Remote working is becoming more and more commonplace as businesses embrace the advantages of an online, flexible and more productive team.
There has been a shift in terms of what society sees as an appropriate workplace. Employees no longer need to commute into a ‘traditional’ office to sit at a designated desk under a line manager’s supervision in order to get the job done.
Remote teams can work from anywhere with online connectivity: work-from-home offices, cafes, coffee shops or co-working spaces. These arrangement suits freelancers (e.g. writers) and digital marketers (e.g. social media buffs) particularly well and leads to a happy, healthy team with envious work-life balance.
Advantages of a remote team
Although employing remote teams may seem like a leap of faith, there are 5 distinct advantages:
- A more productive team – just by eliminating commuting time, office distractions and unnecessary meetings, remote team members see a marked increase in productivity. In other words, remote teams get things done.
- Meetings are quicker and more efficient – online meetings and conference calls tend to be short and sweet.
- Your team is incentivised to maintain flexibility – team members love the flexibility that remote working brings, and they will be determined to keep it. Rather than lounging on a beach, you will discover that remote staff members work hard to keep their place on the team.
- The best talent worldwide – a remote team allows you to work with fantastic individuals, wherever they might be. Sure, you might have to juggle time zones, but you will have access to the best and brightest, which is a massive advantage for any business.
- Lower office costs – a traditional office with a permanent team actually comes at a fairly hefty price tag. Just think of the office rental costs, office supplies, connectivity and IT support etc. A virtual team requires no space and can reduce your overheads to almost zero.
Challenges of a remote team
There is also a downside to remote working, especially if it is not managed well. Challenges include:
- A breakdown in communication
- Scheduling – especially across time zones
- Trust, cohesion and team morale
- Tracking performance
- Version control (especially with documents/projects with many different authors)
Fortunately, there are several tools available that can help you manage remote teams, allowing your business to reap the benefits of employing a motivated, flexible and talented group of people.
Top 5 tools for managing remote teams
Google does it again. Google Docs, Google Drive and Google Hangouts are changing the way people do business. These free mobile apps give you easy remote access to your team’s documents, so you can edit, collaborate and store them with ease. You can also ‘hang out’, chat and message your team. It’s a flexible, convenient, secure and easy way to stay in touch.
Fast becoming a favourite office ‘intranet’ site, SharePoint is cloud-based service, hosted by Microsoft, for businesses of all sizes.
SharePoint allows you to design your own internal intranet for employees and customers alike, and it supports document storage, file sharing and real-time collaboration.
Also gaining in popularity is the highly visual, intuitive and powerful project management tool, Monday.com.
Monday.com’s clever use of visual dashboards allows you to track workflow, productivity, deadlines and more.
It’s a collaborative space, which means your entire team (no matter where they are) can instantly track a project against deadlines and deliverables, which means that everyone is on the same page at the same time.
Skype, still the world’s leading, most -established online communication platform, is available on any mobile device (computers, tablets, mobile phones, even Xbox One) and offers everything you need for day-to-day communication in a remote team: chat, voice conferences, file sharing and phone calls.
For a business just dipping its toe into working with a remote team, Skype is simple to use, and anyone can benefit from a Skype address.
Hubstaff is a nifty programme that allows you to track where and how your employees are spending their time.
Hubstaff actually runs software on the virtual employee’s desktop, which means you can keep a close eye on productivity. True to its name, it’s an online hub that includes project management and timelines, online timesheets, employee scheduling, screen recording, employee monitoring, payroll software, GPS tracking, online invoicing, project budgeting and so much more.
Some of the tools listed above are free, others you need to purchase, but all offer tons of support when it comes to managing remote teams.
In fact, these tools only scratch the surface in terms of what is out there and available for small businesses with remote teams. Remote working has never been simpler or easier to manage.
If you are considering working with a remote team or looking to add to your growing team, why not consider a virtual PA?.
A virtual assistant is an asset to any small business. Virtual PAs will tackle all the tasks traditionally assigned to a permanent employee, but they can do it quickly, efficiently and at half the cost.
This includes administration, bookkeeping, writing – even personal concierge services.
AVirtual has the best virtual PAs in the business, and they are a veritable ‘one-stop-virtual-shop’ that gives you access to great talent, advice and support.
AVirtual can give you guidance around potential roles within your team – and the tools to help you manage it. For more information, book your free consultation today.