Remote working offers a lot of benefits, especially for SMEs that can reduce the costs of office space and hire staff with the right skills from further away. However, it can be more difficult to keep a virtual team engaged and motivated, and this often results in a drop in productivity.
In this article, we take a look at some of the ways in which SMEs can improve the productivity of their virtual teams.
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Clear Expectations & Procedures
One of the main benefits of remote working is the flexibility it offers, but you still need to set expectations and procedures that are clearly communicated to your team. When you're not all working in the same place, there's often a lot more room for misunderstanding and errors.
Take some time to review how and when your virtual team is working. Ask for their feedback on their working habits, hours, things they're happy with, and the things they believe to be holding them back. You can then establish some requirements for your team so that they know what's expected of them.
Set out clear guidelines for working hours. Even if they can be flexible, you might require certain core hours or you need certain team members working at the same time. And give an overview of expectations when it comes to managing their workload and completing tasks or projects.
It's also a good idea to set out a procedure for internal and external communications. For example, using an instant messaging tool that allows you to organize conversations into different channels based on projects or clients. And then require all external communications with clients or partners to be done via email or a different messaging platform. There are plenty of different options when it comes to messaging tools, so it’s a good idea to research the best one for you and your team.
Clarifying your expectations and procedures will help your team to work efficiently and productively at all times.
>> Read more: Creating a Company Vision & Values for Remote Work
Review the Desk Setup
Virtual teams need to have a home office that makes it easy for them to do their work. To improve productivity, do an assessment of their workspace with them and look at ways in which it could be optimized.
Help your team to create a comfortable environment with minimal distractions and no technical issues that will hold them back. You should provide them with all the essentials to do their job including:
- Laptop or computer and work phone
- Keyboard, mouse, and a second screen if it will help them
- An adjustable desk chair that's suitable and comfortable for them
- A desk if they don't have an appropriate one
- Printer, paper, stationery
Ask your team if there are any extras that might make things easier for them to do their work. And look at your own desk set up and consider any equipment you have that might help the team, along with little things that annoy you or cause hold-ups.
For example, if you need to connect up second screens and other devices then a docking station will ensure you’ve got enough ports for everything — you need to find out what type of user you are so that you can choose the right one. Then make sure your team is provided with the same one as well.
Noise-canceling headphones will be useful if they've got a lot of distractions where they work or they might need something as simple as a lamp to properly light their workspace.
With the right office equipment set up, your team will feel like they have a proper workplace that supports them, and they'll feel more valued and motivated.
Centralize Information & Documents
As your business grows it's easy for important documents and information to get scattered around and stored in various places. But it's essential that your remote team can find everything they need in one place.
Use a cloud-based system and set up a filing system so that you can make it easy for your team to find important documents that cover things like your remote working policy and core procedures.
You can also use it to store all the documents and files that your team is working on, making it easier for them to share and collaborate with each other. Making all your files easily accessible at any time from anywhere is going to improve how your team works and prevent any issues with outdated versions of documents.
Improve Communication and Coordination
Regular communication is vital to keeping your remote team productive. You need to make sure everyone is clear about what they are supposed to be doing and when so that they're not wasting any time.
Create a process for assigning out work and reviewing progress on a regular basis. You could use a project management tool to break down projects into smaller pieces of work and tasks that are then handed over to your team with a deadline. This will help you to ensure that work gets completed on time and everyone understands what to do.
Set up a daily meeting to catch up with your team where they can report on their progress and talk about any issues or blockers. This will give you a good insight as to how things are going and whether they're on the right track.
>> Read more: Why Your Organization's Communication is Being Disrupted
It's also important to communicate long-term goals and deadlines to your team so that they know what they're working towards. Giving them feedback on the progress of a project, or letting them know the results of their work is going to make them feel more motivated and boost productivity.
Keeping a remote team organized and motivated can be a challenge at times. But with the right tools and the right processes in place, your team can be highly productive and work efficiently from anywhere.
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