So, you’ve decided to start a remote team. From facilitating employee retention to enabling the best and brightest to collaborate, there is no shortage of reasons to go remote. In fact, 68% of the global workforce is now working remotely at least once a month.
However, managing a remote team also comes with its own list of challenges. Here are a few things that should help set you up for success.
Real-time communication, better team coordination
Successfully managing a remote team starts with nailing down a communication protocol. Poor communication equals damaged productivity and a lack of accountability, which will quickly lead to low-quality work and a disgruntled team.
The best thing you can do for your team is setting them up on Slack. This chatting app was designed for the professional workplace, with remote teams in mind. Organize channels by project and topic, tag team members to get their attention, and have searchable conversation history right at your fingertips. Encouraging your team to interact with these channels will help you get to know them, and keep you in the loop on what they’re working on.
Alongside organizing channels by project, boost company culture by using fun channels like #music #watercooler #knowledgeshare and #events.
Apps are your new best friend
Managing a remote team also means managing projects from a distance (as if Project Management wasn’t stressful enough). Luckily, there’s an app for that. Trello is another great tool for remote teams, which allows you to create boards for different projects and populate them with every bit of important information. Assign and track tasks, localize logins and assets, lay out roadmaps, label your cards, and easily track project progress.
Does your team create and manage content calendars? Airtable is another notable app that works like a spreadsheet, but with a great UI clients will love, and the robust power of a database.
Make Time For Face-Time
When managing a remote team, strolling up to your co-worker’s desks to check-in simply isn’t an option. Ensuring some face time with your team is crucial for productivity and transparency, but it’s also important for everyone to remember that there’s a person behind the screen. If your employees like each other, they’ll work better together – even if they aren’t centrally located.
One solution to getting your team on the same page is scheduling short, recurring “homeroom calls.” These check-ins can be done daily, or even just on Mondays and Fridays, where everyone on the team jumps on a video call at the same time to connect and discuss what they’re up to. Applications like Google’s Hangouts Meet and Zoom are great for organizing these meetings.
These check-ins will also help managers allocate their resources, as they will create reliable pockets of time in which everyone is reachable, despite potentially flexible working hours. Make sure to pick a time that works with everyone’s respective time zones!
Finally, get your team actively using shared calendars. This will make it easy for everyone to book time with one another, set out of office blocks, and get email reminders for upcoming meetings.
Mastering the creative process
Be diligent with documentation
A major obstacle in remote work is inconsistency in documentation. With employees in different places, it becomes difficult to align the current versions of documents and to identify changes made along the way. Hours of work are quickly wasted when 2 people are working off different versions of a project file.
Google’s document apps like GoogleDocs and GoogleSheets are a great alternative to word and excel as they allow multiple users to work on something simultaneously, and store all past revision history in the cloud. For file management, programs like Google Shared Drive, Box and Dropbox are useful, so long as they’re kept updated.
Focus on the workflow
The above information should help you streamline your team’s day-to-day process, but what happens when it’s time to involve the client or review a creative project internally?
Sharing creative files with clients usually leads to long email chains of difficult-to-decipher comments which are easily lost, leaving all parties frustrated and pushing deadlines from days to weeks. Your creative review process should be structured in a way that makes it easy for both the client and upper management to give clear feedback and for your team to address and track it.
While Project Management applications like Trello can be useful for tracking high-level tasks and deliverables, they aren’t well suited for handling the more detailed and iterative process of content review and approval. Using a more specialized online proofing platform can ease most of this pain.
Creative Review for Remote Teams
This very issue was the inspiration behind ReviewStudio, an online proofing software designed for solving the strenuous creative review and approval process. ReviewStudio helps creative teams mark-up and compare files in real-time, allowing for in-depth collaboration from separate locations.
Key features for remote teams:
- Leave clear and specific feedback on videos, PDFs, image files, and web pages with frame-by-frame markups
- Host live reviews with clients, or let them review projects independently
- Turn any feedback into actionable tasks with Integrated Task Management
- Compare different versions of files side-by-side to instantly asses changes
- See your projects at a glance with the personalized dashboard, equipped with custom labels, deadline alerts, and recent activity
- Brand your dashboard and log-in pages with logos and a private sub-domain for an added professional touch
ReviewStudio helps remote teams get projects done faster by presenting clear centralized feedback and keeping everyone on the same page throughout the course of the project.
When done right, operating a remote team creates a hub of creativity and productivity that is difficult to build in a traditional office. All it takes is locking down communication, ensuring accountability, and having an effective creative review process.
(this post was updated April 17 2020)