2021 will be the first year of remote working being the international standard: not just an option for many professionals, but actually the default option. Even the fastest-possible vaccine rollout with optimal results won’t change that. For years to come, companies will be reluctant to return to traditional office life for fear of it once again falling apart.
Furthermore, their workers have had plenty of time to show that working remotely isn’t the drain on productivity that it was once thought to be. Most people are used to it by now, and many of them prefer it for various reasons. They don’t need to bother with commuting, allowing them to save money and time. They can work in whatever conditions they prefer. It’s convenient.
There are disadvantages, though — and the most prominent is the lack of conventional team communication. Working in an office with someone makes it easy to share information and advice with them, and to discuss project work. It also supports the establishment and maintenance of company culture.
How can you manage that when people are scattered? Well, in this post we’re going to look at five tools that can support team and culture growth while all those involved are working remotely. (Note that we’re looking at tool types, not specific brands.) Let’s get started.
A comprehensive strategic planning tool
For a team to work effectively, its goals must be neatly defined and made abundantly clear, and that means having a tool in place to outline the strategy and ensure that progress is made. This is precisely what Rhythm Systems is about: governing team alignment and providing rich insight you can use to gauge (and correct) performance.
Accountability is something that can easily fall by the wayside when you move to remote operation. On one hand, it’s good to allow a great deal of autonomy. On the other, it’s dangerous to be too detached from the productivity process. Having a system in place to track goal progression without requiring manual intervention solves this problem.
A collaborative content management system
The best teams are those with relatively-flat hierarchies. There are still managers and major role differences, but no one is forbidden from getting involved in projects outside their usual purview. Given that a modern company stands or falls largely on the strength of its website, then it makes sense to get all interested team members to contribute to it.
This is easier with some site systems than others, though — particularly in the online retail sector where there are many more functions to address. Steal a glance at an ecommerce platforms review (e.g. Ecommerce Platforms), and you’ll see that they vary wildly in the native features they provide. Some are highly intuitive and accessible, allowing many distinct role types, while others are limited and difficult to use. Choosing the former will surely help.
A reliable video conferencing tool
So much has been written about the rise of Zoom in 2020 that we don’t need to dwell on this point, but it would be quite ridiculous to focus on team tools for remote-working teams without touching upon the obvious importance of video conferencing software—and while available tools all function very similarly, they can vary in cost, quality and reliability.
Zoom has caught on by providing a solid, free option that works consistently, so use that if it suits your needs. Otherwise, take a look around and check the latest roundups to see if there’s a video conferencing tool that fits your budget and can meet all your requirements.
A low-pressure text conversation channel
Talking over video is great (and goes some way to making up for the challenging loss of in-person interaction, though it can only do so much), but it isn’t something you can do all day. It’s too much of a distraction, and it quickly becomes uncomfortable, sacrificing one of the best things about working remotely: having extensive privacy.
This is why you also need a text channel for keeping everyone on the same page in a much more relaxed way. Whether it’s Slack or one of its decent alternatives, that channel can support both task-related exchanges and the kind of informal chatter that allows colleagues to bond even when they can’t meet up normally.
A polished and informative HR portal
Culture growth doesn’t start with established employees: it starts with the hiring process. If someone has a bad experience when they join a team, they’ll always view it somewhat negatively — but if they have a great experience, it’ll push them to be loyal to that company and put in significant effort to make the atmosphere even better.
The fact that we’re largely out of shared workspaces now doesn’t mean that HR doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s more important than ever before to provide a central location for all relevant matters: taking time off, reporting a problem, and even going through the onboarding process. The best teams are those composed of individuals who feel suitably supported, and an HR portal will allow you to provide that level of support.
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Image credit: iStock by Getty Images
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images