“Social Distancing”: Building a Productive Team Remotely
“I absolutely love working from home,” one of my remote team members told me, now that we’re working remotely to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus “I now have 3 extra hours each day that I was spending commuting before. I can finally get enough sleep and go to the gym and be more productive.”
“Not commuting is nice, I guess,” says another employee unenthusiastically. Visibly disappointed, he explained, “I miss interacting with my remote workers. That really kept me focused. Plus, I just miss whiteboarding with my colleagues. I find that I think much better with a sharpie, whiteboard, and knowledgeable colleague. In fact, I worked in the office yesterday because I work better at my desk where everything is set up.”
So, on balance, is working from home in this COVID-19 world a positive experience or a negative one? Without being too much of a lawyer, which I proudly am, it looks like the answer to this question, at least on my remote team, is “it depends.”
Here are the three actions that can help make it a much more positive and productive experience as your productive team works remotely.
Foster Simultaneous Collaboration with Modern Technology Tools
Simultaneous collaboration brings the right people together at one time to get more remote work from home done faster and smarter. For example, videoconferencing, eDiscovery and contract management platforms unify work efforts across locations, departments, internal and external legal teams, and third parties.
In contrast, during sequential work, we may work on the same project or document, but our activities occur in individual steps, often over time (e.g., You draft a contract. You email it to counsel. They redline their edits and email it back. You respond to their edits. Hours or days pass between each step.). Sound familiar?
To this end, consider leveraging cloud-based tools and platforms that allow you to share resources and documents and work with others in real-time. Increase understanding with tools that record the decision-making process in one, easily accessible location. Among many other benefits, simultaneous collaboration tears down information silos. Bringing together knowledge and data from multiple disciplines and sources encourages a global perspective of challenges and a more holistic awareness of their solutions.
Boost remote team productivity using modern technology
A productive remote team building is one that is unified and organized. There are a few key practices to keep in mind when building a productive remote team. The first is contract management. Contracts must be well organized and easily accessible by all members of the team. This will help keep everyone on track and avoid any misunderstandings.
One good thing that has come out of the pandemic is the advancement of remote work tools. Even though your team isn’t in the office, they can still do most if not all of their regular work duties from the safety and comfort of their own home, thanks to modern technology. These tools and platforms are a great way to boost the productivity of your remote team that way, COVID won’t damage your business too much.
Some helpful tools for remote teams include:
Project management software
This remote work tool helps with project planning, resource allocation, scheduling, and change management. It also allows managers and employees to share documents, upload status reports, manage budgets, track time for all tasks, schedule meetings, and more. Implementing project management software gives your staff the resources they need to work together as a remote team.
KPI tracking tools
KPI software automates the monitoring of key performance indicators and consolidates them in an easy-to-read dashboard. This will help your remote team create, visualize, manage, and analyze KPIs to determine if they are meeting their goals and objectives. KPI tracking software is a great way to keep your team on track and ensure that productivity isn’t being compromised when working from home.
Conference call software
Communication is key when managing a remote team. One of the best ways to establish a solid line of communication is by setting up virtual video meetings. These meetings allow everyone to feel as if they’re back in the office, where everyone is free to openly give their opinions, ask questions, and express concerns. Once there’s communication among your team, the collaboration process will be seamless.
Check-In Regularly and Encourage Real-World Relationships with your Remote Team
Checking in with your productive remote team members more regularly and in a variety of settings and circumstances is helpful. Some people thrive in large group interactions. Others seek smaller and more intimate gatherings. Consider mixing it up to make sure you have something for everyone.
Also, consider getting on call or video with your remote workers and people outside of your job for a virtual coffee, lunch, breakfast, or dinner just to catch up or discuss items not related to work.
Not all interactions must be work-related. Many people connect around commonalities and interests that have nothing to do with their jobs. Discussing kids, pets, and hobbies have long been a classic way to make friends and build relationships in and outside the office.
Respect the Right to Disconnect
Our 24/7 access to technology and each other is a double-edged sword. The legal industry is slowly learning to appreciate a healthier work/life balance, but I, along with many others, want us to embrace the concept much more quickly.
Consider giving employees the ability to disconnect and respecting their need to do so. With the easy ability to reach anyone anywhere, at any time, also comes the great responsibility not to. If you can’t trust that your productive team will contribute at the appropriate times, it’s probably time to evaluate its structure.
Why respect is important in a team working remotely
Respect in the workplace is when employees treat each other well due to the admiration of each others’ qualities or characteristics. When employees are shown respect in the workplace, they are more likely to work hard because they know that their efforts are being appreciated by managers and colleagues. Once you and your team learn to respect one another, you can foster a positive work environment for everyone, and when people feel respected, they are more likely to show respect to others.
Ways that respect boosts remote team performance:
- Increases employee motivation and productivity
- Helps remote employees see that they’re treated fairly and without discrimination
- A team that respects one another can collaborate and complete tasks more efficiently
- Assists team members in rationally dealing with overwhelming situations without losing their temper
- Reduces stress, problems, and conflict between remote team members
- Promotes a positive environment that boosts employee satisfaction
When you create a safe environment for your employees to thrive, they will be more eager to perform well on their assigned tasks and work together with their colleagues. A respectful remote atmosphere also makes your company a more pleasant place to work, which means that your employee retention rate will increase as a result. When everyone on your remote team can work together, it’ll be much easier to reach annual goals and grow your business.
It’s a scary time that we’re living in, trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But there are lessons to be learned, to improve our lives during this crisis but also well beyond. The circumstances that we are being forced to live under are making us reconsider and re-examine the ways we have worked, lived, and socialized in so-called normal times.
Why not take this opportunity to grow?