Productivity was hard to come by even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but remote working for prolonged periods of time can feel near impossible.
Unfortunately, it looks like this will certainly be our new normal for the time being. Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked workers to continue staying at home in light of a spike in COVID-19 cases across the UK, and he estimates that lockdown restrictions could last for up to six months.
Remote work and digital operations have been a godsend for many businesses needing to stay afloat during this time, but managers need to be constantly aware of how the current situation – not to mention the challenges of remote work in general, such as working with unstable internet connections – can negatively affect their team. In order to help combat this, below are some productivity tips every remote team needs to understand.
Schedule meetings in advance
Constant communication through messaging platforms and video conferencing ensures that everyone is on the same page. On that note, you don’t want to be scheduling too many meetings either to the point where you’re disrupting your team’s workflow. Scheduling meetings far in advance and making sure everyone has clear guidelines for each meeting includes letting them know how long it will last. This should give everyone ample time to move their tasks around accordingly.
Divide everyone up into smaller teams
You might be working across different time zones depending on the nature of your team, which can prove difficult when it comes to aligning everyone. Indeed, even managers with a local remote workforce can find it hard to find meeting times that work for everyone. Although problems like time zones or personal schedules are hard to address, breaking your team up into smaller groups allows for more efficient collaboration amongst all members. You can then choose to touch base with each team individually or have a meeting with representatives from each group to discuss progress.
Encourage people to take breaks as needed
Productivity isn’t about how long you work for; it’s about working when you’re the most active. To make these breaks more effective, Verizon Connect recommends taking a break after around 90 minutes of work as research shows this is when our brain starts losing focus. Of course, this isn’t a hard and fast rule — if you’re 30 minutes into work and are experiencing migraines or having difficulty concentrating, take a step back and grab a 10-minute breather. Setting up flexible work hours can also encourage team members to work when they’re at their most effective.
Cultivate personal connections
Productivity is closely tied to morale, and it’s hard to stay productive if you feel distant from your work and your peers. This is why Leaders Lab co-founder Kate Mercer stresses that it’s crucial for managers to schedule both team-wide and one-on-one meetings that focus on touching base with how people are managing their work. Scheduling these check-ups regularly shows your team that you care about them on a human level, and also creates a work culture where everyone can support one another.
Adjusting to remote work is hard, but it’s not impossible. Reminding your team of these productivity tips can go a long way in making them more effective and less stressed in the long run, which is a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Written for Emerge Digital by Dana Cane