How to Help Your Team Stay Productive When Working From Home During Coronavirus: Action Plan

How To Manage Your Remote Team From Home During Coronavirus

The second quarter might not have started the way you anticipated for you and your team. The global pandemic has created quite a shift in the way people work, and for some such abrupt jump into working from their kitchen can be life-changing.

This is your time to step up your game as a leader and ensure these changes are guided with trust and support, so your team feels a strong sense of community when physically distancing themselves from each other.

So this week we have created a roundup of 7 actionable ways you can help your team stay productive even when working from home.

Stay human

First and foremost, you must be a sensible leader in these uncertain times. Your team has had to go through a great deal of stress with these changes. Don’t put any more on their shoulders than necessary, especially during the first couple of weeks. 

That being said, here are some tips for leading your team to being the most productive they can be from home:

 

1. Revisit targets & goals

Remote team management Michael Josephson Quite

The quote by Michael Josephson, President and CEO of the Josephson Institute, couldn’t be more true now than ever – you as a leader must first set new realistic goals for your team and yourself, and then think idealistically of how far these goals could be pushed without overwhelming the team and resources available.

Once you realise that the  targets set pre-pandemic might not be realistic to achieve, your best bet is to invite innovative thinking about new creative ideas on how to achieve what must be done with the understanding that work from home often involves other people and distractions that you must count in. You can give your team some tips and tricks on how to avoid distractions from family members, but also let them know you are fully aware of what remote work entails.

 

2. Establish your expectations with your team

How to manage a remote team

Source: Unsplash

Once you have set up the major goals and targets for your team, it is time to let everyone know your exact expectations. This is a two step process that entails being specific on:

  • What and when you expect them to achieve
It is important your team members know exactly what tasks you expect them to work on, and what is your expected timeline. 
Bear in mind that this does not always mean giving to-dos to your team. This simply means that you inform everyone on your expectations so they could have an opportunity to adapt and see if your expectations align with theirs.
  • What is communication going to look like
You must be specific on how you expect the communication to happen. This entails being prepared to discuss and introduce the following: 
Frequency. Establish working hours during which all team members must be available for communication with others.
If you choose to list a member of your team as the main point of communication, you must also set your expectations on how often you will receive reports from them to avoid micromanaging, but stay on track with the progress.
 Channels and means. Choose and notify which channels you expect the team to use for various types of communication based on importance. Will it be a dedicated Slack channel for work-related communication; phone calls for urgent matters only; email and Zoom video calls for personal matters? It is important you set the expectations, so everyone is on board and multi-channel discussions that might fall through the cracks could be avoided.
 

3. Find out your teams’ expectations

Managing a remote team- establish expectations

Of course, you have last say for how things are going to be. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consult your team beforehand, where applicable. It is important your team members feel guided, but not constrained. They should feel safe to share their expectations of you as a manager, their coworkers and the company under your guidance.

Let everyone know you’re open for suggestions to change the initial plans you informed them about in the previous step. Working from home conditions vary greatly from person to person, and it’s important you let your team members know they have a say in how things are going to be. 

This helps you establish greater team spirit and showcase trust – a crucial part of great leadership during these times.

 

4. Schedule check-ins (daily, weekly)

Set times for specific activities

Source: Unsplash

Create check-ins that align with your previous habits to ensure a sense of stability and purpose for employees.

This is a time when things change rapidly, and you must be able to adapt to new frequency of check-ins as a means of following the progress of things.

Make sure you provide the best reporting system for your work specific and culture. For some companies, daily reporting is common in-office and for remote teams. For some, progress reports are shared weekly to avoid mismanaging. 

It is important you don’t micromanage those who are used to having a lot of freedom and trust. On the other hand, if you see someone in need of more management, offer your help and assistance in establishing clear goals and methods to reach them.

We’d recommend having daily one-to-one check-ins for the first week and then adapting this policy to your needs. 

 

5. Provide the right tools

It is your responsibility to provide your team with the best tools to assist their needs. The basic tools needed can be separated in three categories: Communication, Task Management and Productivity. Here are our suggestions for each category:

Suggestions of the right remote work tools for each category:

  • Communication technology options
Depending on what business you’re in, your team might need a video conferencing tool to communicate with you or clients. Our top picks would be  Zoom, Microsoft Teams or GoToMeeting, as these are established and reliable tools.
Written communication is often overlooked, but is vital for remote workers. Make sure each of your team members has access to a work email address and your preferred messaging platform. Our favorites are Slack, Whatsapp and Messenger.
 
  • Task Management tools

Don’t forget to introduce task management and project sharing tools, as they are especially crucial to ensure efficient teamwork. 

Tools like nTask, Asana and Trello are excellent choices for assigning tasks and keeping track of the progress. Miro is a great tool for collaborative brainstorming as well, so you might want to incorporate it into your team’s agenda.

 And of course, providing safe ways for sharing files is critical not only for your team but for you business. Our favorites are Dropbox and Google Drive, but there are plenty of other great tools out there to choose from.
 
  • Productivity tools
When it comes to achieving and managing productivity, each person is different. But one thing in common is that everyone is stuck at home, so they must rearrange their habits in favor of deep focus during working hours.
To help with this, you could invite them to use a time tracking software, such as our favorite- actiTIME.  By using a time tracking tool you enable your team to follow their own progress and adjust their techniques accordingly.
 But remember- working from home also involves trying to avoid distractions from family members, so it’s important to help your team with this the best you can.
Luckily, there is a tool called Luxafor Flag that has proven its’ efficiency for remote workers all over the globe. It is basically used as an availability light that shows others in your home if you’re available with green or busy with red colors. 
The great thing about it is  that colors are fully customizable, and easy to understand by both adults and children. You can also set it up to visually inform you about upcoming meetings on Zoom or project updates.
 

And look, some have even found out that it works better with kids than it did with their coworkers.

6. Allow non-work related remote social interaction

It is important to encourage non-work related interaction between your team members. Creating a safe space for sharing experiences that come from working from home can be very beneficial at the time when physical distancing is a global policy.

Ideas to implement non-work communication within your remote team:

  • Devote time in the beginning of meetings
Begin a new way to start off group meetings – simply allow the first couple of minutes to be about how everyone’s holding up and if there are any experiences -positive or negative- anyone would like to share before you get into the “work stuff”.
 
  • Create a dedicated space
This is an opportunity to discover talents and hobbies of your team in a new light. You could simply create a Slack channel or a  Whatsapp group chat, or a Pinterest board dedicated for sharing cute animal pictures, or lunch ideas, or maybe creative home office setup ideas.
 

7. Use words of encouragement

Source: Pexels

Your team needs an uplifting word or two from you just to keep them going now more than ever. Start each conversation with words of affirmation, or maybe post motivational quotes on the communication channels in the beginning of each workday. Such seemingly small gestures can have a massive impact on the team spirit and mental state of each individual.

Use any of these common gold nuggets of cheer:

  • Thank you
  • I believe in you
  • We will get through this
  • This is our chance to become a stronger team
  • We have this opportunity to showcase our skills
  • I am here for you
  • You got this

Some final words

Working from home has put a strain on the whole world, including you and your team. But you have the power to take control over the obstacles and create a stronger, more focused team than ever before. Don’t forget to use your coupon code MyTeam15 at the checkout to get 15% off Luxafor Flags for your team! Best part? When you all return to the office, these will already be a staple in everyone’s productivity, thus making your team more productive in-office than ever before!