Let’s face it – remote work is not a matter of “if” but “how” and here I mean the rise of innovative management models which are based on flexibility and the team’s output rather than presence in a certain location. What’s actually essential in the entire idea of “remote” is the methodology behind it, instead of the location itself. Within the past few months, I have been observing numerous companies trying to replace their in-office experience by downloading various video conferencing applications in order to facilitate communication among team members. And there’s nothing wrong with it in general as we definitely need to get connected with our team, but such an approach seems insufficient.
This is because trying to adapt onsite practices in a distributed team doesn’t get to the basics of implementing an efficient and optimal remote work experience.
So, what’s the golden rule?
The digital work era allows us to combine technology with the irreplaceable human factor. According to Social Media Entrepreneur, Matt Mullenweg “Technology is best when it brings people together” and to me personally these words explicitly mean that it's supposed to make our lives easier by breaking barriers and potential obstacles, while influencing efficiency and a smooth workflow. Therefore, despite the ever-increasing availability of innovative software and tools for distributed teams, we should take several aspects into consideration:
Automation – The more scattered our tools are, the bigger our frustration. I’m sure you can either imagine or you’ve actually been in a situation when you had to log into different applications and enter the same information several times. For example, you may have tried to schedule an online meeting by sending several e-mails to your colleagues asking for their availability and then you manually had to send invites by creating an event in your calendar... Afterwards, when you’ve agreed on action steps during the meetings, you were forced to (again) manually assign them to team members in your project management software, and THEN – you Slacked everyone that you’ve finished… Nonsense, right? At this stage, I want to let you know that it doesn’t have to be this way – there are indeed tools that can all this for you, such as Zapier, Fellow or simple Slack integrations.
Less is more – It’s super tempting to go for everything that is trendy, but this can be misleading as you definitely don’t want to waste time on tools you simply don’t need. I’ve observed that many companies have downloaded different tools that they just don’t use so why even bother? If you’ve had a good experience with Google Hangouts, why go for Zoom? If your company uses Webex efficiently then maybe getting Microsoft Teams just won’t serve its purpose?
Compatibility – That’s my favorite one and it’s also connected with automation. Choose tools that are compatible and can easily connect with the remaining ones within your infrastructure. Before you make a decision on downloading a new tool, check out first it goes with what you already have. The idea is to have a fully connected and centralised “database” that saves time and resources.
Innovation – Don’t stick to what you already know by thinking that it’s already “good enough”. It’s a fact that we are generally reluctant to change and we like to function in our comfort zones but… There’s so much to discover out there! I can assure you from my personal experience that digital tools never stop surprising me and whenever I think that I got it all, I find out that I’ve been living in the dark.
What’s worth checking out?
Now it’s time for some recommendations of tools that I’ve been recently using within remote teams with super positive feedback… Anyway, make sure to evaluate your team’s needs before you make a decision on going for a particular one. It’s always worth grouping them into different categories such as project management, communication, scheduling, team bonding etc. so that you can see what’s still missing on your end.
Loom – It’s a quick video messages and transcription application which is compatible with the majority of other communication apps.
Fellow - Remote meeting management software that saves soooo much time! You can not only smoothly integrate it with other tools but also use it to facilitate your online meeting agenda.
Miro - An online collaborative platform that fosters creativity and team spirit! Gone are the days of having to collaborate just on Google docs.
Yonderdesk – A virtual Office solution for both remote-first hybrid teams that allows you to stay connected as if you were sitting next to each other – imagination becomes reality!
Krisp - It mutes background noise in any communication app so you don’t have to worry about your dog barking in the background or your doorbell ringing during an important meeting
If you feel that the digital work era seems more tiring than fun, it’s definitely about time to re-asses your toolkit being responsible for such a poor experience… After all, it’s about enjoying what we do instead of forcing ourselves to open our laptops every morning!