Enhancing Remote Team Productivity: Lessons from Successful Companies

Fostering a culture of productivity and efficiency within a remote team cannot be an individual effort. Instead, it's more like a symphony where individual participation from each team member is crucial for delivering an efficient final output.

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The way we view work has undergone a revolutionary transformation. The traditional office cubicle has lost its lustre as global workforces are moving towards remote work. Such a revolutionary paradigm shift has been accelerated due to a culmination of various circumstances. These circumstances usually stretch around the recalibration of business strategies along with an amplification of their adaptability. 

In the current era where the office space has broken its boundaries and transformed into a virtual realm of digital connections, workforces have turned remote and the ethos around productivity has witnessed a monumental transformation. Within an environment where virtual collaboration is mainstream, it's necessary to develop an ecosystem wherein cutting-edge technologies are harnessed to develop a sense of purpose and camaraderie within teams. However specific attention has to be given to the fact that the equilibrium between work and life has to be maintained.

This article explains the strategies to enhance remote team productivity by gleaning insights from various industry pioneers within the ecosystem. These strategies equip us with insights for the development of remote teams that can thrive within this dynamic environment. 

Fostering Remote-friendly traits

Within a remote work environment, it's necessary to incorporate certain remote-friendly traits within the workflow. These traits are necessary for developing a dynamic team culture. Some of the vital remote-friendly traits are as follows:

Communication Skills

Within an office setting where face-to-face interaction is usually nil, it's necessary to incorporate effective communication within the teams. Communication allows team members to convey the ideas and expectations of various stakeholders while minimising misunderstandings.


An employee with strong self-discipline can stay focused and efficiently manage their workload. 


Remote work requires a flexible approach towards work while dealing with a range of changing circumstances and technologies. Flexible employees can easily adjust themselves to new workflows and tools while ensuring maximum productivity.

Toptotal hires freelancers with specific remote-friendly traits:

While hiring freelancers Toptal the primary screening criteria that their recruitment teams follow is whether or not the candidate possesses remote-friendly traits. The centralised leadership of Toptal highly focuses on developing a culture therefore the candidate's compatibility with remote work-specific traits is of exceptional importance while hiring.

Further Toptal focuses on developing a bond between team members even though they are situated all around the world. Therefore they prioritises the usage of video calls during team meetings or one-to-one interaction. The core philosophy behind this is that employees should develop a deeper connection with their colleagues therefore the usage of video allows team members to witness the facial reactions or expressions of their teammates which helps in fostering a conducive environment for remote work.

Thus if we look at Toptal we can witness how employees possessing remote work-friendly traits paired with an organisation which prioritises the development of a culture results in the curation of an environment of extreme dynamism along with an output of extreme productivity.

Awareness of your colleague's time zones

Remote work teams are a culmination of team members from different geographies. Within such an atmosphere it's necessary to be aware of time zones.


Members within your remote teams operate from diverse time zones. All team members need to be aware of the multiple time zones of their colleagues. These time zones should be taken into consideration while planning coordination-based activities such as meetings, deadlines etc. The team members should possess a conscious understanding of the time zones of their team members. If the team members function sans a conscious understanding of the multiple time zones functioning within the team it gives rise to a range of misunderstandings resulting in a compromise on the productivity factor.

If the team focuses on conducting well-orchestrated meetings wherein the work hours of each team member are re-aligned with their time zones it results in active team participation along with heavy engagement which results in dynamic brainstorming. On the other hand a poorly scheduled meeting conducted without considering the individual time zone sensibilities of the team members results in high fatigue and a drop in productivity of individual team members. Therefore remote teams should function with an approach wherein the time zone sensibilities of team members are taken into consideration.

Zapier and Time Zone Management

Zapier the SaaS behemoth explains how their workforce of 300 team members spread across 27 countries functions within this bizarre network of multiple time zones. 

Zapier acknowledges the fact that the only downside of hiring a remote team is around time zones. Therefore to manage communication within the team Zapier uses instant messaging which helps team members understand who's online at the given moment. Further instant messaging allows team members to quickly check in on their colleagues about any scheduled meetings or specific project updates. Instant messaging serves as the core of the development of asynchronous communication.

Further Zapier recommends team members to conduct a weekly meeting wherein everyone can work their schedule around time zones and develop a seamless meeting timetable which is conducive to each team member. Also, Zapier suggests distributed teams take time and familiarise themselves with GMT and UTC which will assist team members in understanding time zones.

Swift Communication

The catalyst which allows the efficient functioning of remote teams is swift communication. Within a dynamic work set-up, swift communication is all that matters. Within a remote team, the fluidity of information exchange is responsible for steering the team towards success which is fuelled by dynamic productivity.

In an environment where teams are situated beyond geographical borders, the rapid transmission of any project updates, queries and various messages allows projects to move swiftly towards completion by facilitating an approach of quick, mindful decision and instant action. Swift addressing various issues helps team members overcome any bottlenecks or possible holdups within the project workflow by issuing immediate clarifications while providing instant clarifications. 

Real-time collaboration within the teams can be nurtured by the incorporation of a range of instant messaging platforms, project management tools and video conferencing applications within the workflow which helps team members connect instantly with each other. Remote teams where members function with a sense of immediacy are crucial for the development of a work environment wherein projects are instantly propelled forward.

Groove and Swift Communication

The differentiating factor that Groove's recruitment teams utilise while hiring their remote teams is the turnaround time of a potential hire. If the candidate does not reach back to the Groove team within 24 hours of outreach their job is forfeited. While functioning within an environment wherein the office is a digital realm the cornerstone of efficiency is a swift communicative approach towards work. 

Further Groove conducts daily check-in via instant messaging and asks team members to summarise their work goals for the day. These check-ins help keep everyone in the loop regarding what is going on within the team. 

Understanding the productivity-burnout spectrum within remote teams

A less discussed factor within remote work is around recognising the productivity-burnout spectrum within the team and taking adequate steps accordingly. A work environment which acknowledges this spectrum fosters an environment where efficiency, creativity and employee well-being are guaranteed.

While productivity is the total of the total output and efficient results within a specific timeframe burnout is a state of chronic stress paired with overwork and exhaustion due to an imbalance between the deliverables and resources along with a skewed timeframe for achieving the output. While burnout seems to be the conduction of a lot of work it's an environment wherein the teams lack any motivation and instead jeopardise overall team productivity.

Therefore teams should function by keeping the productivity burnout spectrum within context. Navigating through this spectrum is like walking a tightrope. While on one end of the tightrope, there's extreme optimal productivity the other end is burnout consisting of overwhelmed individuals suffering from severe burnout.

A work environment wherein employee well-being matters at each step is conducive to prevention of burnout. It's the task of the team manager to develop a work environment where a healthy work-life balance is prioritised. Also, the work culture should be developed in a manner that every team member is provided with mechanisms to alleviate their stress.

Buffer's management of productivity-stress burnout

Buffer focuses on fostering a work culture wherein employee or team burnout is minimised. The company agrees with the fact that remote teams function on high-stress levels because they're always expected to be online 24/7. To combat this Buffer has incorporated a set of 10 agreements within their team which helps team managers set expectations within the team while helping workers find the perfect balance between productivity and burnout. The work culture focuses on employees not being expected to tender replies and comments around the clock. 

Fostering a culture of productivity and efficiency within a remote team cannot be an individual effort. Instead, it's more like a symphony where individual participation from each team member is crucial for delivering an efficient final output.

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