Dinesh Varadharajan June 26th, 2020

How to stay transparent when working from home

The pandemic situation we are in right now has brought unprecedented changes in the way companies operate. Working from home is no longer a privilege. It is now a new norm that professionals around the world are preparing to deal with.

Transparency is a fundamental quality every team must possess; even more so during these times. Creating a transparent work environment is the first step to effective management and helps your teams stay productive and aware of short-term and long-term goals. Underneath these high-level objectives, the basic driving force of transparency is building trust within the team. Only then, a team can function at its best. Companies that went fully remote, or adopted a new model as we did at Kissflow, face their own set of challenges with regards to transparency and need to figure out ways to establish transparency. 

The importance of transparency in the current scenario

Transparency is a two-way street. Whether you are a developer working on a new product or a manager responsible for a team, transparency has a critical part to play in your job. Transparency keeps your team in check, so they don’t lose their direction. Everyone has access to the necessary information, which will help teams organize themselves without too much intervention from the management. 

In an open environment, members know the actual objectives and feel free to share their concerns and ideas to improve the overall efficiency. Generally, managers who encourage communication and invest time in building trust between their teams perform better than those who don’t. 

In times like these when traditional activities of improving teamwork are not possible, having true transparency stands as one of the most effective ways of keeping a team together. It’s no longer a recommendation for staying ahead of the curve. It’s a necessity.

How to ensure transparency in your remote teams

Implementing transparency in remote teams is easier said than done. There are multiple challenges you’ll have to overcome while doing it. Here are some of the strategies you can adopt to improve productivity of your team:  

Make sure everyone knows the actual objective

This might sound like a cliché, but ensuring everyone sees the bigger picture is the best way to maintain transparency in your team. Sharing the scope and progress of the current projects keeps team members happy and reduces the turnover rate

It also has a significant effect on the overall productivity of any team. Knowing how you are contributing to success is a great motivator that pushes team members to strive for excellence. It’s hard for everyone to stay motivated in these times, so it’s essential not to miss any opportunities for improving the team’s morale.

Be available for your team

The WFH culture has further blurred the lines between personal and professional. Work-life balance is almost impossible to achieve amid this pandemic, and this can have crippling effects on any team’s productivity. Add the stress and panic related to the virus in this equation, and you have a perfect recipe for disaster. Therefore, it’s important for managers to be available for their team and cut some slack whenever possible.

Being available to listen to their problems if they face difficulty in completing a task will help reduce some burden from their shoulders. The way we operate at Kissflow reflects this approach, where employees work together and are free to discuss their problems. Ever since the pandemic broke out, we have created dedicated channels to support our workers and offer assistance in whatever way possible.

Use the right tools

Using cloud-based project management software and collaboration software is key when it comes to remote work because team members may not be available online all the time. Remote teams face a lot of problems, and lack of effective communication simply because they’re used to walking up to a co-worker and communicate. You’ll be exhausted if you spend an entire meeting asking others to repeat themselves or searching countless messages and email threads for feedback.

Having the right project management software solves most of these issues. You’ll make it easier for everyone to track the current progress of the project at hand. Tools like Kissflow Project, Monday.com, and Jira come with advanced reporting capabilities and dedicated channels for feedback and annotation. You need to spend some time to find the right fit for your team’s needs. For a remote team, project management with built-in collaboration can keep the conversations contextual. 

Increase accountability

Working from home gives more flexibility to the team members to work according to their schedules. Given this flexibility,  It’s quite easy for teams to slack off and procrastinate. Leaders and managers need to place absolute trust in the team’s integrity but need to keep a closer eye on the progress. It’s a fine line to tread as even unintentional micro-managing can result in distrust and demoralization.

Since everyone knows the project objectives and what’s required of them, having specific metrics and key results can make them accountable for their work. When everyone knows what the team is working on and who is responsible for a specific task, members can help each other out instead of complaining about a slow work output. Additionally, having an effective accountability system instills more responsibility in your team members, which can have a significant impact on their productivity.

Closing thoughts

These are stressful times, and while it’s important to focus on work, you must remember to have fun as well. Working remotely in isolation can have a negative impact on your team’s mental health. People find it hard to stay locked up in their homes without any human contact, so it’s important to engage with everyone in an informal atmosphere. 

From supply chain to manufacturing, all kinds of businesses are now experimenting with digital workplaces. Transparency is critical for success in any environment. We’ve had great success by implementing the above strategies at Kissflow. Let us know if these help you in the comments.

Photo by manny PANTOJA on Unsplash

Dinesh Varadharajan

Dinesh Varadharajan is the Vice President at Kissflow and leads the product management team. He is a hands-on executive with a wide range of experience working with bleeding-edge technologies, developing great products, and mentoring highly productive teams.

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