Remote work is becoming increasingly commonplace, and for good reason. Organizations can hire more diverse, dispersed, and experienced talent. Employees can enjoy the flexibility of staying close to home. And almost everyone stands to save money.
But if you don’t implement productivity practices into your team, you could start losing efficiency and engagement. Battle the work-from-home malaise by identifying practices that your team can integrate into their way of doing business. When you take the time to build a solid process, your remote crew can run at their best.
1. Adopt Routines That Support Work Styles
Some people thrive in the early morning. Others aren’t at 100% until 10 a.m. How do you get your team operating at their full potential with such different work styles to account for?
First, survey your direct reports to identify key preferences across work times. Ask about their best times for deep work, creativity, and collaboration. Consider time zones, work types, and any needs that might require accommodations.
Once you discover what you’re working with, find your group’s sweet spots. You can develop core hours, meeting cadences, and other repeatable practices so your team is equipped to thrive.
2. Schedule Check-Ins With Each Team Member
When your team’s distributed, it can be easy to drift away from one another. First, it starts as an innocent meeting cancellation. Then, you opt out of the weekly collaboration and team-building meeting. Before you know it, you’ve lost touch.
Replicate some of the benefits of in-office interaction with a regular one-on-one meeting with each member of your team. Set regular meetings at a frequency that accommodates your workload and your team members’ needs. Use a meeting agenda to keep things on schedule, but build in time for open conversation. Do your best to hold these meetings as planned and, if you need to reschedule, avoid canceling outright. Giving your team members face time can improve trust and create an open dialogue around work and individual needs.
3. Use Procedures to Create a Sense of Flow
It’s easy to remember an 18-step process that you implement once a year, right? If you said yes, you need to take Jeopardy’s online test. If you’re like the rest of us, it may be time to identify common practices in your business that could benefit from a certain productivity hack.
A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a document that guides your team’s work in a clear and concise manner. You can use one to outline the way your digital marketing campaigns are run. You could develop another for your monthly financial reports. SOPs can be the difference-maker between “Did I remember to do that?” and “This process practically runs itself.”
4. Devise a Work Space
Couches are comfy and all, but do they really provide the most productive work environment? Encourage your team to assess their space and consider what an ideal work space would look like. This answer will be different for everyone, but most people will thrive when they assign a dedicated area for their work.
Even without a separate home office, your team members can dedicate a desk in a living room, kitchen, or bedroom for work. Advise them to find a place for work papers and devices to live full-time.
While the lines between work and home can become blurred, urge your team to avoid non-work activities in this space. This can train their minds to return to work in productivity mode while discouraging work from taking over their homes.
5. Resist the Urge to Wear Sweatpants
Yes, the flexible dress code is a perk of a remote work environment. But people don’t necessarily feel their most confident in lounge wear. Instead, encourage your team members to wear comfortable, confidence-boosting clothes, whether that’s a cashmere sweater or their favorite band t-shirt. Gently let it be known that PJs are off-limits for the weekly team Zoom meeting.
No matter your team’s preference, the key is to promote and model the behavior you wish to see: confidence. Confidence can spark action, so working to improve it is a worthwhile endeavor. Dress code conversations can be tricky, but if you start by adopting the mantra “Look good, feel good, do good,” you’ll be off to a great start.
6. Schedule Breaks to Recharge
It’s easy to sit down with your morning coffee and look up after what seems like a couple of hours to discover it’s nearly sunset. Don’t let your team get caught up in a WFH black hole. Instead, set the expectation that team members will take regular breaks away from their desks.
Start the conversation by building out each person’s ideal work day during your next one-on-one. When they share their plan, ask when they plan to take breaks. If they say they’re not taking them, discuss how to adjust their schedule so they can devote time to recharging.
Lead the way by sharing when you’ll be taking breaks, adding them to your calendar, or simply talking about them. Your team will follow your cues to re-energize, and you’ll all reap the rewards.
Your Behaviors Help Create Positive Habits
Leading with intention is critical for any high-performing and productive team. That’s especially true when you need to foster productivity and collaboration among a remote one. By approaching remote work with practical solutions, your team can do its best work, even on days no one can resist the sweatpants.