2020 has been a huge year for the accelerated adoption of remote work for obvious reasons.Many companies and industries have pivoted in order to remain competitive amidst lockdowns and social distancing, but going 'remote' has its own set of challenges that many small business owners are now facing.
One of the major challenges to small professional service firms is learning how to keep remote employees productive without the ability to be physically present with them.
This article will walk through three methods that will help small business owners keep their remote teams productive throughout the workday.
Project Management Software is Critical
For any business to find ongoing success, systems and structure are necessary to provide a framework that guides employees toward success.
In a more traditional office environment, it's easier to collaborate simply by proximity. It's also easier for management to ensure that a project is moving along as planned as they can immediately receive updates by asking their team.
However, in a remote setting, it is a little more difficult to get ongoing updates from your team, which means that heightened communication and increased transparency are required to ensure that projects are completed as expected.
Strong project management software is a critical tool in facilitating remote team project success as it provides a system that helps facilitate collaboration and reporting online.
What Makes a Good Project Management Software?
Not every project management software will be the right fit for your company. Professional service firms, such as architectural, engineering, or accounting companies, should look for a project management software that is designed for their needs.
A good project management software should include:
- Real-time project updates
- Comprehensive project accounting
- Intelligent resource management
- Automatic report delivery
- Diverse set of integrations with other business software
Establish Daily Checkpoints and Progress Tracking
When your team is working remotely, it's important to establish specific checkpoints to ensure that the team is remaining productive on a daily basis.
It's difficult to have complete insight into how remote employees are spending their time throughout the day, but as long as there are clearly defined milestones, then it is possible to ensure that projects are moving along as scheduled.
It is also critical to accurately track time and expenses from your remote team, so that project spending does not exceed the budget.
How Can You Track Team Progress?
There are many methods for tracking a remote team's progress, but here are a few examples that can be implemented at most small businesses:
- Hold start and end-of-the-day meetings to set a schedule and receive updates for the day.
- Invest in a software solution that provides time and expense tracking features.
- Establish a reporting routine that captures important milestones on a daily basis.
Tighten Schedules and Team Coordination
In a remote setting, it's crucial to be hypersensitive to scheduling and facilitating team coordination.
Moments of 'watercooler inspiration' won't happen outside of the office, which means that managers need to proactively schedule and encourage collaboration to maintain productivity from a remote team.
It's also much more difficult for impromptu updates or casual meeting schedules to happen, but by tightening schedules and frameworks for team coordination, it is still possible to have a highly productive team that works remotely.
In order to maintain productivity, managers need to carefully consider the full requirements for project success and then schedule the appropriate amount of time for their team to execute and collaborate on the project.
Tips to Improve Scheduling and Team Coordination
Here are a few tips to help schedule and coordinate a remote team:
- Be conservative in time allotment at the start of a project, but keep some flexibility to provide additional time if required.
- Schedule meetings as far in advance as possible to create milestones that will push project progress forward.
- Establish open-forum meetings aimed to encourage free form collaboration as needed.
- Establish recurring meetings for company-wide updates and team building.
What Else Does a Remote Team Need to Be Productive?
Ultimately, remote teams need a strong framework and guidelines for their daily tasks to remain productive on an ongoing basis.
While this can be achieved through more manual processes and daily check-ins from management, usually it is significantly more effective to invest in some form of small business software. Regardless if a firm is an architectural, a legal, or a consulting company, there are always improved efficiencies that can be provided by an intelligent business software solution.
Business owners should carefully consider all their options and determine how they can provide a framework for their remote team that guarantees a high level of productivity on a daily basis. Remote work is the future of many industries, so it's critical to stay ahead of the curve in order to remain competitive in your industry.