“Necessity is the mother of invention” – the words from Plato’s Republic echo and hold especially true during times as unprecedented as these. With even the most complicated collaborations being pushed into remote mode, a huge shift in work culture has been brought on by necessity. Face-to-face interactions have been replaced by screens and webcams, giving us virtual collaborative spaces in place of physical ones. This change comes with its own set of challenges. If learning the ropes of a job wasn’t nerve-wracking already, the added pressure of executing everything from home can be mentally taxing. Not finding the means to communicate with fellow colleagues, especially those with whom you might not work directly, can limit your chances of connecting with prospective mentors and creating meaningful professional relationships.
In situations like these, it’s important for employers to provide solutions and keep the spirit of teamwork alive. Here we discuss a few basic tools to get your team up and running for productive work sessions, even if you are spread out across the globe. With that, we mix in a few good working from home tips for success and your team will be ready to handle everyday challenges with ease.
For project and task management
The first and the foremost step to structure out your everyday tasks visibly and clearly is to set up a project or task management tool. For working from home productivity, staying organized with platforms like JIRA, Asana and Clickup can work tremendously well. Clickup is a robust tool that offers most project management features absolutely free of cost and can boost working from home productivity for startups that might not have the budget to purchase tools. The Clickup workspace is divided into separate areas which can function as departments and further compartmentalize projects and tasks. Teams can easily customize their workflow, appoint tasks on dashboard and visibly identify work progress.
This is great not just for a work from home setup, but even as you step back into your office, it’s always a great idea to identify and track goals for team members to understand each others’ responsibilities and know whom to approach for a certain kind of troubleshooting.
When you’re remotely working, you can’t just stop by your boss’ desk and ask for their opinion when you stumble upon a roadblock. It’s also not always convenient or appropriate to throw an unplanned call their way. Slack is quickly replacing email around the world and doesn’t carry the urgency of a hurried phone call. This asynchronous communication tool comfortably sits right in the middle, allowing people to respond at their own convenience and according to their own work schedule. One can organize conversations threads into Channels to dedicate separate spaces for teams and manage collaborations effectively. You can also work with numerous applications like Zoom, WordPress and Google calendar within these channels and seamlessly integrate them into the conversation. The tool uses goal-oriented threads and its features are suitable to accommodate people from different time zones.
For exchanging information across time-zones
Now that we have touched upon the topic of different time zones, it’s important to acknowledge how tricky it can get for leaders to delegate tasks to people residing on the other side of the world. Finding the right way to connect can be a hassle when your calendars don’t line up. This is where a tool like Loom comes into the picture. Loom, as a video tool allows you to record your video message accompanied by visuals and screen recording whenever you need to give a quick tutorial or explain a new project workflow to your team. It’s much better than writing detail-packed incomprehensible emails that many are bound to get confused by.
For making your work look visually stunning
Studies prove that people retain visual input better than textual and what’s better, you can make your video instructions and presentations fun and engaging too! Excelling at work is as much about being great at what you do, as it is about presenting the brilliance of your work. Even if you’re on a tight deadline, the design aspect of your presentations and social media posts should never be ignored. The internet has a great pool of free design resources for this purpose and with websites like Canva, Behance and Envato Elements you can give your presentations an artistic edge. Nimmio has a ready-to-use free library of engaging visual content and graphic templates that can pack a lot of value into your work. You can leave it to the design professionals to do what they do best and get free presentation templates from the Nimmio website. The open source files come in handy if you’re looking to customize colour schemes and fonts, and present a high-quality visual story. Simply download your pre-designed template of choice and get cracking on MS Powerpoint!
For file sharing
If there’s anything a remote company can’t function without, it’s cloud based file sharing solutions. Sharing documents over email can turn into a nightmare really quickly and eat up hours of your time while you sit and scan through thousands of emails for ‘that’ particular file. Dropbox is undeniably one the biggest names when it comes to sharing and accessing documents conveniently. The tool makes it extremely easy to easily sync, organize and share files with coworkers. It takes away any difficulty that teams might face while collaborating, especially on creative projects that require frequent edits, and decreases the chances of losing data to software glitches or technical problems.
For inevitable tech issues
If you’ve spent any time working from home, chances are that troublesome Wi-Fi and unexpected glitches have been your unwelcome companions. For anyone who is a part of an organization with hundreds of employees, pinging the same tech person from IT for an oddly complicated software update isn’t the most convenient, or the most considerate move. While they might solve the issue by dropping a quick tip in your chat box, they certainly won’t be able to accommodate all distressed employees at once for troubleshooting. Using a helpdesk ticketing tool such as JIRA Service Desk becomes crucial now more than ever. This tool can help with internal troubleshooting and ensure employees have the means to work through challenges and optimize technological resources available to them. Tickets can be categorized and prioritized to plan subsequent troubleshooting over video calls and remote desktop control.
For sharing resources within a team
Apart from sharing files, teams might also need to share resources such as common accounts, subscriptions, libraries etc. Instead of just giving out passwords via emails or messages that can be potentially passed on and misused, it’s certainly wiser to have a password manager. 1Password allows coworkers to share passwords for common accounts while sitting in any part of the world. The tool is end-to-end encrypted and provides compartmentalization to give you total control over who can access what. It can store passwords, licenses and sensitive information in a virtual vault guarded by a master password and secret key which are unique to each user.
For team building and acknowledging excellence
Adjusting to working from home can feel draining and unfulfilling especially for people who thrive in social situations. Quality down time with coworkers and recognition platforms are important to keep the feeling of collective belonging alive. A platform for exchange of meaningful appreciation can support team building, which is where a tool like Assembly comes in. Assembly, a peer-to-peer reward program, gives employees a platform to thank coworkers for important qualities such as resourcefulness and velocity. John from Tech team can thank his colleague Matt with a shoutout and when the post shows up on Sale department’s Jane, she might feel encouraged to thank John in the same way for his assistance with troubleshooting. This creates a positive domino effect and invites people to give reward points to their coworkers for providing help. These points can later be redeemed by the recipient to get tangible rewards or directly donate to the charities they support.
For effective time management
One big issue that people often face while working from home is their inability to separate work hours from down time. These blurred lines between work and leisure can make switching from one mode to another harder and reduce working from home productivity. Adjusting to working from home can be done smoothly with time management tools like Toogl. The tool allows you to track time for tasks and make sense of the data by converting tracked numbers into reports. Employees can use the tool both online and offline, log in their work hours and take recommended breaks to rejuvenate as well. The tool helps remote employees manage time with pomodoro technique and gives automated reminders to ensure they don’t get overworked and burned out.
The Bottom Line
The best part about the situation is that many employees actually enjoy working from home as the setup gives them more independence and flexibility. People simply require support to channel their energies into work the right way. With just a few of these upgrades and tweaks, your employees can feel more focused at home and just as engaged as before.