Welcome to the new age of co-working where teams are no longer geographically bound within office walls. We can now enjoy anywhere, anytime access to our team, projects and files thanks to the cloud. But the challenges of ensuring that your team is meeting deadlines and your project stays within budget still exist no matter where you or your team are. Throw in language barriers, cultural differences, different time zones and increased difficulty in monitoring performance, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. With a little effort and understanding, your remote team can work as efficiently as your in-office team. Here’s how.
1) Spend extra time getting to know your team. Before you do anything else on a remote project, understand who your team is, what their roles are, what they have done for the company previously, and where they are located. This will help you best allocate your resources and manage your team’s time. Sharing a file with people outside of who necessarily needs to see it and work on it will only serve to confuse your team and hinder progress. Worse yet, holding a conference call for the entire team where only a few members are needed will waste everyone’s time and may send out the wrong message that you yourself don’t know how to run the project.
2) Set goals within the team early on. This is especially important when managing remote projects as working towards common goals will help unite a disparate group. Don’t leave any details to the imagination, either — include desired colors, fonts, outcomes, and samples. This will help serve as a specifications documents for your team to reference. It’s also helpful to include desired outcomes, use cases, and a Q&A section. The closer you can get your specifications documents to the outcome, the better.
3) Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Collaboration in the cloud has helped move us forward and out of an archaic business communication system. But sometimes, nothing beats a good-old-fashioned blaring ring of a phonel. If a certain teammate has become unresponsive on shared documents, email, or the company chat, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call. There may be some unforeseen issues that a simple phone call can help clarify!
4) Get the right tools for the job. Once you’ve got the people, plan and goals in place, you will need the right tools to help support collaboration and knowledge transfer throughout the project. We suggest a combination of the following:
- Social intranet platform for sharing and collaborating on documents (like Jive Software)
- A task management tool to share and assign tasks (such as Producteev)
- Conferencing and online meeting services for remote meetings
- Instant messaging tools (we’re partial to Adium)
- File sharing tools (Box, Dropbox)
With these tools in place, no matter where you and your team are working from, you will be able to still keep things on track.
5) Keep the team updated in real time. Nothing hurts more than knowing that you are working on something that has already been done. Communication is key in keeping all teammates on the same page during each phase of the project in order to maximize output from the team and minimize disruptions to productivity. Status updates from team members help communicate what tasks have been completed and what else needs to be done.
Your remote projects can run smoothly and efficiently if you do your due diligence ahead of time and keep communication open and flowing throughout the entire duration of the project!