Remote work has a positive impact on employee happiness, loyalty, and retention. In fact, our 2019 State of Remote Work report found that 83% of survey respondents agree that the ability to work remotely would make them happier. With 68% of workers around the world working remotely at least once a month, offering remote opportunities is an attractive way to gain top-tier talent.
Although this is the ultimate work scenario for many employees, it can be difficult for many managers to adjust to overseeing teams in disparate locations, time zones, and even working hours. Remote work can pose several challenges for business leaders and managers – whether it be keeping remote employees in the loop, maintaining proper cybersecurity practices, or simply establishing an effective method for remote meetings.
Luckily, today's technology tools are on the side of remote workers and the managers that oversee them. If you're looking to deploy your own remote workforce, or even improve your current remote team, here are a few tech essentials to ensure you can successfully communicate, collaborate, and thrive.
Communication, above all else, is the key to success when managing remote teams. Without daily face-to-face communication, it can be difficult to ensure that all members of your team are consistently on the same page and up-to-date on all relevant work. Remote employees can't visit a coworker's desk or pop into their manager's office for questions, concerns, and collaboration. For this reason, you need a tool that allows for instant communication. Communication suites, like Slack or Google Hangouts, have become an essential tool for many workplaces.
These types of conversational tools allow employees to communicate simply and cross-functionally, regardless of location. A brief message can suffice to quickly update teams on projects or other business functions. This makes communication and collaboration with employees working from various geographical locations much simpler, especially because they can often be filtered or sorted by team, discipline, or topic of conversation.
Aside from helping to complete work-related tasks, chat tools can also be a fun way to boost employee morale, as they can be used to send GIFs and emojis, celebrate occasions like work anniversaries or birthdays, share inside jokes, and more.
Remote meetings are essential for remote teams; without them, remote employees aren't able to receive the necessary "face-to-face" communication that's critical to foster positive team collaboration and engagement. Finding the right video conferencing tool allows employees to get to know one another by face, creating a more unified atmosphere that encourages collaboration, engagement, and performance. Not to mention, of the remote employees that have already utilized video conferencing tools, 75% have experienced increased productivity and an enhanced work-life balance.
There are a number of video conferencing software options to choose from, including Skype, Zoom, and a host of others. Each has its own advantages and special features, so take some time to decide which package is best for your company.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is to ensure you have the proper technology in place to hold an effective remote meeting. Smart video conferencing cameras, like the Meeting Owl Pro, allow remote workers to feel as if they're in the meeting room with their in-office colleagues.
It's unlikely you've gone through an entire workday recently without using a service supported by the cloud. Whether it's editing documents on Google Drive or recruiting new employees through LinkedIn, you probably rely on cloud-based platforms to conduct your daily responsibilities, whether you realize it or not.
Cloud-based tools become even more beneficial when you incorporate remote teams into your workforce. In particular, a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can store your organization's data in a centralized database, which keeps information flowing across all lines of business, regardless of employee location. Such data sharing cuts down communication time across departments, while also ensuring employees have access to the data they need when they need it.
Although many businesses already use some form of ERP system or similar software offering, ensuring your solution is truly made for the cloud can make a major difference when managing remote teams. Legacy solutions, like Infor Lawson for example, often run on outdated technologies, which means your remote team won't reap the full benefits of the cloud.
Your remote teams will require access to any digital platforms your business might use. With today's organizations using a number of online tools like CRM systems, document sharing platforms, or even editing tools, this means there are many login credentials floating around, which can be detrimental to cybersecurity.
Given that 95% of all cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error, it's important to ensure you're taking the proper steps toward safe online practices. One way to mitigate this risk is by deploying an online password manager to keep employees' passwords safe and secure. Many times, encouraging your workforce to stay on top of password security can be difficult; people tend to create weak passwords they can easily remember, and then reuse those same passwords across applications.
However, a resource like LastPass can set company-wide minimum password standards and generates complicated, hard-to-hack passwords automatically. It takes the responsibility off of your remote employees, while also ensuring they comply with proper password security policies.
Keeping projects and tasks organized and delivering them on schedule is often a difficult feat of its own, but when team members are scattered in many locations, project management becomes even more difficult. When working with remote teams, it's crucial to have a set process and standards in place that employees can refer to when conducting their day-to-day activities.
For this reason, it's often beneficial to use a project management platform like Trello or Asana, which are designed to keep you, your remote teammates, and any other critical stakeholders in the loop when it comes to project management. These web-based and interactive tools can be used to plan your entire project from beginning to end, manage the schedule, and collaborate with your remote team. Project management tools are key for remote teams because they offer a simple solution to keep everyone on the same page.
Successfully managing a remote team can offer your company huge benefits, but overcoming the associated challenges takes time, practice, and patience. Be sure to use the tech tools above in order to effectively manage a remote team.