As the global workplace shifts to accommodate remote work, employers are also shifting how they manage virtual teams. In 2017, 43 percent of Americans reported working remotely at least some of the time. Remote work can cause unique problems as teams try to work together, including poor communication, lower morale and lack of support.
As a result, supervisors have to adopt new habits and utilize digital tools to motivate and manage remote employees. If you’re in charge of a remote team, consider whether you have all the tools you need in place to manage them most effectively. Here are five to consider.
1. Enterprise Instant Messaging
Instant messaging is the most prominent communications tool for most remote teams. Programs like Skype for Business and Slack allow team members to communicate instantly, despite location, to share information one-on-one and in topic-specific channels. This type of communication is specifically used by the tech industry in software and mobile applications development and is becoming more common in corporate environments. If you’re not using company-wide instant messaging, add it to your tooling suite to improve efficiencies and communication across your team.
2. File Sharing
It can be easy for file sharing to become a hassle on a remote team, especially if you’re not aligned on the program you’re using. Many companies share files in a myriad of ways — mixing OneDrive for Business, Dropbox, and email file sharing — and it creates confusion and messy file management practices.
Programs like Microsoft SharePoint on Office 365, allow remote and collaborative teams to store, manage, and share files easily. SharePoint is also highly customizable, making it ideal for large and complex teams. If you’re experiencing file sharing issues, consider integrating SharePoint with a Microsoft Productivity partner to help guide your process.
3. Video Chat
While instant messaging and written communication is important, it’s critical for remote teams to have face time occasionally. Video chat platforms like Skype for Business and Google Hangouts help build culture and camaraderie, something that’s very difficult to accomplish when team members aren’t interfacing in person regularly. Consider implementing regular video check-ins with employees if you aren’t already.
4. Project Management Software
It’s relatively easy to manage local team members’ workloads; you can watch activity on a day-to-day basis and assess energy levels and deliverables to know what teams are working on and how they’re doing. Remote teams pose their own challenges, making quality PM tooling a necessity.
Consider adding task management programs (like Asana or Trello) and project management programs (like Jira or GitHub) to your suite of digital tools. They can help keep teams synced from multiple locations and keep you informed of your team’s progress and stumbling blocks.
While instant communication channels are often appropriate, email is still a necessary business operations tool for most organizations. Email comes in handy when you need to send official documentation. Managing a remote team means managing hiring, firing, raises, promotions and HR all electronically. Email is often the best channel for those formal communications. While you integrate new tools, don’t throw the old out.
Bonus Tool – Time Tracking
Time tracking software helps you know how your team is spending their time, regardless of their location. If a task is taking longer than expected, or if an employee is working too many or too few hours, you’ll have insight with time tracking programs. Consider adding a time tracking app like Toggl to your tooling to monitor team productivity and time management.
Staying connected and achieving transparency is critical in the success of a remote team. Consider adding these digital tools to your workflow if you’re managing one. As you do, be sure to research multiple options; each program offers different features, and you’ll want to choose the software that best suites your team’s needs.