Time management is important in any workplace setting, but especially so when your team is completely work-from-home. Remote work means your employees are exposed to many more distractions, including housework, loved ones, pets, neighbors, and regional disruptions. As a manager or team lead, it is your responsibility to keep everyone on course to meet your goals – and that includes making sure they make the most of their work days.
That’s why it is so important for you to support your team with the best time management practices as possible. Check out these top tips for instilling good time management in your work-from-home team.
1. Communicate, communicate, communicate
The first step in any kind of time management is clear communication. When it comes to time management, there are several areas that you should be very clear about with your remote team:
- Working hours – Some organizations are flexible about work-from-home office hours while others expect employees to follow a rigid schedule. Be clear about what you expect from your team. This includes the hours you expect as well as whether you want them to inform you every time they step away from their desk or need to make an exception to the schedule.
- Team goals – Ideally, your team will have clearly defined goals that contribute to your organization’s overall mission. Make sure your team is aware of these goals, how each project contributes to them, and how you are tracking toward meeting those goals. This is not a one-time communication, so be sure it is part of your regular remote team meeting talk track.
- Project assignments – Every time you kick off a project, make sure it is very clear to everyone on the team why you are doing it and who is responsible for each task. It may even help to get your team’s input on how long they expect each task to take so that you can estimate your deadline more accurately.
- Accountability – Finally, make sure everyone on your work-from-home team knows how you will track tasks and if there are consequences for missing project deadlines. This cuts down on miscommunications and helps make sure the entire team stays in communication about their individual contribution.
2. Consider Time Management for Meetings
If there is any lesson from the mass-remote corporate workforce in 2020, it is that virtual meeting fatigue is real. That is why when you manage a work-from-home team, you need to help everyone use meetings wisely.
In deciding whether an issue is worthy of a meeting, consider the content, duration, and frequency of the meeting. Take a daily morning team stand-up for example. If your team has trouble logging in on time in the mornings, then the content of the meeting is necessary, as it will kickstart productivity. However, if it is an hour-long meeting every single day, it may end up being less productive than you want it to be.
3. Support Your Team With Technology
Good technology is imperative for work-from-home teams’ time management. Because remote employees may be working from different regions in your country or even across the world, you cannot rely on simple meetings and email to be enough for them to manage their tasks. Work with your organization’s IT department to find apps or software that allow collaboration throughout your team’s functionality. This includes:
- Video conferencing – You probably already have a web meeting solution, but make sure it meets your team’s needs.
- File sharing – Work-from-home teams need file systems that are more sophisticated than saving to a sole desktop. Whether you set up a shared server or use cloud software like Dropbox or Google Drive, make sure your team can easily access each other’s critical documents.
- Instant communication – Email just doesn’t cut it for remote teams anymore. Make sure your team is plugged into some sort of instant communication software so they can ping each other with small questions or share files in the middle of a meeting. This can be as simple as Google Hangouts or get more sophisticated, such as Slack.
- Time tracking – If you expect your team to report on the hours they spend on each task, then set up an easy system for them to use. Even if this is a shared spreadsheet, it will make it clear who is doing what – and will give you measurable data if you need to make changes.
- Project management software – It is worth investing in a browser- or app-based project management solution to track everything your team is working on. Whether this is Monday.com, Trello, Asana, or some other software, it will become the one source of truth where your team communicates about their tasks.
- Collaborative task software – Finally, make sure that your team can easily collaborate with each other on their specific responsibilities. If they need to create social media images, consider a team license to so that everyone can collaborate on design. If they do video editing, use Wistia or other video solutions that allow you to take notes within the video player. If your work-from-home team is responsible for printing and shipping, use Mimeo so that multiple team members can build documents online. Whatever it is that your team needs to execute, shop for the right software that will allow them to do it collaboratively online.
Setting up the right technology infrastructure can be intimidating, but it is worth it for keeping your work-from-home team on-task and aligned with your goals. Whatever you end up using, make sure you lead by example so that everyone adopts the new process.
Time management gets trickier when you don’t see your team face-to-face every day, but with proper technique, you can keep your remote employees working together like a well-oiled machine. Schedule a call with Mimeo to learn more about how we help work-from-home teams like yours!
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