Texting, social media, wikipedia-wormholes, Pokemon Go — workplace distractions are real. Add working remotely to the mix and keeping your employees engaged and productive can feel like a feat fit only for Hercules. But the truth is, the tools available for keeping remote workers focused and happy are endless. Whether you have a few remote workers or your employees are spread out across several time zones, each one of these remote work productivity hacks is sure to keep even your longest distance employees feeling good. Take it from us; we’ve operated as a 100% remote HQ staff from day one.
Think of us as your own personal Athena, and let these remote work hacks guide you and your employees to a more efficient way of virtual work.
Top 10 Remote Work Productivity Hacks
Are you new to working remotely or looking for ways to sharpen up your work from home game? No matter where you are on this virtual workplace journey, our best tips and productivity hacks for remote workers are great for newbies and veterans alike.
1. Embrace the Smartphone “Problem”
Many employers see smartphones as the biggest threat to productivity in the workplace, and that issue looks even more glaring when you consider working remotely where managers don’t have daily eyes on your team. But for virtual workers, the smartphone can be a critical tool for staying on track and actually offers tons of remote work productivity hacks. There are a bunch of great apps out there that offer everything from messaging to project organization.
Looking to boost communication and messaging for remote workers? Are you on Slack yet? Slack is widely regarded as one of the best tools for remote workplaces and a top remote worker messaging app. This messaging and desktop app makes team communication easy, streamlined, and fun. While group emails can be difficult to organize and someone is bound to miss a reply in the long thread, Slack is great for having a central hub for your remote workers to communicate. Organize by channels (at the least, each department should have its own dedicated channel) and topics, and you’ll have a well-organized remote office. We like to think of Slack as the grown-up remote work version of MSN Messenger or AIM (away messages included).
2. Communicate the Old-Fashioned Way
Weekly or daily touch-base calls are awesome for setting up workweek priorities and outlining tasks. While your employees may be working remotely, a good old fashioned phone call is a great way to set up a week of productivity. Try scheduling regular check-ins at whatever interval you like; this sets expectations and gives your remote workers tangible goals and deadlines. We like Slack calls or Zoom for a one-on-one video meeting.
Remote Productivity Tip: If your employees are in different time zones, you might have to be creative with the meeting times, but trust us, the results are worth it.
3. Live That True Remote Life
Encourage employees who work remotely to get outside their home office once in awhile. Removing unavoidable distractions like cats sitting on keyboards (or just cats in general) will skyrocket productivity, and a change of scenery never hurt anyone. Heading to a well-loved local coffee shop or library is a great way to get refocused and keep productivity high in your remote team.
Weary of background noise? Consider offering all of your remote workers an allowance for a co-working space subscription. Walking into a collaborative environment like a dedicated co-working office can help shift the mind into a ready-to-roll mindset, making this one of our favorite productivity hacks for remote workers. The faux-office feel is a great way to inspire hard work in those who love a more structured work setting, even while working remotely. If going to a co-working space isn’t possible, then encourage your remote team to set up a dedicated workspace in their homes, even if it’s just sitting at the kitchen table. Having an area your brain associates with work time is a great way to bolster efficiency.
4. Let the Night Owl Thrive for Maximum Remote Team Productivity
Spend some time thinking about what your job really requires. Do you and your team have to be working remotely from 9a-5p EST, Monday through Friday? If not, then allowing flexible hours and work time can be a great incentive for employees who like to let their creative juices flow at weird hours. Letting your employees work when they feel like they’re ready to kill it is one of the best productivity hacks, especially when we’re talking about remote work hacks. Remote workplaces are in a unique position to allow employees to get work done at random hours; instituting this for your team can have a huge impact on productivity, efficiency, and overall remote workplace happiness.
Hack Fact: Nikola Tesla and Leonardo da Vinci both followed the bizarre Uberman Sleep Cycle, taking six evenly spaced 20-minute naps throughout the day. No correlation between genius and this sleep cycle has been found, but could they have been on to something with one of the earliest productivity hacks out there?
5. One of Our Top Productivity Hacks for Working From Home? Break Time!
We get it; you’re busy, life gets in the way, deadlines loom, and taking a lunch break can feel like a huge productivity killer. In reality, taking breaks might actually be the secret to doing great work. Taking top notch breaks helps the mind refocus and allow room for creative thoughts and new perspectives. Encourage your remote team to take a lunch break, time away to hit the gym, whatever they need! After your coworkers take a little bit of time away from an intense task or project, your team can come back with a fresh mind – and ready to hit the grindstone!
Remote Productivity Tip: If your remote employees don’t work regular hours or dislike taking a full lunch break, encourage your group to take frequent shorter breaks throughout the day. Trust each person to decide what works best!
6. Turn Off and Tune Out!
The secret to successfully working remotely is to remember it’s okay to go radio silent, and remote managers should encourage virtual employees to do just this as a great productivity hack. Work-life balance is just as important for successful projects as it is for your employees’ health. Remind your employees it’s okay to turn off email or Slack notifications when needed. This allows your coworkers to unwind without notifications after a long day of work. It also lets your team members know they can turn off notifications to dive deep into work uninterrupted, which is a great productivity hack for remote work.
Remote Productivity Tip: If your remote team doesn’t have set work hours, recommend your employees take personal days every once in while. Many companies are embracing the “unlimited vacation days” policy to keep employees happy and healthy. With this, you can bet you’ll have the most revived, refreshed, and productive team around!
Strengthen your remote teams by investing in fun, exciting activities to foster camaraderie and friendly competition. Use a newsletter or Facebook group to ask weekly icebreaker questions, and start every virtual meeting with an icebreaker, too. Also, team-wide adventures, for example an online storytelling workshop from Museum Hack or another idea from our list of team building activities for remote teams, are sure-fire ways to strengthen all aspects of your company! Your team will learn new tips and techniques for telling engaging stories that resonate with your company’s audience.
How is team building an office productivity hack? Is team building even an option when working remotely? The answer to the second question is a resounding yes! The trust that blooms from activities like remote team building not only brings teams closer together, but shows employees how to look at their coworkers as each others’ “cheerleaders” who are all in this working remotely thing together. Plus, you might pick up some awesome productivity hacks for remote workers along the way!
8. Try the Pomodoro Method
The Pomodoro Method is one of our favorite remote work productivity hacks! The premise is simple: work with a laser-focus on an assignment for 25 straight minutes, no interruptions, then take a five-minute break to regroup and refocus. Knowing there’s less than half an hour in a session means your coworkers are more likely to give their best effort to their work with a light at the end of the tunnel. Ensure top notch breaks during your five minutes off to refresh the mind before tackling the next agenda item with renewed fervor.
Do it together as a team working remotely for extra bonus points. If you designate a day as a virtual-office-Pomodoro day, your coworkers will get an added boost from knowing the entire company is working on the same 25-on-five-off schedule and that can come with a renewed commitment to getting work done.
9. Plant Life 🌱🌿
The list of benefits that come with owning a house plant (or two or three or…) is miles long. Reasons to own house plants include reduced stress, better air quality, stronger mental health, and, believe it or not, increased productivity! You got it — owning a house plant is a productivity hack for remote workers! Plants add pops of color, personalization, and good vibes to your workspace.
Our recommendation? Surprise each member of your team with a happy mail package with a house plant! Just be sure to send varieties of plants that are non-toxic to animals so your remote team can display these green beacons of happiness with confidence while working remotely!
10. Work In Cycles
If you’re looking for just one thing to implement from our list of productivity hacks that actually work, then we’d recommend implementing four-week work cycles to see what kind of impact it has on your team’s efficacy. When working remotely, it can be easy for projects to fall by the wayside as newer messages and assignments come in, and, sometimes, communication can stall. At Museum Hack, we use four-week work cycles to combat this. At the start of each cycle, all team members have a meeting with their manager who assigns high priority projects to be completed before the next cycle meeting. Once you’re in the groove, each meeting should start with an update about the previous cycle’s projects before launching into a discussion of new assignments. We’ve found that this is one of our favorite productivity hacks at work, because it keeps your team on the same page about expectations, deadlines, and assignments. It’s also great to help protect time and time management, as your coworkers are free to prioritize cycle assignments over projects that may creep up in the meantime.
Why four weeks? For us, four weeks is the sweet spot between enough time to get meaningful work done and keeping projects from getting stagnant and stale.
Now who needs Hercules? Try these killer productivity hacks with your remote teams and see what amazing things you’ll accomplish. Sometimes the best way to wage war against workplace distractions is to embrace them!