It’s a fact: remote employees are more productive than their non-remote counterparts. Which begs the question: Why do so many remote teams flounder?
It all has to do with a little something called structure. Structure provides people with direction. It takes the indecisiveness out of decision-making. It facilitates communication and collaboration. And it’s an essential ingredient to the success of any organization.
Read on to find out how you can establish structure—both as a team and individually.
Establishing Structure Within Your Organization
Our agency has been 100% remote since it was founded over 13 years ago. One of the reasons for our continual success is having a well-defined structure in place.
Here are some tips on how you can follow suit and establish structure within your eCommerce company.
Tip #1: Outline your company’s policies and procedures
Since you won’t be able to physically lead by example, you’ll have to really spell things out for all employees. Establish some “rules” or guidelines for everyone to follow. This will help to ensure accountability and that everyone is on the same page.
At eScale agency, our policies and procedures are clearly outlined and available online; each team member is required to review and abide by them as soon as they join the team.
Tip #2: Designate a virtual collaboration space
Just because your team doesn’t share a physical office space doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) have a virtual office.
At eScale, Slack is our “office.” When we come “into the office” each morning, we note in our Slack “water-cooler” channel that we’re there. And five minutes before leaving for the day, we give a heads up.
Tip #3: Set aside a time for team collaboration
Since everything is virtual, you’ll have to be more deliberate with your communication.
Our team sets aside about four hours of the day (3 hours and 45 minutes to be exact) where everyone must be “in the office” or logged into Slack and available. We then try to leave the afternoons free of collaboration, so that everyone can devote full attention to their own tasks.
Tip #4: Allow for face-to-face interaction
Being able to read facial expressions makes communication easier. It also fortifies connections.
Each morning, without fail, our team kicks off the day with our “Daily Kick-off” video calls, where we all come together on Google Hangouts to chat about anything and everything under the sun (only requirement being that it’s not related to work). Then, each department will have their “Rundown,” where everyone goes over any related tasks for the day (also over video).
Sure, we could do all of this without video. But we’ve found that having video helps facilitate communication and make us all feel more connected to one another.
So whether it’s once a day or once a week, set aside a time for some face-to-face interaction with your team members.
Tip #5: Have team members write out their plans for the day
Any productivity article you read will tell you the importance of writing out a plan or schedule for the day, of what you plan to accomplish. The thing is, it’s great in theory, but how many people actually do this? For that reason, our team has made this nonnegotiable.
Before starting the day, each team member must submit a Daily Plan, which, just as it sounds, is a plan of action for the day. Then at the end of the day, everyone submits a Daily Recap, which summarizes the day’s tasks and how much time was spent on each.
This helps to ensure that everyone stays accountable for their own tasks; on an individual level, it helps each team member maximize productivity and remain cognizant of their time.
Establishing Personal Structure
You might have the best organizational structure in the world—but if everyone on the team lacks personal structure, what good will that do?
Working remotely, you’re surrounded by innumerable distractions, which can make it tempting to slack off from time to time.
How do you organize your day and what do you do to ensure that your work gets completed in a timely and efficient manner? What kind of structure do you have in place for yourself?
These are the questions that each team member should be asking themselves.
For those lacking structure, there are a few things that have proven successful for our team members…
Tip #1: Stick to a daily routine
Even if it’s just making yourself a cup of joe in the morning and listening to a motivational podcast, get into a consistent daily routine.
Creating a routine is about building (good) habits, which help boost your productivity.
Tip #2: Plan out your next day
Just like establishing good habits, planning out your day gives structure to your professional life. At the end of each day, plan out what you intend to accomplish the next day and the time that you estimate each task to complete.
That way, the next morning you won’t have to waste time figuring out what needs to be done. Instead, you’ll be ready to conquer the day right away.
Tip #3: Find a productive workspace
When working from home, it’s all too easy for the lines to become blurred between personal space and work space. So be sure to set up a dedicated work space, free from distractions (and ideally far away from your bed!).
Notify roommates or family members that when you’re working, you’re working. Heck, put a “do not disturb” sign up on your door if you have to!
Tip #4: Don’t make work a question
Working remotely requires self-discipline—a lot of it. Our team lead, Avin, says that it’s crucial that work not be a question (even if you have the luxury of not showing up from time to time). Because if it is, then every single day will be a constant battle between to do and not to do.
The trick is to not even start that battle.
There’s no doubt that establishing and enforcing a structured work environment takes more effort and discipline for remote teams—but it’s certainly not impossible (our agency is proof of that!).
Like anything, structure takes time to build; you can’t expect for everything to fall into place overnight.
But once it is in place? Say hello to productivity.