By Neal Taparia - 01/14/2022
Working remotely has been a major asset for our company. It lets us hire the best talent from around the world, and even paid off in dividends when we were expanding into onlines jigsaw puzzles.
However, one of the major drawbacks we faced during the initial days of our remote setup was the lack of a in-person leadership. This lack of direction is still manageable when you're all together in person (through regular stand-ups and sprints); but when you're remote, it can be like bumbling around in the dark.
Luckily, we found a number of ways to make sure our remote team would stay productive. Today, our developers are 27% more productive, they're happier, and our business has continued to grow.
So, what did we do right? We have listed down the key drivers below:
Communication is key to making remote work succeed. The entire company (and not just the remote workers) must stay in regular communication. This helps everyone stay on top of new developments, and it also keeps remote workers feeling included and engaged with their coworkers.
While our team is remote, we make sure we find time for all of us to convene to discuss challenges and progress. Just because we don’t do in-person standups, we can do them remotely. Our meetings don’t need to be long, but they do help us stay on the same page and keep things stable.
We also will do fun activities together remotely. This includes virtual happy hours, and playing online games together.
We’ve always thought 9:00 AM was a great time to start the work day. It is a time where everyone can come together and share ideas and energy. But we noticed that some of our team members had trouble making that time work, especially those with families.
We realized that not every employee wants to work the same schedule. Life happens. So we created a culture where people could work at different hours.
We also blocked a small amount of time every hour to take a break during our work windows. We encourage our team members to snack on healthy foods or play our online puzzles.
No one likes it when their every move is scrutinized. Micromanaging is detrimental to your remote team, and possibly the entire company. Needless to say, it can take a lot of energy and time when you micromanage a remote team!
Moral of the story? If you want to increase the productivity of your team, give your employees ample space to be creative and use their own skills. Don't micromanage them - just check up on them once in a while to make sure they're still on track. Trust your team that they can get their work done. Not only will they be more productive, they will professionally grow.
A survey conducted by Aetna International, indicated that 74% of the remote workforce admitted to poor mental health and how it has affected their productivity.
So, it's important to get a clear sense of your remote employees' mental health. We send out anonymous employee satisfaction survey forms where we took note of their concerns. Most of our questions are specific to the remote culture setup, on-going projects, and the challenges they are reluctant to speak of in-person.
After looking at the data, we’ve incorporated some policies to curb stress levels in our remote employees like facilitating more one-on-one meetings, team encouragement sessions, occasional 4 days work weeks, and covering the costs of therapy.
As a team working remotely, we realized we needed to come up with a system that gets our whole team talking and communicating regularly.
We started implementing progress reports that are similar to standups. Each one of our employees sends an email to their respective team with the things they accomplished, the challenges they faced, and their plans for the next iteration. This enabled us to collaborate more effectively, and address problems faster.
P.S. Since we wanted those emails to be snappy and concise, we limited it to 100 words.
Working remotely will continue to grow. The tips above are some practices we implemented to make sure this works for our gaming and brain training company. From our experience, we have learned that remote work initiatives will always have room for improvement.
The more we experiment, the more we’ll learn what works for our team.