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Tools You Need To Create and Manage a Solid Remote Work Team

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Tools You Need To Create and Manage a Solid Remote Work Team


According to Bloomberg, in about ten years, ‘remote work’ will just be ‘work.’ Even if you aren’t completely convinced, there has undoubtedly been a massive increase in the size of the remote workforce after the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, thousands of organizations now have to deal with managing remote employees and sometimes entire remote teams.

While this may sound daunting at first, the truth is it doesn’t have to be. Many companies have adapted incredibly well to the remote culture.

With the right attitude and remote work management tools, managing remote team teams is something you can pick up in no time. By the end of this article, you’ll know just how to move forward with project management in this new, post-pandemic, remote environment.

Remote team management challenges

Managing remote workers comes with its own set of challenges that can pose a hassle to the team’s productivity. Let’s take a look at some of the main challenges remote teams face.

  • Communication breakdowns. This is one of the most common issues faced by remote workers. Since all communication now relies on video calls, emails, and other communication tools, it often becomes more challenging to communicate effectively. Despite the wide range of collaboration technologies and video conferencing tools, many seasoned employees are still used to in-person communication and find it harder to communicate with team members.
  • Data transfer. Since everyone is working from home with their own computer systems, there are bound to be compatibility issues. This is especially true for file sharing and when employees have different versions of software.
  • Lack of transparency. This is another major problem that managers face. When it comes to remote employees, it’s harder to gauge how much work is actually getting done. Often, managers feel the need to micromanage everyone. This can often include using time tracking or other kinds of employee monitoring software. The problem is not using these remote tools but a lack of transparency.
  • Work-life balance. For some employees, it may become harder to define exactly where the boundary between work and personal time is. Many remote employees feel the need to prove they’re working extra hard to ensure management doesn’t think they’re slacking off. Long hours and working late into the night slowly become the norm, and it can often feel like there’s no boundary between work and everything else.
  • Distractions. Many remote workers feel like it’s harder to get any work done from home due to the countless distractions most people face when working from home. In fact, statistics show that distractions are one of the top three challenges remote workers face while working from home. Apart from being able to use social media on their mobile devices freely, there are also family expectations, domestic chores, neighbors, and countless other distractions one faces while working at home.
  • Learning. Workplace training sessions look different when you work remotely, as most companies use video calls or training videos. These resources are fantastic for some but hard for others to adjust to.

Tools your remote team needs

Picking the right tools for remote work can often be a little complicated.

The perfect tool for you depends on your business and your team’s requirements. Pay attention to the nuances and unique requirements your business demands. Then, select the appropriate tool for the job to help you prepare for remote work long-term.

Let’s take a look at a few of the various types of tools you could require and some of the popular choices in each category.

Instant messenger tools

There are several little issues that pop up in the day-to-day functioning of any business that would take too long to fix if you relied solely on email. For these smaller issues (which you would normally fix by walking over to a coworker’s desk or office), instant messaging is a must-have tool if you want to work remotely.

Let’s take a look at some messaging apps in the space.

Slack

Slack is undoubtedly the leader among the instant messaging apps for organizations. What makes Slack a favorite as an internal chat app is that it allows you to create channels for each team, project, or topic of interest.

Slack keeps discussions super organized. It also allows you to directly message people if you need to chat privately with them and to tag anyone in a conversation you think they should see. It also integrates well with several other apps, which helps drive collaboration.

Pros:

  • Easy to organize
  • Intuitive
  • Integrates well with other tools

Brosix

Brosix is another messaging app you can use while working remotely to streamline communication across multiple applications. Brosix allows you to create a safe, encrypted, private team network.

You can also communicate with other team networks while maintaining full control over all communication outside your team network. Additionally, it comes with several features for collaboration, such as instant video chat, file transfer, and screen sharing. It also allows you to record your user activity to review later.

Pros:

  • Feature-rich
  • Tracks user activity

Team meeting tools

Team meetings still need to happen, and while emails and chat apps may fix smaller issues, there still exists a need to have longer discussions with the entire team to make sure that everyone is on the same page. When virtual teams meet through video chat, the need for business tools that allow virtual meetings along with features to share notes, presentations, and resources arises.

Let’s take a look at some of the apps that facilitate this.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams incorporates elements from Microsoft Office Suite, which simplifies things for companies that are already using other Microsoft products like PowerPoint and Word. Microsoft is a competitor of Slack and offers similar services.

Pros:

  • Works well with other Office products
  • Easy to use

Google Hangouts

If you need a cross-platform messaging service, Google Hangouts is a good choice. You can start a Hangout on your computer and continue it from your home, which makes it useful for remote working, especially if you’re occupied around the house and can’t always be at the computer. Every bit of your data, information, and chats is encrypted by Hangouts and stays safe.

Pros:

  • Cross-platform messaging service
  • Can be used across devices

Project management tools

If you’re looking for remote work tools to manage projects, your choices will vary according to the type of projects your organization usually handles. However, any good software tool should allow you to manage your workflow, resources, and keep track of projects and progress. Let’s look at two.

Clickup

Clickup allows you to customize according to team size and type. Clickup brings everything to one place and allows you to handle it easily. It supports modularity through the use of an add-on called ‘ClickApps,’ making it customizable for any team. It also supports various views which can be saved and shared by anyone.

Pros:

  • Customizable
  • Supports modularity

Trello

Trello is a collaboration tool that is simple and easy to use. It comes with powerful automation, various integration, and powerful collaboration features like comments, document sharing, notifications, etc. It also has a mobile app.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Powerful collaboration features

Team management software

Managing workflow across teams and coordinating tasks can become quite challenging without the right software tools. However, the task of managing everyone on the team and coordinating work so that everyone is in sync doesn’t have to be difficult just because it’s no longer in person.

Good software smoothens the entire workflow and iron out any creases in the process. It also boosts productivity and work quality.

Let’s look at two software options.

FactoHR

factoHR simplifies the day-to-day tasks of managing teams and their workflows. Monitoring remote workforce can be done efficiently using the performance analysis to maintain work quality and productivity.

The work process gets smoothen and reduces the confusion, as the managers can set the goals, review, and rate the employees’ inputs. It also has several other features like employee onboarding, performance tracking, handling payments, and expense management. The user interface is intuitive and straightforward.

Pros:

  • OKR based performance management
  • On-time reviews and feedbacks
  • Informative dashboard and easy analysis

TimeDoctor

TimeDoctor is a tool for time management and employee monitoring. It is a Software as a Service (SaaS) tool that provides functions like keystroke logging, internet usage tracking, screenshots, and a multi-functional employee monitoring application with CRM and white label capabilities.

Along with powerful reports, TimeDoctor also tracks breaks, reminds employees to stay off time-wasting websites, tracks time for billing, and benchmarks individuals and departments across key metrics.

Pros:

  • Keeps employees productive
  • Comes with CRM
  • Tracks time effectively

Cloud storage tools

A cloud storage tool is something you need irrespective of whether you’re working in person in an office or engaged in remote work. Traditionally, all your files were stored in a cabinet or a room in an office, and this is inconvenient and difficult to navigate when trying to find a file.

With a tool for cloud storage, you can store everything from Google docs to other important files, retrieve them in a few seconds, and make them available to everyone with access in your entire organization.

Let’s look at two popular choices.

Google Drive

Google Drive allows you to store files in the cloud, synchronize them across devices, and share files with others. Your files are also encrypted, scanned for malware, and kept safe.

Drive integrates with several tools your team may already be using, and the powerful AI helps make it very easy to search for files quickly.

Pros:

  • Powerful AI
  • 15 GB free space
  • Security

Dropbox

Dropbox is quite similar to Google Drive in terms of the services it offers. However, it does have a few small differences. For example, it offers only 2GB of free space as opposed to Google Drive’s 15GB (though it does offer free extra storage based on how many friends you refer to Dropbox).

With Dropbox, you can share files through the Desktop app, unlike drive, which only allows sharing from the web app.

Pros:

  • File sharing from the desktop app
  • Security

Tips for optimizing remote work tools

Getting everyone in your remote workforce onto the same page can be challenging at times.  

It always helps to optimize tools so they’re more intuitive and easy to use. Optimization makes a huge difference to the coordination and synchronization between a distributed team.

So, let’s take a look at some of the steps that can make a difference in employee engagement and productivity.

1. Provide training for employees

Since this is an unprecedented time in most people’s lives, it makes sense if your company culture can accept that these changes are hard to adjust to and that training staff can help them adjust better.

The training should be specific to the workflow that employees need to get familiar with and should cover any and all doubts that might arise so that work can carry on smoothly (even in the absence of traditional support).

2. Encourage positive communication

Your organization must encourage communication both among employees as well as with management. Clear communication can foster team spirit and encourage team building.

Keep in mind that team members may vary in age and background, affecting their ability to adapt to working remotely and the technological tools required to do so. Encouraging communication can help flatten out any speed bumps in the process of adjusting and helps foster a healthy hybrid workplace culture.

3. Make learning a priority

Making sure that your organization prioritizes an attitude of constant learning and education can play a huge role in how quickly you adjust to the new work environment. Working remotely requires that you adjust quickly to new methods and rapidly learn to use new software. Having a culture of constant learning makes adjusting easier.

Making Remote Work Work For You

While it might take a while initially to adjust to managing a remote team, it’s usually a question of how quickly you can identify the challenges and find solutions to combat them.

Fortunately, there are a plethora of tools that support managing a remote team. At the end of the day, managing a team across time zones and borders is just another challenge that organizations everywhere must rise to. Not only will this help you quickly adapt, but you can even begin to thrive in this new and emerging post-pandemic world of work.



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MARKETING

MarTech’s email marketing experts to follow

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MarTech's email marketing experts to follow

Email marketing isn’t easy. There are so many moving parts — personalization, permissions, frequency, readability, mail transfer agents, engagement, sender reputation, segmentation and much, much more. A mistake on any one of these and it doesn’t matter how good the rest are. Worse yet, today’s mistake may have been yesterday’s right thing to do. 

To help you, we’ve put together the list of email marketers who always know the best practices and latest developments. This is who you have to follow if you don’t want your email campaigns getting left behind.

In alphabetical order, they are:

Jen Capstraw

With more than 20 years of experience in digital marketing, Jen has done it all. Her understanding of business and email has fueled her desire to help others, most notably as president and co-founder of Women of Email, an association of 8,000+ aimed at promoting leadership and cultivating professional growth among women in the email space. In addition to being founder and fractional evangelist for the Idea Empire consultancy, she is co-host and co-creator of the popular Humans of Email podcast. Catch up with her latest writings, videos, webinars and more here.


Justine Jordan

“In a thousand years, I never thought I’d make a career out of email marketing,” Justine writes on her website, “but I can’t imagine it any other way. Dare I say it’s ‘been a blast’?” Her first email marketing job with ExactTarget (now Salesforce Marketing Cloud) got her hooked on the data-centered rationale behind email design. From there she went on to be CMO at Help Scout, the Email Experience Council’s 2015 Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year, VP of Marketing at Litmus and now head of marketing at Wildbit. 


Dan Oshinsky

Dan has gone from innovating the news to innovating newsletters and email. He started out in journalism creating a channel for long form news and the Tools For Reporters newsletter. He went from there to director of newsletters for BuzzFeed and The New Yorker magazine. He runs the email consultancy InBox Collective and publishes the appropriately named NotANewsletter. It’s “a monthly, semi-comprehensive, Google Doc-based guide to sending better emails” with 9,000+ subscribers.


Kath Pay

Hard to say which accomplishment Kath is best known for. It could be because she’s founder and CEO of Holistic Email Marketing? Perhaps. Or because she’s the author of the best-selling “Holistic Email Marketing: A practical philosophy to revolutionize your business and delight your customers.” Very possible. Or because she is a world-renowned speaker and trainer. Or possibly because she was named one of the top 50 email marketers in the world by Vocus. She is certainly well-known for the many popular articles she’s written for MarTech. Read her blog here.


Ryan Phelan

Ryan is truly an old-hand at email marketing. The co-founder of and managing partner RPEOrigin, he has more than two decades of global marketing leadership for high-growth SaaS and Fortune 250 companies. He knows email from the big picture to the latest coding trends. That’s why he is Chairman Emeritus of the Email Experience Council Advisory Board. A popular and frequent MarTech writer, you can also read his personal blog here.


Dela Quist

Dela is internationally renowned for his innovative use of data analysis to challenge myths and preconceptions in email marketing. He is a true pioneer in the field who began using email as a marketing channel back in the 1990s. Today he is founder and CMO of Alchemy Worx, an audience management agency specializing in email marketing, SMS marketing, and paid social. And one other thing, he was the ANA Email Experience Council’s 2022 Email Marketing Thought Leader of the Year.


Elliot Ross

Currently the technology evangelist MessageBird, Elliot loves to help other email marketers. He is managing director/founder Look at Action Rocket, the creative studio for emailers, where he is managing director and founder. He’s also CEO and co-founder of Taxi for Email, an app that helps marketers make better email. He hosts of EmailTalks podcast and is a regular conference speaker on email design. Even with all that he appears to have some spare time, which he spends as member of the Best Practice Hub of the DMA Email Council. 



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About The Author

Constantine von Hoffman

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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