Entrepreneur
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By Daniel Schwarz

5 Ways Remote Teams Can Create a Culture of Accountability

By Daniel Schwarz

teams

Every contractor or employee needs to be accountable for their responsibilities. It’s common courtesy to let everybody in your team (or boss, if you don’t work with the actual team) know what you’re doing and how you’re spending your time. In other words, your team needs to know that you’re still creating value in your role, and when working remotely, this is even more crucial.

It may sound like you’re constantly on trial, but there are many benefits to creating a culture of accountability, most of which revolve around maintaining a highly energetic team workflow. If you don’t work remotely but you’d like to, suggesting to your boss how’d you’d remain accountable despite not working from the office could the deciding factor. Here are four tips to keep in mind.

1. Be Available

Being available is about more than simply being able to respond to emails around the clock. People need to know that you’re around and able to help them out — if you’re not sending out the right message, teammates will feel as if they can’t approach you, and maybe even start to wonder if you’re even at your desk.

Doubt as to whether a remote employee works harder than an in-house employee is one of the biggest reasons employers are hesitant to hire location-independent employees, so being (seemingly) unavailable is a quick way to upset your boss.

2. Use a Core Messaging App

Many teams are now using Slack for communication because of its huge list of integrations. You can still remain online while setting up a Do Not Disturb schedule, letting your team know when is a suitable time to talk to you about about non-urgent matters. If you track tasks using apps like Wunderlist (or something more complex like JIRA) you can manage those from within Slack in the context of the conversation — collaboration and communication rolled into one.

Quick tip: you can mention “@channel” to notify everybody at once of when you’re available or unavailable for discussion.

3. Share Your To-Do List

Most teams (not only remote teams) choose to use a task management app like JIRA, Basecamp or Trello. You’re most likely doing that already and that’s awesome, but it’s important to remember that managing your tasks benefits the entire team, as well as you. Often enough somebody else’s task depends on how far along you are with yours.

Not only can team members better understand your schedule for the day, but should they have some time on their hands they can help you out with your tasks (or vice-versa). After all, that’s why they’re called team mates! Your boss will have confirmation that you’re fulfilling tasks, and helping others with theirs.

Smaller teams could benefit from something a little less complex, such as Todoist or Wunderlist. If like to have your own private to-do list, these are more than suitable for that. Better yet, all of the apps mentioned here conveniently integrate with Slack!

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4. Collaborate on Tasks

Collaborating on a task is a fantastic way to eliminate gaps in the team’s workflow, and while both collaborators first need to schedule a time when they’re both available, it’s the fastest way to complete a task that requires multiple skill sets. Not only that, but it lets the team know that you’re happy to throw yourself into the mix — as opposed to working alone, leaving everybody else in the dark and generally remaining unaccountable.

5. Have a Project Manager on Rotation

By following these four tips you’re eliminating the need for regular team catch-ups (I hate the word ‘meetings’) because you’re constantly notifying the team of what you’re doing throughout the day. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that somebody still needs to do the accounting.

By rotation, I mean assign this role to a different team member every day; have somebody chase up neglected tasks, reassign tasks if somebody is having difficulty with it, mark completed tasks as “done” and overall ensure that everything is running smoothly.

By assigning somebody different to perform this role every day, you’re making sure that no single team member has to come across as “the bossy one”. It also ensures that each team member has some time away from their regular role to do something a little different and improve the team dynamics in a highly energetic way.

Conclusion

If you’re not being held accountable for your mistakes (or your triumphs — your team will want to compliment you too), you’re coming across as unfriendly, unsociable, and maybe even unlikable as other teams members seek updates on your assigned tasks, or help with tasks of their own, and you’re not available (or seemingly unavailable). Be helpful, be vocal, be available.

Be a team player.

  • adam__roberts

    One thing we’ve done at SitePoint is create a dedicated channel (“Where’s Wally?”) for people working remotely to post updates about their availability (if you’re taking a lunch break while working from home, for example). That way, everyone has a single place to check when they wonder, “is Adam working from home today, or is he just late?” It saves people needing to “@channel” ping everyone to let them know they’re getting a coffee etc.

  • CatLover35

    Bitrix24 or any of its clones are pretty decent. It’s nice to have Slack+Trello+Dropox in one and free is free. Asana is also great for team management.

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