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Build Trust and Boost Productivity in Remote Teams

Back view of business woman talking to her colleagues about plan in video conference. Multiethnic business team using laptop for a online meeting in video call. Group of people smart working from home

It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way we work.  Millions of Americans are working from home right now, with tens of millions more engaging in remote work all over the globe.  There’s no end in sight to the pandemic, which means this is the new normal for the foreseeable future.

Understandably though, a good percentage of managers are concerned.  Are their employees as productive as they were when they were coming into the office every day?  If they’re not, what, if anything, can be done to improve and enhance productivity?

Those are fair questions, and in this article, we’ll hopefully put your mind more at ease and highlight some simple ways you can enhance the productivity of your remote teams.

First and foremost, let’s face facts:  Your employees have a lot on their plates right now, balancing the challenges of child care, education, caring for sick loved ones and work.  It’s true then, that productivity has taken a bit of a hit, and the things above go a long way toward explaining why, but those things don’t tell the whole story.

The other side of the coin is the fact that without face to face communication, things do get harder.  It’s more difficult to collaborate.  It’s more difficult for teams to get on the same page and work together as a cohesive whole. 

The good news is that technology can help with that.  If you’re not already using some type of video conferencing software, you should start doing so immediately.  Create break outs or private chat rooms where teams can congregate. 

While it’s true that these tools aren’t a perfect replacement for face to face communications, they accomplish the same basic goal.  Sure, it takes a bit of getting used to, but that’s a short term issue.

In tandem with making sure your teams have the tools they need to collaborate more effectively, the other big thing you can do is to review every member of your team and leverage their strengths.  People with a proven track record as self-starters will likely need little in the way of additional coaching, and in fact, if you try to micromanage these, you’re likely to make matters worse.

On the other hand, you may have a few employees who aren’t great when it comes to self-motivating.  Here, rather than trying to micro-manage them, the better approach is to pair them with a self-starter and encourage them to hold each other accountable.

Online weight loss apps have proven this to be an enormously effective strategy.  By having a partner, and helping each other be accountable, everybody stays on task and productivity improves.  This simple trick can solve a great many problems.

Even better, it serves to improve morale in addition to providing a boost to productivity, because your employees see that you trust them to get the work done.  Instead of micro-managing, you’re giving them the tools and the structure they need, then getting out of the way and letting them get to it.  That’s good for you, and it’s good for them!