Web workers and site owners are no strangers to remote work. Thanks to high-speed internet connections and ultra-portable devices, anyone can choose their ideal workspace.
Home offices, coworking spaces, the local park, or even a tropical beach can all become a great location to tackle their list of daily tasks.
However, as a large percentage of global workers shifted to a remote working model in 2020, the research data studying the productivity of these people started to become more and more conflicting.
On the one hand, some findings suggested drops in productivity that were anywhere between 1% and 14%. On the other hand, empirical data showed that, across some industries, workers actually managed to increase their productivity by 4%.
Keeping in mind that there are two sides to each coin, remote workers, as well as managers, need to understand that productivity doesn’t just depend on location. It’s equally conditioned by work habits, tools, and personal wellbeing. Thus, it becomes clear that, to some extent, efficiency can be intentionally boosted. The following are the top productivity hacks for remote teams.
Distractions make for productivity’s greatest foe. Whether you’re dealing with the usual hustle and bustle of an office or a busy home, it’s important to remember that eliminating distractions (or at least keeping them down to a minimum) is possible. All it takes is setting some boundaries.
First and foremost, to increase the efficiency with which you tackle your daily tasks, try to choose a place to work from. It can be any place that’s available to you – your dining room table or the spare room above the garage. What’s important is that you train your mind to associate your chosen setting with productive work.
Of course, once you’ve decided on the space, you can implement a few advanced hacks as well:
- Set the room temperature to a comfortable 70 degrees. The hotter your office, the lower your productivity will be. So try not to lull yourself to sleep by keeping the heating on a high setting (and save on your monthly bills as well).
- Turn on the lights. Opt for brighter, cooler shades of white as these stimulate the wake cycle of your circadian rhythm.
- Choose the right background noise. If there are other people around you while you get work done, you might want to invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Otherwise, you can choose a playlist on your favorite music app that’ll get you in the zone.
- Make use of Do Not Disturb mode. Remote teams usually use several communication apps having a push-to-talk feature, which are great for keeping in touch. However, constantly dealing with notifications can be distracting. If you’re working on something that requires your full attention, make sure your phone and computer notifications are off. This way, you can focus on the task at hand.
- Add greenery to your space. Plants don’t just improve the air quality in your office, but they can also boost creativity by as much as 45%!
Another way to define and enforce boundaries regarding your work habits is to have a clearly determined routine. Sticking to a schedule can be difficult (especially if you’re in charge of your own time). But do your best to instill some sense of predictability into your workday.
- Start work at the same time every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s 6 AM or 2 PM. What matters is that you choose a time when you feel most energized and ready to tackle your tasks.
- Forget about your snooze button. If you’re one of those people who set 5 alarms in the morning, it might be time to reconsider this habit. According to research, allowing yourself to drift back to sleep after having woken up may cause sleep inertia, which has been linked to poor performance, reduced vigilance, and a feeling of drowsiness that lasts for hours.
- Stop working on time. It may seem counterintuitive to not work as much as you can, but in the long-run, pacing yourself is going to help you avoid burnout. Set a hard-stop time for your workday, and you’ll reap the benefits.
- Respect your coworkers’ schedules. Many remote teams are scattered across the globe, which means different time zones. In these cases, try to make sure you’re mindful of other people’s time. Do your best to stick to an agreed schedule when asking for information and delivering assignments.
Be Clear About Your Priorities
Here’s the deal: putting together a to-do list isn’t about fitting as much as you can into your day. Instead, it’s all about prioritizing.
The thing is, we all have a long list of tasks that we need to do. However, if you take the time to think about the outcomes you get from these actions, you quickly realize that some contribute to your output in a big way, while others have almost negligible results. This idea is better known as the Pareto principle.
So, it turns out that boosting productivity doesn’t necessarily mean doing more. Instead, it means working more smartly, focusing on high-priority tasks, and minimizing time spent on less impactful to-dos and time-wasters.
If you’re new to prioritizing your to-do list, you can start by doing your most demanding tasks first thing in the morning. Getting over that big obstacle at the beginning of the workday (also called Eating the Frog) helps you achieve two things.
- Firstly, you get a sense of accomplishment that’s crucial to motivating you to work further.
- Secondly, you get the most challenging task off your list, and you can concentrate on the rest of your assignments that you either enjoy or that take up less effort.
Another technique you could try is categorizing your work assignments. According to Dwight Eisenhower, urgent and important tasks rarely coincide. So, you can hack your schedule by classifying your tasks based on how immediately they require your attention. This technique is a great way to identify anything that you should be dropping from your schedule, as well as to point out the tasks you should dedicate the most time to.
Task prioritization is a particularly important skill for remote team managers. They need to have insight into how each of their team members is doing at any time. Some project management software solutions allow you to assign tasks to different members of your team, giving you visual feedback regarding each employee’s current workload.
These tools can be a great way to keep track of all ongoing processes. Furthermore, they can help you make sure that not a single employee has to deal with more than they can objectively handle.
Although most people feel like deadlines cause needless stress (and consequently impair productivity), research shows that this isn’t necessarily true.
When set correctly, deadlines can help you focus, as well as become a source of motivation. The only prerequisite is that the goals you’ve set out are achievable. And you can easily get a productivity boost by creating micro-deadlines throughout your day.
You can experiment with some form of the Pomodoro technique. It combines short periods of work and rest, helping you keep your focus at its highest level throughout the day. Most people choose the 20 minutes on, 5 minutes off variation. But, you can experiment with longer intervals as well to see what works best for you personally.
Alternatively, you can use a journal or calendar app to time block your tasks. This practice involves selecting times during your day when you will address specific assignments, so it can help you limit the number of hours you spend on time-wasters such as email.
It’s also not a bad idea to track and analyze your work hours. By using calendar analytics and insights, you can get invaluable information on the tasks that are taking up most of your resources.
Additionally, tracking software allows remote team managers to see how their coworkers are utilizing their work hours, allowing them to assign tasks in smarter, more realistic ways.
Take Care of Physical Wellbeing
Finally, don’t forget that physical health impacts productivity just as much as tech or productivity hacks do. Nutrition, exercise, sleep, and mental wellbeing can all contribute to getting things done more quickly and efficiently.
So, make sure that you and your team members practice healthy habits in your work routines. Make time in the day for some movement, such as an after-lunch walk. Or, engage in some healthy competition to see who can do the most push-ups, sit-ups, or track the most steps during the week.
And, of course, if you are a business owner whose team is working remotely, make sure that there are protocols in place so that everyone gets the right benefits. Investing in your remote team’s health may seem like an unnecessary cost, but know that keeping them healthy and satisfied with their job automatically boosts performance.
Find What Works for You
Every team is different, and within that team, every person has their own personal preferences. Naturally, boosting efficiency will require personalized solutions.
There are numerous productivity hacks out there. So, if your goal is to enhance your performance or help your remote team do the same, make sure to do your research. Experiment until you find the ideal solution.
Remember, as a digital nomad, you’re already at a huge advantage – you can choose when and where you work. So, consider how you can upgrade your habits with proven-to-work hacks, and enjoy the benefits of a routine that lets you do more in less time.
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash