Working remotely brings in whole set of specific challenges and hurdles for managing certain clients and managing a team. When everyone is spread across multiple time zones, clear team communication becomes even more critical.
Although it’s a challenge, with proper tools and planning, you can create a cohesive, dependable work environment for yourself and your team.
A huge part of successfully managing a remote team is ensuring you have the right tools to serve everyone’s needs. This doesn’t always mean the latest and greatest, but rather the most effective tools to help you communicate with your team.
So let’s talk about some of my must-have tools for remote teams!
I prefer Zoom over other options because it’s easy to use, relatively cheap, and pretty accessible from a tech standpoint. I pay $160 per year and I use it multiple times per day. It’s very easy to record client calls and screenshare. Plus, I use Zoom to talk face-to-face with my team. It’s also a great way for me to easily record training videos and screenflows for my team.
When you work remotely, it’s easy to feel isolated and while Zoom doesn’t entirely resolve that, it is a huge help. Adding a face to a name helps to connect us to our team and our clients. Regularly seeing them helps establish a personal relationship, which is harder to achieve with just phone calls.
Chat with a purpose (and sometimes without)
We use Slack for our messenger chats. Slack provides a great structure that prevents total chaos when you introduce chat into the mix.
It allows you to organize conversations into channels so it’s easier to find later. You can also upload documents, videos or audios and it has a pretty robust search function. On my team, I have a channel for each client and some channels around things we track like monthly package hours. We also have a few random off topic channels for water cooler chats. These are another way to better connect with your team and the channels help keep it from spilling over and cluttering up other conversations.
One drawback I’ve found is that the paid options charge by the user so it gets pricey pretty quickly. But, their free version is more than sufficient for our needs. It only saves 10,000 messages at a time but even for a very active group that’s still likely to be a few months. The saving limitation does suck when you need to find a file or a discussion from months ago but that’s pretty rare for us. So far, that downside hasn’t been enough to outweigh the price.
Pro tip: Slack is excellent for discussion, questions, and follow-up. It should not be used for managing projects, tasks, or workflows. Be sure to stick to chatting about things in Slack but assigning and requesting new tasks in your project management software.
Document your projects
Project management software has given my business new life. For too long, I struggled to manage the chaos from inboxes and Asana. While Asana works very well for some, it was not cutting it for me.
So, I switched to Basecamp and started requiring new clients without their own project management system to live in mine. It took some time to acclimate but after just a few short months, Basecamp 2 revolutionized my business. It allows me to easily manage complex projects for clients and regularly delegate tasks to my growing team.
A major benefit of Basecamp 2 is that it’s incredibly user friendly and cost effective. It doesn’t charge by the user so it’s easy to add clients and additional team members without worrying about the cost.
There are definitely some drawbacks – namely, no recurring tasks and a lack of templates for task lists. But, with a little creativity and forethought, I’ve been able to adapt around those issues pretty easily.
Click for times
This seems like a silly tool, but when you work with people all over the world it’s a lifesaver. With Time Zone Converter, I can quickly confirm appointment times anywhere.
It’s a little thing but when you’re trying to wrap up a call by scheduling your next session, it’s so useful and efficient.
I also use it regularly to confirm what part of the day my team is available. This helps me keep their current environment in mind when making requests or simply saying hello.
I prefer to stay relatively lean when it comes to tools so I regularly review what I have and make sure I’m not paying for things I don’t need. An easy way to remember this is a simple calendar reminder once per quarter!
These tools though are tried and true ones that I use every day to effectively work with people in six different time zones. Whether your team is spread around the world like mine, or you are all nestled into one time zone, you’ll likely find that at least some of these tools bring life and ease to your remote work environment.