My entire team is remote. Even before the pandemic that's how we managed things as an online business. I ran a number of different types of teams over the years remotely. From marketing efforts, developers to designers.
Here are 5 things that we've implemented that helps our teams be as productive as possible.
Cut the Red Tape in Your Processes
Don't make things too complicated. Trim and simplify your processes. Give your teams more autonomy to get things done and remove roadblocks. And that could even be YOU that you remove.
I'll give you an example. I ran a team that designed and developed WordPress themes years ago; that was their soul purpose. At the end of that process, those themes had to be reviewed and tested in a variety of ways. In the beginning, I was part of that process.
But at some point, I realized I was the roadblock and causing traffic jams; when our output increased. So what I did was worked out a process where team members rotated in and reviewed (code reviewed) each other's work. I took myself out of that review process and things moved right along!
That doesn't mean I was removed completely. I still periodically jumped in there in certain situations or had periodic reviews I was involved in, but for the most part, I had removed a clog in the system.
There's nothing that can help improve processes other than creating good references and documentation. Every team I've ever built for my online businesses, I've created documentation in some form or another.
You can create things like SOPs (standards and operations procedures). This helps standardize repeatable routines. Once they are created, they can be used forever.
But I think it's also important to think of these as live documents; whereas they aren't static. In the tradition of a lot of agile practices, you iterate over them and improve them over time.
Fewer Meetings – But Not None
In larger companies especially, meetings can get out of control. The key is to minimize the number you have and only have meetings when it has a clear need and can help productivity.
I have a weekly meeting with my marketing person. This is an essential meeting in my mind because it sets the pace for the week. It gives us an opportunity to review what we did the previous week and our strategies as a whole. But we only need one of this per week.
Any others we have beyond that will be for very specific reasons to keep things moving forward.
Sometimes it's easier to talk something out.. but many times it's even easier to just throw a note or question in Slack (or skype depending on what you use) or via email. It doesn't interrupt work and also prevents you from wasting time on a meeting where the answer could be handled in a minute.
From my experience it's more efficient to keep conversations where they are in the best context.
If you just do emails for everything, you'll always be out of context.. trying to track down old conversations or threads related to what you're doing. Looking for files or other assets. Email is a mess. It's good for general stuff.
Same with Slack or Skype. It's a good place to go if there isn't a specific context.
However, if you're working on a project, having a place like Trello to hold those conversations is ALWAYS better. In a project, you can have conversations down to the task at hand. And everything that is related to that conversation is right there within reach for reference.
The Right Tools
While there are freebie options in some cases, tools are often an investment. And it's something even I guard against. You can end up paying for things that aren't always needed.
But still, sometimes you have to invest in them for the sake of productivity. Here are some examples of tools we pay for BECAUSE they have a dramatic enough effect on productivity we almost can't live without them.
Hootsuite is a tool we decided to invest in this year. I have an employee that helps me produce and distribute a lot of content on social media. So having a tool that helps schedule those posts and build the content is SUPER helpful. It also provides things like analytics which helps too.
A tool I just invested in also recently is called ClipScribe. It helps us create unique videos for social media distribution that include subtitles (automates this). It's not very expensive and solves a problem for us.
Trello Business is an essential tool for productivity for us. Again, an investment, but it helps us manage projects on so many levels.
Zendesk is another such tool that funnels all our communications into a ticket center.
But there are also tools we don't invest in because they aren't necessary and won't solve productivity right now. In fact, you can get a tool that just adds to the complexity of what you're doing and works against you.
Recently I purchased a tool for my virtual assistant. During a conversation I asked how that tool was helping her. Turns out, she wasn't even using it! Regularly check in with your teams to make sure the tools they do have are serving a purpose and helping them. 😉
Be mindful when thinking about getting a tool or buying a service. How will it affect productivity.. will it help or hinder.
Just focusing on those 5 things today can help you improve your productivity dramatically.
Look for tools that can help with productivity.
Make sure your communication is designed in a way where there's context.
Don't have too many meetings. Reserve meetings for those things that will help with productivity and don't waste time.
Invest time into making great documentation that helps your teams execute.
And cut the red tape.. trim that fat from your processes. Remove yourself if you have to!
Save time, do it better, be more efficient… it all translates into great results.