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 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.
- Easy to organize
- Integrates well with other tools
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.
- 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 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.
- Works well with other Office products
- Easy to use
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.
- 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 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.
- Supports modularity
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.
- 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 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.
- OKR based performance management
- On-time reviews and feedbacks
- Informative dashboard and easy analysis
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.
- 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 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.
- Powerful AI
- 15 GB free space
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.
- File sharing from the desktop app
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.
How to Use Product Synonyms to Build Use Case Awareness & Scale SEO
The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.
Let’s move back in time to your third grade English class — lesson of the day: synonyms.
Synonyms (not to be confused with cinnamon) are words that have a similar or the same meaning as another word.
But, you already know this. What you might not know is how synonyms help you build use case awareness.
It all comes down to talking about your product in multiple ways, all of which are useful to your target audience. By expanding the ways you talk about your product, you attract more users, which in return scales your SEO strategy by giving you more relevant keywords to rank for (ideally even with high purchase intent – yes please!)
In fact, by finding and targeting product synonyms, you can even tap into a new unique selling point for your target market.
Let’s find out product-led SEO with synonyms can slingshot your growth forward.
What is the value of synonyms for SEO?
First off, using synonyms is a common SEO best practice recommended by Google.
SEO guru and webmaster trend analyst, John Mueller, explains how synonyms work, particularly in connection with search intent and context:
“…especially when you’re looking at something like ‘edit video’ versus ‘video editor,’ the expectations from the user side are a little bit different. On the one hand you want to edit a video. On the other hand you might want to download a video editor. And it seems very similar but… the things that the users want there are slightly different.”
So, when it comes to using product synonyms to scale your SEO strategy, the key is to align user search intent with a product use case that helps them.
I’d like to highlight how well this works not just for e-commerce, but also B2B, because those are the businesses that often struggle the most with low product-related search volume, making it seem like SEO just isn’t worth it. To add to that, there’s often a gap between what your audience calls your product and what you call it internally, so this strategy ensures both angles are covered.
Do this over and over again and not only will it expand your brand awareness, but it’ll also take a niche product with low search volume and turn it into a lead and sale generator — all from compounding hundreds of thousands of organic monthly searches (or more, depending on the topic).
Let’s go over some examples.
Examples of product synonyms for SEO
A use case (or a roadmap for how your audience will interact with a product) is a fantastic way to apply product synonyms. If people learn how they can use your product, the more likely they’ll feel it’s relevant to them. The more detailed the use case, the more personal it feels to the reader.
Examples of product synonyms in e-commerce
Product synonyms for e-commerce are pretty straightforward. For example, “occasionwear,” “wedding guest wear,” and “party wear” are all product synonyms that can be found as focus keywords at a made-to-order men’s suits store.
An online sport store may use synonyms such as “tennis shoes,” “sneakers,” and “trainers” to capture all target markets, for different levels of athletic wear.
Now let’s put it into practice.
What product synonyms would you use for “webcam” and “Bluetooth headphones”?
Maybe, “streaming camera,” “e-meeting camera,” or “Zoom camera”?
For Bluetooth headphones, what about “impermeable headphones” or “running headphones”?
It’s all about the use case that matches the same search intent.
Examples of product synonyms in B2B
In B2B, use cases become even more relevant, because one of the most common questions in the buying cycle is: “Is this truly relevant for my particular business?”
Take a look at these phrases:
Conversational AI chatbot
Customer support automation
Product recommendation software
Omnichannel engagement platform
Even though these have vastly different use cases and are semantically different, the technology used produces the same outcome as what each phrase describes. In fact, it’s actually the exact same product (in this case a chatbot), only described with a different phrase.
The trick in this particular example is to talk about how the main product, the chatbot, relates to all the above phrases. Rinse and repeat and now you’ve gone from a niche product with limited search volume to HubSpot level organic traffic — all of which is highly relevant for your target audience.
How to find & rank for product synonyms
Finding synonym opportunities for products requires a deep understanding of the market and the search behavior of buyer personas. In other words, learn what your audience wants and explain how your product gives them that in multiple ways.
Understand your product use cases
Let’s start with your product use cases. Where should you begin?
First, compile all related brand themes and then build topic clusters based on that.
Let’s say you sell eco-friendly swimsuits for all types of bodies and your topic clusters focus on eco-friendliness and swimsuits per body type. All topic cluster pages are connected to the central brand themes and your products, but talked about from different angles.
In B2B, it’s common to cluster product use cases by industry or method. For example, the “conversational AI chatbot” mentioned earlier might target e-commerce managers, while “customer support automation” is a use case aimed at customer success. In the same way, “product recommendation software” grabs attention from a product team and an “omnichannel engagement platform” captures the marketing team.
With only these few keywords, we’ve described how nearly an entire business benefits from using a chatbot — sales here we come!
Aside from generally making note of words that are being used on their website, it’s helpful to perform a competitor keyword gap analysis. This helps you determine words they’re ranking for that you aren’t (yet), which helps inspire new use cases.
Understand the language of your audience
Do some research to see how your target audience refers to your products in their own words. Often in B2B there is a big gap between their descriptions and yours. Take note of the words, phrases, and any other insights pertaining to the language being used.
Some places to poke around include Slack communities, social media (especially LinkedIn), and Reddit. Don’t shy away from in-person events, too! When you talk like your audience talks, you’ll resonate with them because your products are simple to understand. Walk their walk, and talk their talk!
Pro tip: Talk to your customers on a regular basis! Ask to set up a 15 minute feedback session and record it. It’ll bring you massive insights about how they talk about and use your product.
If your business is big on social media, then social monitoring and listening tools will be crucial for compiling lots of information quickly. Social monitoring obtains information that has already happened in the past, while social listening keeps an ear out for current conversations about your brand. Hootsuite offers an extensive social monitoring tool to “dive deep beneath the surface”, while Talkwalker offers social listening so you can keep up in real time.
Review People Also Ask and related searches
Google SERP features are a treasure trove of synonym opportunities. If you’re looking for “shoes”, you’ll probably see people are also searching for “sneakers”, “tennis shoes”, etc. You can use this feature to understand user search intent (which will help you find more aligned synonyms) and ensure you create the right type of content based on what’s already ranking.
The People Also Ask feature is similar to the “related searches” at the bottom of the SERP, and you can also use this to curate synonyms.
Last but not least, utilize the auto-complete feature that suggests what you might type in the search bar:
Pro tip: Use AlsoAsked to dig a bit deeper into the People Also Ask questions from your potential consumers, and export the data graphically and in bulk. Answer all those questions and that’s a clear path toward SEO scalability!
Do keyword research
Without keyword research, creating your content and optimizing for SEO is like throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping that it sticks. Use a keyword research tool like Moz to find keywords based on use cases. This ensures the keywords are relevant, have search volume, and have relatively low competition. For a more in-depth guide on keyword research, be sure to check out this guide!
Once you’ve finished keyword research, turn the semantically-related keyword groups into clusters to create individual content pieces for each cluster.
Differentiate keyword placement based on your site structure
All websites have core product pages, so the exact match of high-purchase-intent keywords should go on those to maximize the potential for sales.
Product synonyms that are semantically unrelated, but still have a relevant use case, can go in an area like the blog, where you can explain them more thoroughly and then link back to your core product pages to incentivize conversions.
To go back to the chatbot example, “conversational AI chatbot” works best on an evergreen product page, while “product recommendation software” might make more sense in the blog, because you’ve got to give some explanation about how the two are connected.
Let us wrap this up with a quick recap
First off: why use product synonyms? Synonyms for SEO increase the relevancy of your product pages for a specific search query. At the same time, they can also help you scale out content strategies in the future, thus strengthening your SEO game and brand awareness.
But never forget, first you must understand your product use cases. How do your customers use your product? How do they describe it? Go deep into this process to get those granular details. Look around to see what language your customers are using, scope out your competitors for inspiration, and do some extensive keyword research. Review the People Also Ask feature and related searches to gather more information and ensure you differentiate your keyword placement based on your specific site structure.
Now you’ve got the basics of using product synonyms to build use case awareness. Class dismissed!
How to Use Product Synonyms to Build Use Case Awareness & Scale SEO
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