How to Effectively Manage a Remote Workforce

The days of punching a clock are over. Technological advancements and economic imperatives have quickened the transition towards decentralized organizations and remote workforces, with many employees able to complete their duties armed with nothing more than a laptop (or smartphone) and stable internet connection.

While this seismic shift has many benefits in terms of flexibility, work-life balance, reduced overheads, even air pollution, businesses must take extra care to ensure that lines of communication remain open and productivity is maintained. The erosion of the traditional office environment does present unique challenges. The question companies must ask themselves is: how can technology be harnessed to create an environment that replicates the positive aspects of a physical workplace while preserving the benefits of remote working?

remote workplace

Incidentally, this is not a query to be posed only by traditional, office-based businesses: established remote firms should keep abreast of the latest apps and innovations to reduce their administrative responsibilities and focus more on core operations.

Choosing the Right Software for Remote Working

There are contradictions inherent in the very concept of software introduced to inspire efficiency. Which is to say that each new piece of software a business unveils adds its own degree of complexity. Oftentimes staff – who may have worked with legacy systems for years – will have to be educated and trained to use the new program. Some employees may not be digitally-native, and if the business employs a diverse workforce, the training burden can be considerable.

Businesses must therefore be judicious when selecting tools to improve their internal systems and facilitate remote working. It is vital to use only those which provide a clear cost benefit, that can be deployed widely and quickly, and that provide genuine, long-lasting value.

In the case of remote working, there are countless tools that have hit the market in recent years, each promising to keep remote team members on the same page. Such tools can be used to host meetings and conferences, schedule projects and track progress, build and share staff rotas, manage HR, collaborate on shared files and much more.

Valuable Tools for Managing a Remote Workforce

If current events have pushed you towards running a remote workforce, or if you’re simply looking to trial some new remote-work tools, there are a few options you might want to consider.

The obvious place to start is with video-conferencing app Zoom, which recently went from 10 million to 200 million daily users. Zoom lets users record calls with full-length video, making it great for online meetings, staff training and tech support. It can also be used to create presentations – useful for when your company is pitching for new business. Up to 25 ‘panelists’ can present and screen share to invited attendees, meaning you can bid for a new contract while enabling various team members to contribute. Various price plans are available, with the top-tier packages including unlimited cloud storage, up to 500 participants and a dedicated Customer Success Manager.

Needless to say, video conferencing is one of the most competitive genres when it comes to home-working tools, and Zoom has plenty of competition from the likes of Skype, Cisco Webex, Whereby and Jitsi Meet. Webinar software ClickMeeting is especially good for product demos and marketing. Most offer free trials, so it’s worth trying a couple to find the one you prefer.

Organizing From Afar

With your video-conference app chosen, you’ve taken care of the most fundamental component: providing clear lines of communication between team members. Of course, some people prefer not to jump on video, and if that’s the case, there are several great messaging apps including Zoho Cliq and Twist. As well as letting team members communicate via messages, these platforms let you organize conversations and highlight important information for ease of retrieval. Employees spend up to 30 hours a month attending meetings – at least half of which are believed to be unnecessary. Whittle down your virtual meetings to all but the most essential and your entire team’s productivity will soar.

Businesses looking to create and manage rosters, meanwhile, should try Deputy rota software. Essentially, it lets you create staff rotas and gain an overview of who’s working and when. Managers can let team members swap shifts and request annual leave, schedule employees according to their skill set, and control costs by comparing real-time data on wages and revenue. Without rota software in place, managing a remote team can get very complex, very quickly.

Don’t Let SaaS Define Your Business

As you can see, there are countless tools at your disposal: the prospect of managing a remote team can seem daunting, but by focusing on key processes and using software that streamlines those endeavors, you’ll maximize productivity, reduce complexity and empower staff to do what they do best. Don’t let SaaS define your business; let it simplify it.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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