to initiate this non-work banter:

  • Try spotlighting team members in team discussions with get-to-know you questions or team trivia. Getting everyone to reveal a little of their personalities/ home life and hobbies, goes a long way to building social capital in your remote team.  introducing team members virtually. Conduct spotlights or round-robin, get-to-know-you questions.
  • Highlight birthdays and celebrate non-work wins. Make space in chats or meetings to get your team to reveal their personal milestones, challenges or life-wins.
  • Share the challenges of remote work. With distractions a-plenty, it can be tough to get in the groove to work from home. Get your team to share their challenges and tricks they each use to overcome the isolation or distractions of WFH.

5. Increase the quality of your meetings (perhaps decrease frequency)

Remote team meetings, especially the daily status update, can turn into a status update to report-up to management. We've chatted to a number of people who feel like they are simply going through the motions on the daily call, attending because it's required, but being disengaged with these meetings.

Consider eliminating the status update component of your team meetings so you can focus on blockers, or higher level topics like goals, business or product challenges. Many teams are finding that this means they're replacing daily status calls with longer bi-weekly meetings for more in-depth discussions. Try aiming for longer, higher value discussions over frequent status updates.

Boosting productivity for remote teams may seem like an uphill struggle, given thecircumstances. But establishing accountability on an intrinsic level in teams, helping employeesprioritize their work, and creating an environment that encourages employees to interact witheach other informally is undoubtedly a good start. These suggestions can help teams improvetheir engagement with their work and, in turn, boost productivity.

Finally, here are few lesser-known tools to help you on your way to boosting remote team productivity:

  1. Bonus.ly - To encourage and gamify recognition of great work
  2. Complish.app - To automate the status update and connect daily tasks to larger objectives
  3. GTMHub.com - A dedicated tool for teams who use OKR's