The outbreak of COVID-19 has become one of the largest health and economic threats the world has ever recorded. With nations going on lockdown and businesses put to a halt, myriads of business executives, teams, and project heads are grappling with managing the transition. While technology companies over time have adopted remote culture, the majority of businesses are yet to implement this on a full scale and were unprepared. The consequences are a possible drop in productivity, ineffective communication where achieving seamless collaboration seems nearly impossible.
With physical prospective meetings canceled and social distancing the norm these times, how can project managers and product teams maintain the same momentum of efficiency and productivity in a virtual workplace? Staying productive while trying to balance work from home is a new challenge teams will have to solve moving forward. We at DODO Design began observing Remote Friday before the lockdown, transitioning to fully remote seemed less painful and we would like to share how this can be achieved.
DESIGN AN APPROACH TO REACH GOALS AND MEET DEADLINES
“Remote work is no longer a privilege,” stated Forbes. This is fast becoming a standard mode of work as we advance into a technology-driven future. While project leads try to set out deadlines for each task, communicating the goals clearly could synchronize teams’ effort to actualizing it. This is a constraint to productivity.
Create an ideation session where the team uncovers constraints that may bedevil achieving goals and meeting deadlines. Then develop an approach that solves the most reoccurring pain points among the team. This approach reduces work lag and fosters inclusive work environments that are effective.
CREATE MICRO-TEAMS WITH SPECIFIC TARGETS
Get the team to pair up on certain tasks that may overwhelm a member while leveraging individual strengths. Product design teams could require micro-teams working on different aspects of a product while merging in a general virtual standup for reviews and reports. Additionally, while micro-teams could be rewarding, assigning product-specific tasks to each team member fosters a sense of personal responsibility on the outcome of the project.
UTILIZE COLLABORATION TOOLS EFFECTIVELY
With companies going virtual and communication more than ever indispensable for productivity, collaboration tools become paramount, especially when each team member understands their purpose and usage. There are myriads of good team collaboration tools that teams could utilize in task delivery. Among several of them, Slack has seen an increase in usage during this pandemic for work sharing culture. Zoom, an online video conferencing and communication tool could be a good option. Google Hangouts is good for internal meetings. Asana is a team management tool to track the completion of tasks and projects. Miro could come in handy for real-time ideation sessions among teams.
Effectively utilizing these tools could increase productivity and make remote work transition painless. Get team members to take responsibility for tasks. In other words, establish clearly who does what and state expectations that are effectively communicated and understandable.
COMMUNICATION AMONG TEAMS IS INDISPENSABLE
The feeling of isolation could easily reduce productivity among team members especially when new to remote work culture. Seeking ways to foster communication could make the work mode transition effective. Keeping in touch for all stages of a project and regular online meet-ups could reduce the occurrence of costly oversights and mistakes. Google Hangout can easily play a role as well as other good video conferencing tools.
For design and innovation executives, keeping in touch with all stakeholders and groups could boost productivity. Maintain an agile team where everyone learns to respond to constraints innovatively. Establish clear policies and guidelines on how teams throughout the organization could pass information and communicate effectively.
DAILY VIRTUAL STANDUP MEETINGS
Daily standup meetings could be done using virtual meeting tools mentioned above. Doing this ensures deliverability on daily tasks that are the ultimate part of the overall arching goal for the week, month or a particular project. This enables corporate executives to measure bottom line performance and productivity of the team. This will be particularly important in uncovering slacking teams and groups. Check-ins via message boards like Slack are great for maintaining optimum performance.
INNOVATE ON PROCEDURES
The approach to how companies’ carry out tasks internally has no doubt been impacted by COVID-19. While most companies have relied on proven physical procedures, translating this to virtual means having a different approach. Most procedures established in measuring project timelines will be impacted in a remote culture context. Using virtual tools like Miro could inculcate agility and reduce lack-luster performance in problem solving. Additionally, use of tools such as our Implementation Map tool will assist teams effectively follow up tasks without much monitoring by product design heads after ideation stage.
Procedures that are not working for the virtual workplace should be replaced with practical ones after a team brainstorming session. In a remote work environment, flexibility is key, rigidity to old established routines might reduce creativity and not give room to innovation.
FOCUS ON LONG TERM, PROMOTE VISION OVER TASKS
While being task-oriented is good, creating a long term perspective in all aspects of communication and engagement can give team members the bigger picture. As teams transition to the virtual workplace, reminding them of long term goals ensures that they see their current actions and performance as a consequence to future outcomes. A sense of quality contribution towards a corporate worthwhile goal is a booster for self improvement.
Communicating long term goals clearly and seeking contribution to such, makes teams deliver, owing to the fact that everyone is involved right from the start.
While the world observes quarantine and social distancing to flatten Covid-19 curve, remote work might be the future after the pandemic.
Do you have other ideas for remote team effectiveness, please share with us in the comment section below.