Technology has profoundly changed the way we live, work, and communicate. In fact, for many of us, these days, it is simply a question of connecting to the Internet, and we’re good to go. Being in the same physical location as our colleagues is now optional. And, given that autonomy is the number one contributor to happiness, remote working can mean happier workers, and happy workers are more productive.
As great as remote working can be, though, sometimes physical meetings might be necessary. But, what happens when we have to abandon physical meetings altogether? How do we ensure our team members are all on the same page and continue to work as effectively as possible?
It can be quite a challenge if we don’t have the right tools for the job. Luckily, there are great apps and programs out there to help us.
The right tools for the job
Possibly the most important thing to keep in mind here is adaptability. Work cultures can vary a lot from business to business, so it makes sense to try a few different tools to see what works best for you and your team.
With so many project management, communication, and collaboration tools to choose from, you really are spoilt for choice. Start with a needs analysis. What do you need to do? Which tools could achieve those needs?
Some programs can help you organize projects as batches of smaller tasks, assign individual responsibilities, and track your project’s progress. One of the ways you can ensure this gets done is to try work scheduling. This is an effective way to let people know what they should be doing with their time and keep an eye on ongoing projects’ progress.
Video conferencing is one of the most effective ways to get your team together. It enables you to sort out issues quickly and helps your team feel more connected. To make the best use of your time, this is where you should share project-related concerns, discuss available resources, and exchange documents with real-time feedback just like you would do during a physical meeting.
So what software do you use? We all know Skype, but that’s not the only video conferencing software on the market these days. Strong competitors include Zoom, Google Meet, and MS Teams. Which one is best for you really depends on personal preference. Try them out. See which one works best for you and your team.
For a more interactive experience, we prefer video conferencing software that enables real-time mouse-tracking and screen sharing.
You could also get an online whiteboard for planning sessions and exchanging ideas. Meanwhile, in between video conference calls, use instant messages to keep the conversation lines open for quick questions, suggestions, and general support.
Once you’ve decided on the video conferencing software you want to use, a nice start to the workday could be a daily check-in first thing in the morning. This helps your team to feel supported and connected. It is also the perfect opportunity to clear up any concerns they may have about their workload before moving forward with their projects.
During your morning minutes, it’s helpful to have someone update project timelines somewhere accessible to everyone so that the whole team can track the progress they are making together.
Additionally, make sure everything your team needs, such as documents, shared resources, general information, procedure outlines, and so on, are accessible on the cloud platform of your choice so that the team can access everything they need wherever they are. Google Drive or One Drive are clear favorites, but there are plenty of options out there. Hunt around, and find the one that best suits you.
Roles and Responsibilities
With all of the distractions in our modern lives, we often find that we miss important details. For remote teams, this can spell disaster. Good communication is vital, and so too is knowing exactly who is doing what, when, why, and how. It is a good idea to have a shared plan that outlines each team member’s role, responsibilities, and troubleshooting procedures.
Make sure you outline priorities and expectations as clearly as possible. A workflow diagram is one way to achieve this.
To prevent confusion, it is advisable to use your project management software to list each team member’s tasks in order of priority.
Organize your space
Even though you are working from home, ensure you and your team members create the right atmosphere for a productive work environment. Obviously, we can’t all have a dedicated office, but you can encourage your team to create a designated area of their home and keep that as a permanent workspace. This is important because it prevents distraction — and we all know how difficult it can be not to get distracted at home.
Famous last words
In short, setting up the right workspace, having clear objectives and priorities, making time to support your team, and keeping the lines of communication open, will serve to make everyone more productive, less stressed, and, most importantly, happy.