[This article was written by Smith Willas.]
Working with remote teams is quickly becoming the new normal. In 2018, 3.9 million Americans worked from home at least half of the week. While this number included self-employed freelancers, even “traditional” employers are starting to encourage their employees to work remotely.
Though this might seem counterproductive, allowing remote work actually has some surprising benefits for the organization. A Stanford study discovered employees who worked from home were 13% more productive compared to in-office coworkers, not to mention they’re reportedly happier. Having fewer employees in the office also lowers real estate and utility costs for the employer.
However, without the best organization strategies, your remote team could quickly become challenging to maintain. Here are the best time organization tricks to manage your team with ease.
1. Start with Clear Expectations
One of the biggest challenges when working remote is dealing with obstacles in communication. When you’re in the same office as your coworkers, it’s easy to communicate directly on a one-on-one basis. However, when you’re in your own remote locations communicating via messaging or email, things tend to get lost somewhere in the middle.
To combat this, start with clear expectations. This means being upfront about when projects are due, having ways to share calendars, and making sure everyone is on the same page. Everyone has a different understanding of what it means to do the job “right.” Make sure that’s the same definition for everyone.
2. Stay Accessible
It’s easy to assume your remote workers like their independence, but what if they have a problem? The more accessible you are as a leader, the better equipped your team will be to handle challenges.
Sometimes remote work feels lonely. There’s no “water cooler” chat or the usual conversation between team members. Staying accessible and available, whether via phone or email, is a useful way to build trust.
3. Track Time Accurately
Additionally, you need a way to track time while working remotely or managing remote workers. These team members need a way to make sure they’re on task no matter where they are, and you need a way to review their productivity. Using free time tracking sheets is an easy way to do just that.
Encourage remote workers to keep accurate track of their time throughout the day. Not only will this motivate them to focus on the right things, but it will highlight areas that are a drain on time management.
4. Create a Workflow
Managing your remote workers requires a clear, easy to understand workflow. Since you won’t see these individuals on a day-to-day basis, you need a way to monitor your progress in real-time. A clear workflow does just that.
The type of workflow you choose will depend on your projects. For instance, you might choose short, targeted work cycles or team goals. These are all highly effective, but they need a clear sequence of actions and tasks to work. Take the time to outline the expectations and steps in order to maximize productivity.
5. Use the Right Tools
In this day and age, there are a number of tools designed with remote teams in mind. Project management tools like Trello and Asana are easy to use, inexpensive (or free), and help teams collaborate even if they’re not in-office.
Why not use these tools to your advantage? From scheduling deadlines to assigning tasks, these tools make it easy to maintain an organized team remotely. End the back-and-forth emailing with clear messaging and collaboration features.
Time Management for Remote Teams
Remote teams and time management don’t always seem like a good match, but they work together better than you think. When employees have the freedom to work on their own terms, they’re more likely to bring their motivation and enthusiasm to work. This transfers over to successful time management.
However, you still need the right organization tricks to make your remote teamwork. With these steps above, you’ll be up and running in no time. Start building your remote team today to see how it pays off for your organization.