Like remote work itself, the myriad of challenges that both remote managers and teams face are quite different from what you'd find in a physical office.
After nearly a year of being primarily remote, even the most successful managers could still be struggling to adapt to the switch to completely remote. Many of us have been just 'faking it until we make it' or just making do until we get back into the office.
But with the end date of the global pandemic seeming farther and farther away, it's more important than ever that remote managers and teams are equipped with the right tools and skills to be successful until that time comes.
Finding the right tools in a world full of get-productive-quick apps can be tricky. To make it easier, we've isolated four key areas that we think are the most important for teams to focus on to find remote success.
Firstly, you have to start by giving your team the right tools for the job; from there, you can begin to think about communication and workflows.
Being a manager is tough enough, but there can be an additional stress that comes with taking a team from a physical location to completely remote, especially when there was no time to prepare. There is no "secret sauce" to managing remote teams, but we can help you find ways to hone in on deficiencies and improve how you manage your remote team with our toolkit.
Let's dive in!
The Cloud is Your Best Friend: Finding Tools to Help Support Remote Team Management.
This is probably something that teams have already contended with after a year of being remote. Still, if you have been struggling against tools that are not optimized for remote team management, this managing remote workers toolkit shares a few of our favourite tools that you can start using today.
Ultimately, what's a toolkit that doesn't feature any tools? When optimizing for your remote team, you may find that there are already some walls that you've hit. Managing remote teams is its own beast, so the tools and software you need to consider will have to be selected wisely. For instance, task tracking and project management are simple when you're in a physical office, but when your team is remote, this can be challenging.
To start, if you have nothing in place already, it's in your best interest to find a flexible communication tool to help everyone stay in touch. Online communication tools such as Microsoft Teams and Slack have become the top contenders in this space within the last couple of years. Both come with their advantages and disadvantages but essentially perform the same function: keeping your team on track and communicating. Faster than email, these messaging platforms can help you, as a manager, keep on top of any tasks or campaigns your team is running.
These platforms can help enable both asynchronous and synchronous forms of connection (more on this later).
Our suggestion? Start with seeing the best ways your team likes to communicate. Is it online? Via email? Do specific groups need to confer on campaigns? How often do you meet? Deep diving into your team's communication habits can help you identify what tools to bring in to foster a better system or tweak your existing communication flows.
Collaboration Tools and Document Management
From there, you'll probably need to seek out some kind of collaborative tool. If you're a business that was primarily on-premises when you were in your physical location, chances are you've already found ways to work around that as your team has moved to remote work.
If you're looking for collaborative software options to bring in or to upgrade to, there are many free and paid options out there for you to explore. These tools are readily available to use and include the popular Google Drive or iCloud, but there are other options, including Notion, Quip, and others.
Choosing the right collaboration tools for your remote team can be the make or break of your workflow. Be specific and thoughtful about what you bring in and base your choice on your team's needs. Here is a list of the best collaboration tools for remote teams.
Last on our list of remote tool must-haves is a digital task and project management software. To ensure your team is hitting all the right goals and milestones, having a tool to track projects and campaigns is a must. Even when you were in a physical location, this would be a tool that you should strongly consider. Setting tasks and keeping current via email and instant messaging can become messy and essential things can quickly fly away into the ether.
Bringing in a tool that helps you keep track of projects, tasks and keeps things transparent and accountable will be the best choice you make for your team - remote or not.
Communication is Key for Remote Management Success
As a remote manager, communicating effectively and clearly is the biggest tool in your toolkit. In the absence of being physically present with your team members, it's all you truly have to fall back on, so don't discount the idea of over-communicating. It's vital to build a concrete and clear communication policy (if you don't have one already) that you involve your team in.
As with anything else, including your immediate team or more comprehensive department in this process is a great idea. Tailoring your remote work communication policy around your team's needs and style is an excellent way of building a cohesive and successful approach. One prevalent thing is the distinction between synchronous and asynchronous communication.
Let's learn a little more about the difference between these two concepts.
Synchronous communications is when people reply in real-time and directly. It can also include in-person digital meetings. This remote communication type is excellent for close collaboration, creative brainstorms and other kinds of problem solving or updates. In some cases, you may not be in the same time zone as your colleagues, so this communication style may not be best for your entire team.
What happens if your team has flexible work hours or people are living in different parts of the world? This is when asynchronous arrangements come up. Depending on workstyles, when you go remote, you'll most likely find that most of the interactions you have with your reports and team will be asynchronous. This where the idea of over-communicating can come in handy to help you avoid any potential misunderstandings.
If you haven't begun to use this system yet, using asynchronous communication can be effective in over-communicating the status of campaigns, projects and tasks. This practice can help avoid any confusion and overlapping of functions. The only pitfall? Just be aware of micromanaging when you take this style of remote managing on.
Back Office Operations Tools
We all know that a successful company needs more than just communication tools to thrive. When remote, keeping the back end of the business running is vital! With no end date to when we will return to work, fine-tuning your backend operations is a great way to ensure success in a remote world. The best part? Updating systems and taking on new tools can help you stay competitive in the future and give your team new means to help them perform their jobs better.
While companies go through the many changes related to shifting over to remote work, ensuring your payroll flows without disruption is critical.
Delayed payroll operations, payments or information send-outs can impact your employees' overall morale and ultimately, your company's brand. Sometimes, it could even be the reason that your employees leave your company.
Making the switch to remote payroll management may seem challenging, but in today's climate, it's impossible to avoid. The good news is that some tools and resources can help you make the move over seamless. With a bit of planning, identifying your needs and finding the right technological fit, you can organize all your payroll processing operations from the comfort of your home.
Some tools, such as Knit, provide hybrid solutions that ensure you pay your employees on time and provide them with an integrated platform and portal that they can use for all their HR and employment needs. Learn more here.
Going Deeper With Your Remote Team Management Toolkit
The sections mentioned above are what we consider to be the cornerstone of what a successfully managed remote team looks like.
Without implementing them, or fine-tuning existing systems and processes (with the help of your team and identifying their specific needs), you're going to have a challenging time. While it is a lot of upfront work and time, investing the time in this can help you even when you return to work.
If you want to develop your toolkit, even more, make sure to check out our blog on 7 easy tips for working remotely.
Nobody said that managing remote workers was easy, but we can help you make the process easier. Hopefully our piece will help set you in the right direction.