Making your remote team more productive
THE GLOBAL Business Survey from Regus has found that 57.3 percent of people in the Philippines (52 percent worldwide) now work remotely for at least half their working week.
It is now becoming the norm to be working with remote workers, if you are not already one of them.
Several key factors contribute to Filipinos working remotely.
The commuting headache being a key reason cited by many survey participants is a global issue especially in growing cities like Manila where the commute can take anywhere from one hour to more than three hours in some instances.
The ubiquity and widely available mobile technology and connectivity has made it even easier for modern day employees to work from anywhere at any time.
The key to this is to be secure, productive and manage one’s time.
An increasing number of Filipinos value the flexibility that technology provides in managing both work and life.
The new millennial generation workers are also more aware of their environment, wanting greater flexibility and control over the work life balance—leading to, often a conflict between traditional work practices and norms to a modern changing milieu.
So what can employers and employees do to make flexible and remote working effective?
Here are five tips to make a remote team you are in, more productive:
1. Use technology to build trust
Wherever your team are, daily meetings can keep you united and working toward one goal. You must make sure your line manager, and other team members, trust in and understand what you are doing.
Checking in with them via different platforms such as e-mail, WhatsApp, telephone calls and other messaging services can mean a lot to your co-workers.
Try keeping a group chat window or webcam stream open all day if possible.
It helps your team to discuss as they would if they were working side-by-side, asking questions or opening ideas up to the floor.
Alternatively, an automated micro-reporting system allows everyone to share small progressions—when one person finishes a task, the group gets an alert.
This keeps everyone in the loop, and lets them benchmark their own productivity against their peers’.
2. Give every team member the opportunity to use professional workspace
Everyone needs a quiet and calm workspace, which is not always possible at home.
Having a workplace that is free from distractions of the home will boost productivity for remote workers.
Commuting a short distance to a professional environment like a Regus Centre can provide this at a fraction of the cost of a fixed office.
If a café or a library is more suited to your needs, you can also do that.
As long as you recognize which are the kinds of environment you want to work in and work toward ensuring a consistent environment throughout, working remotely should not be a problem for you.
3. Keep strict work processes and targets
To stop people becoming isolated when they are working remotely, strict operational processes are vital.
Things like signoff procedures, quality control checkpoints and daily targets should always be kept sharply in focus. Consider drawing up new job contracts to help people understand that these processes must be embedded in everything they do.
Making sure that Key Productivity Indicators (KPI) are met daily or weekly will ensure that nobody slacks off in the team.
4. Have some team spirit
Once or twice a month, get your whole team together for a face-to-face meeting. It could be a company “away” day, or a strategic planning session.
Organize a weekly online gaming session, host a regular quiz night via Skype, or simply use instant messaging for socializing as well as business. Find the meeting place that is most convenient for the whole team rather than forcing everyone to fly to head office which could be headquartered somewhere else in the world.
The key point is this: your remote team should never be strangers.
5. Organize one-to-one meetings
According to a Harvard Business Review article in 2013, management is worried about how remote workers spend their time.
Also, because management also finds it difficult to quantify and qualify how some workers spend their time, the former finds it difficult to provide a solution to their observations.
The solution is this: arrange frequent one-on-one meetings with the line managers and your direct reports to review productivity, report on successes, hear feedback and define your next set of goals.
Managing a remote team, or being an employee of a team that works remotely, should not be a hindrance to success at the workplace.
Knowing your own abilities and recognizing where and how you work best will be the key to success in the constantly evolving workplace.
(The author is country manager of Regus Philippines)