The new normal…
Sitting in a comfortable armchair/gaming chair with an embarrassingly large cup of coffee wearing the coziest sweatshirt and working from home. For us at Sintezis this is pretty much a standard daily environment.
However, for a large number of people this is far from their typical work day and with the current situation it is now becoming the new normal. These new circumstances also increased the level of stress for employees, so the picturesque scene in the first sentence is not so carefree for every individual.
On the other hand it, the COVID pandemic is accelerating the digitalization of companies operations showcasing the real value of IT and digital transformation.
COVID-19 – The largest work from home experiment
The COVID-19 crises definitely disrupted every segment of our lives, but it also created what Time magazine called “the world’s largest work-from-home experiment.”
It became a forced but welcomed booster of digital transformation, not only in remote work areas, but in many other business processes and operations too. As someone once said: Necessity is the mother of invention.
Now, more than ever, organizations should turn to innovation and digital transformation to establish operating and business model capabilities needed not only to cope with the crisis, but also to successfully navigate economic challenges that lie ahead in the post-crisis recovery period
Reshaping the Workforce
The new ways of working aren’t going to disappear after the initial chaos quiets down – this situation is going to reshape the workforce and reposition digital transformation priorities in the long term. The future of work trends will fundamentally change the work itself, where it is done and who does it. In addition, organisations with so called “future of work mindset” are more resilient at handling uncertain times and more able to adapt and thrive. That is why leaders should anticipate these trends and if nothing else, start with googling – “future of work mindset” term.
But let’s go a few steps back and for now focus on the segment of where the work is done – the workplace.
Strive for the right balance
Even before COVID-19 disrupted the planet, remote work has been on the rise, but these recent developments are definitely taking us a few steps closer to an unleashed organisation connected on digital platforms and able to work from anywhere and anytime.
First what needs to be clear is that remote working is not synonym for smart working. It is not enough to send people to work from home and expect everything will turn out great. No. There is indeed a lot of evidence that remote working can have positive effects on productivity, engagement, wellbeing and work-life balance, but all those benefits can be fully achieved only if you work smart!
Smart work is a model that uses existing and new technologies to improve both – the performance and job satisfaction. The way to do that is by establishing remote working channels, online collaboration tools, virtual meetings and providing training and support for employees. For organisations that are not used to remote work, as a basis for smart work, this can present quite a challenge because they need to adapt rapidly.
Finding the right tools…
A starting point for most of these transformational changes is technology. What technology to use? What platforms will give the best results? Are we using too many apps?
Mastering remote work is all about finding the right tools to stay productive and connected and help your remote team collaborate creatively and seamlessly.
Depending on your business and team structure, below are our top 5 picks for tools that supercharge our remote team performance and can make all the difference in creating an environment that fosters a successful, inclusive remote workspace.
So, these tools are tried, tested, confirmed and used almost every single day!
They will help you:
· Ensure everyone’s on the same page
· Manage time across different time zones
· Collaborate, work and brainstorm with your entire team
· Improve productivity and team morale.
So, let’s get started!
1. Communication Tolls – Keep your team in the loop
One of the biggest challenges that team members need to overcome when they first go remote is how to communicate effectively, especially having in mind they can’t walk to each other’s offices or meet by the coffee maker. These apps will help you stay in touch with your colleagues/teams and enable you to communicate quickly and efficiently.
Slack – Where work happens…
You most probably know (and use) Slack, but just to reaffirm the statement:
Slack is a must have! It is an obvious frontrunner in real-time communication and not only for fully remote organisations, but for traditional companies as well! Basically, Slack saves your email inbox and enables you to create channels around departments, projects, relaxed topics … anything you want. You can send private messages to team members and also create group messages and channels, so you always know where to search when you’re looking for that specific piece of information your boss shared.
We love it because it is cross-platform, user-friendly, fun and makes a perfect space for personal and professional to collide.
It integrates with nearly every organisation and productivity product available and it also has a robust API, enabling us to tailor Slack apps for our specific needs.
Zoom – Or it didn’t happen
If you have a big team meeting, a large conference or webinar coming up, Zoom is a go-to video-conferencing app. It is one of the best substitutes for face-to-face interactions, it comes with HD quality video and audio, allows you to share your screens with others and chat in real time. You can also record and store meetings.
The basic free plan allows meetings for up to 40 minutes with up to 100 participants. Large meetings with up to 1000 participants are supported as an add-on feature and the paid pro plans give you a lot of additional options as well.
Why do we love it?
It is reliable, easy to use (joining, participating, screen sharing, annotations, etc.) and we also have fun when creating our virtual backgrounds. 😀 What we like the most about Zoom is that it combines HD video conferencing, online business meetings, webinars, and mobile capabilities into one collaborative solution. Additional plus – when we have meetings with our clients who don’t use Zoom, they do not need to install anything, they can simply click on the meeting link and jump right in from their phone, tablet, or desktop.
Wanna zoom? ☺
2. Project management tools – Plan your project lifecycle
Managing projects isn’t easy and it is often said that choosing the right project management software can make or break a fully remote company. People, budgets, scope, deadlines… It all has to be coordinated effectively and kept on track for a successful project completion.
Thankfully, there are lots of tools out there to help you do that. We understand our PM tools as the lifeblood of our virtual team and the ones below are our essential ones!
And trust us, no matter if your team consists of 2 or 100.000 people, you need a PM tool.
Trello – Organization is half of the battle
If you want simplicity and organizational and task management power all in one, look no further. Trello enables you to organize all of your projects, tasks, and teams. It is built around the notion of bulletin boards that allow hundreds of unique ways to use the software.
Each board can represent a project, for example. Within each board, users create lists, which then they populate with cards. It has easy-to-use functions like drag-and-drop, tagging, color coding, commenting, adding attachments and allows you to see deadlines in a calendar format.
In one glance, one can see what’s being worked on, who’s working on it, and what the current project status is. We love it because it doesn’t require too much information that it becomes a time suck, but at the same time it visualises what is done, what needs to be done, by whom and by when. From our experience it is ideal for fast-paced startups, it enables seamless collaboration and it is a simple way to keep everything in check. Also, it looks really fancy, so be sure to check it out!
Jira – Track/Organize/Prioritize
Jira Software is a tool for software development agile teams with advanced project management capabilities and features. It allows your software and development team to track, organize, and prioritize bugs, new features, and improvements for software releases.
It is also a great tool for managing your projects, and can be used to maintain an overview of your technical documentation. We like it because it has a clean UI/UX design, highly customizable workflow and it also includes features such as scrum boards, Kanban boards, agile reporting, rich APIs and developer tool integrations.
GitHub – Code and Collaborate Anywhere
Most likely you have already heard about GitHub, but what you maybe didn’t know is that it also has some pretty powerful project management features.
Primarily, it is a programming and software development tool, but it can also be treated as one of the productivity tools for remote teams. From hosting and reviewing code to managing projects and building software, GitHub is ideal for remote team collaboration.
Project managers and developers can coordinate, track, and update their work in one place, so projects stay transparent and on schedule. We also integrate it with Jira and Trello to make it super-efficient! if you have a software development team, consider researching Github’s extended capabilities to fully utilize its power!
In one of our next blog posts, we will share what design collaboration tools proved as the best ones for our team.
For all of you that are just dipping your toes into the water of remote work and team management, we know that being 100% virtual isn’t always a walk in the park, especially if you’re working from home with your partner, kids or roommates trying to stay productive in the same space.
However, there is a range of tools out there that will make your life easier and more productive.
And one more thing for the end – don’t forget to create the space for people to connect.
But, really connect. Have an unofficial Zoom coffee chat, have a virtual pub quiz, create non-work Slack channels or have virtual team building activities.
Whatever your way is, make sure to find the time to foster the work relationship.