Over the last few years, we’ve seen fascinating advances in software that have allowed teams to work in ways we never thought possible. New solutions offering unique ways to collaborate and manage teams pop up seemingly every week. We’re living in a veritable golden age of productivity software.
While these new tools offer remarkable ways to work, they’re also tearing down walls in terms of the kind of people businesses can hire. More specifically, they’re allowing companies to hire people from across the world by making it easier to manage remote teams. And as we’ve seen over the course of the last year and a half, remote teams can and do thrive. A survey of company leaders by Gartner shows that nearly 50% of businesses plan to let their employees work from home full time after the pandemic.
While remote work was once the arena of IT departments and tech companies, it’s fast becoming the norm for everyone across all types of business. It’s safe to say that remote teams will play a big role in the future of work.
The Benefits and Challenges of a Remote Team
Most businesses should be well-acquainted with the benefits effective remote teams can offer. It’s precisely why big tech companies have leveraged remote employees for years now. These benefits include:
- A much wider pool of top talent
- Lower cost of equipment, facilities and infrastructure
- Lower levels of stress for team members
- Less time spent commuting to the office
Of course, while the benefits are real, so are the challenges. Managing a team in an office is a difficult endeavor as it is. Adding in disparate time zones, a lack of knowledge about who’s working on what and fragmented communication make these challenges particularly troublesome. Thankfully, there are ways to offset many of these challenges, and it starts with the tools.
The Right Tools for the Job
The biggest hurdle in effectively managing a remote team is finding the right kind of tools that help support scheduling and resource management while encouraging productivity and collaboration. And while there are numerous solutions out there, it’s crucial to find a tool that makes everyone’s job easier and keeps them all on the same page.
Resource Scheduling Software
Resource scheduling and management are crucial for an effective remote team. You want a tool that lets you easily access and share information about your team’s projects in real time. You also want something that’s agnostic in terms of the kind of resource you’re able to assign — you may need to assign equipment or even locations, not just employees.
Since whiteboards are a thing of the past for this type of working environment, software that offers visual representations of progress on tasks and projects will go a long way in making sure all of your teammates know who’s focusing on what and how the entire project is progressing at a glance.
Resource scheduling also requires a high degree of accuracy. In a typical office environment, walking down the hall to a colleague’s office to confirm some detail on a task is fairly common — not so in a remote environment. You need software that helps you reduce overtime, provides error-free bookings and controls incoming workload with pinpoint accuracy.
Project Management Tools
Planning, coordinating and optimizing your remote team’s abilities and availability across locations is one thing. But you also need an equally efficient project management tool to bring all of these resources together.
Your chosen tool should be easy to use, intuitive and flexible enough to provide the most relevant features to your team. It should be a complete project management solution that offers a suite of tools for planning projects, including the ability to manage project phases or sprints, mark milestone achievements and accurately track resources and costs.
A Complete Solution
Of course, because these kinds of resources are intrinsically linked, it stands to reason that a well-designed tool offering both resource planning and project management will serve your remote team beautifully.
A complete solution lets you plan and coordinate your team and assign resources to ongoing projects, giving you the ability to quickly assess the task’s progress and who is working on it. It also lets you monitor ongoing progress and reassign resources when necessary for optimal workloads.
The best solution also offers complete communication between your team, regardless of where they are. While having a central medium for communication is crucial, your remote team members need a way to communicate at a scoped level, such as direct chat messages with teammates or commenting on particular tasks.
The tools you use should be accessible across a range of devices. One of the biggest headaches in managing remote resources is the dizzying array of devices that are used by various team members. You want a solution that sits in the cloud and is accessible on the web from any kind of device, regardless of the operating system, connection or location.
Effectively Managing and Scheduling Remote Teams
While tools go a long way in alleviating the challenges, it’s also important to communicate clear expectations and establish boundaries with your employees. Remote teams exist across boundaries and time zones, meaning there are times when some team members are available and others aren’t. Making sure everyone’s on the same page in terms of working hours, schedules and availability will ensure no lines are crossed and everyone stays happy. Of course, great scheduling software will help with this kind of challenge, as well.
Invest in the Right Software for Remote Teams
Managing and scheduling a remote team comes with its own unique set of challenges. Done well, it leads to increased productivity, happier teammates and a more productive and creative workforce created from a pool of the best possible talent, regardless of location.
But it’s not an endeavor you should take lightly. Managing a remote team requires filling in blank spots you aren’t privy to when your teams aren’t down the hall from your office. And the best way to manage these gaps and prevent common headaches that come with remote work environments is to invest in the right software for project management and team scheduling so you can:
- Keep track of projects and goals accurately
- Track your team member’s productivity
- Manage schedules and timesheets for teammates across different time zones
As we move into this new future of remote teams, it’s important to manage and communicate with everyone across roles. The right software gives you what you need so your business can leverage all the benefits of remote work without falling victim to the challenges. For more information on how you can help manage your remote team, get in touch with Visual Planning today.
Manale is passionate about digital marketing. She joined STILOG I.S.T in 2018.
She brings SEO & SEA expertise, email marketing and creative content marketing to create a great brand experience for Visual Planning customers.