Guest post by Nora Young of Traqq, a free time tracker for remote workers

As in futuristic movies where people enjoy holographic meetings or visit other planets without ever leaving the earth, we are gradually embracing a digital age of working without a physical workplace. As more companies open opportunities for remote work, more employees are ready to grab them. 77% of companies, according to a report by ProofHub, allow their employees to work remotely. With an increasing necessity to provide a balance between work and personal life, it is becoming ever more obvious that giving workers the option to work from home – even if it is just a few days per week – is the way to go.

Company executives have known for years that for a business to grow, communication must be at the bedrock of its affairs. With a remote team, this need to connect and share is extremely important. Building a remote team will not be successful without prime attention to communication. Factors such as varying time zones, managing contracts and software packages, managing social events, and having empathy for employees, are a few things to which leaders should give attention. That said, with the right approach, you will get to see that operating a remote team has tremendous advantages. 

So, what are the best practices when you’re working with a remote team? Check out our tips below.

Best Teamwork Practices for Remote Working

1. Employ the Right People

Hiring the right people for the job is half of the hurdle. If one thing is true, it’s that remote work is not for everyone. Some people are more productive when they work in an office. That’s just how it is. This is why you must hire people suited for remote work. A geographically scattered team needs members who can collaborate and communicate effectively. As a leader, you need to hire individuals who won’t just get the job done but will also keep you updated on their progress.

One way to achieve this is by checking to see if applicants have any past remote-working experience. Even if the experience is lacking, they should at least have the willingness to learn and grow with the team. You can ask questions to help you figure out if they can do well in a remote setting. You can even hire them on a trial period to see how well they perform before making the employment permanent.

2. List the Job Expectations

It is necessary to let your employees know what you expect of them right from the start. Don’t put your team through the hurdle of trying to guess what to do. Should they be available for conference calls at certain hours of the day? How often should they communicate with you? Are they required to perform certain duties at specific days of the week? Let them know. A well-informed team is an efficient team!

3. Use Productivity Tools

To improve productivity, workers need to know the progress of each project. Productivity tools for work from home will help you to achieve this. You can use these collaborative tools to list deadlines and outline specific tasks for each week. Workers can then check each task off the list as they accomplish them. This means everyone knows what to do and how well the projects are going. It keeps the entire team updated on what each person is doing. 

4. Create a 24/7 Chatroom

Emails may be great for the office but it is not efficient for remote working. Leaders should create a chatroom that is open at all times. This ensures smooth communication between each team. It also means employees can easily track conversations especially for those working from a different time zone.

5. Track Productivity

To ensure projects are getting accomplished, leaders need to keep track of each assigned task. This doesn’t mean you should create a tense environment. Don’t be the team leader who breathes down the neck of your employees, instead, you should have each individual or team give you regular updates on their progress. It makes it easier to conduct meetings when you are informed on how each person is doing. 

Keeping track of productivity helps you to notice areas or individuals that need help. By knowing what areas to improve or change, you can help your team become more productive. Another way to increase team efficiency is by giving your team members some time management tips for remote work. Proper time management is important in boosting collaboration and ensuring progress in a remote setting.

6. Consider Time Zone Overlaps

One challenge you will face with a remote team is ‘time’. You should avoid fixing meetings without making plans to accommodate different time zones. If there is an hour or two where all workers will be working, you should set up a meeting during this time. Keep in mind that 12 pm in your time zone could be 6 am in another time zone. By fixing a time that is convenient for everyone, no one will feel like they are being forced to sacrifice more of their time more than the other employees do.

7. Create a Company Blog to Strengthen Team Loyalty

You don’t have to put everything in a chat room. In fact, this can make the chat room messy and cluttered. Create a blog where you can introduce new team members, highlight the employee of the month or year, and make public announcements. This is one way to create loyalty among workers, keep them up to date on recent happenings in the company, and encourage them to be more engaged in giving their best. A company blog ensures information is preserved for future reference. Even new members who are just joining the team can see past events and information. 

8. Create Topic-Based Chatrooms

Yes, team-based chatrooms are great but as I pointed out earlier, it can get messy. Creating different groups for various topics keeps information sharing clean and efficient. You can make a group for brainstorming and idea-sharing, and another for project discussions. How about taking it a step further and creating one just for fun? Employees can get to know each other there, hold social events, and play fun games. It doesn’t have to be all work. People do better when they are allowed to bond and have some fun.

Just because your team members are scattered around the world, it doesn’t mean that you can’t develop a professional bond with them. With the best practices we shared in this article, you can encourage teamwork no matter where your employees are.

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Our contributors are digital nomads who worked remotely from coworking spaces, coffee shops, libraries, and even beachside around the world.

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