Many organizations that are working from home due to Covid-19 have suddenly found themselves with a 100% remote team for the first time. You might have current employees who are used to in-person oversight, as well as telecommuting new hires who may have never set foot in your office.
In either case, your at-home team can be just as productive as an on-site one–as long as you hold your team accountable. Below, 14 members of Forbes Business Council share their thoughts on productivity for fully-remote employees and how to promote accountability in a virtual office.
1. Set Specific And Measurable Goals
Holding your team accountable starts with setting specific and measurable goals whether you are in the office or working from home. Goals should be a mix of bigger aspirational targets and more routine objectives. As a manager, if your goals are set right and you engage regularly as a coach, you keep your team motivated whether they work from the office, from home or are working internationally. – George Stelling, Quadrillion Partners
2. Measure And Understand Your Collective Productivity
I’m not too concerned about productivity in the sense of our employees being productive. I actually think most of them will be more productive in their individual roles. The larger challenge though is how the entire organization measures, understands and feels our collective productivity as a team and whether it’s aligned with the business goals. – Ryan Costello, MemberSuite, Inc.
3. Trust Your Team To Meet Deadlines Their Own Way
Working remotely isn’t the issue, but having the right team is. If you have people you can trust, allow them the latitude to succeed. They may not always work within your timeframe, but make sure they know the deadline and let them operate so they win. – David Landis, Landis Communications Inc. (LCI)
4. Collaborate On Accounts
In addition to weekly video meetings and sharing scope of work, we have integrated more collaboration on accounts. Making more team members responsible for one account pushes more collaboration. I believe this also helps with productivity and accountability. Just like everything else, working from home is a work in progress, so understanding what your team needs to be most productive is also key. Ask them. – Diana Bianchini, Di Moda Public Relations, Inc.
5. Have Daily And Weekly Check-Ins
There are two types of tasks: transactional and transformative. Transactional tasks can be easily managed remotely through work plans or checklists. Transformative tasks are those that require someone to think proactively and in the best interests of the company. The best way to manage this remotely is through weekly or daily check-in meetings, plus a mission or purpose-based culture. – Nader Luthera, FURM GROUP LIMITED
6. Set Boundaries To Avoid Burnout
In my experience, productivity has increased during the lockdown because now employees have no commute to and from work, plus their office now doesn’t “close.” I think this presents new problems about managing burnout, setting boundaries and creating new routines so that they can maintain their productivity working from home and not have it impact their family and personal life. – Dee Hutchinson, Dee is for Digital
7. Have A Clearly Articulated Strategy
“Work from anywhere” is the emerging new standard for technology-driven businesses. A clearly articulated strategy, well-targeted goals to achieve that strategy and structured accountability aligning the incentives of team members to meet their goals are all more important than team location. Hold weekly meetings to engage transparently with your team while holding yourself accountable by example. – Jeremy Goodwin, SyncFab
8. Hold Stand-Ups Via Your Chat Platform
Have daily stand-ups on a collaboration tool like Slack. Ask the following three questions: What did you work on yesterday? What are you working on today? Are there any blocks to getting your work done? That should give you everything you need to know. Put this process on autopilot and make sure everyone participates. This isn’t optional; it needs to be all or nothing. – Gary Riger, BKLYN Software Inc.
9. Leverage The Right Technology For Accountability
Productivity concerns with remote working are valid. However, research is showing that the majority of workers are actually more productive when working remotely. The best way to ensure that this is the case with your remote teams is to have some accountability solutions, such as group texting chats and regular video meeting check-ins, as well as good project management software. – Keir Weimer, Keir Weimer Multimedia, LLC
10. Establish Guidelines, Work Structure And Ethics Models
When you have the right guidelines, work structure and ethics model in place, remote workers are usually more efficient than onsite workers. That’s because most remote workers are eager to show you the “deliverables” they’ve completed daily. Encourage this by creating to-do lists and tracking accountability. Bad apples are easy to spot, but most workers will shine and deliver. – Chris Cashin, Parcel Consulting, LLC
11. Seek Flow, Not Productivity
Remote work is here to stay. Do not seek productivity for your employees; seek flow instead, which has been proven to increase productivity, creativity and motivation. Ensure the challenges given to employees match their skills, and that there is a sense of control and curiosity about the path they can pursue to meet their goals. Well-being is also key to productivity, so support it. – Andreea Vanacker, SPARKX5
12. Focus On Alignment
Leaders and managers should worry less about productivity and focus more on alignment. Research has already been released that shows productivity has increased. The key question is are those efforts moving the right dials for the business? Are people spending time on the right things? If leaders focus on clarifying goals and communicating those clearly, productivity will take care of itself. – Christine Tao, Sounding Board, Inc
13. Set Goals With Hard Deadlines
Check in on your team and be sure to set goals with hard deadlines. Even if later on you decide to push things back, setting deadlines and holding the team accountable is absolutely necessary when working remotely. Try to also check in with them to make sure they have the tools they need to succeed. Don’t just throw out a bunch of deliverables and expect things to be done—owners need to aid staff. – Hoda Mahmoodzadegan, Molly’s Milk Truck
14. Make Sure Employees Understand The ‘Why’
Productivity relies on trust, reciprocity, grace and clear expectations. Methods that increase these culture factors are project-based deliverables, one- or two-week sprints with quick daily check-ins, Slack channels so that all contributors can connect, overcommunication and an “all-in” belief in the larger impact of a project. The “why” is important to employees, not so much the “how” of being virtual or not. – Silvia Mah, Ad Astra Ventures