Back in the day when I worked in an office, only those higher-ups on the company ladder got the privilege of “working” from home. It basically meant they’d shoot off a couple of emails on their Blackberry in the morning and call it a day by noon. Meanwhile, us bottom-tier workers had to pick up the slack and keep the office doors open (literally).
Fast forward to 2022 and the thought of returning to a physical office now is as popular as the Blackberry. Yes the pandemic may be waning enough for people to return, but remote work over the past two years has shifted our generation’s mindset on what it means to “work.”
Take bank giant Goldman Sachs for example. In March when it demanded that its staff return to the office five days a week, only half of them actually showed up. And with the increasing demands of our home life, child care costs, and gas prices, movements like The Great Resignation are a wake up call to companies everywhere.
So given the challenges of managing remote workers, what are some ways to increase efficiency and productivity? Here are some tips that we used to manage our 100% remote team.
1. Hyper Organization
Because we are no longer in the same office together, it is more important than ever to stay hyper-organized from the get-go. You don’t need expensive software to get this done, although having a Project Manager or point person will help the process a lot. When we first started at pH Collective, we used a simple shareable spreadsheet on Google to help us stay on top of projects, broken down by Client, Tasks, Lead, and Due Dates. Others have had great success with tasks apps, Apple notes, or even calendar invites. Whatever you do, do it consistently and stay hyper organized.
2. Set Specific Goals
Remote teams respond to specificity. What do you need from this person? When is it due? What is the sequencing after it’s done? How do you want the final format? Which folder does it go into? And how do you want it labeled? It takes time to get into a flow with remote teams, so setting specific expectations and goals from the beginning will help your remote team learn how best to work with you. Lead by example.
3. Set Deadlines (and in the right time zones)
Since you might be working with remote teams in California, in Texas, or halfway across the world in Singapore, it is crucial to set deadlines in the correct timezone. Dovetailing on the last point about specific goals, you also need to set soft and hard deadlines, taking into account all the layers of reviews that will be involved. Plan ahead. And make sure to give yourself a little wiggle room.
4. Use Tools
We love using tools and apps where we can to help us automate our work. Here are some that we especially like:
- Canva – for creating quick simple designs and social media content
- Planoly – for scheduling social media content
- Slack – instead of sending text messages that could clutter up our phones, or emails that take too long to draft, we organize our internal messages on Slack. We can track each conversation by project, as well as search for keywords later.
- Monday(dot)com – project management tool for tagging various teams and keeping tasks on time
5. Check In
When working with remote teams, it is easy to forget the human aspect of our work. When most of our communication is digital, sometimes a phone call or text just to say hello makes a huge difference to feeling that human connection. Remember to make time to check in with your teams, not just as fellow collaborators, but as friends. Productivity will naturally come when teams feel cared for.
- Specific Goals – all the steps involved (including file org)
- Deadlines – soft deadlines and hard deadlines, time zones, family obligations (part of the joy of being remote is living life, but organizing projects around that)
- Use Tools – affiliate stuff (planoly, slack, monday, google drive
- Checking In – not just as employees, but also as a friend