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Remote Team Management and Productivy Improvments

Ruslan Askarov

Getting the best out of your team is always a challenge, but it gets even more interesting when you have to manage team members working from their different homes. This article explores techniques that improve your team’s effectiveness and efficiency.

One of the trending topics in productivity management today is “The Future of Work”. While the subject is not entirely new, the discussions around it have taken a new dimension. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the future of work was discussed in terms of the digitization of the work process. There were speculations about how robots would replace human labor in some industries. 

Today, such discussions point us in another direction entirely. (No) thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, most conversations about the future of work are now centred on the dynamics of work from home or remote working arrangements. 

A survey by Gartner Inc showed that 88% of businesses and nonprofits encouraged their teams to work from home in 2020. Most of these organizations made it mandatory as the pandemic became more widespread. 

As a team lead, supervisor or executive, how do you maintain a high level of productivity with all your team members working from home? How do you manage the work process in a way that ensures that each team member plays their part effectively?

How to maintain High Productivity in Your Remote Team

There are some generic steps you can take here, which you probably know about already. However, to cover all bases, I’ll list them out. Here are some simple tips you can use to encourage high team productivity:

  • Encourage each team member to have a dedicated workspace
  • Have clearly stated goals for each individual at the beginning of each day.
  • Communicate with members individually and as a team – do this as frequently as possible
  • Be Flexible
  • Use employee tracking software

The above tips will help you get good results on paper. However, in reality, there are lots of nuances to consider. Yes, more than 75% of employees believe that they are more productive when they work from home. Having said that, we know that while dealing with people, numbers don’t tell the whole story. 

What happens to the super talented team member who is also a chronic procrastinator? If they were in the office, other team members would be a source of motivation to get the job done. Now that they’re at home, how do you ensure that such employees meet their goals while giving their best? 

Here’s one thing you should know about highly talented procrastinators: they wait till the deadline is unbearably close before they start working on a project. At the end, they would usually end up meeting the deadline, even turning in a good job. 

While this may seem good enough, you should realise that such a team member would do a much better job if they had better productivity management. Contrary to comm on assumptions, such people are quite common in workplaces. In fact, the American Bureau of labor Statistics maintains that out of an 8.5-hour workday, the average employee spends 2 hours recovering from distractions. It appears that even the most efficient employees need help in time management.

The scope of productivity management goes beyond tracking employees’ goals and KPIs. For high performance, you need to help your team to optimize their work process. This extra detail makes the difference between good work and great work. Why settle for merely attaining goals when you can help your team surpass them constantly?

employee monitoring software

Don’t just set goals, have milestones

One technique you can use to improve your team’s productivity is setting milestones. Milestones are those checkpoints the team member reaches in the process of completing a task. 

For example, if writing this article is a task, then the first milestone would be doing the necessary research to get important information. It helps when the person doing the job sets the milestones. When you give the team members their daily goals, let them draw out the milestones involved and send back to you.

 

How do milestones improve productivity?

With clearly stated milestones, you have ready talking points during your check-ins. So, using the earlier writing example, while checking in, you could ask, “how’s the research coming along?”  instead of the regular “what’s up”? 

Such checks help you to maintain the delicate balance. You’re not encouraging lethargy, neither are you micromanaging the team members. This technique is made easier when you use management tools like Monitask. It’s an employee monitoring software that uses tools like the work hour tracker to track performance.

Your team members can create checklists with their milestones. They check each milestone as they make progress. Aside from always keeping the manager in the loop, it has a positive psychological effect. Ticking off lists creates a positive feeling of accomplishment early into the workday. Having such feeling can be a catalyst that motivates the employee to work better.

 

Time Tracking is a concept that is perhaps as old as the Human Resource discipline itself. Before computers or any digital devices, organizations used timestamps to clock in and out of work. Of course, no one uses these physical timestamps anymore. However, the purpose of time tracking has always stayed the same – to serve as a record that indicates how much work is done.

Why is Time Tracking Essential for Team Productivity?

These days, the benefits of time tracking goes far beyond the obvious “record keeping”. It’s a feedback mechanism that keeps the productivity engine running, Here are some not-so-obvious benefits that your team will enjoy with time tracking.

 

Objective Metric of Measurement

The number one reason is the nature of time itself. As the famous quote goes, “time waits for no one.” Time is the most objective metric that we can use to measure activity. An hour is an hour anywhere in the world. It does not matter if the person is in Australia or in Sweden, an hour of work done is the same regardless.

This sort of objective measure is important for record keeping, especially when payment agreements are by hours worked.

 

Improves Efficiency

Time tracking as a record keeping process presents you and your team with an opportunity to always improve your work process.This benefit becomes clear once you view the time tracking records you have as data that can be referenced when making future decisions.

However, the effectiveness of a piece of data lies in how much information it holds. For your time tracking data to hold enough information, you must have a robust recording process. Hence the question:

What are the Essential Components of Efficient Time Tracking?

In today’s workplace, there are various tools that help you to maintain high productivity in your team. Nevertheless, a plethora of options may cause some indecision. How do you know which productivity management system is equipped to give you all the time tracking data you need?

To answer this question, we must first examine what data sets we need from time tracking. When you know what to expect from your time tracking data, you can easily disregard any management software that fails to provide such features.

Here are the four essential features you should look for in your time tracking software:

Internet and App Monitoring

When your team members work from home, it will be counterproductive to rely solely on clocking in and out. Most people are not so efficient at self management. To ensure that the time recorded is productive, you need a productivity management software that includes a monitoring tool.

An effective monitoring tool will assess websites and applications explored within the time frame that the employee should be working. It’s a good measure of how much of work time is spent actually doing work. More precisely, it will measure how much time is spent on unproductive activities.

If an employee clocks in for 8 hours a day and spends 5 hours, 30 minutes on Twitter, an internet monitoring tool will detect this waste of time. You don’t want this habit to go on everyday for a whole month. Without monitoring, it will most likely go unnoticed.

A Foolproof Progress Report

Remember when we talked about creating milestones? A progress report will make it easier to get vivid feedback for each milestone created. Such feedback and progress report is best done with picture proof. The employee takes a screenshot of their computer screen and shares the image, showing the progress they have made since the last milestone.

Obviously, this will take some time, and some team members may consider it stressful to break their workflow to take screenshots. So, what’s the solution?

It’s simple:  A productivity management app that takes automatic screenshots at intervals without getting in the way of workflow. Depending on the software you choose, it can get better. For team members with sensitive information on their screen, some platforms give you the privacy of blurring out certain actions of the screen to protect such sensitive information.

 

Offline Time Entry

In work from home situations, everyone may not be connected to the internet the whole time. Mostly because their job does not require constant connection. Take graphic designers, video editors for example. In this case, how do you ensure accurate time tracking?

Offline time tracking keeps tabs on offline team members, and updates on the platform once they connect to the internet. If some members of your team work remotely from countries with unimpressive internet, this can be a lifesaver. It’s counterproductive to reset time tracking every time an employee gets disconnected.

Activity Monitoring

Although not the norm, one or two team members may wish to be “smart” with their time tracking by using other devices for unproductive activities. This means that they may leave their work computer screen on work-related stuff, while they browse Instagram with their phone.

To prevent this, you need an employee monitoring software that detects inactivity. When the mouse or keyboard is stationary for a while, it reads the employee in question as inactive. It’s an effective technique of identifying unproductive team members.

The above features are essential in any employee monitoring tool that will improve your team’s productivity. It would be a real boost having a software that does all of these without making you or your team members waste productive time. Monitask does all of this heavy lifting with just one platform, making sure that an hour worked is an hour paid.

 

Wrapping up, remember that time tracking is not a witch-hunting exercise, but a concerted effort at boosting your team output. When all team members see it this way, they are more willing to cooperate with your team-building efforts.

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