5 Strategies for Managing Time and Productivity in a Remote Work Setting
The freelance industry is rife with useful information on how to better manage clients and achieve better results as a freelancer. But rarely do we find information on how to manage a successful career as a freelancer who has transitioned from running a solo operation to running a remote team.
That’s right, today we’re thinking of you, the successful freelancer who’s become a manager and a team leader over time. How do you manage a fully remote work environment efficiently and effectively? How do you manage yourself and your team members properly? How do you sync everyone, without inducing a stress headache in the process, to produce superior results for each of your clients?
Consider these five strategies — let's get right into it.
#1. The same quality standards apply
Now that your freelance side gig has grown into a full-on business and you’re managing your own partners, associates, and even employees, you need to implement some quality standards. After all, your name is still on the line, and as far as your clients are concerned, you’re the one responsible for the quality of your work and the results you achieve.
So, the first thing you need to do is understand that the same standards you hold yourself to should apply to your team. If you have taught yourself to avoid the common time wasters at work and you know how to stay productive, then your team needs to learn the same.
That said, you need to be mindful of the position, experience, and the level of involvement of the individual.
#2. The importance of monitoring and feedback
At first, you might not think that directly monitoring your team is necessary, particularly if you have partnered with seasoned professionals and industry experts. But in supporting our previous point, you can only uphold your quality standards if you have some form of direct oversight.
This is not to control or micromanage them; rather, it’s to ensure that everyone is aligned and synced to the same goals, expectations, and objectives for every client. It’s important to track employee hours and performance regardless of their position or seniority, simply to avoid costly mistakes and setbacks, and to provide guidance and support where needed.
You can monitor your team automatically with the right software, but it’s important to complement any tools you use with regular one-on-one meetings and catch-ups. Put the individual’s needs into focus, and try to find ways to unlock their potential by listening to their feedback.
#3. Time management for yourself and your team members
Time management is, arguably, one of the most important elements of running a successful remote team, a freelance business, and of course, a solo venture. Now that your freelance business relies on other team members, it is imperative to take time management more seriously than ever before.
Firstly, consider syncing everyone in your remote team to the same work schedule, but only if asynchronous work would truly jeopardize your operation. If you’re working with your clients in real time, then proper time management for your entire team is a must, on a unified schedule.
On the other hand, if you’re working with deliverables or are providing a service that doesn’t require real-time client work, then you can manage your team’s time more leniently. Consider the individual positions on your team as well, because you may need some people to be available in your time zone, while others can work in theirs.
#4. You’re your own HR department
Growing your business and building an impactful brand as a freelancer comes with many wonderful perks, but it also comes with added responsibility. You might not necessarily like the idea of managing a team, and you might not want to deal with various HR processes — but that’s what it takes to get to that next level.
The fact of the matter is that you have now become the HR department as well, managing your remote teams and handling numerous critical processes within. It will seem overwhelming, but if you use a good CRM for HR and you automate things like payroll or vacation time and work scheduling, you’ll be able to manage your own time more effectively.
Automating as many processes as possible will be the key here until you’re ready to hire a dedicated HR professional or an entire HR team. You can also keep this position yourself, just make sure that the processes involved do not intervene with your core work.
#5. Building your micro company culture
Last but not least, just because you’re all freelancers and working remotely does not mean that you don’t need to invest in building an internal culture. After all, it’s the culture that permeates your team that will keep the best of the best at your side and prevent them from switching to another company.
You need these people to become and remain loyal. You can achieve this by first and foremost offering various perks along with fair compensation. But aside from that, you need to set the right productivity systems in place to empower your people to do their best work while encouraging a true work-life balance.
This will stem from your ability to make your team members more productive by setting clear expectations, giving them the tools they need, and communicating client needs effectively. You also need to focus on their mental well-being to foster a sense of community and mutual care.
Over to you
As freelancers and aspiring remote work professionals, we aim to grow on all fronts and maybe even one day transform our one-person operation into a team endeavor. Whether you’re on the cusp of achieving this goal or if you’re already there but you’re now finding yourself overwhelmed, you can use these tips to stay on the right track.
Be sure to implement these strategies right away in order to stabilize your freelance operation, manage your team effectively, and achieve the best results to date.