The year 2020 heralded a new way of working. For many forward-facing businesses, remote working is now the norm, with workers demanding more flexibility from their workplace.
If your team is used to working in an office, then remote work comes with its own challenges. Along with regular communication, there are ways to ensure your remote team works efficiently and doesn’t feel too isolated. This article will explore the tools you can use to help your remote business thrive.
For any thriving business, communication is key. The right communication can improve productivity and lead to brilliant ideas that increase revenue for your business. Here are a few communication tools you can use to ensure your team communicates as effectively as they would in the office.
Nothing can replace a good face-to-face meeting, but video conferencing comes close.
Video conferencing allows businesses to hold virtual meetings without needing everyone to be in the same physical location, saving time and money.
Furthermore, video conferencing can help improve communication by allowing people to see and hear each other more clearly than on a standard telephone call.
It’s not just brilliant for two-way communication; video conferencing can be used for training and presentations.
If one of your team needs an answer to a complex question, it makes sense to hop on a quick virtual meeting rather than sending lengthy emails back and forth, where meaning can sometimes get lost.
Any remote business should consider a good video conferencing software, like Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams or Skype, as an essential remote working tool.
Instant messaging is a convenient way to stay in touch with your immediate team or get quick, simple information from colleagues across the business.
It’s fast, simple, and best of all, you can send and receive messages in real-time without waiting for a lengthy email reply.
It allows staff across your organisation to chat freely without stopping everything else they’re doing to have a conversation.
For example, it’s often unnecessary to hold a meeting when only a yes or no answer is required. Even an email may seem excessive. In an office, this might have been resolved in a quick exchange in passing. Instant messaging is a great remote working tool to replace this. Slack, Microsoft and Google all offer brilliant instant messaging options.
This is where remote working tools can improve productivity. Picture the scenario in an office environment:
A colleague stops you on your way to a meeting to ask you for a document with some data they need. You promise to send it after your meeting. Unfortunately, you forget. Your colleague thinks it’s in hand and doesn’t follow up for another 24 hours. You then reply to their follow-up email with the document attached. It’s too big, the wrong file type or corrupt, and it takes more time out of both your days to resolve it. That’s potentially a whole day lost.
If the colleague had made contact via instant messaging, you would have seen it on your return to your desk. Most instant messengers now include file sharing, a simple drag and drop action that would send the data to your colleague immediately.
Most instant messaging also flags up incorrect file types instantly, so you’re aware of the issue before it becomes a time drain.
An employee engagement app
Employee software takes all of your usual communication tools and supercharges their effectiveness.
Imagine video conferencing, instant messaging and file sharing in an interface that looks very similar to a social media platform. Add to that additional ways to engage with content from your organisation like shout-outs, likes and comments, and you have an employee engagement app.
Employee software like Workvivo does all this and includes opportunities to create video messages, podcasts and polls. It has clever insights so your HR team can understand the topics and issues your employees engage with.
Best of all, it keeps all your communication tools in one place and integrates with your existing communications software. Whether your team is desktop-based or needs a mobile app for when they’re on the move, it’s a great way to ensure your employees are connected.
A project management tool
Whether or not you need a project management tool depends on your business. In a nutshell, here are some benefits of using project management software like Monday.com, Asana or Trello.
- Set to-do lists for your team
- Understand what your team is working on at a glance
- Leave feedback on open tasks
- Reassign tasks to encourage cross-team collaboration without using lengthy emails
- Most will include file storage so that everyone has access to the relevant documents associated with a task
- Track the time someone has spent on a task with time-tracking tools
- Review tasks or projects where too much time has been spent — a great way to debrief and understand how to work more efficiently in future
- A Gantt chart view will allow you to see what’s happening at a glance, move deadlines and adjust timelines.
A project management tool is a great idea, whether remote working or in an office. Ensuring it’s part of your remote working toolkit can keep projects moving swiftly without requiring lots of separate calls and virtual meetings.
An important part of being a remote business is allowing your team to work from anywhere. This is great news for your business as it enables you to hire the best person for the job, rather than the one that happens to live in the right area.
If your team members are working from home, it’s much easier to keep everything your team needs on the cloud rather than on a clunky intranet that requires them to be in the same office.
The big players for team collaboration are Microsoft 365 and Google — they both offer ways to communicate and cloud-based storage for your documents.
Another plus of a cloud-based solution is that they allow different team members to review and edit documents without downloading them. They often keep track of changes and versions, so there aren’t lots of the same documents floating around. This is a much more productive way of working with less room for mistakes.
Most organisations switching to remote or hybrid will be most concerned about the security of any sensitive documents and employee data.
Luckily, plenty of great tools are around to protect your organisation and your team.
LastPass is an easy-to-use password manager that generates complex and unique passwords and then stores them in one secure place so that your team doesn’t need to remember a password again. It includes sharing options so multiple users can access the same login without creating any risk.
If you are providing your team with laptops, you might also want to ensure they come equipped with anti-virus software. Norton and McAfee are both big, reputable names with plenty of options.
The final check is to ensure all the tools you’ve chosen come with a high level of security. For example, the employee software app Workvivo holds an ISO 27001 certification in security. All data stored on Google Drive is encrypted, and plenty of security options are available for your Microsoft 365 account.