3rd August 2021

6 Strategies to Work Smarter, Remotely

Distracted work, meeting overload, bulging inboxes, and unclear communication undermine your team’s productivity and performance. It can also make them cranky, anxious, and frustrated.

As a leader of a remote or hybrid team, here are six strategies you can immediately implement to reduce your team’s overwhelm, elevate their productivity, performance, and hopefully, their mood. 

Implement “protect your 90” to accomplish goals, develop new products, and solve problems.

Ask each team member to block and fiercely protect (no email, no social media, and no interruptions) 90-minutes a day to work on their highest value task or project. 90 minutes a day adds up. At the end of the week, your team members will have dedicated 7.5 hours to high value work.

Eliminate unnecessary meetings that drain your team’s time and energy. 

Gather your team and assess the value of each team meeting on the calendar. Answer the questions below for each meeting.

  • Does the original purpose for the meeting still exist? 
  • How does the meeting help the team achieve its goals?
  • How does the purpose of the meeting align with the team’s strategic priorities? And/or the company’s strategic priorities?
  • Does the meeting energize the team? Or does it suck the life right out of them?
  • Is the meeting a rehash of five prior meetings?
  • What will the team not be able to accomplish, create or build if they are in this meeting?

Once you complete your meeting audit and eliminate unnecessary meetings, establish a new team meeting working agreement. A meeting will not be added to the calendar unless it is the optimal and only format to achieve the goal.

Leverage alternative ways to share information with your team. 

Zoom fatigue and meeting overwhelm undermine your team’s performance. And too many meetings are information dumps that waste your team’s time. Consider alternative ways share information. 

  • In your project management tool, like Basecamp, or chat tool like Slack
  • On your SharePoint site
  • In a weekly recap email 
  • Via video. Use Loom and create a quick update video for your team they can watch on their own schedule. 

Get creative. You have nothing to lose but a meeting that needlessly consumes an hour or more of your team’s valuable time. 

Use standard email subject lines to improve team communication.

Unclear, sloppy subject lines waste your team’s time. Important emails are hard to find, overlooked, or forgotten. Make sure the subject lines on all team email messages reflect the current topic of the email message and clearly state the recipient’s next action step. 

Use, and ask your team to use, the following standard subject lines in all team communications:

  • Action Required – DATE 
  • FYI – 3rd Paragraph Client X Mention
  • Update: TOPIC
  • Reply by – DATE 
  • NRN – No response needed 
  • EOM – End of message 
Intentionally use the TO: and CC: lines in your email correspondence to the team. 

To avoid confusion and ensure that you can hold your team accountable for results, it is essential that you are clear who is required to act on your emails.

When you send an email, include on the TO: line

  • The person who needs to act on the contents of the email.
  • Include only one person on this line! Otherwise, no one is responsible for the email.

When you send an email, include on the CC:

  • The people who need to know about the topic of the email and do not need to respond nor act.
Communicate to be heard and understood to drive team performance.

Communication in a virtual world is hard. You do not have the benefit of non-verbal cues which account for between 70-90% of our communication. And, even more challenging, each person on your team thinks and communicates differently. 

Guarantee that you are heard and understood by each person on your team. Answer what, how, who, and why in every communication and team member interaction.

  • What? Identify the goal, purpose or objective
  • How? Identify the action steps to achieve the goal, purpose or objective
  • Who? Identify who is involved to achieve the goal, purpose or objective. 
  • Why?

So, what will you do today to equip and empower your team to work smarter, remotely?