How to help remote teams stay productive during a crisis

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

By Joe Peters

We’ve faced adversity as a nation before. However, the current situation has brought about a significant disruption that has touched every aspect of our lives. As things look right now, we may not be back to normal for quite some time.

If we can still keep to some version of “business as usual” at a time when many people are unable to work, we’re lucky.

By necessity, many of us are trying to keep our businesses going online. This is far from a typical situation for many businesses, but there are some things small business owneers should bear in mind while you figure out how to keep their team productive and focused on their jobs.

Coping with the new reality

Even if your team works with flexible scheduling in the best of times, it’s important to understand that such wide-spread disruption as we’re all currently facing requires more support and understanding from leadership than usual.

Schools and daycares are closed, so we’re trying to adapt our work at home life with special needs like homeschooling and possible health concerns.

Procrastination is on the rise. There’s going to be extra stress, anxiety, and depression. Violence in the home may even become an issue that lacked previous awareness.

Start by creating a culture of openness and honest communication that takes personal circumstances into consideration.

If staff members need additional support and resources like online therapy or wellness classes, look into it. Platforms like YouTube realize that there are broader issues that affect mental health and are responding with free online yoga classes and meditation.

One source of stress is the feeling of being in limbo.

Even if we can weather this by staying busy with work, it sometimes feels like everything is on hold until some vague “after”. For the first time in memory, even something as set in stone as filing taxes is being delayed.

New solutions for difficult times

You can alleviate this situation to some extent by changing the nature of the work. Reassess your business model to focus on those tasks and services that bring the most value to your customers.

The point is the meaning and relevance of the works rather than how many hours one puts into doing it.

This will help reduce burnout and keep you from driving yourself crazy assigning your team with “busy work” for its own sake. That doesn’t move your business forward. It only adds to the stress and anxiety.

Look for productivity bottlenecks and get insight from your staff about how to approach challenges creatively. You may even find better ways of doing business going forward after the crisis.

Another way to reduce stress is efficient time management. By retooling the approach to work and focusing on one task at a time, staff will feel less overwhelmed. This will help dispel some stress and anxiety and make the work that they can do more productive and meaningful.

Make the most of technology

Technology will not only promote efficiency, but it will also help you and your team feel connected to the job and each other. If you haven’t already, invest in new tech tools and platforms that automate tasks.

In addition to productivity tools that support remote work, use technology to keep your team connected and engaged. There’s nothing wrong with starting each day together before signing off and getting down to business. Platforms like Slack and Zoom can still bring you face-to-face while maintaining a physical distance. You could also try setting up a virtual video lunch hour.

It’s also essential to get some one-on-one time with each staff member. This way, you can discuss any issues with work, offer emotional support for those having a tough time maintaining work/life balance, and address any possible concerns.

Staying connected through video platforms has an added benefit for productivity. It helps your staff overcome “the principle of least resistance.” This concept outlined by Cal Newport in his book, Deep Work, describes the human inclination to focus on the path of least resistance.

We’re more inclined to put our efforts into what is immediately in front of us. Unfortunately, it sews the seeds of procrastination and reduces productivity when staff constantly veers between checking emails, messages, and business apps. This type of compulsive behavior eats time and productivity, but it can be kept in check through a balance of online group activity and organized, focused individual work time.

However, celebrating successes is just as important, if not more. Is an employee having a birthday or anniversary while in isolation? Make it a team or department-wide virtual celebration. Recognize work well done and reward it.

You may not be together physically, but you most likely have a website that you can post achievements and milestones on.

This is also a good way to keep in touch with customers and let them know how you’re faring. They need to stay connected with you, too, and it’s good for morale.

Final thoughts

Remote work can be rewarding, even freeing. It can also feel isolating. By keeping these things in mind and following the above suggestions, you have a better chance of keeping your remote teams happy and productive.

Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favorite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters.

1 comment

  1. 8 ball pool says:

    There’s going to be extra stress, anxiety, and depression. Violence in the home may even become an issue that lacked previous awareness….

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