When you work as part of a distributed team, maintaining productivity may feel like cultivating houseplants. 🌱Once you’ve planted the seeds and partnered up with some talented people, you need to provide them with the right kind of environment to grow.
So, what’s the environment that enables *some* distributed teams to be evergreen productive? Is it the way they Feng Shui their home offices? 🏠 A cookie jar stashed under the desk? 🍪Or is it the ability to take a spontaneous walk in the park whenever the spirit moves them? 🚶🏻♂️
Most telecommuters would say it’s the simple combination of flexibility and autonomy that does the trick. You know, the two things that are like unicorns for traditional 9-5s. But, as you probably expect, that’s not all.
The key ingredients that make up productive distributed teams are the tools they use 🧰 and the workflows they create ⏩.
Take, for example, the project-management platforms we use these days. They’ve become so widespread and ingrained in the remote culture that we pretty much take them for granted. But to do their job and not get in the way, these platforms need to be:
- Fast and frictionless ⚡️
- Fun to use (so employees love opening them each day) ❤️
- A natural part of the remote workflow 🧠
Now, in the ideal world, we’d love to see all companies provide their distributed workforce with just that. In reality, however, many employers cross their fingers and try to repurpose the same tools and workflows they use for local teams.
In this Taskade article, we’ll show you how you can build the most productive work environment for your distributed team. But first, we need to answer the question that keeps the finest managerial minds up at night…🌙
🤔 Why are Remote Teams Losing Productivity at Work?
Let’s face it. Some people are natural-born slackers. They may have exceptional skills and expertise but can’t deliver results without proper incentive and a degree of supervision.
Nothing we can do about that. 🤷
But what happens when those folks end up in your 100% remote team? How to make sure everybody does what they’re supposed to when nobody’s looking? How to keep your team motivated and focused on the work?
Remember, that on top of regular PM hiccups, like unrealistic deadlines and scope creep, distributed teams have to face their own demons 👹 like:
Keeping the Entire Team Connected
For better or worse, distributed teams, especially those working across time zones, don’t have the luxury of real-time collaboration. When one member of the team is just waking up, somebody else is probably getting ready to catch some ZZZs. 😴
To keep the entire team connected, you need to find a common schedule to stick to or at least an hour of overlap time for meetings and updates. In other words, you need to master the art of asynchronous collaboration.
If you’re not Steven Strange 🧙🏻♂️, there’s no other way around that!
Wasting Time on Building Workflows
Simple workflows don’t take much effort to build and manage. With a handful of employees squeezed into a local office, you could probably get everything up and running within a week or so.
But fully distributed teams and organizations require a different level of planning and maintenance to run smoothly.
Unless you have the right templates in place, creating effective workflows that involve multiple departments, remote employees and a decentralized chain of command can be a heck of a challenge. 🏋🏻♂️
Lacking a Structure to Keep Everyone on the Same Page
“What do I do next?”, “Where do I send this?”, “Who should I report to?”, “What is the meaning of life?” 🤔
Yep. This is what happens when remote teams don’t have a solid structure in place to support day-to-day operations. When nobody knows what to do next, chaos is the only possible outcome.
So, how do you keep everybody on the same page? How do you assign tasks, give feedback and communicate without friction? If you don’t (yet) have a good answer to these questions, you risk creating inefficient and boring workflows your team won’t enjoy. 😩
But hey, it doesn’t have to be that difficult!
👍🏻 How to Do It Better?
If your current workflow feels a bit like the Wild West 🌵, you’re going to need a robust system to get back on track and keep everything in check.
Step #1 — Start by drafting a simple list containing:
- 🔧 The tools (digital or otherwise) you’d like to use
- 👱 The people in your team and their roles in the chain of command
- 🧩 The methods you use to set goals and monitor progress
- ➡️ Any additional resources you may need down the road
If you’re not sure where to start, go ahead and grab the Scrum Board template you can import directly into your Taskade workspace. It’ll help you organize your thoughts into beautiful containers, each fully customizable according to your preference.
Here’s an example:
Step #2 — with a basic SCRUM framework in place, the next thing you need is a set of clear and attainable goals. 🎯
You can simply use the Weekly Planner template, like the one below, and fill it with tasks, milestones and goals for each week.
Step #3 — the last step is to create a series of breadcrumbs your team can follow every time they find themselves a crossroads. 🗺
Onboarding a new team member or hiring contractors to help out with the workload? Start by customizing the Blog Style Guidelines template and sharing it with the freelance writers 🖋and editors you work with:
Give your Workflows a Pop of Customization
You know those plain spreadsheets where team members need to log everything they worked on in a day? Boooring! 🥱In Taskade, all workflows are fully customizable with:
- Fun and beautiful colors that can be applied to workspaces, projects and individual tasks 🔴🔵🟢🟡
- Multiple views (mindmaps, projects, boards, meeting agendas) so everybody can organize their worky any way they like 🗓
- As many emojis as you want 🤖🚀🎯
And the best part? Teams don’t have to start their day by creating these workflows from scratch. Instead, managers can provide already customized templates that can be easily shared and repurposed. Like this simple Team Task List with due dates, comments and priorities:
So, how does this compare to opening a dull spreadsheet every morning?🤯
Video Calls FTW!
We need to make one thing clear: email and plain text messaging are passé. ✉️❌ Not only is it slow (still trying to type that report?), but it also prevents people from truly connecting with each other.
So, what’s the alternative? 🤔
Most of the time, a simple video call will help you relay double the amount of information in half the time. That’s why Taskade has a built-in video conferencing feature 📢 that lets you talk to your colleagues in real time.
And we don’t want to forget the camera-shy employees too, do we? Let them have their fun and stick to Taskade’s audio calls. You know, so they can run in their PJs all day! 💤
💡 Meeting organization tip: To avoid running hour-long video calls for every scheduled meeting, encourage your team to prepare bite-sized shownotes before joining in. With everybody up to speed on the agenda, it’d be easier to jump right in for the important stuff and dismiss the fleabites.
Lacking ideas for making video-conferencing fun? Just ask your team. Create special events or opportunities for non-work related talk and let them get to know each other better. The goal here is simple: to create strong bonds that will eventually contribute to employee retention. 🤝
The Meetings Issue
Even when your team is 100% remote, you still need occasional stand-up meetings to bring everybody up to speed. But did you know that Taskade can help with that too?
You can speed-up daily stand-ups by implementing simple checklists everybody can collaborate on in real time. Remember that for every list, document and note you create, Taskade lets you give video presentations and even share your screen 👨🏻💻🔛👩💻 so everybody can see the same thing.
Isn’t that cool? 🕺
Crafting the Perfect Workflow for your Remote Teams
When it comes to workflows, there’s no one, off-the-rack solution that would make all remote teams happy. Instead, you should observe your employees, gather their feedback and give everybody a chance to cultivate a method they feel the most comfortable with.
- Let your team decide (within reason) the hours they want to work. Chances are some of them are natural night owls and prefer all-nighters to hustling before sunrise 🦉
- Is your team already using Taskade? Let them choose how they visualize their workflows. Do they prefer to-do lists, Kanban boards or mindmaps? Find out and collaborate on their own turf 🖥
- Encourage them to customize and rework their workflows as often as possible. It’ll keep them invested in projects and prevent from getting into a rut 🌈
- Think about the degree of transparency you want to add to your workflows. Take our public roadmap as an example. Anyone can see what we’re working on and contribute a food-for-thought to Taskade’s development! 🐑
🚀 Final Words on Getting Rid of Boring Workflows
Now that you’ve had a look at some effective workflows, how are yours?
- Can’t catch up with project updates? ✉️
- Deadlines keep you up at night? ⏰
- Always miss out on high-priority tasks? 🚨
- Clunky software gets in your way? ☠️
If any of the above applies to you, it’s time to bring your team productivity back to life with Taskade! 🌱