Projects

3 Keys to Efficient Remote Work

Post-COVID-19 life has changed the way we live but also the way we work. The number of companies closing offices and moving to remote positions is increasing. Some smaller businesses realize they don’t need the overhead, while other larger companies can’t ‘force’ their staff back to the office. 

What requires remote work to be effective is having optimized technology, clearly defined expectations, and regular training. 

When managers think of remote work, they might cringe at the thought. Your employees are lounging around watching TikTok videos and not accomplishing anything. However, if the three items mentioned above are the foundation, then slacking does not usually occur. 

1. Technology

You will need semi-tech savvy individuals to work remotely and effectively. You and your team members will need to have a rudimentary ability to pick-up new technology because it will allow you (them) to have a better workflow. This is key. 

When I was an Academic Manager (100% remote), it was always a let down at the beginning of the hiring process when a highly qualified teacher could not keep up with the technological aptitude required to do the work. The inability to create a reliable workflow ended up costing the company more money because some of them were hourly, not to mention the number of hours I had to spend training them up. 

2. Clearly defined expectations

Set your expectations from the beginning, and these are not malleable. All team members are responsible on an individual level. Expectations should be clearly defined, implemented, and maintained. 

3. Regular training

If you haven’t covered Unit 4 on training, please take a look at it here. 

What technology works? 

To be an effective communicator, you will need to clearly state your intentions, plans, and thoughts in written, verbal, and presentation formats. Here are a few apps I use to help enhance my ability to communicate. 

  • G suite- There are many products in this suite, and here are the ones you must have a good grasp of to maximize your effectiveness. 
  • Mail– If you have not subscribed to the ominous Gmail, then do so today. Giving up some of your personal information, you get a lot of GBs of storage. 
  • Drive- Google Drive allows you to store up to 15 GB for free. Here you can create, upload, download, and overall manage different files. 
  • Docs- This is Google’s wordprocessor. It is not as robust as Word, but has come a long way and gets the job done. 
  • Calendar- If you haven’t already, please go to the Unit on Time Management and how you can harness Google Calendar to keep you on track. 
  • Keep- This can allow quick notes or lists that can easily convert to a Google Doc. There is the option to add members to the index for collaboration.
  • Sheets- The equivalent to Microsoft Excel, this is robust and has a myriad of uses. For managing team goals and KPIs, this will be invaluable. 
  • Slides- If you need to create a simple PPT, Slides will work. I do prefer Windows PowerPoint since it does offer more editing features. 
  • Hangouts- Using either of the features will allow you to send short instant messages or jump on a quick call with a customer or colleague. 

Slack

I was introduced to Slack while working on a certificate from Treehouse on Front-end development. Slack is an app that allows you to share files and send instant messages to the entire company or individual departments called ‘channels.’ I ran two teams that were similar but had different cultures, so we had two separate channels, and only one or two members overlapped in both. 

It contains a myriad of features but is essentially the new tool of the remote employee. As an aside, its stock was surging during the early 2020 economic crisis. 

Loom

One of the best ways to communicate clearly in a virtual setting besides synchronous video conferencing is to record yourself and your screen as you layout details for your new project. Loom allows users to record their screen, optionally themselves, to help drive home points and remove any communication breakdowns. 

Don’t waste time going back and forth with instant messages

Attach an important file with a corresponding Loom recording link to help the intended audience to understand your point. Have you ever received a message like: 

Here’s the file to the project tinyurl.com/23432?V?Fer?//esefe

This is a timewaster as you could be expecting many files from this person on other projects that you might be working on at that moment. A Loom recording allows you to explain your thoughts more clearly as you walk your audience through the document. 

CRM

If you are not working with a CRM now, you will be soon as almost everything seems to be moving online. Customer Relationship Management is a technology for managing your department’s relationships with customers. 

Some of you reading this might be okay with keeping your spreadsheets, possibly even writing Post-it notes scattered around your work area. The essence of a CRM is that anyone with access to it will see all team members’ work and quickly help a customer. It’s about teamwork and managing what gets measured. 

In my time, I’ve worked with four different companies that offer CRM dashboards and created my own using Google Sheets. Besides Google Sheets, you can use a free limited feature CRM from HubSpot, or shell out some coin for one from Salesforce. 

Suppose you have no real training with CRMs or need to get better at using technology. I recommend some free resources at Salesforce.com or HubSpot.com. You can learn the essential functions of a CRM that can usually carry over to any CRM platform. The main point I need to make is to get comfortable using it if you are not already. 

Toggl

Time management is always an issue even when working in a brick-and-mortar office. One way to foster real teamwork is to set up some projects on Toggl, get your team on it, and use it. Toggl has free options, and one of them is to create a project timesheet, and team members can log in, work, and make any comments related to someone else on the team. 

This app might seem a bit intrusive, but consider the benefits of visual data that all team members can see? If your team has a healthy competitive appetite, they should be willing to have their numbers tracked and displayed publically. 

Get Mobile!

Always look for apps with easy to use mobile versions as these can still be back up forms of communication if the WiFI cuts out, turn to LTE. 

Most of the apps I’ve listed above have reliable mobile apps that are highly functioning. Nothing better than closing sales while sitting in a coffee shop. 

Other useful apps-

TypingTest.com

Get job applicants to take this test and submit it directly to you. Their score, plus the average, will be 

Typeform

Create engaging forms, quizzes, and tutorials to help you vet qualified job applicants. 

Lastpass

Share your 3rd party login details with different team members and easily revoke their access as necessary. They will never see your passwords but can access the company Stripe account, for example. 

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