Remote work is certain to keep expanding, but people new to it often face a couple of conundrums, notably in the case of communication and project management.
Fortunately, the market keeps coming up with advanced remote apps and tools, making remote work as easy as it gets. In the long run, at least.
Now, when it comes to project managers, they may have it a bit more difficult, as they need to devise complex strategies and choose the best management tools. It is crucial, therefore, that they keep learning, as to be able to familiarize themselves with innovative tools in the future.
Basically, the majority of management tools follow the same pattern, but some may be more complex than others.
Here are some tips on how to master the art of working remotely.
1. Choose the Right Tools
As mentioned above, the choice of proper tools is paramount. A good email client, project management tool and communication tool(s) are essential from day one.
As for the first, while Gmail remains one of the most popular choices, keep in mind that there are also many alternatives. Depending on your needs, you may want to look at the following benefits:
- User-friendly interface
- POP and IMAP account support
- Security features
- Advanced filtering capabilities
- The number of linked accounts
- Keyboard shortcut options
As for project management tools, the choice depends greatly on the actual types of projects you’re dealing with. Some of the most popular ones include:
Finally, communication tools are as varied as can be expected, with the most popular choices being widely used by many people both for private and business purposes. Some of the most popular ones are:
- Slack Video Calls
Keep in mind that these are just the present-time references as the emergence of new tools is rather fast-paced.
2. Hard and Soft Skills to Master
Remote workers, especially freelancers and digital nomads, need to develop job-specific skills that will help them remain competitive in the future. With the rise of eLearning and mLearning, the task has never been easier. Just keep an eye on the courses that may be helpful and attend one at a time.
Another aspect to keep in mind (and a more complex one) is — soft skills. You could say these are personal traits as opposed to the above-mentioned specific knowledge. In addition to learning the ropes of netiquette (which can get off on the wrong foot, especially if email is the primary communication funnel), remote workers also need to learn to negotiate, present their ideas, and deal with all kinds of personalities.
Keep in mind that many people have different personas online and privately, so reading between the lines can sometimes be crucial.
3. Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is a variegated issue, as the human factor often gets lost in translation. While there is no lack of communication tools and keeping in touch and updated shouldn’t pose a problem, aligning all team members to work in unison for the target goals can get quite difficult.
In fact, this can be difficult even for office workers, as team management is no small feat. There are a couple of ideas worth mentioning in this matter:
- Setting measurable goals and communicating them clearly to all team members
- Setting adjustable approaches and milestones
- Applying best practices based on anonymous feedback
Whichever combination of approaches you decide to apply, remember to focus on building a culture that nurtures motivation.
4. Work Delegation
Delegating work as needed is crucial for remote teams. Because business circumstances change all the time and often unexpectedly, it is necessary to come up with sustainable plans on how to handle each challenge.
It goes without saying that knowing the strengths and weaknesses of all team members is a must. Work delegation in itself won’t be efficient if it’s done at random. Managers should continually keep in touch with their remote teams and provide company updates as needed.
5. Employing Best Practices
We’ve all heard the dreaded term “best practices,” but not many of us can actually define it in understandable terms. It’s not to be wondered at, seeing as businesses apply different strategies and teams have varied approaches.
Still, that doesn’t mean that some universal tips aren’t applicable. Goals and milestones should always be observed, for example.
Further out, keeping the communication alive should top the list of priorities. But not just any communication. It is necessary to choose proper channels and time slots using the time blocking app, when employees can reach you.
Lastly, company updates should be provided whenever there’s a need. While the frequency is rather individual, many companies stick to either quarterly, monthly, bi-annual or annual updates.
6. Provide Growth Opportunities
It’s not a secret that everyone is looking for a steady job with growth opportunities. The ultimate goal is, therefore, to make your company the best place to work.
Again, anonymous feedback can prove rather useful in this regard. It is also crucial to draw the line between relaxed and lax. I.e., some managers practice strict discipline leaving team members afraid to go grab a cup of coffee, while others are more relaxed.
A pleasant work environment is the first factor of employee satisfaction. Growth opportunities are next.
Some of these tips are applicable to office work, as well as for remote work. Boosting morale and encouraging communication and engagement is simply the only way forward. While means of delivering the message may be different, the core remains unchanged. Don’t forget anonymous feedback, as it can come in handy in a variety of situations.
Think about remote teams as startups — one large extended family working for shared goals and experiencing all successes and failures together. Rather than forcing the standpoint that everyone is replaceable, take your time to build a remote team where everyone can express their strengths in the best way possible and boost joint efforts in their own unique way