Here are some techniques for remote teams to use and increase productivity while working from home:
1. Find a substitute for face to face communication and run daily check-ins
Since people are not able to drop by the office ,and be part of in-personal meet-ups, it is essential for the team to agree on how these conversations will be held. Remote teams can run daily check-ins by phone calls (eg: ConxHub) or video chats as a group conversation or with one on ones chats.(i.e Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype).
These check-ins work as a reference point where employees can report daily their to do lists, progress or concerns . Another alternative is to run automated asynchronous stand-ups where team members inform each other on their daily tasks and progress. This way everyones stays in sync, informed and aligned by answering simple scrum questions:
i.e What did you do since yesterdays? What will you do today? Is there anything blocking your progress? How do you feel today? (Geekbot).
2. Set the infrastructure for smooth collaboration and communication between all team members.
Team members should agree on a specific set of tools that facilitates their communication and productivity. For example my team uses Slite to document everything. It is essential to mention that “work from home” teams need to move all face to face communication to documentation. Lack of access to information can be annoying especially when new entries join the team.
Another tool that we use for project management is Asana. It is critical to mention that tasks need to contain all information needed including assignees, description, status, external links to sources.
Slack is the main communication channel we use daily in addition with the Geekbot integration to monitor the progress of the team.
3. Define the availability of team members during working hours
This is when all team members agree on specific hours of availability. All team members these agreed hours need to be present and visible to the rest of the team. A technique that helps a lot is when team members make their current personal status available via i.e Slack (use of “away” status or “in a meeting” status) as if they were at the office and knew.
4. Focus on planning daily and weekly tasks
This will actually save a lot of time. Creating a roadmap its crucial to understand where you need to put your attention on. This will also help surface any blockers of your progress and unblock them. A virtual standup meeting tool would be ideal for this purpose.
5. Create team bonding activities
Work from home can create feelings of disconnection between team members. It is crucial to use tools that will help the team to connect to each other and build more intimate relationships. Video calls can be helpful. Another way is when the team runs fun retrospectives where team members can discuss topics such as what is their favorite movie, book or how did they spend their weekend. This will help your team relax and bond.