Virtual Teams: How to Maximize Your Productivity Working Remotely

Virtual Teams: How to Maximize Your Productivity Working Remotely

According to a recent study from Upwork, by 2025, there will be 36.2 million Americans who will be fully remote. Therefore, to be successful working on a virtual team, you will need to continue to stay on top of and improve your routine, communication, and efficiency, among other skills.

Working from home can be challenging at times, having good habits will help you excel in a virtual workplace.

Making a few minor changes throughout your day can help you be a more productive virtual team member. Here are some areas to look at when you are considering ways to increase your productivity.

Create a Daily Routine to Improve Virtual Productivity

Business News Daily explores the benefits of setting a schedule to stay motivated and ways to increase your virtual productivity. The main thing they stress is to avoid slacking off while working from home, take the time to build the structure around your workday.

Creating a routine that signals the beginning of your workday can trigger the behavior necessary to get your day started right. For example, if you worked in an office, you would likely get up early, get dressed, maybe eat breakfast before starting your morning commute. Looking for ways to recreate this behavior in a virtual environment can help jumpstart your day.

You know when your brain functions best and when you can minimize distractions. So start by determining the best rhythm for your day. Set aside specific hours to work and set clear boundaries to protect your time.

Starting your day with consistent habits will help you stay organized and provide more work/life balance.

Manage Your Productivity Throughout the Day

When it comes to virtual productivity, set realistic expectations for what you can accomplish daily. Then, after you have completed your list, stop. For me, staying focused on one task at a time makes all the difference. On busy days give yourself permission to break for lunch or even get a quick workout.

If you need to work additional hours on a project, schedule more free time later to compensate. Maintaining a healthy work/life balance when working on a virtual team will make you more productive in the long run.

Use a Consistent Signal to Mark the End of Your Day

Just as you should start the day with a routine, creating a habit to signal the end of your workday is just as important. For example, it might be the act of closing your laptop and turning out the office lights or walking the dog. Whatever you choose, do it consistently to mark the end of your workday.

Unless you set clear boundaries and follow a routine, you may start to feel like you’re always working. Staying on schedule may seem challenging initially, but your virtual productivity will improve as you create more structure.

Communication is Critical in a Virtual Workplace

Not communicating in person can present a challenge for productivity and connection with others in a virtual workplace. The American Psychiatric Association researches and writes articles for employers about isolation, disconnect, and loneliness because it is a problem for some.

In addition, a recent article from the Center for Creative Leadership has tips for clear and frequent communication that can be crucial for virtual productivity and success. As we explored in a past article, communication is vital to virtual productivity, highlighting the importance of effective communication. Letting your team know how projects are going and what you need to be successful will significantly improve your virtual productivity.

Staying connected helps you maintain open lines of communication in a virtual workplace. Thus, regular check-ins via conference calls and virtual team meetings are tremendously helpful. However, be aware of virtual meeting fatigue and use different channels to stay in contact depending on the need.

Slack and Microsoft Teams are great for sending messages; Sharepoint and Google Drives are great tools to consider for collaborating on a project or document. These platforms and others can help you share progress on assignments and communicate challenges as they arise.

Share Your Calendar to Prevent Confusion

When it comes to your schedule, keeping your calendar up to date is very important. Don’t assume the people on your team will remember critical dates or when you are going on vacation. When you finish a project or important task, say so and if you are planning a day out of the office, let everyone know.

You don’t need to explain your every move, but it does help to let others know when you are open for meetings or calls. In addition, sharing your calendar will minimize frustration and keep everyone on the same page regarding time and availability.

When you work remotely, it means check-in meetings are more important than ever. In fact, before you send out a meeting invite, consider your colleagues’ schedules and preferences. Think about the time zone your colleagues are in and be mindful of scheduling meetings too early or late in the day for others to participate.

Getting on the same page with your colleagues regarding schedules is greatly appreciated with working on virtual teams.

Ask Questions to Gain Clarity

When it comes to efficiency, working towards a goal in a remote setting can be confusing and even vague at times. Ideally, you can alleviate some of the confusion when assigned projects and tasks by asking for clarity. We explored asking the right questions a few weeks back on our blog, and we highly recommend you take the time to hone this critical skill.

When it comes to your productivity when working virtually, set a precedent early that you will ask for what you need to get the job done right. Regardless of the circumstances, you are still expected to complete projects on time. So be sure to ask for as much information as possible upfront and go back to get more if anything is unclear.

Final Thoughts

More people than ever before are working from home, and the number is growing. Consequently, improving your productivity while maintaining a good work/life balance while working on a virtual team can be done. It just requires you to be clear about what you need while managing expectations to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Start by establishing a routine and keep the lines of communication open with everyone on your team. The more you commit to doing these things each day, the easier it will become. Brian Tracy, a motivational speaker, said, “Practice the philosophy of continuous improvement. Get a little bit better every single day.”

What are some other ways you’ve improved productivity when working on virtual teams? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Please share your best practices with us on LinkedIn or Twitter!
Originally published March 31, 2020, updated June 28, 2021.

Leighanne Lankford

Leighanne Lankford

Leighanne Lankford lives life outside of the lines. From walking on fire to rappelling down buildings, she lives by the mantra, "playing it safe isn’t good enough." In her 30 years as a Learning and Development practitioner, thought-leader, and now business owner, Leighanne has always pushed boundaries and done things her way.

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Leighanne Lankford lives life outside of the lines. From walking on fire to rappelling down buildings, she lives by the mantra, “playing it safe isn’t good enough.” In her 30 years as a Learning and Development practitioner, thought-leader, and now business owner, Leighanne has always pushed boundaries and done things her way.

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