Leadership, Remote Work, Survival Guide,

Tips, Tricks & Tools for Any Remote Organization

By: Amelia Mani

An Organization’s Survival Guide to the COVID-19 Global Pandemic (Continued)

Did your workforce become remote overnight!? As an organization that has been distributed since day one, and has staff in 8 different time zones, Functionly is here to help! See below for our tips, tricks, and tools to help you and your organization transition to an effective remote workforce. 

1. Remote Personnel Management

“The future of Performance Management lies in placing ownership in the hands of employees and teaching managers to coach rather than police.” 

- Denison Consulting 

Transparency & Accountability

The number one reason why organizations hold off on working remotely is the lack of transparency and trust. “Intentional Transparency,” – a phrase coined by Victor Wu – is one of the best ways to counter those feelings of doubt and fears associated with trusting staff to work remotely. He says, “Information/status in your business should be accessible self-service, on-demand. [...] Modern tools make it easy to work and serve on-demand status at the same time.” Remote teams only work well if they can trust each other completely. Set a timeline for every commitment made, communicate progress and hold each other accountable. 

Team Meetings.

Have a daily team virtual “stand-up” to share priorities for the day. Check-in again at the end of the day and share roadblocks/challenges to any priorities.

Communication.

Communicate often and publicly. It is impossible to over-communicate in a remote organization. Try to communicate how others need you to communicate – especially when it comes to projects and deliverables. 

  • Don’t Micromanage. The best way to measure work is based on individual or team output. Communicate expectations and manage a shared list of tasks and expectations, not hours worked.
  • Use Emoticons. Emoticons are really important when staff cannot see facial cues. The burden is on you to make sure people understand your brand of humor (or lack thereof).
  • Constructive Feedback. If you have constructive feedback to give, do it over a video call. Virtual communication gone rogue can breed misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

 

2. Remote Personnel Management Tools:

Confluence - A team workspace where knowledge and collaboration meet to achieve great things.

Flare - Eliminate manual HR administration, increase onboarding efficiency, and improve employee retention.

TimeDoctor - Track time and watch your productivity soar!

Toggl - Free and simple time tracking. Powerful reporting.

 

Remote Personnel Management Resources:

Buffer: The 2020 State of Remote Work

How to Manage Teams When Working Remotely


3. Remote Project Management

Tools

Choosing the right project management tools can either super power your team or stunt their efforts. You probably already have a number of systems in place within your toolbelt to power your team to work collaboratively while being distributed. Most organizations already have deployed a set of cloud solutions to work across remote environments.

Operational Processes

Let these systems do the hard work, but tweak your internal processes to serve as the single source of truth for task updates, account information, project status or as a workforce community. Having lightweight frameworks that lean into the existing tool system automation is critical for setting up your team for success.  


Task Management

Task management is the core of effective remote project management. Ensure there is alignment in common goals or current projects, 


 

4. Remote Project Management Tools:

Accelo - Cloud-based software that manages all client work in one place, making business more profitable and less stressed.

Airtable - All-in-one collaboration platform. Part spreadsheet, part database, and entirely flexible, Airtable gives you the freedom to arrange your work just the way you like.

Asana - Work management platform to stay focused on goals, projects, and daily tasks that grow business.

Dropbox - A modern workspace designed to reduce busywork-so you can focus on the things that matter. Sign in and put your creative energy to work.

Google Docs - Brings your documents to life with smart editing and styling tools to help you easily format text and paragraphs.

Google Drive - File storage and synchronisation service.

Lucidchart - Online Diagram Software & Visual Solution

Monday - Work OS that powers teams to run projects and workflows with confidence.

ProductBoard - Get the right products to market, faster.

Slack - Real time messaging, file sharing and powerful search.

Smartsheet - A cloud-based platform that allows organizations of all sizes to plan, capture, manage, automate, and report on work across the business, empowering you to move faster, drive innovation, and achieve more.

Sococo - An online workplace where distributed teams come to work together each day, side-by-side.

Trello - Trello’s boards, lists, and cards enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a fun, flexible, and rewarding way.

Unblocker - Understand how you work and act on missed tasks across all meetings, chats, and collaboration tools

Workfront - Teams have one central application platform to share ideas, create content, manage complex processes, and do their best work.

Wrike - Cloud-based collaboration and project management software that scales across teams in any business.

Zoho - Cloud based project management solution that scales with your team

 

5. Remote Meetings

"I guess we're about to find out which meetings could have been emails after all." 

- Unknown. 

Technology makes it easy for business to continue as usual. Some tools, however, can mask the intention and humanity of the people involved. Best practice says that unless every person is in the same physical room, all meetings should be held over a video call. 

Teach the Technicals

There will be technical challenges for your staff. Make sure to give them time, and plenty of guidance on how to get set up with your tools and technology.

Teach Etiquette

Create content and guides specific for your new virtual workplace rather than relying on the tools help docs. This could include meeting etiquette such as; all meeting attendees must be on camera, mute when not speaking, and avoid background noise. 

Set Ground Rules

Make sure the meeting isn’t 100% business. Allocate time for catching up and chatting about non-work activities. After a few minutes of catching up, set ground rules about what the format will be, when to speak, and how to contribute, so people don’t try to talk over each other, and everyone has a chance to contribute.

Record content

A lot of virtual meetings are recorded to make the content available to all after the event. 

 

Remote Meeting Tools:

Google Hangouts - Meet face to face with coworkers and customers for free.

Jell - Daily Standups, Task Management & OKRs For Technical Teams

Run the World Today - Bring like-minded people worldwide together to accomplish great things.

Zoom - Modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars

 

Remote Meeting Resources:

Running Awesome Company/Team Offsites/Meetings

XPLANE’s Top 25 Tips and Tricks for Remote Collaboration

 

6. Remote Culture Management & Development

“To win the marketplace, you must first win the workplace.” 

-Doug Conant, Rise

As humans, we naturally crave personal interactions. One of the key challenges that remote teams face is the sense of loneliness and lack of belonging. Creating a space and environment to intentionally foster a sense of community is very important to the success of your organization. Studies have shown that companies that focus on facilitating community have a higher success rate and lower turnover. In addition, their employee engagement is higher, they are more productive, and studies have shown employees are happier

Happy teams = Productive Teams

As an organization, you need to be intentional in your processes, communication and team dynamics, and it must be valued and adopted from the top down. 

Here are some of the key things we do to help develop a sense of connectedness when working remote:

Digital Workspaces

We have created a dedicated virtual community space. For announcements, celebrations, employee recognition and knowledge sharing. 

Maintain Relationships

We’re sure to encourage our team and set time aside to maintain relationships with our coworkers. It’s very important that our interactions with our colleagues are not purely transactional. 

Water Cooler

We utilize online “water coolers” for business and social communication. 

Coffee Dates

We enjoy a virtual “Coffee” with our colleagues.

 

Remote Culture Management & Development Tools:

Hey Taco - Lightweight Slack Plugin encouraging employee engagement and gratitude

OfficeVibe - A simple platform that helps managers to enhance performance, leaders to understand their people, and organizations to thrive.

 

Remote Culture Management & Development Resources:

Embracing Remote Culture Part 1: Undestanding the Impact of Remote Work

Embracing Remote Culture Part 2: How to build a remote culture within your organization

How to Embrace Remote Work

Your Startup Can Help Fix the Loneliness Epidemic

Help Your Remote Employees Build Stronger Personal Connections Through Randomness

7. Remote Work Schedules

“My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody.” 

-  Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White

Set a schedule, have a routine and stick to it.There will always be work to do. The lack of a physical office may result in staff being unable to easily transition from work time to personal time. This results in unbalance. 

Working Hours

Set working hours for you and your team. Add your working hours to your calendar settings. Be sure to encourage your team to block out times to eat, and take breaks. Sometimes those little nudges will help them remain in balance.


Prioritize Your Health

Make sure to set time to take care of yourself. Schedule time to do what you love, but also for important appointments.


Stay on top of all notifications

There’s no need to reply immediately, but make sure you’re checking platforms a couple of times a day. This doesn’t mean you need to react to everything, we know not everything can be done instantly, but be sure to respond in a timely manner clarifying what you will do and when.

 

Remote Work Schedule Tools:

Workflowy - Super simple, yet powerful to-do list management

 

 

8. Remote Workspaces

“Never work from bed […] It becomes more difficult to fall asleep because working from bed weakens the mental association between your bedroom and sleep.”

- Hailley Griffis, Future of Work Marketer, Buffer


Some organizations provide great workspace benefits like a monthly stipend for supplies, or ergonomic desk and chair. If your organization does not provide stipends to help you have a great workspace, there are home office tax deductions you can apply for.

We have compiled a list of what you might need to build a great remote workspace:

Space

Try your best to have a space at home that is dedicated for your work. Avoid working in a place where you frequently rest. Sometimes it’s good to work in communal locations to get that human interaction (i.e. coffee shop). Don’t be afraid to mix it up!

High-Speed Internet

If you’re going to be a successful remote worker, the most obvious and important piece of equipment you’ll need is a computer with high-speed internet access. To get your work done efficiently, and without interruptions, it’s essential to have the fastest and most reliable internet available in your area. 

Workstations

You need a great computer that has a fast processor, adequate disk space, and plenty of RAM. Unless you’re paper-free, you’ll need a printer/copier, printer paper and scanner. For desk supplies, you might need pens, pencils, highlighters, sticky notes, journals, a stapler, staples, scissors, paper clips, rubber bands, and potentially binders, a file cabinet and filing folders.

Security

To protect your online activity, a VPN is a great way to reassure your employer/employees that internet security is taken seriously. This doesn’t mean you need an expensive VPN, there are a lot of free VPNs out there. 

 

Remote Workspace Tools:

Facebook Workplace - Empower and transform your whole business, with familiar features like groups, chat and video calls.

Facebook Feed Eradicator - Chrome extension to replace your FB Newsfeed with motivational quotes.

SpotFlux VPN - SpotFlux VPN’s Free plan is a great one to try if you’re just starting out.null

 

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