With public health concerns and Covid-19 regulations, remote work is the new norm for many. While in some ways working remotely is easier (no commute!), in other ways it can be more difficult. You can make remote work better with a few smart moves; stay focused and keep your remote team productive and connected.
Here are some ways to make remote work better and more enjoyable.
1. Pick a primary communication channel
Choose one communication platform as the primary one for your remote team. And don’t use email, which quickly becomes cumbersome and inefficient.
Messaging platforms such as Slack are better for daily conversations and quick questions. Set it up, create channels or categories that make sense (not too many), and stick with it. It won’t be perfect, but choosing one communication platform as the primary one will minimize confusion.
2. Check in at regular times
The benefit of online messaging for remote team communication is that it’s real-time and instant.
The downfall is that it is continual; you can get so distracted by the dings of ongoing responses and conversations that you never have time to concentrate and complete a task.
To avoid continual distraction, set regular check-in times for your communication channel. Instead of responding to every message as it comes in, read and respond to all accumulated messages at your set check-in time. If you do this at regular times, your remote team will learn the routine and know when to expect responses.
3. Block time for different areas
Managing your own schedule is often the most challenging part of a work day.
If possible, block different parts of your day for different types of work. You will be able to stay in the right frame of mind and set up your screens for the work you’re doing during that block of time.
Block your first morning hours to work on a big project, for example, and block time for meetings, calls, and group updates in the afternoon.
4. Delegate scheduling
Avoid creating a bottleneck by delegating as much as you can to your team. Set up a shared calendar and give access to your remote team members so they can input their own time off, scheduled hours, deadlines, meetings, and more.
We recommend Teamup, of course! Teamup’s secure and customized calendar access is perfect for a shared team calendar.
5. Keep meetings small and focused
This is good advice anytime, but perhaps particularly needed when virtual meetings make it possible for anyone to “attend” any meeting.
More is not better when it comes to meetings.
Limit meetings to the people who are directly involved in what the meeting will cover. Others—who may need to know the outcomes—can be informed after the meeting.
6. Agree on a meeting agenda
Speaking of meetings, be sure to decide on the purpose of each meeting. Then create a meeting agenda to ensure that the important issues for that purpose are covered. You can create a shared agenda and ask all participants to contribute.
At Teamup, we like to use the meeting event on our shared team calendar; everyone contributes their agenda items to the event description.
7. Share a meeting summary
After a meeting, create a quick summary of the main topics, the points shared, and any decisions made. Then share it with everyone in the meeting. This helps avoid potential confusion about outcomes or assigned tasks.
Put together, the two practices of using an agenda and sharing a summary in each meeting will make your meetings more focused and much more effective.
8. Take daily notes
Taking notes helps in two ways: first, you’ll relieve your brain from remembering and reminding you of all those work details when you write them down. Second, you’ll clarify your own thinking and the important ideas, actions, and needs when you make notes.
Writing things down encourages you to ask questions, then make decisions: Who is doing what? When is this due? What should I do first? Where are the resources?
The questions help you determine what really matters, and which actions are most important.
9. Replace your workplace rituals
Workplace routines, like taking a coffee break or having lunch with a coworker, may seem trivial. However, they often have important purposes.
To make remote work better, consider which workplace routines are worth continuing at home. Then create a remote version of those important rituals and incorporate them into your remote workday.
10. Focus on a few tasks
Focus leads to efficiency. Choose, or assign, no more than three tasks to focus on at a time. Depending on the complexity, you may need to set the focus period for a day or a week.
You may feel limited, but choosing a single task will help you to concentrate and make progress. Skipping between many tasks will keep you distracted.
Your team will also benefit from having clear priorities. If they know which tasks to focus on, they can put all their energy into those tasks and complete them with less distraction.
11. Create a shared project calendar
Keep projects moving with a shared project calendar. Input milestones and project details, add tasks, and let team members add and update the tasks they’re working on.
When each person can independently check deadlines, update task status, and view the timeline, you don’t have to keep answering the same questions. More autonomy makes remote work better for everyone.
12. Track task status
Tasks may need to move forward in status, and they may need to move forward in assignee: who is responsible for this task, at this time?
Choose a way to keep all tasks in view; then create clear status labels so each person in your team can update tasks as they progress. Kanban-style task management works well for many teams.