The best tools for managing remote teams
By: Emily Finlay
When you’re managing a remote team, especially if you’re a new manager, there’s a lot on your plate. You have to keep your employees engaged, facilitate easy communication, and meet all of your team’s goals—all through virtual connections.
Some of the common challenges remote team managers face include:
- Facilitating regular collaboration with and among team members.
- Identifying and resolving areas of disconnect.
- Keeping team members motivated and engaged.
- Preventing work/life imbalance and burnout.
Without the best tools for managing remote teams, you may struggle to address these challenges. If you can’t communicate effectively with your team, for example, you’ll be limited in the amount of support you can offer.
If your team lacks the resources they need, you may see productivity fall and team connections suffer, which can affect your ability to hit critical milestones and goals.
Fortunately, there’s an abundance of tools on the market that can help you effectively manage remote teams and their responsibilities and solve common challenges to help employees succeed.
Project management tools
Project management tools, such as Asana or Trello, can be some of the most important solutions to have in your arsenal. These tools keep your team organized by keeping track of both team projects and individual tasks.
Project management tools are crucial for keeping everyone on the same page while providing both project and task-level details of everything your team and individual employees are working on.
Project management tools enable users to:
- Plan out projects, tasks, and timelines on a shared calendar and assign them to different employees.
- Share key information and documents in a centralized location.
- View task and project statuses and track employee performance.
This ensures that employees know what you expect them to do, when you expect it to be done by, and where the information is located. It also lets you know what employees are doing, how long it takes, and if they have snags or hang-ups with a particular task.
How project management tools encourage motivation and prevent burnout
Your employees’ investment in their work is key to your success. To keep them involved, however, you have to address the issues that affect their motivation. One of these issues is feeling overwhelmed or burned out.
If your projects are disorganized, your team may have to work continuously to make up for the lack of structure. If you don’t assign tasks correctly, for example, your workers may have to meet deadlines on short notice.
If you don’t provide project details or update them when changes occur, your team may have to go back and redo work so it meets the actual or new requirements.
All of these issues can lead workers to feel overwhelmed and frustrated, and can require them to work extra hours.
Project management tools can help protect your team from experiencing these issues. You can easily stay on top of every project and task, enabling each worker to do the same.
Tracking productivity in the tool will alert you to anyone who is struggling to meet their goals, giving you the opportunity to check in with them and make adjustments where needed.
The ability to easily make updates to projects if goals or deliverables change helps ensure everyone is on the same page and knows what they need to do in order to complete tasks efficiently and effectively.
When you have more control over your team’s projects, you’re able to provide workers with a more structured workflow that can help them stay motivated and avoid burnout.
For remote teams, physical distance is often one of the greatest obstacles. Communication becomes more difficult, as virtual meetings, phone calls, emails, and chats may not inspire ideas and connections the same way in-person meetings and brainstorming sessions can.
Even if everyone has access to the same information, some may struggle to understand it without additional input from the rest of the team.
Remote teams can use collaboration tools, such as Google Workspace or Microsoft Teams, to connect with each other and work together on various tasks. These tools enable employees to share ideas, work simultaneously on deliverables, and provide team-wide updates to keep everyone informed about important changes.
Using these solutions can help your team work together more seamlessly and reduce feelings of isolation or disconnect.
Collaboration tools enable users to:
- Access and edit documents, spreadsheets, and more through business tool suites.
- Store documents and files in shared cloud drives.
- Brainstorm ideas using visual business diagrams and charts that can be shared and edited by multiple people at once.
- Communicate over chat, video, and voice calls.
How collaboration tools empower collaboration and prevent disconnect
Collaboration tools can increase your team’s productivity. Rather than sending documents back and forth over email, for instance, workers can view and edit assets in real time. They can also leave edits and comments in the documents for others to address so the final deliverable is a team-wide effort.
During meetings, you can bring your team members together to discuss their work and brainstorm upcoming projects.
For example, you can use a tool like MindManager to take notes during meetings and keep track of any ideas that surface, which allows you to move directly from discussion mode into execution mode post-meeting.
When it comes to keeping your team connected and collaborating, chat applications are a great option. Workers can use these tools to ask questions, alert the rest of the team about issues, and share important files.
With features such as the ability to organize conversations and use powerful search tools to quickly locate past conversations, collaboration tools help your team stay on top of projects while providing a way to easily communicate about a particular task.
Finally, collaboration tools can also offer a more casual way for team members to communicate, which can foster more personable conversations that can help with relationship building.
Virtual meeting tools
Though some collaboration tools offer video or voice call options, you may prefer to have a separate tool that is used specifically for meetings. Virtual meeting tools, such as Zoom or WebEx, are applications or software that connect people over the internet.
They typically offer multiple communication options, such as video conferencing, audio calls, chat, and webinar conferencing. When you can’t meet physically with your team, these tools help enable more effective communication.
Remote meeting tools allow for multiple people to collaborate at the same time, as well as reference external resources during sessions to ensure is on the same page.
Virtual meeting tools enable users to:
- Use real-time video, voice, and/or messaging capabilities to connect easily with team members individually or as a group.
- Allow team members to share their screens, as well as files or images, directly within a meeting chat thread so everyone can follow along.
- Apply mute features to minimize distractions and disruptions.
Remote meeting tools also help simplify information sharing. You can hold a weekly meetings to share key information and ask employees to share status updates, or schedule one-on-one sessions with specific team members to dive deeper into specific projects or tasks.