Quick Guide: How to Make Remote Work Productive

Quick Guide: How to Make Remote Work Productive

We have spent the most of 2020 adopting to remote work management practices and doing our best to be as productive as possible. Individually as well as a team and the business as a whole.

Nerve wracking challenge? Yes for some, not so much for the others.

What’s the difference then?

Remote project management has put a huge onus on communication, collaboration and productivity. The business dynamics changed overnight and so did the priority.

Project Managers, team leaders and business owners first had to ensure that projects are executed as planned and on time while keeping their teams safe and customers happy.

No wonder, there has been a huge rise in the use of team collaboration and remote project management tool adoption across the globe.

Be it Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, MS Teams, Orangescrum, Slack and others.

More than getting the assigned tasks done, overall efficiency and effectiveness of the teams became the center of all execution.

Each team came up with their own methods, processes and techniques to track their work, collaborate, be productive and stay in sync with each other.

Let us review some of the quick tips and tricks that have proven to be successful for remote teams globally.

Establish Ground Rules

First and foremost, layout specific and crisp instructions around

  • Team communication
  • Meeting schedules
  • Frequency & medium
  • Status updates – where, when, whom
  • Cut-off times

This will enable each team member to understand what is expected of them so that they can plan their day accordingly.

Also, friction and inter-dependencies are reduced and paves way for a highly self-sufficient and self-organizing team culture. This must be at the top of your remote team management agenda.

As a result, teams will be driven by a defined hand-off criteria and will stay focused. I.e. they know that at what times during the day they need to check-in for team meetings, share task progress updates with the team and send out timely reports and communication to the stakeholders.

Spend time with the team

Yes, you read it right! Being remote doesn’t mean you have to be aloof from the team or let it be a cause to reduce team interactions.

Setup relevant virtual meetings with cameras ON!

It definitely helps in maintaining the team connect and the office withdrawal syndrome (OWS) J

Communications become meaningful and finding solutions to key project issues is faster.

Not to forget the fun of time well spent with your team mates that helps in lifting your spirits and de-stress as well given separating personal and professional responsibilities becomes a challenge while working from home.

Set up a separate home office

This is most important given the fact that we will continue with remote work for quite a while.

Dedicated Workspace helps maintain focus and work distraction free.

Getting caught-up between professional and personal activities has impacted remote team performance badly.

Once you step-in to your home office distance yourself from personal chores.

Take strategic breaks to accommodate personal responsibilities.

It is given that the pandemic has added an extra burden in terms of special care of young kids, aging parents and unfortunate occurrence of friends and family members getting impacted.

Striking balance becomes crucial to be effective at both fronts to lead a healthy, stress free life and deliver with absolute productivity, consistently!

Centralize all project information

Implement and use a remote project management software like Orangescrum for your teams.

Remote teams spend a lot of times in looking out for key project information to complete their tasks.

This unnecessarily extends your actual time spent on planned activities, leads to delay and messes up your overall project schedule.

Having a single source of truth with proper user role management in place ensures:

Over-communicate with ALL Stakeholders

Project management itself requires a lot of communication to ensure the stakeholders and teams are aligned, engaged and stay true to the project goal.

It becomes even more critical for remote project management.

Whether you offer product development, IT Services, marketing and creative services customer interactions and clear communication around project performance is a must.

Reports and analytics are equally important.

But you cannot end up spending time on generating multiple reports for different audiences involved in a project.

Stakeholder management requires sharing timely inputs on

  • Project risks and risk mitigation plan
  • Time and cost planned vs actual
  • Milestone and task progress updates
  • Bottlenecks and schedule impacts if any
  • Agreed deliverables, their status w.r.t defined timelines

Note: stakeholders include your project team, PMO, customers, decision makers, sponsor and any other impacted constituents within the organization.

Conclusion

Remote team management is more about outcomes than hours. As a project manager you are well-off when you share the key deliverables with timelines and hold the team accountable for those deliverables.

Tracking their breaks, outings, active/online hours will not serve the purpose.

At the same time, as professionals we have to be mindful of the personal hiccups caused by this unthinkable COVID-19 pandemic. Remember we all are still learning to battle it out.

More the teams have the authority to plan their day, tasks the more they are self-organized. This also helps in increased accountability and motivation to deliver.

The best thing a business leader can do in these uncertain times is provide the team:

  • Absolute clarity on the project goals
  • The impact of meeting and not meeting these goals
  • Expected quality and timelines for the agreed outcomes
  • Centralize all information and communication
  • Well-defined roles and responsibilities
  • Empathy & compassion where required

These aspects lead to rise of confidence, team spirit, efficiency and an overall zeal to contribute more.

What else do you think you would need to make your remote teams highly productive?

Here are some more comprehensive posts on remote team management and productivity.

Manage projects with a fully remote team

Are your remote employees really working? Find out how?

Manage remote teams effectively

How to maintain ideal work-life balance?

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