One of the most common questions nowadays is how to manage remote team effectively. Especially after the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic. According to Pew Research Center, 35% of workers with jobs that can be done remotely are working from home all of the time, and if we count others who work distantly from all the time this number will significantly increase. In the 21st century, it’s completely normal to run virtual teams and many companies move into remote work culture, due to a number of advantageous reasons.
Winston Churchill once said: “Never let a good crisis go to waste”,
which couldn’t describe a current situation better. While some focus solely on negativity, we want you to look at it from a different perspective and try something new – managing remote teams.
How to make it work for remote managers? The Internet and proper tools are our heroes, but the question is how to use them in the right way. For remote team, Jira in combination with ActivityTimeline and some other tools are powerful assistants for various teams.
Many people now agree that Remote Work can provide dependable employment and reduce the costs of living. Remote work offers many advantages to an employee who wants freedom and autonomy. Around 34% of individuals who currently work remotely most of the time express a desire to continue working from home exclusively, given the option.
Atlassian in 2020 took a decision that employees can work from home (WFH) permanently. As a company that leads in managing, they have a big experience with managing distributed teams already. Atlassian has an approach to dispersed work – Team Anywhere. And there are many benefits including increased flexibility, improved work-life balance, enhanced productivity, cost savings, access to a wider talent pool, and improved employee retention and attraction. But for the successful work of remote employees should stay several factors that we discuss next.
One of the key factors for successful remote collaboration is having clear progress-tracking mechanisms in place. This involves establishing transparent goals, milestones, and deadlines that team members can easily understand and track. It’s important to have a shared project management system or task-tracking software tool, that allows everyone to monitor progress, identify bottlenecks, and ensure that projects stay on track. Clear progress tracking helps team members stay aligned and accountable for their individual and collective contributions.
Effective communication is crucial for remote collaboration. Since team members are not physically present in the same location, it’s important to establish robust communication channels. This includes regular check-ins, team meetings, video calls, and one-on-one conversations to discuss progress, address concerns, and clarify expectations. Utilizing various communication tools such as video conferencing, instant messaging, and email can help facilitate real-time and asynchronous communication. Encouraging open and transparent communication fosters collaboration, trust, and understanding among team members.
Remote collaboration relies heavily on the ability to share data and information seamlessly. Having a centralized and accessible platform for sharing documents, files, and relevant resources is essential. Cloud-based storage solutions, project management software, or collaborative document editing tools enable both remote team management and members to access and edit files simultaneously, ensuring everyone has access to the most up-to-date information. This helps avoid version control issues, promotes efficient collaboration, and ensures that everyone is working with the same information.
In a remote work environment, fostering a sense of accountability and responsibility is crucial. Each team member should have a clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and deliverables. Establishing a culture of trust and transparency, where individuals take ownership of their work, helps ensure that tasks are completed on time and to the expected quality standards. Regular check-ins, progress updates, and performance evaluations can help maintain accountability and identify any potential issues or areas for improvement.
By emphasizing clear progress tracking, effective team communication, shareable data, and accountability and responsibility, teams can enhance their collaborative efforts and achieve successful outcomes.
As a benefits team working remotely members have also many challenges.
Remote work can sometimes lack the structure and clarity that comes with working in a traditional office environment. To address this challenge, it is important to establish clear expectations, set goals, and define specific tasks and deliverables for remote employees. Implementing project management tools, establishing regular check-ins, and providing detailed guidelines can help remote workers understand their responsibilities and stay on track.
Remote employees may face challenges in managing their workload, leading to overwork and burnout. It is crucial to ensure that workloads are distributed appropriately and aligned with employees’ capacity. Regularly assessing workloads, providing support and resources, and encouraging employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance can help mitigate this challenge.
In a globally dispersed team, different time zones can pose a challenge for synchronous collaboration and communication. To address this, distributed teams can establish clear guidelines for overlapping working hours, ensuring that key meetings and discussions take place at mutually agreeable times. Additionally, leveraging asynchronous communication tools and practices, such as shared documentation and recordings of meetings, can help bridge the gap caused by time zone differences.
Remote work can sometimes lead to communication gaps and a lack of regular interaction among team members. To overcome this challenge, it is essential to establish consistent communication channels and routines to encourage team members. Regular team meetings, individual check-ins, and virtual social gatherings can help maintain team cohesion and ensure that important information is shared effectively.
Having the right tools and software is crucial for remote collaboration. Investing in communication and collaboration platforms that facilitate real-time communication, document sharing, task management, and video conferencing can significantly improve remote team members’ work productivity and efficiency. Researching and implementing tools specifically designed for teams that work remotely can help address this challenge.
These factors cause some difficulties but they’re certainly resolvable and we want to discuss some ways of making your remote collaboration effective.
By addressing unstructured remote working and processes, managing workloads effectively, considering time zone differences, improving communication practices, and investing in appropriate software, organizations can overcome the challenges associated with remote work and foster effective collaboration among remote employees.
Jira was developed for transparent progress tracking. This robust platform gives a picture of the ongoing processes and projects, it’s quite useful for both tech and non–tech teams ( sales, marketing, etc.)
Unfortunately, Jira lacks some crucial features:
Actually, it’s not a big thing, because a solution exists
ActivityTimeline is a Jira plugin that helps to get deeper insights and makes your planning activities enjoyable. You ask why? Let us show you:
1. It’s your personal planning calendar but with a more powerful functionality; there is no need to store information in various online calendars ( however, ActivityTimeline is compatible with external calendars like Outlook, Google, and Apple)
2. The plugin is fully synchronized with Jira and allows to create Jira issues directly from the Main Dashboard
4. Custom events – meetings, sick leaves, and others
5. Personal Cabinet for your employees in order to make them concentrate on their own tasks and progress
6. Workload mode helps not to over/underload people, and worklog reports help to bill worked hours
7. And many more features for remote collaboration
People always want to be socially engaged, it’s embedded in our DNA, so why can’t we satisfy people’s needs and talk a little bit? Especially when the talk is about work and our success.
You may try some of the best communication tools in addition to Jira for the best experience in virtual meetings:
We should always take into account certain communication gaps – time zones. This is not a disaster but still, you need to pay special attention to the organization of the communication process and make people comfortable about that.
Emailing is a common practice and we cannot refuse that it’s important. The first thing we do when coming to work is check emails.
We support the idea that emails should be used for some crucial moments:
Jira always sends notifications about every change in projects so you won’t miss anything, but sometimes it’s really annoying because you receive emails even about things not concerning you.
If you are not keen on spending a couple of hours in a day sorting out tons of emails, you may try Email Digest for Jira, which will sort all of the Jira emails according to your preferences. The digest may be sent once or twice a day in order not to disturb you and save precious time.
For small files and quick sharing we can choose Slack and Emailing, if we have data for long–term storage, good options are Google Drive or Dropbox.
Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets are used for documents and charts which can be shared among multiple people.
But sticking to Jira’s theme, we want to introduce another Atlassian product – Confluence. Here you can create whole spaces for various needs, add child pages to them and everything will be interconnected. Every change will be sent as a notification and a search console is quite useful when you have tons of data. In addition, there is a possibility to make these spaces and pages private or public, so you can use Confluence for permanent sharing with your clients.
Confluence gives the possibility to create charts, drop images, and many other features that are available all in one place.
Jira provides reporting features, people can log work and make the process clear.
ActivityTimeline gives not only reporting opportunities but also timesheets:
This feature is priceless and crucial for distant collaboration as it allows us to see not only the current situation and progress but also to compare previous periods. Approve or disapprove timesheets, see how much time a person spent on a specific task, whether someone is overloaded or underloaded. Reports in AcitivtyTimeline are various and they compare data in the most suitable ways. All data can be exported to Excel.
We all know that on the same page at the end of the article, the author gives us the pros & cons of the specific topic, but due to the pandemic situation in the world, we would like to list only the positive sides of working remotely:
Your home is your safest place and quarantine is not torture, try to interpret it as a push to new opportunities, a change of lifestyle, and the possibility to try something that you’ve always wanted to do but had no time for that. Who knows, maybe after quarantine the number of remote employees will increase from 18% to 40% and companies will find it a more suitable cooperation type.
Take care and spend precious time with your family, it’s all that truly matters!