“When I first worked with remote teams as a manager, I was constantly doubtful about whether my colleagues are working. In my corporate experience, I was used to looking over my subordinates’ shoulders to see if they are scrolling down on Facebook or working on an assigned task. As time passed by, I understood that my doubts are extraneous. Extricating me further from my disquietude is the implementation of a time and task tracker – it helps quantify the work done and time used in a day’s work, making remote work a visible tapestry. Our department’s weekly Touchbase meetings also help me measure how much work is done and the impending and forthcoming tasks.” ~Nancy Ong, Genashtim’s English Language Section Manager~
Ong’s dilemma is very real. Enhanced visibility is not one of the strengths of remote work. You may exert inordinate diligence and dedication to your work, executing all your tasks effectively and in a timely manner. However, since there is no on-site presence, your efforts can easily go unnoticed. All is not lost though; technology, as well as human endeavors, are aiding and maintaining remote work transparency and visibility.
How can a remote-first/remote-friendly company keep remote work quantifiable and visible?
1. Use an automatic time and task tracker.
With the advent of automatic and productivity trackers, remote work is not only visible but also tangible. These automatic tracking applications have replaced manual timers and traditional noting which have a high potential for human errors.
An automatic time and task tracker captures all the work you do in a day and records the time you took to do a specific task and the names of tasks that you worked on. It also keeps you alert and in “work mode.”
2. Conduct weekly Touchbase meetings.
Teamwork is an integral part of remote work. It’s important to consider how your work may impact your team/department members in the following weeks. In this regard, holding Touchbase meetings at the start of each week is a good way to ensure and achieve full team visibility and transparency. The primary purpose of such weekly meetings is to keep track of completed, impending, new, routine, urgent, and ongoing tasks, whereby team/department members detail the tasks they worked on in the previous week and the tasks they’ll be working on in the current week. You can also share details about additional/ad hoc tasks, important updates, information about taking leave of absence from work, and reminders for more informed and seamless work processes.
Remember to record these weekly meetings so that absent team members can listen to the recording to take stock of the weeks’ workload status and stay in the loop.
3. Keep a record of tasks in an Excel spreadsheet.
An Excel spreadsheet on which you record your weekly tasks will further strengthen the details generated by automatic productivity trackers and weekly Touchbase meetings. It also reaffirms the tasks you have at hand and gives you the opportunity to plan your tasks based on dated priority, simplicity, and urgency.
Don’t worry if you couldn’t follow the record to the tee – tasks can go back and forth, especially if new tasks pop up and that’s okay because you can update them during the weekly Touchbase meetings. It’s just a matter of using your time management and organizational skills.
The spreadsheet tasks record needs to be sent to your manager for record purposes.
4. Think as “asynchronously” as possible and overcommunicate.
Asynchronous communication rules a remote work workflow setup – it allows precise, needs-based, and in-time information exchange and aids follow-ups that facilitate high performance.
When you communicate asynchronously, you don’t expect an immediate response after you deliver the piece of information/query//request. The individuals who received your message can take their time to process the message and respond once they are ready. Asynchronous communication comes in written/audio/visual format like email, messages, video/audio recordings, and accessible documents.
Overcommunication provides your colleagues with all the necessary details from which they can derive pertinent content. Subsequently, they can follow through because they now know what exactly is expected of them, thanks to overcommunication. The best part? The message doesn’t disappear so you can always go back to refer to it and be on point.
It’s true that productivity trumps presence in the remote work realm. However, remote workers must display a genuine and palpable contribution.
The role of team leaders and managers in keeping remote work visible is to ensure that individuals and teams get recognition for their efforts as well as support.
Remote work visibility maintenance is a collective effort for remote work permanency and the future of work!