There is no denying that the holiday season is a special time of the year. It is a time for family, friends, and countless celebrations. Unfortunately, it can be a stressful and exhausting time for business owners and employees who try to balance work responsibilities and holiday errands; most especially for those who are working with a virtual team and cannot physically supervise their members’ efficiency. It’s a good thing there are ways to foster growth and productivity this season.
Here are some effective strategies for managing your remote team’s workload during the holidays:
1. Plan ahead.
Start planning your team’s workload early. Establish a time frame and implementation plan for the items that you have to accomplish before the year ends. Then, strategize on how you can get all the work done for the last quarter of the year. Prioritize urgent tasks that must be completed to ensure that the critical ones are delivered on time. Communicate the plan with your team and make sure that your team has full visibility of everyone’s scope of work. You may also begin scheduling the activities that you will be working on for the upcoming year.
2. Set reasonable deadlines.
Deadlines are a critical component to any project—and a major source of stress if not set and managed correctly. Establishing goals that are clear and reachable will bring structure and trackability into your team’s objectives. At the start of every project, outline each project task. Be sure to ask the project team to evaluate it. Then, allow the team to honestly report on the status of an activity—even if it goes against the deadline in the plan. Do not underestimate the amount of time a project will take. Be sure that you allow plenty of time for the people, departments, and additional resources involved in the project to reach their deadlines. Others’ responsibilities and circumstances can be out of your control at times. Build cushion in your timetables for this.
3. Delegate tasks purposefully.
As a leader, you’ll have to learn the subtleties of your team members. You should know each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, including his or her current, and potential, range of skills. When delegating, take a look at your team and assign tasks to whoever has the greatest number of relevant skills for that task. Make sure to include instructions with each task you delegate. If you have specific preferences for how the assignment will be carried out, include that information. If you have a strict deadline or milestones you need to hit, be clear about them.
4. Keep track of your progress.
Trying to stay focused during the holiday season may be tough. However, try to use the thought of holidays as a way to divert everyone’s attention to the team’s collective workload. Conduct regular sessions to discuss concerns that need to be resolved and continually check on your team for progress and updates. You may also monitor your progress using a productivity platform your team can share to constantly remind your team of the level of effort and engagement you require from them. Maintaining constant communication with your team is critical to ensuring that your team stays on track.
5. Outsource help.
While budgets may be stretched, bringing extra hands on deck for even a couple of days per week can help departments manage their most critical tasks. It is inevitable that most people on your team will request leaves of absence for the holidays. Some businesses may be dealing with an overwhelming amount of work and may require people to render more working hours, but of course, you cannot just prohibit your team to take some days off. In this case, you can outsource people to help compensate for the absence of your team members. Outsourcing staff can solve a majority of your problems – reducing costs and providing a quick route to mobility.
For some of you, this is the season where you see a huge traffic increase in your businesses. There is a tendency to overwork and exhaust yourself and your team to complete all deliverables before the year closes. The key is to prepare ahead of time and map out the waning weeks of 2018 so you can make a strong start in 2019.
Even with the hustle and bustle of this season, you don’t want to burn the candle at both ends and lose your Christmas cheer. Remember, ’tis the season to be jolly — not stressed out. A little proactive management of remote teams goes a long way as you head into the holidays.