Five Tips To Boost Your Virtual Team’s Productivity
How do you make sure your team is being productive while working from home? The move to remote working has left many businesses asking themselves this exact question.
The added difficulties caused by the pandemic have led to upheaval, uncertainty, and exhaustion for employees over the last two years.
So, what can you do to improve your virtual team’s productivity levels while they work from home?
What Are The Changes Happening In Remote Working?
Since March 2020, there has been a big shift in the way we work.
A consequence of the Coronavirus pandemic is that businesses had to make it possible, almost overnight, for their employees to be able to work remotely.
This required finding the right equipment for virtual work, seemingly never-ending Zoom calls, and finding new ways to manage your team – all while keeping the business going.
Moving forward, this overnight shift appears to be here to stay.
Both businesses and employees are reluctant to go back to working in the office full-time. It offers a degree of flexibility that has never been available before. Not to mention the cost and time saving.
To put it simply, businesses have recognized that it works.
5 Tips For Improving Your Virtual Team’s Productivity
- Set goals using OKRs
The first question you might ask is: What are OKRs? Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), create goals with a set of achievable, measurable results to use in tracking progress. An objective is your goal statement, while your key results are the measurable targets you need to achieve in order to accomplish your goal.
OKRs boost team productivity as they encourage transparency and alignment. People know what their goals are, as well as the goals of everyone else across the organisation. As a result, they understand how their daily work helps the company reach its overarching strategic goals.
This creates a sense of purpose and belonging and encourages employees to be more productive.
- Use work management tools
When teams are working remotely, it can be difficult to collaborate on team projects.
Work management tools such as Trello, Asana, and Slack are useful for project management.
They help facilitate conversation while allowing multiple people to all work on one project at the same time without overlap.
This increases the level of transparency within the team while fostering a sense of ownership and accountability.
- Give employees support without micromanaging
This can be difficult to manage, especially if you’re still new to remote working. There will also always be some employees who want more engagement than others.
It all comes down to balance.
Too much communication can hinder productivity. It creates an atmosphere of distrust as well as taking up time employees could use working.
Too little communication can mean employees are wasting time due to not knowing what to do or are left feeling isolated.
The best thing to do is to plan regular meetings with each employee. That way, everyone gets time with you at least once a week.
You should also ask employees how much communication they want with you so you can manage your time accordingly.
Trust goes a long way. When employees feel like they are respected and trusted to get on with their work, they will be more productive.
- Clearly define work processes
One of the most important components of helping your team get things done is ensuring that they know exactly how to do their job.
With remote working, it is harder for people to tell you when they don’t understand how to do something. If your processes are not clear enough, employees can waste time on tasks while doing them incorrectly.
Too much time spent on tasks that are duplicated or unclear can be demoralising and leave people feeling unmotivated.
Having easy-to-follow processes helps the team to get their job done faster, and in a more effective way.
- Motivate your team
Remember to give your team encouragement and praise when they do something well.
While a simple “thank you” may feel like a small gesture, it can keep your team engaged and feeling motivated.
How Can OKRs Help You With Boosting Productivity?
What strategies can you use in driving a remote team forward?
Managing a team in this way comes with new challenges.
Being unable to meet with people face-to-face makes it difficult to know how they are doing, both in and outside of work.
It’s been a challenging time for everyone.
Feelings of loneliness and isolation can leave your team feeling unproductive, lost, and not knowing who to turn to when they get stuck. Over the longer term, this can turn into productivity and performance issues.
It is also much more difficult to encourage and support a remote team. It’s hard to know what they need from you and how you can best support them.
OKRs are a strategy you can use in keeping your team aligned and focused on a goal even when working from home.
As the OKR sets a company-wide, high-level objective, everyone knows what they’re aiming for. This is just one of the many benefits of using OKRs. Many OKR practitioners have found that their engagement and productivity skyrocket with the use of this goal-setting methodology.
Having a clear overarching goal helps people to stay on track and understand what’s expected of them. In turn, this boosts performance and productivity.
The Benefits Of Implementing OKRs For Your Remote Team
So what are the benefits of using OKRs? Let’s take a look:
- They bring alignment to the team
One of the most advantageous things about OKRs is that they help teams to prioritise what to work on and focus on achieving a defined goal.
Working remotely is not easy and it’s not for everyone, especially if it’s new to you.
The process of setting OKRs should involve the whole team. This helps to build a sense of unity and community. While people within the team may have their own individual goals and tasks assigned to them, involving them in the OKR planning process helps people to see what the end goal is and how their work fits into this.
It also helps employees to see what their colleagues are doing and how their work fits into the bigger picture.
In a time where the word 'isolation' has taken on a whole new meaning, having clear, defined goals can help people to feel more motivated to succeed.
- OKRs offer clarity and direction
As already mentioned, working from home can leave people feeling unsure and confused about how to do their job.
OKRs give employees a sense of clarity, purpose, and direction. This takes away the uncertainty and gives back confidence.
- You can adapt and make changes quickly
In a world where we’re still facing constant uncertainty, the ability to adapt and change quickly in your business is essential.
Businesses are also finding themselves facing new problems they haven’t before, and as such, problem solving needs to be innovative.
As OKRs work quarterly with regular weekly reviews, the process is fast-paced, and changes can be made quickly if something isn’t working.
Getting Started With OKRs For Your Virtual Team
How do you introduce the OKR process to your team?
Firstly, start by explaining what the OKR methodology is and how it works. You should explain what the benefits of it are, to both them and the organisation as a whole.
Next, the most important part is to make sure your team is involved in the OKR setting process.
Asking some questions like these can help start the conversation:
- What could be improved about the X process?
- What could we change that would improve our results as a team?
- What do you think is the biggest problem we are currently facing?
- Is there something you feel we could do better that would improve the customer experience?
It’s important to explain that this is an open and judgement-free discussion with no right or wrong answers.
Once you’ve given everyone a chance to come up with some ideas, arrange a meeting to discuss them. If possible, it’s a good idea to get everyone to share their ideas in advance of the meeting.
Before the meeting you should also decide how you will rate the ideas or whether you will simply put it to a vote amongst the team.
Once you’ve chosen your area to concentrate on, you can then set your Objective and measurable Key Results.
When your OKRs are in place, the next thing to do is monitor them regularly.
Progress should usually be checked weekly. This review process should continue until the end of the quarter, when a full review of the team’s performance against the OKR will take place.
Virtual Team OKR Examples
What your virtual team’s OKRs will look like depends on the nature of your organisation and what you’re looking to achieve.
In order to help you set the right OKRs for your team, take a look at these OKR examples:
Objective 1 – Increase customer happiness
- Improve our Net Promoter Score from seven to nine
- Ask 30 customers a month to complete a customer survey
- Reduce shipping time from two days to one
Objective 2 – Improve employee happiness
- Achieve an average score of at least 75% in the Employee Satisfaction Survey
- Start an employee reward and recognition system to celebrate great work
- Hold a quarterly business-wide meeting for open Q&A
Objective 3 – Generate more warm leads
- Generate 50 leads through PPC advertising
- Generate 100 leads from Social Media
- Generate 75 leads through email marketing
Wrapping Things Up
OKRs can improve your virtual team’s productivity.
Involving team members in the process of developing their own goals using the OKR process helps them to feel more appreciated and valued. As a result, people work harder