In years to come, people may well pore over the events of early 2020 and conclude that the existence of a robust SaaS industry single-handedly kept the global economy from tipping into complete disaster. Countries everywhere are in recession, yes, but things could have been so much worse. Imagine if a comparable pandemic had struck around the turn of the millennium.
A lockdown in the year 2000 would have sent so many more businesses into complete collapse. Without reliable internet infrastructure and productivity tools available, companies would have needed to rely on phone calls, traditional mail, and countless trips between employee’s houses to share key documents. That’s a difficult scenario to navigate.
Instead, the 2020 version allowed many businesses to continue almost unaffected. Sure, they needed to vacate their offices and get everyone working from their homes, but their digital work could be done from anywhere. And now that half a year has gone by, those companies have become fully comfortable with remote working as a worldwide standard.
But that doesn’t mean they’ve mastered it. If you’re managing a remote product team, there are two key reasons why you might need to streamline things. Firstly, you might be dealing with myriad issues stemming from partners, clients and/or suppliers. Secondly, it’s harder for a remote team to communicate effectively — and slower communication reduces productivity.
In this post, we’re going to run through some core tips for making your remote team’s workflow more efficient as you move into the coming year. 2021 will be the first full year without the traditional office setup in a position of dominance, so it’s vital that you get things figured out.
You might also be interested in: Is It Possible to Work Remotely as a Product Manager?
Review your software lineup
That you’re relying on SaaS tools to remain in operation doesn’t mean that you’re using them optimally — or even that you’re using the best tools for your needs. During the rush to adapt to the new remote-working model, plenty of companies just kept using the software they already had in place even if it wasn’t really fit for purpose, and others chose new tools very quickly.
Accordingly, the software you’re currently using might not be ideal for you, and swapping some key tools for superior alternatives might just speed things along. This is particularly true for a core overarching responsibility like task management. Members of your remote team need to know what their duties are, how they’re expected to proceed, and what their deadlines are.
If you’re using task management software that has even slight room for improvement, then you stand to benefit significantly from replacing it. After all, even a minor lift in efficiency can prove enormously impactful when it applies to something that takes up a lot of time on a daily basis. Do some research, look at some tool comparisons, and find the solution that offers the best combination of performance and affordability.
Delegate key responsibilities
Managerial structures are hard to change because they’re always in use. For this reason, they shift very slowly if at all, and typically during ebbs in activity. Due to this, you might have made it through six months of work without rolling out any meaningful changes to the format of your team, and this might be working against you.
Let’s suppose that you have a straightforward team system with two tiers: one for you, the manager of the team, and another for all the team members. Your job is to assign tasks, monitor performance, resolve problems, and generally ensure that human resources are deployed effectively. But doing all of those things at a distance is a major challenge for anyone.
If you’re struggling to stay on top of things and finding that team members aren’t doing everything they’re supposed to do, the solution might be as simple as delegating some of your key responsibilities. For instance, you could choose someone who’s proven to be reliable and task them with addressing any team issues that arise. You could then spend more time on other tasks, knowing that anything major will be identified and forwarded to you if necessary.
Encourage more collaboration
An inevitable consequence of working remotely if you’re not careful is the steady dissolution of team bonds. When employees see one another on a regular basis, they get better at pooling their talents. When they share office space, it’s easy for one person to ask another for assistance on an important task. These things are much harder remotely.
Once you factor in the rise of anxiety and uncertainty and the tendency of flexible hours to separate people even further, you come to understand why workers are becoming increasingly isolated (no pun intended). This is bad for business. Some tasks can be done through individual effort alone, but many thrive on team members working together, and siloed workloads can lead to the wasteful appearance of duplicated efforts.
To combat this, you need to make a habit of encouraging collaboration. Go out of your way to task groups of employees with working together, and give them plenty of time to discuss things in video conferences and audio calls. Follow up with the participants afterwards to see how things went and what they took from the experiences. The optimal scenario will bring together people who could learn a lot from each other: a creative rookie and a seasoned professional, for instance, can combine extremely effectively.
Streamlining your remote team’s workflow will take some time and effort, but it’s going to prove worthwhile. Ensure that you have the right SaaS lineup in place, lighten your workload to limit the possibility that you’ll become a bottleneck, and find creative ways to get people working together. This will help you bump up your operational efficiency.
Meet the Author
Laura May is Digital Editor at Just Another Magazine. We write about tech, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, relationships, travel, trends and anything else that matters to you. Name throwing you off? Don’t take it too seriously – we intend to stand out from the crowd.