The Golden Word of Remote: STRUCTURE

It’s a fact: remote employees are more productive than their non-remote counterparts. So then why do so many remote teams flounder?

It all has to do with a little something called structure. Structure provides us with direction. It takes the indecisiveness out of decision-making. It facilitates communication and collaboration. And it’s an essential ingredient to the success of any organization.


Here’s how you can establish structure—both as a team and individually.

Establishing Structure Within Your Organization

 SUCCESS agency has been a remote agency since it was founded ten years ago. One of the reasons for our continual success as an organization is having a well-defined structure in place.

Here are some tips on what you can do to follow suit and establish structure within your company.

Tip #1: Outline your company’s policies and procedures

Since you won’t be able to physically lead by example, you’ll have to really spell things out for all employees. Establish some “rules” or guidelines for everyone to follow. This will help to ensure accountability and that everyone is on the same page.

At SUCCESS agency, our policies and procedures are clearly outlined and available online; each team member is required to review—and abide by—them.

Tip #2: Designate a virtual collaboration space

Just because your team works remotely, doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) have a virtual office, where everyone can come together to collaborate.

At SUCCESS agency, the chat application, Slack, is our “office.” Team members announce their presence there each morning, and when signing out for the day (leaving “the office”), everyone must notify the team five minutes prior to their departure.

Tip #3: Set aside a time for team collaboration

Since everything is virtual, you will have to be more deliberate with your communication. To facilitate collaboration, carve out a chunk of time each day where everyone must be “in the office.”

At SUCCESS agency, we set aside about four hours of the day (3 hours and 45 minutes to be exact) where everyone must be “in the office” or logged into Slack and available. We then try to leave the afternoons free of collaboration, so that everyone can devote full attention to their own tasks.

Tip #4: Allow for face-to-face interaction

Being able to read facial expressions not only facilitates communication, but also fortifies connections. So whether it’s once a day or once a week, set aside a time for some face-to-face communication between your team members.

Here’s an example: Each morning at SUCCESS agency, without fail, we kick off the day with our “Morning Hangouts,” where the team comes together on Google Hangouts, and we review everything from company policies and procedures to a funny movie that one of us saw the night before. Then, each department will have their “Rundown,” where everyone goes over any related pressing tasks for the day.

Sure, we could do all of this on just audio. But without being able to see one another, chances are, we would feel more disconnected and communication would not be as effective.

Tip #5: Have team members write out their plans for the day

Any productivity article you read will tell you the importance of writing out a plan or schedule for the day, of what you plan to accomplish. The thing is, it’s great in theory, but how many people actually do this? For that reason, at SUCCESS agency, we’ve made this nonnegotiable.

Before starting the day, each team member must submit a Daily Plan, which, just as it sounds, is a plan of action for the day. Then at the end of the day, everyone submits a Daily Recap, which summarizes the day’s tasks and how long was spent on each. This helps to ensure that everyone stays accountable for their own tasks; on an individual level, it helps each team member maximize productivity and remain cognizant of their time.

Establishing Personal Structure

You might have the best organizational structure in the world—but if everyone on the team lacks personal structure, what good will that do?

Working remotely, you’re surrounded by innumerable distractions, which can make it tempting to slack off from time to time. How do you organize your day and what do you do to ensure that your work gets completed in a timely and efficient manner? What kind of structure do you have in place for yourself? These are the questions that each team member should ask themself.

For those lacking structure, there are a few things that have proven successful for our team members…

Tip #1: Stick to a daily routine

Even if it’s just making yourself a cup of joe in the morning and listening to a motivational podcast, getting into a consistent daily routine will help add structure to your professional life. Why? Creating a routine is about building (good) habits, which help boost your productivity.

Tip #2: Plan out your day

 Just like establishing good habits, planning out your day gives structure to your professional life. At the end of each day, plan out what you intend to accomplish the next day and the time that you estimate each task to complete. That way, the next morning you will wake up without questioning what needs to be done and ready to conquer the day.

 Tip #3: Find a productive workspace

Whether you like to work from the comforts of your own home each day or prefer to try out a new coffeeshop on a regular basis, determine the type of workspace that meets your needs—and stick to it.

Tip #4: Don’t make work a question

Working remotely requires self-discipline—a lot of it. Our CEO, Avin, says that it’s crucial that work not be a question. If it is, then every single day will be a constant battle between to do and not to do. The trick is to not even start that battle.

Final Words

There’s no doubt that establishing and enforcing a structured work environment takes more effort and discipline for remote teams—but it’s certainly not impossible (SUCCESS agency is proof of that!).

Like anything, structure takes time to build; you can’t expect for everything to fall into place overnight. So if you are currently a location-dependent organization with ambitions of going remote, before taking that leap, first take the time to ensure that these habits are instilled within your company—and its individuals.

And once it is? Say hello to productivity.