Managing a Remote Team: The Tools of the Trade

The rapid digitalization in the workplace over the last decade is the primary catalyst for remote work. But, the recent COVID 19 pandemic even pushed the trend further, where an overwhelming 82% of organizations responding to a Gartner survey will allow remote work or work from home set-up in the meantime.

While this strategy proved helpful in abating the dangers of the pandemic, the abrupt shift gave rise to plenty of management concerns. According to a survey, 64% of managers worry about employee productivity while working from home. Critical areas involving communication, collaborative work, and adherence to project deadlines are also causes for concern.

How is managing a remote team different?

Remote work offers new challenges for managers not only because of the distance. For example, you need to monitor task progress and schedule adherence. Also, it’s harder to determine employee focus and engagement when you aren’t in an office setting. Fortunately, there are tools designed specifically for remote work management. Let’s discuss which tools are most effective in ensuring productivity.

Project management software

The best project management solution is an all-in-one tool essential for team productivity. With several responsibilities at hand, the manager needs specific features that will implement said tasks. The following are must-have features when searching for the right project management software.

  • The tool should allow for agile task management and advanced capabilities. For instance, does the software allow for creating recurring tasks and multiple assignment? How you plan to approach project completion should factor into the decision.
  • Collaboration features such as file sharing, a messaging capability, as well as a dashboard for a quick view of stats or KPIs.
  • An innovative documentation feature that does away with manual spreadsheets. It’s best if the software is cloud-based so that employees have quick access to data and files are stored in one place.
  • Another essential feature of a project management software is reporting or analytics. The reports should be comprehensive and based on up-to-date team statistics. There should be a capability to share the reports using the dashboard.

If necessary, a project management software that allows for creating budget reports is also helpful. It helps when you need to create invoices and keep track of expenses for the project.

A separate Dropbox for large files

Emails aren’t the best way to send and receive large files. If your team also collaborates with freelancers and third-party providers, using a Dropbox to share and receive files is a better option. Of course, you cannot share the team’s tools with external partners; hence the need to use a file-sharing app that makes collaboration more efficient.

Video-conferencing tool

The lack of physical interaction between colleagues prevents them from developing a professional bond. These days, video conferencing apps are the most reliable means of face-to-face virtual communication. Apps like Microsoft teams and Zoom have taken off in the middle of the pandemic precisely because of this reason. Although team managers can communicate through chat or emails, nothing beats seeing your employees once in a while by scheduling a video conference. This type of interaction, albeit not physical, will reinforce the feeling of being part of a team. Additionally, the tool is also helpful when managers want to speak to their employees for a one-on-one coaching session.

Note-taking app

It may seem simple, but when you’re in the middle of a task, there are moments when you get a bright idea. A note-taking app helps you remember important reminders and thoughts that you’d eventually forget when you’re already focused on something else. Taking notes on an app that your team can also use will make sharing and collaboration more efficient.

In conclusion, managing a remote team shouldn’t be filled with challenges. Relying on technology is indeed the best solution. But, it’s also critical that every member of your team is on the same page. They should be on board and use the same suite of apps and tools for optimum productivity.

Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/KE26KbSAa4k

Alex