Regardless of your reasoning, if you’re considering rolling out a remote work policy for your team, you’re not alone.
From 2005 to 2017, remote working in the United States grew by 159%. Remote workers report feeling more productive and less stressed by work than their office-bound peers. And workers who enjoy the flexibility to telecommute tend to stay with their employers for longer. But reaping the rewards of a remote staff doesn't come easy—you can’t just turn your staff loose and expect productivity and retention to blossom!
We’ve already written about some of the policies and strategies implemented at CatalystCreativ that help us stay productive, connected, and engaged in our work, despite being a fully remote team.
But it can take more than a positive attitude and thoughtful suggestions to ensure things run smoothly when your employees and teammates are fully decentralized! It takes tools—both digital and tangible—to keep your team on track and in sync.
1. Solid WiFi
We’re calling this one “solid WiFi” for a reason. Even if you already have fairly reliable internet at home, you may want to upgrade to higher speeds to accommodate any additional devices you might use throughout the day, as well as a healthy dosage of video conferencing you’ll be partaking in.
Headphones—preferably noise-canceling ones—should include a microphone! For one, if you’ll be partaking in any amount of video conferencing or even longer phone calls, you’ve just gotta be able to hear your colleagues, and they’ve gotta be able to hear you! Even if you’re working from a quiet home office, atmospheric noise can prove distracting.
3. Google Drive
Google Drive and all of its subsidiary programs (Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.) are incredibly easy to use, and are great at fostering collaborative work. Just be sure to establish clear, and consistent labeling practices for files, and create folders within your team’s Drive to ensure things are sorted in a logical, easy-to-find manner.
Love it or hate it, you just gotta have it. Okay, maybe you don’t need to use Gmail, but you need—and almost certainly already use—email! That said, without the opportunity to pop over to a colleague’s desk for a quick, impromptu chat, you’ll also want something with a bit more immediacy. Which is where our next tool comes in.
Slack, an organizational messaging application, fills the gaps nicely when it comes to the sort of quick back-and-forth you probably take for granted when working in a conventional office. Have a quick question about a report? Need a speedy answer to a “yes or no” question? Want a reminder on who’s leading which projects? Use Slack.
Video calls can be the next best thing to a standard, in-person round-table-style meeting. Everyone is present and able to contribute in real time, and the visual component of this medium really raises the stakes engagement-wise. Zoom—and other similar video-conferencing platforms—can even elevate client communication.
But not all of your clients may necessarily want to—or possess the perceived technical prowess—to just “hop on a video call.” If you’re working with or on behalf of a more old school organization, a conventional conference call might be best. UberConference is one of the best options out there.
8. Trello / 9. Asana
Trello and Asana aim to accomplish much of the same thing, but approach it through slightly different methods. They are both project management software, that allows individual team members to clearly see what’s expected of them, and also let their colleagues see the progress they’ve made. It can come down to personal preference on which to use, but both clearly, visually, and communally present deadlines, tasks, and roadblocks in a way that makes full team collaboration possible and efficient, even without in-person contact.
One great aspect about all of these tools (sans utilities like electricity and WiFi and physical goods like a laptop and headphones) is that they are free to use, or at least offer a limited free version, so that your team can test them out and see if they fit.
If you have more questions about remote work policies or tools, we’re always happy to help teams figure out what works best for them in terms of remote work. Don’t hesitate to reach out by filling out the form below!