Virtual teams are becoming more and more common and companies are taking advantage of the remote work model to eliminate the need of office space, cut down on commutes, reduce overhead costs and encourage a healthier work/life balance.
Working remotely means you have the power to control where and how you work, but it’s easy to abuse this power and end up working in non-ideal conditions. You may have your favorite television show running in the background, or keep leaving your desk to do chores or find food.
Here are five virtual productivity hacks that will get you and your distributed teams operating more efficiently and effectively. [Tweet]
1. Set the Mood
Create ambient noise to boost productivity while you work [Tweet]
Eliminate distractions and set the mood for productivity by prepping your workspace. Getting into your work can be as easy as playing some background noise to transport you to your productive place.
Rainy Mood creates a steady stream of rain sounds for those who prefer to work on rainy days, or are comforted by the sound. Noisli allows you to combine different soundtracks to create your ideal noise environment. There are sounds of rain, thunderstorms, forests, wind, campfires and more to select from. Finally, for those who enjoy working at a coffee shop or other quiet yet public place, Coffitivity recreates the ambient sounds of a cafe to help you work better. They have multiple soundtracks ranging from Morning Murmur to Brazil Bistro.
You can also set the mood by optimizing your home office. Select your colors based on what you want to do; creative work or analytical. Colors like blue, green and violet have been shown to help you relax, and red and orange to energize. Incorporate plants and windows for natural light, and keep your work space clean and free of clutter.
Check out The Perfect Workspace (According to Science) for more tips.
2. Use Collaboration Tools
Create an online collaboration space with project management tools [Tweet]
Virtual teams don’t have a physical location to meet and discuss everyday, so creating a common meeting space online is vital to communication and collaboration. Sending a stream of emails to everyone on your virtual teams is not productive or efficient. Information gets lost, attachments get corrupted, inboxes fill up and your team members must remember to “reply all” and read through long email threads to understand what’s going on.
There is a wealth of tools specially designed to facilitate collaboration and organize work with virtual teams. For example, Basecamp and Trello provide a place where remote employees can discuss a project, upload and share files, make comments, create to-do lists and more. At Hubstaff, we use Trello for our marketing teams and Pivotal Tracker for our development teams. Select the right tool for what your virtual team needs.
3. Understand Your Team
Keep track of what timezone your virtual teams are in and who’s online [Tweet]
Having a distributed team means you will be working across states, countries, oceans and timezones. In order to work the most productively, you must understand how your team members work, which means knowing when they are awake and online. Every Time Zone makes calculating time zones a thing of the past. Simply scroll to the timezone your teammates are in to see what time it is where they live.
4. Keep it Secure
Keep your passwords secure and make app access easy with Meldium [Tweet]
One of the difficulties of virtual teams is managing passwords and security. It’s hard enough to keep track of all the passwords for different business accounts, and virtual teams also need to determine which team members need access to which accounts. This process gets even messier when a team member leaves and you have to remember all the accounts he or she had access to, reset those passwords, and share the new passwords with anyone who needs to know them.
Make password management easy with tools like Meldium, which will manage all your passwords securely and efficiently. All you have to do is connect your business’ online accounts to these services, and they will maintain access for whatever employee needs it. That way, you won’t have to worry about keeping a long list of passwords, updating it whenever you have to change one, or sharing a password with the wrong person.
Meldium logs you into all your favorite apps and websites without you having to type in any usernames or passwords. It integrates with more than an impressive 2,000 apps and provides one-click employee onboarding. When you hire virtual employees, Meldium will create unique accounts for them in every web application your team relies on. That way, your employees can get started on what you hired them for immediately, without running into blocked access or missing information. Meldium allows you to share access with your virtual teams without sharing passwords, for safe, secure and productive work.
Use different measures of productivity in order to sustain and improve efficiency [Tweet]
Find a way to measure productivity in order to sustain and improve it. One way of doing this is to track the time your virtual teams spend on tasks and projects to see if anything is taking too long. Time tracking software such as Hubstaff can help you pay your remote workers automatically and easily for the work they do, and see which of your team members work faster than the others. Hubstaff’s software also takes randomized screenshots and records activity levels, so you can see which of your virtual employees are the most active while tracking time to work tasks. View the screenshots to see a clear picture of what your teams are working on, and use the activity levels to discover your most productive employees.
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Another measure of productivity is to monitor which tasks have been completed. Use to-do lists and tools like Wunderlist in order to see which tasks have been completed and make sure nothing slips through the cracks. Wunderlist helps users organize their to-do lists, set reminders, and collaborate on lists. It supports folders, comments, due dates, notes, notifications, and can be synced on all your devices.
Want more tools and advice on how to manage or be a part of productive virtual teams?
- Visit Hubstaff University for comprehensive guides on managing remote teams, being a productive remote employee and more.
- Sign up for Remotive to get a weekly newsletter of productivity tips for virtual teams.
We hope these hacks were useful for improving your virtual team’s productivity. Do let us know about the tools and hacks your virtual team uses for better productivity in the comments below!