Writers and painters are used to working alone at home. But for many of us in the habit of going to an office and being with people for a large chunk of our waking hours, remote working can be a huge challenge.  

As most offices across India see out the multiple full weeks of employees working from home, one thing is clear. Everyone is having problems with goal-setting. Especially if they’re managing a team.

The internet abounds with tips and tricks to boost individual productivity while working from home. But few talk about how to manage teams better while working from home. With the sheer number of video calls and phone calls, there’s often little time to check how your team members are doing on their goals.

What can you do to ensure you and your team can meet your goals and deadlines while working remotely? Quick answer: You can use the FAST framework for setting goals developed by management experts Donald Sull and Charles Sull. 

According to them, the four elements in the FAST framework are simple: Goals should be embedded in frequent discussions; ambitious in scope; measured by specific metrics and milestones; and transparent for everyone in an organization to see.

Let’s first look at how frequent discussions are useful when working remotely as a team. As a manager, you have to ensure you discuss all goals with your team so you are all on the same page. Be in touch with the team to keep tabs on progress and give regular feedback to team members so they can prioritize tasks.

The second element is to set ambitious goals to boost the performance of individuals and teams. Ambition should not be confused with the impossible. Most companies that use the FAST approach, such as Apple and Google, expect their employees to achieve 60-70% of their goals, giving them enough room to experiment, and more importantly, fail. 

It’s also important to be specific for efficient teamwork while working from home. Setting specific goals helps identify what isn’t working and needs to be fixed. While having goal-oriented discussions with your team members, make sure they have specific Objectives and Key Results, also known as OKRs. Get your team members to define actionable and quantitative results to achieve an overarching objective.

Finally, follow the FAST framework to a T and make sure there is transparency in setting goals. In many companies, goals are individually-oriented. While you may have assigned specific tasks to all your team members, chances are they might not have a clue what their teammates are doing. This can be a particular challenge when working remotely. But seeing what others are doing will not only let your team members understand the larger plan but will also give them that little push as they see people around them completing their tasks. 

As we find ourselves in the midst of a lockdown, it is necessary to adapt and maybe experiment. Take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding the new work from home policy to understand how members of your team work together. Your team will thank you for it.

Shubhayan is an Associate Specialist in the Curriculum Team. A graduate of the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, Shubhayan enjoys laughing at his own jokes and playing the bass guitar.

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