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How to manage highly productive remote teams?

How to manage highly productive remote teams?

What is productivity?

Productivity is the energy on which a business’s run. The more efficient your teams, the faster work gets done and the healthier your margins.

Productivity can mean different things for different organizations. It’s a corporate jargon you often hear, and yet remarkably, many people who make decisions every day about improving efficiency don’t know how to answer this simple question. Let’s begin with what productivity is not.

  • Productivity is not about wages
  • Productivity is also not about hours spent doing work
  • And it is not about keeping an eye on your employees and finding out what they’re doing as they work remotely

How to measure Team productivity?

Productivity = Units of Output / Units of Input

But this is easier to read than applied in a real situation with complex team structures. To measure productivity in today’s changing world, we suggest you keep an eye on these 3 ways:

  1. Set Goals that are SMART

Set the goals that motivate you – Before you start the process of goal-setting, take a closer look at what you’re trying to achieve, and do you see yourself accomplishing those goals? Make sure that you have your entire focus on the outcome and how to achieve it.

  • Set SMART Goals
    • Specific – Your goal must be clear and well defined.
    • Measurable – Include precise amounts, dates, and so on in your goals so you can measure your degree of success.
    • Attainable – Make sure that it’s possible to achieve the goals you set.
    • Relevant – Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take.
    • Time-Bound – Your goals must have a deadline.
  1. Revenue per employee ratio

To add contours to your productivity discussion, calculate revenue per employee ratio by looking at employee cost (salaries) and the revenues coming in. As you do that, take this number with a pinch of salt as some employees are necessary for the overall business but do not generate revenue.

A better way to do this would be to calculate a Revenue/Department cost which gives you an idea of how each department is performing (Technology & Development vs. Sales vs. Customer Success vs. Marketing etc.)

  1. Productivity Tracking Applications

There is a host of tracking apps that identify what individuals are working on at any given time. Zippi helps managers look at the overall tasks for the team in a calendarized manner to identify high, medium & low performers.

Why should organizations not only think about an individual but also team productivity?

As per a report by FlexJobs, 66% of professionals think they would be more productive while working remotely than in a traditional way.

Most organizations measure individual productivity one way or another, but when it comes to measuring team productivity, they fall short. Add to it, the complexity of working remotely, a change accelerated by COVID-19, organizations are struggling to measure and raise team productivity. Measuring team productivity is very important in today’s changing environment because:

  1. Gives insight into how teams are performing concerning other teams.
  2. Answers questions about managerial capabilities and opens a discussion about key challenges.
  3. Team goals are more aligned to organizational goals and therefore give you a more accurate picture of how efficient people are in the organization.

What makes your employees less productive at work?

“The average worker is productive for less than three hours a day”

So, what are they doing for the remaining five hours? A survey from Voucher Cloud found that when not working, employees are (in descending order) checking social media, reading news websites, chatting with colleagues about out-of-work activities, and making hot drinks.

Now let’s assess these facts when we put people in a forced WFH scenario and identify key things leading to lower productivity:

  1. No clarity on what employees are supposed to do – As per SAP report, a mere 7% of employees today fully understand their company’s business strategies and what’s expected of them to help achieve company goals.
  2. Low motivation: Is my work visible? I have so much to do at home. – In India, 95% of Millennials say that they are stressed, primarily due to work-related factors.
  3. Not feeling rewarded for a job well done – According to research, only 25% of managers have incentives linked to work strategy.
  4. Frequently distracted at home/Bad Time Management: No designated area for work; children and other family members around, homeschooling, and other household responsibilities.
  5. Mental Health Issues due to WFH – A study involving over 6,000 employees in multiple cities in India, found that 80 percent of the respondents exhibited symptoms of anxiety while 55% had symptoms of depression.

How can you improve team productivity?

  1. Getting started on the right foot

Onboarding right sets the right expectations for a new hire. This process gives them all the arsenal needed to hit the ground running. Most organizations think about onboarding as the time to pull out corporate presentations and collect relevant documents but treat this process with more care and you will have set productivity expectations that would go a long way. This means structured, comprehensive training; onboarding about the company’s culture and attitudes; and a workable task system with deadlines, names of team members responsible, and documentation of these processes.

2. Set communication expectations & Selecting the right tools

A lot of successful businesses thrive on effective communication. While senior leaders must communicate, your line managers must understand its importance. A manager must ensure effective communication prevails in a team. Communication plays a big role in helping team members to understand their job responsibilities. And, if there is any communication-gap, it can lead to multiple confusion within a team. You need to onboard new employees, deliver employee training, or have a place to house important information, consider creating an online course to keep everyone aligned.

For teams working remotely to operate in a fully functional way, organizations need to provide the artillery of tools and software’s to drive productivity in the organization. What Zippi brings to the table the ability to integrate a host disconnected systems into one platform for faster & efficient communication

3. Be Transparent

It sounds like a big claim, but transparent environments help in developing a feeling of connectedness and understanding within an organization. Open and consistent communication lays the foundation for an authentic and productive workplace. It drives employees to connect, share ideas, and suggesting, and eventually inspires organizations to work as a cohesive unit.

Transparency was key in CholaMandalam’s ability to ensure business continuity during the countrywide lockdown. They are managing a diverse workforce and associated processes while working remotely for the first time for over 20,000 employees through Zippi.

Download Case Study.

This collaborated and performance-driven work environment allowed the seamless flow of information throughout the organization by conducting virtual polls, townhalls, managing tasks, and tracking individual performance and ultimately driving transparent and productive conversations.

“I see Zippi & Jinie playing a very big role in the Hi-Tech part of the HR Connect within an Organization.” – Venkateshwaran Balaram- Asst. VP-HR, Chola Mandalam, Chennai.

4. Foster Task Management

Whatever tool you may use to manage your tasks, whether a simple to-do-list or a comprehensive task management tool, the whole idea is to complete them. It all depends on how religiously you work and most importantly how well you prioritize them. This involves actively making decisions for your tasks to accommodate changes that can occur in real-time.
It becomes really important to foster the habit of task management and goal creation to enable teams and individuals for the successful completion of implemented projects.

According to PMI’s Global Project Management survey, 37% of executive leaders said, “the primary cause of failure of projects in their organization was a lack of clearly defined objectives and milestones to measure progress and a lack of discipline when implementing strategy.”

AEON Credit India has been actively practicing task management via Zippi where they assign, track, and review tasks in regular time intervals throughout the implementation of a project at hand.

5. Praise a job well done

A kind word and appreciation can go a long way in boosting morale. Management might not track the impact of appreciations, but it surely has a deep-rooted impact on an employee’s approach towards work. Whether it’s a small start-up or a big conglomerate, there is nothing better to be valued for the work you do.

6. Encourage them to decompress
We know there is work, we know it must be finished before the deadline, but we must also know that employees are facing burnouts achieving it. Every organization must realize the pressure their employees are dealing with currently and prepare light and friendly work environments, remotely! Having a range of collaborative activities like team-building exercises, polls, virtual games, hobby sessions can deflate the burden of work and can increase employee engagement and collaboration.

Zippi empowers organizations with numerous possibilities to connect and engage over such conversations and activities.

7. Give each other feedback

Last but not least is to introduce a feedback mechanism for your organization. Building an excellent work environment depends on the organization’s ability to give adequate and timely feedback without fail. Your teams may be looking for guidance and support, even if they are straight away asking for it.

Once you have assigned the goals and objectives, it becomes highly important to keep an eye on their status as well. With remote working in place, your goals are driven to be more outcome focussed, but you cannot ignore the effort it requires to achieve those numbers.

A constructive feedback mechanism not only boosts employee’s morale but also encourages the culture of open dialogue that will make future collaborations easier than before.


The world has seen a rather radical shift in the last few months. Productivity was a difficult concept to grasp and apply even before, now the denominators are changed and organizations are at a loss of how to measure and track productivity. Some have resorted to employee monitoring which allows company administrators to monitor and supervise all their employee computers from a central location. The problem with this method is that while it tells you what people are doing; it rarely ever solves the problem of productivity & efficiency which the heart of this matter.

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5 Essential virtual leadership skills that create a thriving remote culture

5 Essential virtual leadership skills that create a thriving remote culture

Businesses all around the world were gradually adapting to the rapid pace of digital transformation.

However, the COVID-19 outbreak drove the final nail in the coffin. It has been established that the disruptions will have long-term effects on the psychology and dynamics of traditional workplaces. A staggering 54% of businesses believe that the aftershocks of the global pandemic will continue through 2020. So, it is high time for companies to embrace the remote work model.

As a result, there is a growing need for leading the change in the virtual work environment. Virtual leadership can help foster a solid work culture that will set your business on track for success!

What is Virtual Leadership?

As the name indicates, virtual leaders are in charge of virtual teams. A virtual team comprises of professionals operating from different physical locations.

A virtual leader carries out all the roles and responsibilities of a traditional leader. Hence, virtual leadership plays an instrumental role in determining the success of any project.

The Rise of Virtual Leaders

The demand for virtual leadership is not a new concept. Studies and reports dating back to 2009 have highlighted how remote teams can outperform on-site employees in productivity and task management, provided that they are under stable virtual leadership. According to Gartner, the number of remote employees rose by 4% from 2012 to 2016. Nearly 43% of this overall workforce operate remotely in the US alone! While the development was slow yet sustained, companies faced challenges in the form of trust deficit, unmet expectations, work stereotypes, and technological limitations.

As technology started to catch up with the industry demands, there was a proportional growth in the demand for virtual leadership. It emerged as a silver bullet that helped overcome these obstacles. Virtual leaders emphasized communication and collaboration to nurture trust. Similarly, they assigned specific roles to outline a defined work structure, which boosted employee productivity while meeting business objectives. Finally, they helped with the integration of technology through collaboration software for efficient task management and disposal.

The imminent maturation of virtual leadership ushered in the age of remote working and virtual teams, making it the new normal.

5 Essential Virtual Team Leadership Skills

Now that we understand the crucial role of virtual leadership, it is time to review the qualities and characteristics to emerge as a successful virtual leader.

Here are five crucial skills that every virtual leader should hone for efficient task management:

  1. Communication

Remote interactions are robbed of the personal touch that comes with one-on-one conversations. Resultantly, there is a higher scope of missing out critical details.

Virtual leaders must convey instructions, feedback, and guidelines clearly and concisely. Any ambiguity will contribute to confusion.

Set aside an appropriate frequency for conducting structured meetings, while also leaving room for impromptu catch-ups. Communicate consistently with your virtual teams and the team members.

The trick is to strike the perfect balance. If you check in too often, you may make the employees feel like they are being micromanaged. On the other hand, hold meetings too infrequently, and your employees will slip off the routine.

Setting up channels for synchronous and asynchronous communication will help teams even if they operate in different time zones. Incentivize collaboration, and your project will be rewarded accordingly.

Do not limit the conversations to mere “work stuff” and encourage employees to replicate the traditional “water cooler.” In this way, you will be adding to the work culture.

   2. Empathy

For several organizations, adapting to the remote working model has been tough. Naturally, there will be a few employees that may struggle with the technological aspect. Similarly, isolation, lockdowns, and quarantine may also take a toll on your employees’ emotional and mental well-being. On the other hand, you will have to deal with employees who cannot maintain the work-life balance.

An ideal virtual leader can identify such issues through social cues, even without learning about them explicitly. It could be in the form of loss in employee productivity, change in work behavior, and other indicators. Virtual leaders must locate these setbacks by tapping into their social awareness and relationship-building skills and mitigate the risks through proactive remedial measures.

Simple, empathy-driven decisions such as getting in a VC with the troubled employee or giving them some timeout to recover from burnout can help your team members.

  1. Transparency

Information silos will slow down your team’s productivity. For this reason, you must maintain cultural transparency in all your business operations. Whether it is access to the company database or assigning tasks to a team – virtual leaders incorporate transparency everywhere.

Fortunately, you can bank on several tools and software that make use of technology to add this layer of transparency. At the same time, constant communication also lays the foundation for transparent operations.

Maintaining transparency will help with employee engagement and will also hold them accountable for their work. Eventually, it will contribute to social cohesion that will glue your virtual teams together.

Read: Coming Back To Work: Productivity Lessons We Will Carry Back Post Lockdown.

  1. Trust

Cultivating trust in a virtual environment is one of the major challenges of virtual leadership. Make your team members an integral part of the decision-making process and keep them in the loop for updates.

At the same time, instill the belief that you trust your employees to carry out their tasks even if they do not have a boss hovering over your shoulders. Rather than stressing on the number of hours your team members put in, shift the focus to the overall output and impact. Once again, if you notice a dip in productivity, feel free to discuss the issue sympathetically.

  1. Inclusion

Virtual leaders will have to be considerate of all team members. As stated before, involve your team members at every stage of the decision-making process. Virtual leaders must consider the team as an integral part of the project, right from planning to execution.

On an individual level, you can pair your experienced employees with the freshers to make the freshers feel included in all the business transactions. It helps overcome the common issues that newbies face during the onboarding stage.

Through this two-pronged approach, you can be sure that you are including and empowering everyone.

The Final Word

To sum it up, virtual leadership is the life and blood of a remote system.

Virtual leaders play a critical role in fostering trust, boosting employee productivity, encouraging open communication and collaboration, outlining goals and procedural guidelines, and keeping the team morale high. To meet these goals, virtual leaders tap into an array of collaboration software and tools that grant seamlessness even in remote work environments.

Having a trusted and reliable virtual leader in your team can boost your company’s chances of success!

Click HERE to explore Zippi to help boost your organization’s productivity.

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