From time to time, it can be a struggle to be productive at work, even after attending first class productivity training. Even with looming deadlines, meetings and conference calls, it’s hard to focus on what needs to be done now. Having co-workers that work remotely can make it even harder to maintain your productivity. Rather than popping into someone’s office for a quick chat or meeting face-to-face to finish a presentation, you have to find the best ways to work together without physically being together. You can do a lot to ensure that you’re personally productive, but these collaborative methods will make your team efforts just as successful.
Don’t pick up the phone (all the time)
We all have moments where we get into the real Productivity Ninja zone, when our minds focus so intently on a task that time flies by and we’re finished before we know it. It’s great to feel this productive — until you realize that you have a question only a remote co-worker can answer.
It might be tempting to pick up the phone and call — and calling is certainly the better option in some scenarios — but a conversation that goes long can quickly knock you out of the zone. Instead, have your team download an instant messaging service or use the one attached to Gmail, for example. Like many others, especially those under the age of 35 who prefer IM to email, you’ll find that instant messaging is a great way to resolve minor issues and inquiries quickly. It’s also a quicker method than emailing, too. The bottom line is that you’ll get the answers you need quickly and without much interruption so that you can maintain your flow. Us here at Think Productive, use Slack as our main communication platform which we can use for instant messaging, posting material in channels, as well as making phone calls whenever necessary.
See each other virtually
Conference calls are one way that remote co-workers come together for a discussion, but sometimes someone’s presence gets lost in the fray. The same goes for email conversations in which so many people are sharing their opinions that, again, some get lost.
A great way to ensure that everyone is heard — and seen — is by incorporating video technology into your next meeting. By seeing everyone and hearing their specific viewpoints and contributions, you’ll be reminded just how much an effective team meeting can achieve.
Keep in touch – even more than usually
Since your remote co-workers can’t swing by the office to see when you’ve come in, be sure to at least log onto your instant messaging service as soon as you arrive at the office. Put up away messages when you’re in meetings or otherwise unavailable, so that they know you’re currently unreachable.
At the end of the day, you can even shoot a quick message to your colleagues to let them know you’re heading out so that everyone is up to date. And, of course, if you head out of town on holiday, set up an automatic response on your email so that everyone near and far knows you’re out. Automatic replies are a great way to keep internal contacts as well as external contacts up to date with your email processing strategy and online/offline times, even when you’re not on holiday.
We’re so likely to become close to our colleagues that today’s workers have coined the phrase “work spouse” to cover their relationships with their favorite and most trusted person at the office. And, while this level of closeness makes it easier to go to work each day, it can engender a less professional vibe between the two of you.
It’s even easier to fall into the casual trap of email etiquette when you’re communicating with people who don’t work in your office. That’s because you’ve somewhat left the office: you chat online, send emails, sometimes talk on the phone … in short, it’s easy to see why the relationship might feel more casual than it is. By maintaining professionalism, you’ll both remember that you’re working and stuff has to get done. Then, the collaboration will maintain its productivity.
Try to meet
Some remote co-workers are super far away from each other, so oceans and airplanes prevent them from getting together. However, you should try and arrange some sort of company-wide meet-and-greet so that everyone can get to know each other.
By putting a face to a name (and voice on the phone), you’ll remember that you’re working with an actual person. That face-to-face time will also help you develop a stronger bond and boost office camaraderie, even if the office spreads over thousands of miles.
It’s definitely a bit more difficult to collaborate with those whose offices aren’t right next door to yours, but you’ll find that, with a bit of added effort and a boost from today’s wealth of technological advances, you can come pretty close to working side by side, no matter how far apart you are. Being in a team which is spread out across the globe can be challenging but also rewarding, just keep in mind that all your productivity challenges, others have been through and when in doubt, just check out our time management training.
By Sarah Landrum