More and more companies are offering employees the option to work remotely. Not only does this give employees more freedom and flexibility, it also allows business to secure top talent from around the world. These remote teams need special attention when it comes to managing employees as the distance can often make it hard to connect.
Here are 15 tools, resources and company practices that entrepreneurs find indispensable to successfully managing their remote teams.
A. Time Management Software
Time management software is essential. You really can’t rely on the honor system when managing a remote team. Effective time management software can help you monitor productivity, track hours and much more, to ensure your remote workers are performing consistently and continuously. - Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
A. Zoom Video Conference
Zoom has single-handedly changed the way I work with my remote team. In the beginning of my remote experience, we tried to handle all communication through Slack or Trello. We found that deep collaboration suffered when relying solely on these tools. Zoom changed this by combining the reliability of legacy conferencing with cool/useful features that new age startups love. - Lawrence Watkins, Great Black Speakers
A. In-Person Retreats
Our company has always been composed of remote team members ... but each year we have at least one in-person retreat. Not only do we power through important topics and company issues, but it also opens so many doors of communication between each team member. We experience a huge boost in productivity that lasts months after we’ve all gone home. - Nathalie Lussier, AmbitionAlly
A. Reflective Conversations
It’s important to have frequent communications related to day-to-day tasks within the company. In addition to Slack and regular huddles, it’s also critical to set aside time for conversations that are just focused on “reflection” within the company. Whether it’s on a regular basis or after key milestones/projects, make sure the team has a chance to voice these insights collectively. - Ross Beyeler, Growth Spark
A. Set Communication Times
Establish a protocol that works on when to have one-on-ones and team meetings. Ensure that these are regular but that don’t become a burden to your remote team. Also, make sure to add them to company updates so they feel included in everything. This can be done through tools such as Slack or Skype. - Andrew O’Connor, American Addiction Centers
A. A VoIP Service
You want to stay in constant contact with your scattered Fellowship of the Brand. If that’s the case, you’ll need a digital communication option that works in any situation and any place you can connect to WiFi — yes, even the skeevy Motel 6 that was the only motel your site’s IT guy could find off of Route 66. You’ll have to understand that your wayward remote employees chose the nomadic lifestyle. - Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure
A. Localized Emergency Response Plans
With a distributed team, tracking who may be affected by a natural disaster can be harder. Putting in the time in advance to have up-to-date contact information (beyond a cell phone) is a good first step. Putting more concrete plans into place (as well as encouraging your employees to put their own personal emergency response plan into place) can help keep a distributed team functioning long term. - Thursday Bram, The Responsible Communication Style Guide
A. Weekly Phone Calls
Programs like Slack and Skype are great for getting in touch with remote team members instantly, but there are limits to what can be communicated through these platforms. Skype is a bit better since you can chat using VoIP, but most people use built-in microphones or headsets that can sound garbled. The best form of communication in these situations is a regular phone call every week to catch up. - Bryce Welker, Beat The CPA
A. Set Hours
I have team members all over the U.S., and working around time zones and schedules can be tricky. We’ve implemented a block of set hours for every person on our team. We use that time to collaborate as a team, bounce ideas back and forth, catch up on project status, etc. It’s important to have time everyday where all of your employees are available to you and to each other. - Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR
Asana has been a great tool for us. We have a relatively flat remote team hierarchy, so we rely on Asana to assign tasks and keep each other accountable. It’s a collaborative project management tool that gives transparency throughout the entire organization. - Jared Atchison, WPForms
A. Confluence Wiki
Our team is spread across four continents in five time zones. To keep everyone on the same page, we use a Confluence Wiki. It’s like Wikipedia for our company. Meeting notes, project specs, brainstorming sessions and ongoing processes are all held there in different, interlinking areas. Maintaining one wiki also allows to bring on new talent faster (and it reduces email). - Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.
A. Podio Software
I love Podio management software to keep our team all on the same page. It’s awesome to have all of our information in one central location so that when issues arise, we can come together as a team to handle them. Podio also helps us work collaboratively on projects, as it allows for flexibility with communication styles and accountability for deadlines and tasks. - Rachel Beider, Massage Greenpoint, Massage Williamsburg
Slack makes communication so much faster and efficient it eliminates the need to work out of the same location. It takes the best of real life communication and technology. For example, it’s clear if you’re interrupting someone on Slack because they can press the “snooze” button but in real life, it’s not always so clear. In many ways, Slack has revolutionized work communication. - Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster
Skype works exceptionally well with international remote workers and provides a low-cost way to stay on top of what everyone is doing. It’s reliable and provides file transfers, video, audio, as well as messaging capability. - Peter Daisyme, Due
A. Google Docs
Google’s suite of office applications makes collaborative editing a breeze. Team members can work on the same document or spreadsheet simultaneously or take it in turns. It’s easy to limit access to the people who need it. Docs and Sheets are much more efficient and productive than collaborating over email threads with documents in multiple versions being passed between workers. - Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.