You trust your team. Obviously, or you wouldn’t have hired them.\nStress, boredom, burnout, and lots of external factors can affect even your top performers. It’s hard to stay productive and accountable when you’re frustrated with your job for some reason, isn’t it?\nThe truth is this:\nEveryone struggles with accountability sometimes. In fact, 25% of remote managers claim that lack of accountability is one of the major hurdles remote teams need to overcome.\nAs a leader, it’s your job to help.\nDuring the COVID-19 pandemic, all types of businesses are encouraging employees to work from home. Workers increasingly expect access to work-from-home arrangements. 63% companies expect remote work to make employees happier.\n\nManaging a remote team comes with a long list of benefits, but it also has its own common challenges.\nBasic tasks like communication and scheduling may be more complex for a remote team. It can be harder to manage conflict, develop trust, and build your remote culture.\nManaging a remote team is different than managing a team in your own office, even if you’re working with the exact same people.\nHow do you keep your employees accountable when they’re working from home?\nAs a fully distributed company, we have a lot of first-hand experience managing remote teams. Our culture reflects that. We learned the way most companies learn — from our triumphs and mistakes.\nWe’ll discuss the five steps you should take to make it easy for your team to stay accountable.\nBefore you take that first step, you need to have the right mindset.\nAccountability doesn’t happen automatically. Employees are more accountable when they feel trusted, appreciated, and engaged.\nHere are the tried and true strategies we recommend.\n5 steps to keep work-from-home team accountable\nCommunication and alignment are absolutely crucial for remote teams. That communication starts with you.\nJust as you expect your employees to be accountable to you, you must be accountable to them. Trust goes both ways.\nThese five steps are part of your foundation to earn accountability from your team. The rest is up to you.\n1. Create a team-facing work-from-home policy\nYou need a solid work-from-home policy that plainly lays out how your remote team operates and what you ask of your teams when they’re working away from the office.\n\nUse our free template to help you get started\nCreate an effective remote work policy with our detailed template.\n\n\n\n\nEmployees can’t deliver what you want unless they understand what you expect of them.\n\nThis counts for recruitment as well. 72% of talent professionals say flexible working and remote options are very important to attract new workers. A clear work-from-home policy is a benefit you can use to help recruit top talent.\nBe sure that your work-from-home policy isn’t just a list of procedural steps, but inspires and educates on why your strong remote work culture is a reflection of the larger mission and values of your business.\nA good remote work policy answers all of these questions:\n\nWho can work from home?\nWhen and how often can they work from home?\nWho approves remote work requests?\nWhat equipment and amenities are required?\nWhat security and privacy measures must be taken?\nIs remote work completed on a flexible schedule, or must the team member complete work during specific hours?\nWhat meeting standards must be met while working from home?\n\nYou might also want to consider whether things like dress code and meeting availability need to be addressed.\nIn cases where remote work is an alternative to an absence, such as working from home when a child is sick, discuss productivity expectations. In these cases, your team member will need time and focus to handle personal issues. You may feel that it is appropriate to adjust some deadlines.\n\nImprove team accountability\nTrack time, measure productivity, and improve accountability with Hubstaff.\n\n\n2. Document every process in every department\nWith no physical day-to-day interaction, you’ll have less line-of-sight to how your teams do their work than you might like.\nCreate crystal-clear process documentation and checklisted workflows for every task, no matter how big or small.\nThis not only gives you a view of the total responsibilities each team member takes on, but it also makes it easier to switch tasks nimbly between workers or maintain business continuity if someone leaves the company unexpectedly.\n\nFully documenting your processes makes you a better manager. You know exactly what your employees are responsible for, so you can easily balance workloads.\nWhen someone is responsible for multiple tasks, they’ll find it easier and faster to switch to something new\nOnboarding is much easier. If someone leaves unexpectedly, you have the tools you need to get a new team member up to speed\n\nBlueprinting everything you do to create process maps and flowcharts is an effective way to share documentation remotely, and get new hired remote workers up to speed quickly and easily.\nTo get started, explain what you want to accomplish. Ask your team members to take notes while they work. Once they have a list of things they’re responsible for, you can take it a step deeper with these 5 questions:\n\nWhy are they doing this task?\nHow do they complete this task?\nWhat do you want them to do with the end result?\nHow frequently do they need to perform this task?\nWhat is a sample of a well-executed task for reference?\n\nKeep your process documents in a shared folder so that you can find and update them as needed. Reference them often.\nWorking from the same checklist will help keep everyone on the same page and make communication and trust easier.\n3. Earn accountability by focusing on your team’s happiness\nWorking from home inherently lends itself to offering more independence and freedom for teams to manage their day how they choose.\nThough this can feel counterintuitive at first, particularly for those who are more used to stricter in-office environments, accountability can be a natural result of simply keeping your teams happy.\nGranting autonomy so that your team can get remote work done on their schedule has been proven to raise productivity and increase job satisfaction.\n\nWhen your teams are authentically motivated to take ownership, they’re more accountable to themselves, to their team members, and to the business.\nTrust your team to crush it on their own time, and put the right processes and structures in place to support them.\nHowever, don’t just assume that your team is satisfied. Actively get their feedback and ask them how they’re doing so you know what’s working and can improve what isn’t.\nReach out often, and not just when you think there might be a problem. Working from home can leave some people feeling isolated.\nBuilding your remote culture helps everyone feel more connected. Even if this is a temporary situation for your team, invest some time and effort to keep that community spirit alive.\n4. Create a communications strategy\nRemote communication is a whole new ball game. You can’t rely on previous habits.\nPlan your new approach and get your team on the same page.\nToo often, remote teams talk less than they should. At first, some managers mistakenly believe this is a good thing. Instead of chatting, everyone is working. Right?\nThose friendly chats aren’t just a distraction, though. They form bonds between coworkers and keep the lines of communication open for work discussions.\nWhile working from home, teams must make an effort to communicate regularly. Here’s how you can help spark more conversations, both planned and unplanned.\n\nMake the most of video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Skype and OneMeeting. Seeing each other face-to-face is good for building relationships.\nCreate Slack channels for both work and non-work related topics. You should participate, too. Remember that you set the tone for the team.\nUse remote team building activities to break the ice and build some rapport. Having fun together is important.\n\nMake sure you use the right tool for the job.\nEmail is great for things that aren’t time-sensitive and don’t need to be referenced again. For ongoing tasks that need to be referenced later, project management software is a much better choice.\nFor efficient work communication, Agile project management tools like Hubstaff Tasks keep everyone on the same page. Its visual interface lets you quickly assign work, create Sprints, and comment within the task. Everyone stays in the loop and projects move forward.\n5. Take advantage of technology designed for remote work\nAccountability is much easier to encourage when all the right tools are in place. Trying to force the wrong tool to work is as frustrating as it is inefficient.\nGood remote work technology lets you focus on getting things done.\nHubstaff’s employee monitoring software is one of these tools. It integrates with more than 30 project management, bookkeeping, and business apps, and runs in the background so you can focus solely on your work. You’ll see the exact tasks your team is working on and the time it’s taking to get them done.\n\nYou can track time, activity levels, see screenshots (optional), and invoice clients with one tool.\nRemote work tech can also help make your work-from-home environment more secure and private.\nThere are many great software options to help remote teams work better together. Here’s a roundup of 49+ of the best collaboration tools for distributed teams.\nYou might be tempted to install employee monitoring software and call it a day. As experts in this field, we’re here to tell you that monitoring alone isn’t going to keep your team accountable.\nGive your team the tools to succeed.\nTrust them. Help them. Then, you can use productivity monitoring as a way to identify improvement opportunities and better processes.\nWhat does accountability look like for your business?\nTake the approaches you find the most useful and try them out with your team.\nBuilding trust and accountability requires an investment of time, but the pay off will be worth it.