5 tools for managing remote teams that will boost productivity immediately

According to McKinsey research, 41% of employees who switched to remote working believed themselves to be more productive when working from home. An additional 28% thought they were equally as productive as they were in the office. The statistics make remote working sound like the ideal scenario, but what they don’t highlight is the fact that almost one third feel they are less productive at home

And so it’s natural for leaders to worry. Particularly new leaders striving to get a grip on multiple leadership and management challenges may worry how to guide their teams into the future of work. As a leader, you have a responsibility to develop a team that not only gets the job done - on time and within budget - but which does so in a way that reflects positively on your leadership skills and humanistic management style. If you’re concerned that the transition to remote working may affect the productivity of your team, then you’re probably looking for tools for managing remote teams to boost this productivity immediately.

What boosts team productivity?

You do. 

‘What tools can boost my team’s productivity?’ is the wrong question to be asking. It makes the assumption that productivity is driven from employee level. It’s not. In fact, when leaders assume that it is, you run the risk of trying to measure productivity in terms of irrelevant metrics, pushing harder and harder to meet targets, and this can often have the complete opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve. It’s all about you. 

A better question to ask is: ‘what tools can boost my own efficiency as a leader, and my own leadership approach, to better support my team to become more productive?’. 

Right now, at a time when remote working and hybrid working solutions are becoming increasingly popular - and even necessary when adapting to the future - leaders need to understand that their role is no longer to drive operations. Their role is to drive energy and engagement in teams. 

What tools can help me become a better leader?

Those leading the workforce of the future must consider what aspects could be causing dips in productivity, identifying tools that make it easy to adapt the leadership approach and directly address these concerns and worries in an effort to organically boost productivity. 

1. Communication tools

Many leaders think that having a videoconferencing tool is enough to make them available to their remote team. However, with communication and remote work collaboration both proving to be such vital aspects of tomorrow’s leadership, managers need more. Consider introducing remote collaboration spaces such as virtual whiteboards, and always-on messaging tools to increase your presence amongst your remote team. 

2. Operational tools

While you may not need to use the same sort of day-to-day operational tools that your team does, it’s still critical that you install, understand, and use these tools as needed. Why? Because as a leader during times of disruption and change, you must lead by example, especially if you want to help your team embrace change and get them onboard with new ways of working. Sometimes, you need to be ‘one of the guys’. 

3. Monitoring tools

Using monitoring tools that track performance and keep your team on the right track, aiming for achievable goals, is key to boosting productivity. That’s because these tools create a greater level of trust, making you more comfortable giving your workers a bit more anonymity and stopping you from trying to micromanage. This can free you up to take on other tasks, and provides you with extra time to spend supporting your team. 

4. Educational tools

Giving yourself access to necessary educational tools that support you as you work to further develop your leadership style in line with the needs of your team is crucial. After all, it’s difficult to change without fully understanding exactly what needs to be changed to boost team productivity, and how to do it. Effective educational tools could include online resources, or professional training and coaching opportunities. 

5. Social tools

Reports show that around 1 in 5 remote workers worry about their mental health and wellbeing, which can be a major deterrent to productivity. As a leader, one of the best ways to boost productivity amongst your team is to do what you can to eradicate these worries. Social tools that enable teams to chat and interact with each other more flexibly, without mention of projects or tasks, could be the key to leading with care as a humanistic manager. 

Redefining productivity

Productivity looks a little different to what it did prior to the pandemic and will continue to change in the future. Productivity was once closely linked to employees, but it’s shifting to being more closely aligned with leaders. To improve productivity amongst remote teams, it’s time to take things right back to the roots. It’s time to work to build strong leaders who guide and manage a team in a way that organically boosts productivity, rather than trying to skip ahead to the end of the story and develop productivity directly at employee level. And the effort is worth it. 

According to a report by Stanford University, when implemented correctly, remote working can result in a productivity boost that’s around equal to a full day’s work!

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