7 Tips on How to Manage a Remote Team


Productivity embodies a lot of things. Most of which come from self-motivation and dedication. If you want to know how to manage a remote team and increase productivity, this post might help you to become a better version of yourself. A lot of times, it is not so easy to work at optimal levels. Especially, if that sort of “productivity” involves working remotely.

According to Stanford University research, there is over 90% percent of people who work at the offices. What about the remaining 10%? Well, these folks either work from a remote location, such as; a home office or some other setup – or they work in an environment which is not exactly the “office” material.

Regardless, the 10 percentile can easily be broken into two. Half of the 10% of remote workers are not productive; they slack and fall behind on meeting deadlines. The other half, which is 5%, is the only group that knows how to improve remote team productivity at an individual and collective level.

Source: Dan Martell 

Tips on How to Manage a Remote Team:

How to improve remote team productivity

These tips for working remotely will help you to maintain your productivity whether you’re working from a distant location, or simply in a business where remote work is allowed. Now, that does not imply that these tips are only applicable to people who freelance their services 24/7.

As a matter of fact, if you are a professional with a white-collar job, you may find yourself in a situation where you are required to work remotely. In that case, it doesn’t hurt to go through a few tips on how to improve and learn how to manage remote team productivity – or individual productivity for that matter.

 7. Define Your Time:

How to improve remote team productivity

One of the biggest perks of remote work is the time schedule. The hours are usually flexible – i.e. as long as your office isn’t strict about the time zone. As an agile project manager, I have had the pleasure of briefing many teams who had to work from home or a makeshift location whenever their respective management asked them to.

The only setback of working from home or any remote location is that you don’t feel like you are “at work”. Especially, if you are a freelancer, you will most likely be working from your room. In that order, productivity takes a big hit. People get lazy while they keep on reminding themselves to get up and work.

However, if you analyze your activity pattern when trying to reduce remote work distractions, you will notice that during certain hours of the day/night your body is extremely active. Within that time slot, you feel productive, intelligent and involved in whatever work you are doing. That’s the time of the day, or the night, where you need to sit down and work.

At first, it will feel like slogging, but you will get used to it. Set yourself a 30-day challenge to define your work hours and commit to them. It doesn’t matter if those work hours are set up for the day, or the night. As long as that specific time slot allows you to work at optimal levels, do it. Meanwhile, abstain from indulging in long lunches, Facebook sessions and other activities that might affect your work.

6. Location, Location, and Location!

This one’s a golden tip on how to improve and learn how to manage remote team productivity. You need to have an office of some sort where you can work. It could be your dining table, a study room, or a certain corner of your bedroom where you can work without getting carried away by too many distractions.

This is one of the tips that I learned from a friend. You need to have a setup that orchestrates productivity. If you just started working remotely as a team, or an individual, you will eventually burn out for as long as you are not situated at a place that reflects an office environment. Therefore, set up an office at your home and try to work in an enclosed environment. That means no TV, minimal cellphone use, no kids and an overall productive area where nobody is around to disturb you.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Dalton Trumbo wrote his bestsellers while he was in a bathtub.

A bathroom is not a near-perfect idea of an office. But if Trumbo could feel productive in a bathtub, you can find a location where your productivity juices can flow for several hours on end. Think about it and get to it immediately.

5. Take Breaks:

One of the mean tips on how to improve and learn how to manage remote team productivity is to keep your brain refreshed. We get it that working nonstop makes even the most productive people overwhelmed with work – so much so that there comes a point where the said individual is not able to concentrate anymore or come up with ideas, to say the least.

A while ago, we wrote a post about ‘The Pomodoro Technique.’ It is an old, yet very famous management trick to staying productive. The idea is to relentlessly work for a minimum of 25 minutes, and then take a 5-minute breather. Within that short span of time, you could work, followed by a break.

Research reveals that when you take breaks after continuous work, your brain remains active. The Pomodoro Technique got so viral at one point that different management schools altered it to their liking. Basically, the idea is to energize your body and brain without stressing too much.

Secondly, go out and take a walk. In fact, if it were up to us, we’d send you weekly treks. Exercise is good to remain productive and healthy for a long time. Maintain a balance between your remote working hours and your overall lifestyle. You won’t regret it.

4. Minimize Distractions:

Another important tip on how to improve and learn how to manage remote teams’ productivity is to minimize distractions. This one’s a doozy. It is easy to get distracted – especially in today’s day and age when there are so many visually appealing things lying around on the web.

Perhaps you started work with the full intention of finishing a milestone in let’s say 30 minutes. But then you saw a notification from Facebook. It doesn’t harm anyone to check Facebook for a few minutes, does it? That 5-minute trip turns into an hour-long session where you stalk your Ex, check out what’s going on in the online stratosphere and what not.

Also See:

Agile vs Waterfall – Which Project Management Methodology to Choose?

Distractions are like a rabbit hole. Once you are reeled in, there’s no coming back. Minimize distractions by keeping your phone upside down. In fact, take it off vibration and enable Silent profile. Likewise, abstain from opening Facebook or clicking those cat meme images. You know it better than us. Anything that can divert you from your actual work is a distraction. Avoid it, and try to be persistent about it.

3. Have You Heard about Sprints?

Yes, Sprints are part of Scrum architecture. Scrum is to Agile, as Agile is to Sprints. In that order, if you have been part of an Agile work environment, you may as well know that the scrum master assigns sprints to different teams. There is also a Sprint product backlog where all the nitty-gritty goes as long as backend work details are concerned.

The interesting thing about Sprints is that you could create one on your own. Stick to it. Standard Sprint duration is 14 days. You can minimize and maximize it to your liking. When it comes to the relation between sprints and tips on how to improve and learn how to manage remote teams’ productivity, you are your own boss. Since you are working at your pace, you can alter the Sprint speed and duration.

But, make sure that you meet those goals. The idea of a Sprint is to complete milestones without any hitches. There are Scrum meetings in there too, but you won’t be able to have a meeting if you are the only person involved in that “team.” Give that you are working remotely, but in contact with a bunch of other professionals who are in the same group, you guys can kick of Sprints in a marvelous fashion.

2. Plan Ahead for an Entire Day

Before you set off for work, plan each day in advance. We preach so much about productivity and things to do through to-do list apps and such things but we don’t practice them that much. One of the major disadvantages of working remotely is that you are at your own disposal. No one will be there to monitor your progress; there will be no manager and there won’t be any teammates to talk to. This is the kind of situation where you usually work in an isolated setup.

Another case is where a certain number of team members are working on the same project from different remote locations. If you can create a to-do list, or a simple plan ahead of the activity, your productivity will increase by tenfold.

Plan your day, night or whatever time of work you have selected for a 24-hour duration. Stick to it and you will see the procrastination graph dipping. It is a good thing. There is a good chance of getting things done that way.

1. Don’t Overdo It:

Another useful tip on how to improve remote and manage remote team productivity is defining boundaries. Sometimes we see people checking their email for updates, long after work hours. If you are working in a remote setup, and you have finished your shift for the day, avoid coming back to your workstation over and over again.

We understand that the temptation to check emails from correspondents is hard to resist. However, as long as it is not super important and there is no ungodly emergency, don’t indulge in checking updates. If you keep on like this, the activity can go on until bedtime hours. The next day, you will wake up tired and exhausted from your brain thinking about the previous day’s activities.

So, there you have it – our tried and tested tips on how to improve remote team productivity. If you have anything else to add, feel free to share it through the comments section below. Alternatively, you can also send us an email at fwilson@ntaskmanager.com for more personalized feedback. Good luck and have fun staying productive!

We have an editors pick in this roundup: RemoteTeam

It is an all-in-one HR solution for ‘remote-first’ teams. The fully-integrated platform helps companies automate and easily manage payments, tax compliance, expense reimbursements, time-off policies, team productivity, and more.

RemoteTeam is one of the top platforms built for the future of work and used by growing remote startups.

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