Remote work is growing in popularity every day. In fact, in a recent poll from Gallup, 37% of respondents said they already did some type of remote work. And, it’s no wonder why. Remote work is beneficial for both employees and agencies.
Employees have the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world, the ability to start work when they want and finish when they are done, and don’t have to worry about getting tied up in meetings or distracted by office politics.
Agencies win out with decreased overhead and operating costs, a reduction in employee turnover, and a boost in morale with lower stress levels. Not to mention, when you hire remote workers, you have access to a global talent pool, rather than just the employees within a 1 hour radius of your office building.
Remote work is absolutely the way to go, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without its challenges. Once you decide to go remote, it can be difficult to approach organizational issues that come with managing staff all across the world.
This article will present some ideas to help you organize your staff at your remote agency. That way, you don’t waste any time dealing with organizational inefficiencies.
1. Focus on Improving Communication
One of the most difficult things about managing remote employees is making sure everyone gets the same message at the same time, and that everyone is on the same page. When you are dealing with different roles, people in different locations, and sometimes different languages, how do you rest assured you get your message across?
While much of improving communication comes with putting in the effort, a lot of communication mishaps can be solved by investing in the right tools. Here are some tools that will help you make sure everyone on your team gets the message.
Slack is one of the best communication tools on the market for remote workers. It provides a centralized location for everyone to communicate about projects, clients, and to ask basic questions.
With Slack, you can also break off into one-off conversations that allows you to clarify specific questions for specific individuals. You can also create chat communications between different teams or about different projects.
Slack also has a chat search feature, so remote employees can enter relevant keywords and find answers to questions quickly. Using well executed chat technology like slack helps simplify the communication process and is much more reliable than a generic email chat program.
When you have a remote team, you need a tool where everyone has access and the ability to edit the same documents. There are several different programs and applications on the market for this, but you’d be surprised at how efficient the simple use of Google Apps is when managing remote workers.
With Google Apps, you can easily share documents and files, make edits, make suggestions, add comments, and see how other members of your team are contributing to a team project.
Google Apps also allows you to create spreadsheets, share calendar invites, make presentations, and have a quick video conversation.
Making good use of free tools is a great way to improve the communication and organization of your remote workers.
Project Management Tool
Email is a great tool for sending quick messages, offering updates, and asking questions, but it’s not a reliable source for project management. Remote agencies solely relying on email for project management are living in the olden days and making it difficult to keep everyone in the loop.
Instead, you need to invest in a top project management tool. There are several great project management tools, and what you end up selecting will depend on your preferences, your team size, and your budget. Some notable tools to look into include Asana, CoSchedule, JIRA, and Trello.
Again, it doesn’t matter which one you use. It just matters that you do use one. A good project management tool will automate your project tasks, send email reminders about pending due dates, offer a calendar view that everyone can access, and provide detailed information on who is in charge of what. Essentially, it will easily walk you and your other remote employees through a project from inception to completion and usually will provide reporting to help you make more strategic decisions in the long run.
2. Make Time Management Easy
When you have sorted out all the kinks of communication issues by adopting helpful tools, the next item of business to tackle is time management. Successful remote agencies don’t track hours by hand, but invest in tools that automates the process and ensures error-free time tracking and billing.
For successful time tracking you need a tool like Time Doctor. Here are some of the benefits of a time tracking app like Time Doctor.
Easy Time Tracking
Rather than having your employees write down their hours and email them to you or send you an invoice without you really knowing how long they worked on a project, you can track time with the click of a button. Time Doctor shows you how long employees worked and a breakdown of how they spent their time working on different projects and for different clients.
An added benefit of Time Doctor is the ability to monitor screens. With this tool, you can see exactly what your remote employees are working on and what tools and applications they are using to complete projects. With Time Doctor, you don’t have to question what your employees are doing, because you can easily and quickly see.
Just like with screenshot monitoring, chat monitoring allows you to see how your employees are spending their time. This helps you understand how much time is spent on calls, messaging, and other tasks, so you can plan better for the future.
One of the best benefits of a time tracking app like Time Doctor is the built in reporting tools. When you track how much time your remote employees spend working, how they spend their time, and what projects take up too much time or too little time, it’s easier to make projections for future work. This increases productivity across the board.
Why not kill two birds with one stone? If you’re going to keep track of time, you may as well keep track of payroll in the same app. This helps keep your hours and your payments consistent.
Maximizing efficiency isn’t only a goal for employers, it’s also a goal for remote workers. This is especially true for employees that are paid per project. With Time Doctor, they can easily see how they are spending time and make strides to increase the productivity of their working hours.
3. Organize your Workflows
Take a minute and think about the first few days of a new job. It’s usually information overload and chaos trying to figure out how things work. Fast forward to a few months into the job and it almost seems you can complete your work in your sleep. The reason? You understand what needs to happen from day one of a new project to completion.
The goal for teams with remote workers should be to make workflows as intuitive as possible. There are a few ways to accomplish this. Let’s cover them.
Make Templates for Workflows
If you’re looking to get organized, then making sure workflows are implemented the same in San Francisco, New York, and Singapore, for example, is a must. This will help you increase the productivity of workers, clear up confusion on who is supposed to do what and when they are supposed to do it, and eliminate errors.
There are several workflow management systems on the market just like there are productivity tools. Many of them have workflow and productivity features combined. Just like with productivity tools, what you end up selecting will depend on your budget, needs, and business goals. Here are some top things to look for, though, to help you pick a top-notch tool.
Intuitive and Code-Free
You could have the best workflow tool in the world, but if it’s difficult to learn, hard to navigate or requires coding, you’re not going to get much use out of it. When looking for a good workflow management tool, make sure it’s easy to navigate and does the hard coding work for you.
These days, it’s probably difficult to find a technology that isn’t cloud based, but it’s worth mentioning…just in case. A cloud-based workflow technology will allow all of your remote employees to login and access the information via the internet. That way, you can rest assured everyone on your team, no matter where they are located, can access your database.
There are a number of different workflows you may need to create. For example, if you’re a digital marketing agency, you need a different workflow for social media, email marketing, paid search, SEO, and more. To be successful with each of these different types of campaigns, it requires different tools. When looking for a workflow management tool, make sure it integrates with all the other top productivity and popular industry tools on the market.
Strong Reporting Tools
There are a lot of workflow managers that help with workflow, but the best tools on the market also focus heavily on reporting. If you are looking to stay organized, scale your operations, and boost productivity in the long run, it’s important to know what the numbers are saying about your workflows. When you gather data, you can make strides to understand where you have hang ups in your processes and how you can fix hiccups to make work smoother, more organized, and more efficient.
Repeating mundane tasks over and over is a great way to waste time. Workflow management tools should provide a way to automate anything mundane. This includes importing client information, setting up workflows for recurring projects, assigning tasks, and more. When looking for a tool, see what features are automated, and then consider how much time that will save you and your remote team in the end.
Alerts and Notifications
Another thing a workflow management tool must have is automated alerts and notifications when you hit certain milestones, start falling behind, or something becomes pressing. When you are managing tasks for several different employees or balancing various projects for different clients, it’s literally impossible to keep a close enough eye on everything manually. You’ll forget, you’ll miss something or you’ll get distracted by something else. A good workflow management system isn’t prone to human error. It’s programed to recognize red flags and accomplishments and send a notification to any important remote team player so they can pay immediate attention.
Not every remote employee needs access to every part of your workflow management system. In fact, it would be difficult to make sure your operations moved smoothly if everyone had the same access. Instead, look for a workflow management tool that provides different access and control based on the remote employees role. That way, employees only see the workflow information that is relevant to their job, instead of getting bombarded with everything that is going on in your workflow management system all of the time.
Using a team of remote workers to help you accomplish your company goals is a great way to go. However, it can be difficult to manage people all over the world, especially when they only make it in the office a few times a year, if ever. However, just because you don’t meet face-to-face often with all your employees, doesn’t mean you can’t manage your staff effectively.
To keep your remote agency organized, productive, and efficient all you need is the right goals and the tools to help you get there. When you focus on using tools to help you with productivity, time management, and workflow management, you’re well on your way to creating an organized company, no matter where your employees are located.