The outbreak of COVID-19 has changed the way we look at work today. Most businesses have started advising their employees to work from home to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
While working from home seems like the best way to keep the workforce safe and the business running, it comes with its own set of challenges. One of the most common challenges is developing and maintaining a communications management strategy while all the employees work remotely.
Here is a list of possible challenges that teams could face when working remotely:
One of the most common challenges that teams face when working remotely is collaborating from different locations. When a team of software developers are in the same office, it is easier for them to interact with each other without even thinking twice. But how can the same team work on the same project when each member is in a different location?
Though working from home and interacting virtually has its own benefits, it is a known fact that there is no substitute for personally meeting someone. Make your virtual employees feel more connected by scheduling face-to-face meets as often as the employee can make it.
While there are many technological developments in the industry that solve this issue, there are some real limitations to this approach. The good is that, much like project management software, there are countless collaboration tools designed for all kinds of tasks and teams that will help you break down those remote co-working barriers.
Here’s a list of tools that you can use for collaboration during your remote work
Slack – Slack offers real-time messaging between teams, regardless of time zone. It works perfectly for remote teams that need to have an open line of communication at all times
Every Time Zone – Make things easier on yourself, and eliminate the need to do the math, by referencing Every Time Zone before you chat it up with someone. Check out the time zones of fellow remote employees and see who is awake and available to talk.
Google Drive – Keep all your files in one secure and centralized location. Store and share documents, spreadsheets, and slide presentations from any device without any hassle.
Zoom Meetings – Zoom helps you hold remote meetings easily. Zoom also lets people in the meeting chat in real-time, so anytime someone has a question, but doesn’t want to interrupt the team member talking, all they have to do is type it out using the chat feature for all to see.
When your team is spread across multiple locations, it gets a bit stressful to monitor the progress made on a particular project by different people. Managers are responsible for making sure that the deadlines are met, no matter if they are working with remote teams or not. With some projects it is important to monitor the progress in real-time. Which is why you need to start using tools that help you manage projects and monitor the progress made.
After you interact with your virtual employee, make sure that the important aspects of the meeting are summarized into a document and shared with the employee. Also, have them send you a short recap of the meeting as well.
The reason behind these recaps is simple. Having virtual employees means that if you want to clarify something or they want to clarify something, it is not as if you can walk up to their cubicle or they can walk into your room. These recaps will help clear any doubts or questions either of you might have. This also keeps the lines of communication open.
Some of the tools that you can use are:
Asana – Asana combines elements of project management, file storage, and collaboration and helps to manage projects across a team without email.
JIRA – JIRA is a cross-platform issue and bug tracking software with advanced project management capabilities and features.
ProofHub – ProofHub allows team members to have seamless interactions with fellow teammates and clients. ProofHub is an all-in-one remote project management software that supports online proofing, discussions, chat to share feedback and remote project management only at a central place.
BaseCamp – It’s a project management and team collaboration software solution that helps you manage projects and communicate with clients in a meaningful way. It offers a range of features and tools for sharing ideas, organizing conversations, and keeping everyone on the same page throughout the project.
Another challenge that managers face when their employees work remotely is tracking the productivity of their teams. As a manager, you have to keep your team working on the smaller tasks to keep the bigger ones running smoothly; but with teams working remotely, it is stressful for managers to keep track of these smaller tasks. Well, there are a few tools that you can use to keep track of the progress that employees make on their smaller tasks. Here’s a list of tools that can help you:
Toggl – Toggl helps you understand how long a task is taking to complete and helps you plan the next task accordingly. Toggl tracks the time taken to complete a task, and you can use this as a benchmark to maintain and improve turnaround time.
Engagedly – Engagedly’s OKRs help you assign goals, align them with department/ organization goals and track the goal progress of your team.
Todoist – Todoist is a software that keeps everyone up to date with everything from the little things that can slip our minds to the tasks we accomplish daily.
Individual assignments, team tasks and custom-labeled projects are listed with deadlines, and productivity is monitored in regard to tasks completed on time. The biggest perk is that it’s cross-compatible with every platform we use.
EverHour – It is a simple time tracking tool that helps you determine not only how much time your employees are spending on various tasks, but also how that time is translating to company profitability. It also has features for task management, expense tracking, reporting, and resource planning.
While these are the major challenges faced by teams in terms of communication and collaboration, employees also face issues with staying engaged and productive when they are working from home.
As a remote worker, not only are you responsible for your own work and time but you are also responsible for your own engagement and motivation. And we do understand, it can be hard for you to motivate yourself or be engaged consistently, especially when there is no HR or manager to guide you. Which is why we at Engagedly have compiled a list of tips that can make your life easier.
Also read: Combating The Corona Virus – The Small Business Edition
Here’s a list of things that you can do to stay productive during your remote working:
Create A Dedicated Workspace
A workspace of your own makes it easier to get in the ‘zone’ to speak. Don’t fall into the habit of working anywhere you like at home, because it will become harder for you to develop a routine. A work desk or space solely intended for your work will also make it easier to organize your work schedule and work materials if you have any.
Maintain A Schedule For Yourself
As a remote worker, let’s face it, you are partly your own boss. That means you are responsible for creating your own work schedule, based on the work assigned to you. If you know that you tend to be sluggish in the morning, schedule your routine tasks for them and save your more engaging work for then you find yourself raring to go. Alternatively, you can block off times during the day where you can attend to different tasks. Either way, create a schedule that works for you. Schedules are a great way to ensure that your work process is streamlined and they keep you from falling off the tracks as well.
The temptation to play hooky can be really great, especially if you know that there’s no one who is going to be looking over your shoulder (like it sometimes happens in an office) but you have to resist! One of the benefits of remote work is being your own boss and while this means greater flexibility for you, you shouldn’t also let it get to you. A consistent work ethic will greatly benefit you in the long run.
Communicate And Then Communicate Some More
Your manager and teammates need to know that you are there. Therefore, you’ve got to make your presence known to them and even engage in some chit-chat. As a remote worker, unfortunately, you are going to have to work a little harder to engage with your colleagues, because you are physically present in the office. A good communication app can help you converse freely with your colleagues and lessen some of the distance between you and them.
Set Clear Boundaries About Work Timings
As a remote worker, you might think that because you aren’t physically present in the office, you will have to make up for it by putting in longer hours than usual. That is not how it works. Work, whether done remotely or while being physically present in the office holds the same value. You need to define clear work timings for yourself and you need to let your colleagues and managers know about those timings as well. Once in a while, there might be an overlap between work and home, but for the most part, do not let boundary lines between home and work blur. Remember, you are under no obligation to be available 24/7, whether you are a regular office worker or a remote worker.
Don’t Work In Your Pajamas
Get up every day and get dressed like you would do so for a day at work. See, you don’t need to walk around in a three-piece or trouser pants, but neither can you settle down to tackle the day’s work in your night clothes. Working in your pajama pants lends remote work a sense of casualness. And that makes it a lot harder for you to motivate yourself. Getting into the spirit of work not only involves settling down into your workplace but also dressing like you’ve got a hard day’s work ahead of you!
Behave Like You Would In A Real Office
If you were physically present in an office, you wouldn’t allow your work to be constantly interrupted by personal phone calls, visitors, breaks etc. The same goes for when you are doing remote work. Put up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign if you need and let friends and family know you cannot be contacted during certain hours
Originally published on Engagedly