How to Remain Productive With a Remote Team During a Crisis

The chaos around the COVID-19 fallout has consumed the worries of many companies as city quarantines kick in and commercial activity comes to a halt. The economic fallout from COVID-19 is daunting, to say the least, something we see reflected with the Fed Bazooka response and the government’s multi-trillion fiscal stimulus plan

Needless to say, physical retailers and e-commerce firms face some of the steepest uphill battles. Digital services businesses should fair better, but it’s hard to concentrate when the news cycle is in a tailspin. 

However, with economic uncertainty on the horizon, now is the time to use extended free time at home and in quarantine to be productive. Whether you’re an individual freelancer, small startup team, or mid-level company working remotely during a crisis, COVID-19 has furnished no other option but to adapt to the circumstances. 

The Influx of New Technology Before The Crisis 

Fortunately for small businesses worried about their bottom line, the Internet, along with a slew of remote software products have made managing remote teams easier than ever. So much so, that many companies, especially those with unnecessarily large offices and drab meetings, may realize that they are more nimble and balance cash flow better working remotely. 

The technological trend going into 2020 was already leaning heavily towards more flexible, remote teams dispersed around the globe. COVID-19 lit a fire under that narrative. Add some more nuanced cash-flow management by a new generation of startups wary of becoming the next WeWork or Uber, who burn through cash, and the idea of the benefits of remote work begins to crystallize. Specifically, more nimble, productive teams rather than opulent offices laden with expensive equipment, events, and overhead costs. 

For example, Zoom, the popular remote teleconferencing, ostensibly replaces the need for in-person meetings and is rapidly gaining favor amid the ongoing crisis. It’s actually one of the only stocks surging in the opposite direction of the market as the S&P 500 has fallen off a cliff

Now is also an ideal time to take advantage of the plethora of virtual assistants (VA) and project management tools at your disposal. For example, Cracking The VA Code educational courses convey experience from a startup that leveraged VA’s to run an efficient and digitally-native 8 figure company. 

Project management tools like Asana, Trello, Slack, and others have dominated work environments for several years, but they are now more important than ever.

One of the aspects we overlook of quarantine and more time spent remotely working is the extra free time not spent on social activities. For example, William Shakespeare wrote King Lear during the quarantine of the plague. Not that people need to compete with Shakespeare, but the idea that creative projects hanging on the back-end of your working life now get more focus rings true for many people previously short on time. 

Don’t be surprised if some clever projects emerge to both tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and boost the productivity of remote teams during this period. 

The Economy is Transitioning to Remote Work Anyways 

Upwork’s official reports on the freelance economy in the US are typically the best glimpse into the burgeoning market of independent contractors. Freelancers comprise significant portions of nimble, digital businesses and their flexibility is a mutually beneficial relationship to companies with low-margin businesses or struggling to capture value during a crisis. 

According to the most recent Upwork freelancing report from 2019, roughly 35 percent of the American workforce contributed freelancing services, which accounted for nearly $1 trillion of income. 

Reliance on freelancer experience during randomly induced remote work circumstances can be helpful to your business. Freelancers have developed tools and processes for juggling multiple projects and working with people in various time zones. In fact, many remote workers were some of the first-movers to promote the transition of companies from office to remote work during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

That’s not to say they were some omniscient class of speculators, but rather are confident in the productivity and engagement capable of using remote tools. 

Businesses that fail to adapt to remote work circumstances well will be in trouble. Beyond already being the larger trend at work in the American economy for small and mid-level businesses, the natural selection of the business cycle consistently demonstrates that those who adapt to an evolving landscape survive. If you can’t figure a way to be productive during a crisis, your last hopes will rely on the fiscal stimulus that the government is shoveling into the economy — that’s not much optionality for you, which is bad for business. 

It may be difficult to block out the noise during a bombardment of notifications about a looming pandemic crisis, but for the sake of your business, you need to try. 

All that being said, some of the best ways to remain productive remotely is to turn off your push notifications while working. And, perhaps most notably, avoid the mainstream news cycles in front of your face as much as possible. It will only drive panic and anxiety, making you less productive.

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