After a short group session, and our team's self-reflection into our work habits, we realized there a few things that we do consistently to make sure we crush it in and out of the office. Let's dive into them below, and make sure to let us know your secrets as well!
We've implemented OKR's for all team members.
This one has especially been a lifesaver for the team. By implementing OKR's our CEO always has insight into what everyone is working on, what is expected to get done each week, where projects are stuck, and where we are in terms of short term execution moving the company towards achieving long term goals. If interested in setting up OKR's for your team make sure to subscribe as we'll be releasing a guide to set everything up the right way.
We build workbooks for collaborating on projects.
Having a workbook where everything lives for a project can save a ton of time in terms of educating new team members on projects, finding information related to tasks that need to be completing, and standardizing workflows. It’s always best to have a documented, standardized way of working that you can consistently add to and refine as projects move forward.
We own our calendars.
We all utilize our calendars, but all do so differently. We learned to set boundaries for when colleagues could book time, block extra time for our work, make sure we'd have overlapping windows with distributed team members, and made sure to have time to spend together digitally on collaborative efforts.
We we make sure we have time without notifications.
We all make sure to schedule time where we can't be reached by people outside of the team - we turn off notifications to group chats, social networks, and other apps at certain times during the day. The worst thing possible is to lose an idea or delay a project because someone is sending you a picture of their cat.
We get projects done before their perfect.
By this we mean we get to final draft status and either take a break or work on something else before taking the second look, or we send it to a teammate for review. By taking a break and clearing your head you’ll ultimately find the mistakes you’ve made and parts of the project that need to be fixed faster while being more productive in the long run. Better yet, your colleague is likely to see mistakes or corrections you're glancing over.
We've learned to delegate, teach, and repeat.
Don’t ever feel like if you need something done, you absolutely have to do it yourself. Delegate work with as much instruction as possible, coach colleagues through new tasks that can be shared, and make sure things live where others can see - like Trello or another project management software. This is especially true if another teammate is likely to be better at the specific task or at hand. In the long run, you’ll have much more independent (and satisfied) team members when everyone knows what's going on and feels like they can contribute.
We document what we do.
Everything you and your company does that is ultimately going to be collaborative, handed off, or hired into should have a living handbook. During projects, document the mistakes made and steps missed so that you are continuously building more comprehensive instructions and guides. This makes it easier for you to delegate, but also empowers others to find answers to their own questions and solve their own problems.
We have scheduled time to review projects that may be halted.
Don’t be “that guy”. In this case, the guy who never asks for help, as it only results in wasted time and projects chock full of errors. Chances are other coworkers will have the same questions, either for the project you are on or for future projects. Again, document everything so that other employees will be able to solve these problems on their own in the future. We have a "stuck" label in Trello to make sure we are communicating out to the rest of the team when our projects are halted.
We're available to other team members.
There is nothing more frustrating than to be a remote team member and stuck on a project, and no one else seems to be around to get the ball rolling again. This is especially challenging if you are in different time zones. Remember to try to have overlapping hours with team members you collaborate with, and try to be mindful of the activity in your communication channels.
We share news, thoughts, and anything we're interested in.
This is pretty simple - we post articles about things we care about internally, chat about current events, and otherwise try to have a bit of fun. Whether it is news about our industry, interesting events, or memes - it gets us together in conversation when sometimes it can be isolating not being in the office together.
We all have certain things that keep us "hyped" during the day.
In hip-hop, the hype man supports the main artist and gets the crowd pumped. You need to find whatever this may be for those days that feel extra sluggish. This can be a playlist, a radio station, a speaker (what's up Gary V) anything that gets you into the zone.
We love to learn while working.
We listen to podcasts, take breaks for reading blogs, scroll though news feeds etc. Find things you find interesting AND beneficial for your knowledge and skillset. It's amazing what you can learn by playing a podcast or webinar in the background while working.
We make sure to use the tools we've set up for success.
There is a reason why you have Asana, Trello, Hootsuite, Slack, Dropbox, and other tools at your disposal. Make sure you (and your team) are using them to your advantage. IF you aren't using your tools the right way you'll never stay synced and productive.
We get outside, move around, and switch up our work locations.
Sitting in the same spot all day and grinding away might make you feel like you are being productive but take time away from the desk. Get a coffee, take the pooch for a walk - do basically anything other than work for a period of time. This will give your brain a chance to recharge and you’ll end up more productive because of it. It seems simple, but I can’t stress how important this is.
We focus on output, not input.
This best thing to do for your team is to focus on results, not on hours spent connected or on instant availability. When you are working in a distributed team fixed working hours likely won't exist and it doesn’t really matter. By following the previous advice, setting up OKR's, and making sure you have the right documentation and systems in place, you'll be able to focus on results and ultimately save time while being more productive.
We make sure directions and expectations for every project are clear.
When you are at a desk next to someone, it's easy to see where a project might be derailed from the very beginning due to unclear direction, or goals. It's an absolute necessity to make project directions clear when working remote. The last thing you want is someone spending 20 hours on a project just to realize at review it's not what was needed in the first place.
AND We make sure to live our company culture, even digitally.
While it doesn't seem like rocket science, we make sure we're living our culture digitally. We like to have fun, joke about things and talk science. We're friends outside of the "office" so we make sure we try to keep things going when we aren't in the same place.
So these are the most important things we all do to make our days productive in the workplace, even remote. These aren't challenging to put in place - just make sure to keep things top of mind and you're distributed team will become a well oiled productivity machine.
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