8 Little Things That Make Remote Work More Efficient for Everyone

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For the first time since we were all forcefully thrown into remote work in 2020, it finally feels like the debate surrounding it is settling down.

Companies that wanted their teams back in the office have enacted relevant policies. Meanwhile, employees enamored with remote work have lots of options, with vacancies offering just that. Also, many workplaces have adopted hybrid ways of working to get the best of both worlds, with studies reporting more than half of working Americans having the opportunity to work remotely at least once a week.

That means that for a majority of employees, remote work remains a core part of their day-to-day life because, even when you work fully in-person if you have a colleague joining from home, you inevitably get sucked into a remote work dynamic. For many, this continues to be a challenge — remote work has its own specifics regarding communication, collaboration and general etiquette, which don’t come naturally to everyone.

So here are eight little things anyone can do to improve their remote work experience and that of their colleagues.

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1. Make your availability known

Are you out for lunch? Picking up kids from school? Do you have irregular working hours? While remote work’s flexibility is one of its best features, ensure your team is informed about when you’ll be in work mode to avoid misunderstandings, missed messages and schedule clashes.

For instance, if you start work later, it may be wise to indicate that somewhere so early birds know not to expect your input in the initial hours of the morning. This can be as simple as a relevant emoji on your Slack profile or a quick update at a weekly meeting.

2. Document processes

Since much remote work collaboration is asynchronous, try to document processes, decisions, and strategies so that anyone in the team can find their footing at any time. If you don’t, there’s a risk of confusion and repetition — teammates might miss updates, and managers might grow tired of explaining the same things to everyone individually to get people on the same page.

If you haven’t yet, one good practice to adopt is to send out meeting summaries and make a habit of it for other informal important discussions, too.

3. Don’t forget about timezones

Americans may be accustomed to time differences between coasts, but with the rise of remote work, your team may have added some international talent. Emilia from Finland won’t be available for your afternoon catch-up because her day ended hours ago — and unless it’s been previously agreed upon, you shouldn’t expect her to be.

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4. Use the same software and tools as your colleagues

To avoid constantly converting documents, downloading new software, or getting into protracted arguments about which tool is best, you must agree on a single set of tools that will be used company-wide. Larger enterprises typically already have an established tech stack, and smaller companies should follow suit.

Remote work and communication necessitate a variety of technologies for collaboration, work, and management. If everyone starts using whatever they like, it’ll sow frustration, impair cybersecurity and leave information scattered.

5. Don’t browse social media during meetings

That’s it — that’s the whole tip. You know it’s counterproductive and affects the overall quality of the meeting and your information retention capacity. Will you stop doing it after reading this? Let’s be real — probably not.

So here’s a pro tip and a fun read: to avoid getting into hot water, take off your glasses when you scroll social media during a conference meeting.

6. Avoid common video conferencing issues

Mute your microphone when you’re not talking, test your connection and tech beforehand, show up on time, turn on your camera, be presentable and ensure your background is as well. By now, we all know these video conferencing best practices, but very few people take the time to practice them. As a result, it’s extremely common for calls to get disrupted by basic tech issues, sowing frustration and impeding communication.

7. Respect different working styles

Everyone has their own ways of working that suit them best. Some people are gifted multi-taskers who want to know everything that’s going on and be constantly in the loop. Others thrive in deep work, and a single distraction can reduce their productivity.

Accordingly, while the former will be happy to receive a Slack message and engage in discussion, the latter may find it irritating and disruptive. Some people will be happy to jump into a quick meeting to get on the same page, whereas others would prefer an email.

Respecting how others operate can maximize each individual’s productivity. To do so, all you need to do is discuss it with colleagues.

Related: How to Navigate Generational Differences and Hybrid Challenges in the Workplace

8. Regularly celebrate wins

It’s no secret that remote workers struggle with loneliness. One of the chief arguments against remote and hybrid work is that it hampers team bonding and the development of a healthy company culture.

But this isn’t an inherent problem with remote work. Rather, fostering camaraderie and a healthy work environment demands more active effort in a remote setting than an in-person one. By putting in the effort, you can overcome the challenges of feeling and experiencing the realities of isolation.

A great place to start is celebrating wins — develop a shared virtual ritual that involves the entire team and helps people connect.

These eight tips will significantly boost your team’s efficiency. But remember that for them to be effective, they need to become foundational to your operation. It’s not a one-and-done kind of thing but rather an ongoing collective effort to improve everyone’s working environment.

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