If you’re managing a remote team you should check out this piece on the best ways to manage communication with your remote team.
Here are some tips on how to improve the overall productivity when working in a virtual space;
1. Implement systems
Without systems, your business can fall apart. A business run in an office can compensate to some degree for not having systems and processes simply by the fact that people can talk in person and look over each other’s shoulders. In a virtual team, each person can be in their own world. They may develop their own processes and procedures that don’t mesh with the way other team members are working. It’s best to have a documented, standardized way of working that you’re constantly refining.
For example in our business, developers follow a very specific process for suggestions, building, testing and documentation.
2. Allow a degree of flexible work hours but also keep some consistency
People working from home will rightly want flexibility with their work hours. And it’s important to allow a degree of flexibility when managing remote employees. On the other hand, if things are totally erratic then it will be difficult to get a shared collaboration window when all of your team are online at the same time and able to chat.
3. Track work output
Whether your team is virtual or not, you need to try to measure their productivity. What are the key indicators of success for each job? Get transparency around this so that you will know quickly (in a couple of weeks and not in 6 months) whether each team member is being productive or not. Tools like SalesHandy are useful for this especially if you want a streamlined communication and analytics for a remote sales team.
4. Track hours worked, attendance and other basic measures of productivity
If you are paying based on hours worked, then it makes a lot of sense to track how many hours each person works.
In an office environment, you can see who is coming in each day even if you are not tracking attendance. In a completely virtual environment, it can be difficult to understand exactly what is going on, how long each person worked, and what they are working on. There is a minority of people who are self-motivated enough that they do not need any tracking of attendance or hours. However, there is also a large majority who need some level of discipline when working at home.
We built the Time Doctor software to handle these exact issues, and also to track websites visited, applications used, time spent working and time on breaks. Our time tracking software can show you for example whether a team member is working or chatting with friends on Facebook. We also have some free timesheet templates that you may want to try out in case you are not ready to try out a software yet.
5. Organize a system of overlapping times for communicating in different time zones.
If members of your team work in different time zones, make sure that you have an overlapping period where everyone is working and organize your virtual meetings during these times.
6. Do a quarterly review to see how your virtual team members are coping
One of the issues with working from home is that people can feel lonely and isolated. Not everyone copes well with this style of working. Most people do not have this issue and love the freedom that comes with working from home, but it’s important to check in from time to time and make sure everything is working for them.