Want Accountability in Your Work-from-Home team? Here’s How to Get It

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Bringing accountability to work-from-home teams is a challenge for most businesses.

While you may trust your team, how can you be sure that they’ll remain productive while working from home? Many factors, including boredom, newly found freedom, burnout, and stress, commonly affect productivity of remote workers

Building a culture of accountability can help ease your fears and keep your remote teams operating optimally. Many studies have cited lack of accountability as one of the biggest hurdles remote teams must overcome to remain productive. 

Dig in as we explore how to foster accountability in a remote environment and build world-class remote teams.

Remote team accountability

What is Accountability?

Holding employees accountable is crucial to business success, but what is accountability?

In most organizations, being accountable simply means a worker taking responsibility for their actions. While true, that’s a rather simplistic view.

See, accountability is much more than confession or shouldering the blame for wrongdoing.

Real accountability centers on delivering on a commitment and goes beyond a set of tasks. It entails committing to an outcome. You need to take the initiative, create a strategic plan, and follow through to achieve a set objective.

Besides admitting to a mistake and apologizing, accountability involves shouldering the responsibility to rectify the problem and getting the project back on track. It may mean an employee or the team putting in overtime to meet a looming deadline or hitting a milestone.

The Need for Building Accountability in the Organization

Building accountability is crucial to business success, as it forms the basis of creating an efficient team.

By fostering accountability, you can create a well-rounded team of high performers in every aspect of your business. It ensures that each member of your team carries their weight and never shifts responsibility.

Accountability is closely related to your team’s strength and workplace culture. Weak teams have no accountability, while mediocre teams need a boss to hold them accountable. In a high-performance environment, team members hold each other responsible and have refined problem-solving processes.

Accountability greatly influences your work environment because it influences job satisfaction, productivity, organizational structure, and workplace efficiency. The lack of accountability breeds a toxic workplace environment characterized by a few overachievers and numerous underperformers.

It forces you to rely on a few workers to meet organizational goals and objectives. That lowers job satisfaction for your over-committed workers, which dulls your competitive edge on the market.

Most importantly, lack of accountability means much of your workforce isn’t earning their keep. That can eat into your profit margin, increase client churn, and have you lag your rivals in a competitive market

Why is it Difficult to Keep a Remote Team Accountable?

Most companies struggle to manage a remote team because they lack the necessary tools, skills, and experience. Switching to a remote working arrangement changes the team’s dynamics, even when you retain the same employees.

For starters, working from home disrupts the daily routine that employees have built for years. Whether you are building a remote-first culture or a remote friendly team, it’s up to you to provide a framework and direction to help employees thrive in the new working arrangement.

Companies struggle to hold their remote teams to account due to several oversights, including:

  • Lack of standard operating procedures: Telecommuting requires your company to rethink its playbook and work procedures. You need to review the standard protocol to suit the new working environment, including new project management tools.
  • Poor choice of remote technology: The best remote working technology complements your workplace culture, often requiring minor adjustments. The wrong choice of tool might involve overhauling your entire process. That might create resistance or lead to steep learning curves. Using appropriate technology brings visibility into what your remote or hybrid team does.
  • Inadequate training: Leaving your employees to figure out new technology by themselves leads to chaos. It gives them a leeway to shirk responsibility and pass the blame. Adequate training keeps everyone on the level and operating at optimum speed.
  • Failing to address online working challenges: Online workers often struggle with productivity, staying motivated, organization, getting distractions, unplugging from work, and more. Failing to nip these problems in the bud leads them to compound and eventually dulls the team’s morale. Continuous training, soliciting feedback, and the right choice of team collaboration tools can help you overcome these challenges.

How to Increase Accountability in a Remote Team

Increasing employee accountability in a remote environment is a science that centers on your ability to track productivity. Here are some proven ways to foster accountability in a remote setting.

Lead by Example

Managers serve as role models in every organization, since employees look up to them for direction. They will emulate and mirror their habits, good and bad. Simply put, leaders are responsible for setting the team’s engagement, work ethics, performance, and work commitment.

Team members are likely to follow suit if a manager is constantly late for meetings, procrastinates, and shirks responsibilities. It’s impossible to hold your team accountable if you never own up to your mistake or set the correct pace.

Managers can hold themselves accountable by:

  • Crushing every deadline
  • Dissecting unachieved goals to uncover the underlying causes
  • Being punctual and ensuring each meeting is structured and productive
  • Holding all team members accountable for their actions

 

Set Clear Goals and Expectations

Blame games, internal conflicts, and other toxic workplace behaviors thrive in a chaotic environment with unclear expectations. Creating a remote or hybrid work policy that explicitly details the roles and expectations can help you avoid these problems.

Effective remote team communication is needed to set clear goals and expectations. 

Each project manager overseeing a remote team should develop clear guidelines and communicate with the team.

Setting smart goals and outlining them clearly in an easy-to-understand and transparent manner keeps the team motivated and eliminates misunderstandings. For the best results, project managers should:

  • Create and share project plans, workflows, and goals early
  • Encourage open communication with their team members
  • Explain KPIs and monthly targets to team members

 

Track Workloads

Keeping track of remote employees’ workloads is an efficient way to avoid burnouts that may lead them to neglect their work. You need an efficient way to track employee in-trays to ensure they’re not over-committed.

Creating a calendar with the team’s workload, including upcoming meetings and deadlines, makes a great start. Alternatively, you can use project management tools to assign tasks, track progress, and workloads.

Proper project management skills help you log deadlines, due dates, and deliverables that each employee commits to for easy follow-up. Having your employees provide regular updates on assignments helps improve accountability.

Make the roster accessible, so all team members can see who’s responsible for each task. That provides a clear picture of the consequences of missing a deadline, keeping your employees engaged.

 

Create Accountability Processes

Blame games can quickly get out of hand in a remote working environment, but you can get ahead of them with efficient accountability processes. Such processes help to set boundaries and instill discipline.

Documented processes streamline the workflow by outlining all the necessary steps. It ensures that the employees don’t skip steps or deviate from the standard operating procedures.

You can hold any worker who fails to follow the protocols accountable and have them face the consequences of their actions. Having well-defined consequences can help drive the point home.

 

Addressing Poor Performance

Mistakes are common in the workplace, but consistent poor performance is indicative of bigger problems. It could result from poor time management, inadequate training, communication breakdown, or personal issues. Latching on to poor performance early helps you confront the problem.

Naturally, it is better to focus on the problem, not the employee, during a crisis. Assume each employee wants what’s best for the company and isn’t scheming to bring down the firm. Instead of laying it on thick, seek to understand the issues they could be facing.

For instance, you could ask an underperforming employee to identify the challenges he faces. Or walk you through their work process step-by-step. The key here is to get to the root of the problem, not to lay the blame. This approach helps to diffuse tension while identifying the worker’s shortcomings. It also helps you provide valuable feedback to help fix the problem.

Tools that Can Help in Making a Remote Team Accountable

Switching to a remote or hybrid work model brings many benefits to your employees and business. But it also increases your firm’s reliance on technology.

Besides creating efficient systems and processes, you need to pair your efforts with the correct remote working tools to thrive in this new working environment.

Here’s a list of our recommended tools for building accountability in virtual teams.

HiveDesk 

HiveDesk is a time tracking and monitoring software for remote teams. The HiveDesk desktop app allows you to track the amount of time your remote employees spend on each project. It tracks the productive and unproductive time spent on your project to help you hold each employee accountable.

Within the HiveDesk environment, you can create tasks and projects and assign them to your team. Each team member logs in to the app to track time. You can track the progress of each task by status and deadlines.

The app captures random screenshots of the work sessions to help you verify their work. It comes with geolocation capabilities to let you track your field teams as well.

Slack

Slack is an easy-to-use communication tool to help your remote tool keep connected. It features a user-friendly interface and integrates with other popular products like Dropbox, G Suite, and Adobe Creative Cloud. It encourages communication and allows teammates to share ideas and comment on projects in real-time. It brings your entire team into one place for seamless communication while allowing collaborations. .

Google Drive

Google Drive is a cloud storage solution that allows you to keep all your project files in a centralized and secure location. It ensures that your team members find the files and assets they need to discharge their duties. Remote teams can store and share projects, documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. You can even use Google Drive to check weekly metrics to gauge performance and progress.

Asana

Asana is a dynamic project management tool that prioritizes collaboration in a remote work environment. It boasts lots of productivity and collaboration features and readily integrates with most remote working tools. The solution is geared towards improving workflow and automating recurring tasks. With Asana, you can assign projects, track progress, plan sprints, so you can keep organized and hit every deadline. Asana has an intuitive user interface and is easily customizable to suit your needs and work model.

Zoom

Zoom is a video conferencing solution that revolutionized the virtual office space. It allows your team to hold video conferences and collaborate. Team members can share screens during a meeting as if they were in the same office. It will enable you to hold webinars, team meetings, and create Zoom Rooms for individual teams. The solution integrates with most of the remote working tools to help with scheduling.

Hold Your Remote Team Accountable

HiveDesk can help you measure your team’s productivity, a requisite step to holding each team member accountable. Our solution offers insights into your workflow and processes to allow quick intervention. It makes it easy to provide support, address poor performance, and identify underperformers.

We understand that creating a culture of accountability is a continuous process, and our solution provides you with the features you need to build a high-performance remote team.

Try HiveDesk free for 14 days. You don’t need a credit card for the free trial.

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