How to Level Up Your WFH Team with XMind and More
Productivity is threatened for remote workers, who often feel frustrated when communication is not effective. For managers or leaders, isolation can often hit when their team isn’t on the same page. Productivity and effectiveness is always a focus for individuals and teams. So how do we cooperate and work together even when we’re apart?
Tracy Ring, writer and marketer, observes workplace trends and shares insights from 10+ years of diverse experience in HR, project management, admin roles. She offers practical suggestions for remote team leaders including software and principles, read more below.
Last year saw one of the most pivotal shifts to remote work in the history of the global business economy, a trend which is likely to continue—at least to some extent—in 2021. On average, 76 percent of employees who transitioned to remote work were just as productive at home as they were onsite pre-COVID (sometimes more), based on a 2020 survey from Boston Consulting Group. However, in terms of collaborative tasks, 56 percent of those employees were less productive at home.
Two of the main contributing factors that BCG identified at the root of this collaboration issue were a lack of team connection and insufficient access to virtual workplace tools. As a remote manager, you’re responsible for ensuring your WFH team can still connect and communicate, even from a distance. Fortunately, digital platforms make that an easier task, so consider investing in the tools below to maximize collaboration, streamline efficient workflow, and increase productivity.
While remote teamwork can be effective and successful, it’s also a challenge for many workers who are used to being onsite. In fact, 87 percent of employees agree that an eventual return to the office is important for team collaboration and relationship building, according to a PwC survey. However, until it is safe to transition back to an office full-time, an online mind map software can strengthen and simplify teamwork.
Software like the XMind functions as a virtual brainstorming session that allows your team to create diagrams and flowcharts, share files, organize data into presentations, and turn ideas into collaborative projects. The best mind map interfaces also offer an online whiteboard to simulate both the visual and tactile feel of an in-person brainstorm session.
Employ Workflow Automation Solutions
When employees are under the pressure of unclear expectations or ineffective workflow processes, this can provoke a fight-or-flight response in your team, according to clinical psychologist and executive leadership consultant Dr. Natalia Peart. Fight-or-flight, she explains, can lead to chronic stress and anxiety over time, making it harder to focus, prioritize and manage their daily workflow.
This also can harm your team members’ physical well-being, which could further inhibit their performance and engagement, Dr. Peart continues. According to health experts, chronic stress can cause issues such as Type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, headaches, digestive imbalances, or depression. Your team cannot perform at high capacity if their wellness is at risk.
To combat stress and all the negative impacts, ensure that your processes and expectations are transparent for your remote team. A workflow automation solution can alleviate the stress of mismanaged or disorganized systems. With these types of tools, employees can automate emails, calendar events, project management or deadline reminders, team chats, and other internal tasks—all from one integrated platform. This makes it easier to streamline, monitor, and prioritize workflow without doing it manually—all resulting in less stress and happier and healthier remote employees.
Refer to this list to find an option that works for your team.
Leverage Video Communications
The absence of physical interaction on a remote team can lead to miscommunication, which ultimately hinders trust, explains the journal of SN Applied Sciences. Audio- or text-based virtual communication outlets (i.e., phone, email, chat messengers) do not always provide the meaningful, nonverbal cues that in-person communication does. This lack of context can result in misunderstandings or distrust, according to the research.
Instead of relying on digital communication like email and chat, lean on video conferences. Despite the prevalence of “Zoom fatigue,” request everyone leave their video on. If your team protests, point to the science behind the benefits of video meetings. Seeing each other makes it easier to interpret the visual nuances of body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and other subtle mannerisms that voice-only or digital communications do not.
Consider a few rules to encourage/improve video-based meetings:
- Make meetings a judgment-free zone. Remote workers don’t have to present themselves in a certain way or have the perfect webcam backdrop to turn their video on.
- Ask people to wait 10 seconds after someone speaks to account for inevitable audio delays. If you would like to add something or interject, raise your hand.
- Employ the mute button at all times. Unless it’s a discussion, if folks aren’t presenting or speaking, they should be muted. Most video conferencing allows you to unmute with the space bar.
Don’t Neglect Password Management Security
This massive global shift to remote work escalated cybersecurity threats across industries and business sectors during COVID-19. In 2020 alone, the FBI’s Cyber Division reported as many as 4,000 cyberattack complaints daily—a 400 percent increase since before the pandemic. Moreover, 90 percent of data breaches result from human error due to insecure networks, passwords, or system credentials, Kaspersky Labs reports.
In other words, breaches can occur when numerous team members need to use the same login information from multiple different locations. However, you can minimize the risk of these credentials being lost or stolen with a virtual password manager. This tool encrypts your login information, enables you to control who can access sensitive files or records, and helps to safely recover passwords if someone is locked out of an account.
Better Lead Your WFH Team to Increase Productivity
No matter how much longer you manage a WFH team—whether it is a temporary situation or a permanent solution—these digital tools can contribute to enormous gains in productivity, communication, efficiency, collaboration, and overall well-being. The remote work trend is here to stay and technology innovations make it easier to manage.
Tracy Ring is a freelance writer and content marketer who works with organizations to curate engaging content. She loves to write about the intersection of mental health and workplace trends. Tracy brings a real-life perspective to her writing from 10+ years of diverse experience including, HR, project management, customer and client relations, and admin roles. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.