How to Increase Productivity for Distributed Teams

Stats show that companies with a distributed workforce are more productive than companies that only employ traditional onsite workers. In fact, 91% of remote workers claim they feel more productive when working from home or other non-office locations. However, companies with distributed teams shouldn’t take productivity for granted. Distractions at home, communication issues, poor time management, and accountability issues among other challenges can all affect how much each employee accomplishes in a workday. A highly productive distributed workforce doesn’t just happen on its own. It requires the use of the right tools and smart strategies to ensure everyone is contributing and actively working together as a team.

In General, Remote Workers are a Productive Bunch

How to Increase Productivity of Your Distributed Team

Give employees ownership of their work

The best managers know the power of ownership. By giving team members ownership of their work, employees feel less constrained, can make decisions faster and take pride in their work. This accountability induces a sense of responsibility for completing tasks on time with a greater attention to detail. Of course, you still need to guide team members in the right direction and step in if projects are headed off course. Susan M. Heathfield, co-owner of TechSmith, says your organization has “the responsibility to create a work environment that helps foster the ability and desire of employees to act in empowered ways.” [1]

Communicate constantly

Communication is one of the key factors that contributes to a distributed team’s productivity and overall success. Having an effective communication strategy in place plays a vital role in helping team members understand their job responsibilities, collaborate with coworkers, give project updates, problem solve and stay on task. Host regular team meetings that foster an environment of open communication. All team members should feel comfortable sharing their ideas and giving feedback or even constructive criticism of specific issues.

“Ultimately, the one sustainable competitive advantage that a company can have is a culture that enables its people and the entire organization to learn faster. Fast learning has to come from a place of people feeling safe to talk about what’s working and not working, of recognizing that their job is not to appear perfect but to get better.”

Use the best collaboration tools

Many organizations still rely on old technologies, such as email, as their primary way to share information and communicate. According to a study by Inc. magazine, workers in small and medium-size businesses spend half their time on email and 14 percent of their day is spent duplicating information over email (i.e. forwarding emails or confirming that a file was received). To increase worker productivity and avoid the pitfalls of email, equip your teams with the best collaboration tools. Chat apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams make text-based conversations much more agile and digestible in remote group settings. Video conferencing technology gives organizations the ability to communicate face-to-face and wirelessly screen share and present during meetings to help bridge the communication gap between remote teams. In a recent survey, 94% of businesses say video conferencing increases productivity.

Set clear goals and deadlines

Goals must be clear and well defined, especially for distributed teams since team members may spend a lot of their time working on their own. This includes giving precise instructions and due dates for each task in written form so team members can refer back to the instructions when needed. Project management software like Asana and Basecamp help organize all your projects and related tasks and documents in one place to keep projects on track. These tools provide a visual project board that lets you quickly see what everyone is working on, due dates for each task within a project and the next steps in the project. By clicking on a specific task, you can see additional information including specific instructions and related files for that task.

—Amit Kvint, compatibility team leader at OnTheGoSystems [2]

“I measure productivity by the number of important tasks we have managed to resolve per week. This is how I look at my team’s efficiency; important tasks in our case are either things that directly helped clients resolve issues they had or will make clients’ lives easier, so issues will be prevented in the near future.”
—Amit Kvint, compatibility team leader at OnTheGoSystems [2]

Give feedback

In addition to monitoring projects and keeping them on track, it’s also important to have a formal feedback process in place. This can be achieved through regular one-on-one meetings where you review current and recently completed projects with members of your team. Constructive feedback helps employees learn from their mistakes, catch oversights, reflect on processes and take pride in work done well. There is no hope of boosting an employee’s efficiency and productivity if you don’t show them opportunities for improvement. Encourage an open two-way dialog in the feedback process where employees can also give suggestions or ask questions. A team member may need more guidance on certain tasks or would prefer a little creative freedom on a project. By providing employees with constant support, feedback and encouragement, you’ll ensure projects are completed in the most efficient way possible.

Celebrate the wins

Employees want to be part of a team where their contributions are valued and acknowledged. By showing appreciation and giving credit where it’s due, employees feel more confident in their work and are willing to give 100% on the next project. Showing appreciation doesn’t have to be expensive rewards or elaborate gifts. Simply saying a few encouraging words like “keep it up” or “job well done” can have a powerful effect on boosting an employee’s self-confidence and motivating them to work harder. Of course, if the budget allows, celebrate the big wins and accomplishments with actual gifts, team parties or a day off. Rewarding outstanding work, like giving feedback, is a great incentive for increased productivity.