Remote working is the future. In ten years’ time, many of us will reminisce fondly about the time when we had to commute into the centre of big cities, just to sit in front of the same computer we have at home all day.
Tech companies are ahead of the curve on this development already, with many offering staff the opportunity to work remotely or on flexi-time to fit their working hours around their lives and avoid the wasted hours we have spent crammed onto trains and buses trying to go to the same place at the same time.
Such changes in working practice are often thought of as only being for big businesses, but increasing numbers of smaller businesses and startups are reaping the benefits as well. Yes, it can be easy when setting up a business to want to see your new staff doing the work and get the sense that the business is functioning well.
But the reality is that remote working gives companies happier and more energetic staff, who often actually work longer hours because they don’t have to slump out of the door at 5 o’clock to make their train home.
Of course, if you are going to run a remote workforce in your startup, you need to equip them with the right tools to enable them to do their job effectively, and also to enable you to supervise and communicate with them.
I have run a number of startup businesses and in this guide, I am recommending my 5 Essential Tools for Successfully Managing a Remote Startup Team:
- Internal Communications: Recommended – Slack
If you are not sat in the same room as your staff every day, it goes without saying that it is vital to have good communications with them at all times. To that end, you will be keen to find an online comms tool which is reliable and suitable for a business environment.
The pick of the bunch to my mind is Slack. It is a messaging app, but unlike many other messaging apps it has a range of different features ideal suited for businesses. It allows users to have different channels, private channels, direct messaging, easy file-sharing, a simple search facility, and the ability to sync across almost every device you can think of.
It is flexible, easy-to-use and an essential tool for a remote team.
2. Work Management: Recommended – Trello
Every office has different procedures for managing and overseeing the work output of the staff. And just because your team is working remotely, doesn’t mean you can’t employ similar tools.
Trello is, for my money, the best work management platform out there. It allows you to have different boards for different areas of work and then various lists and cards to assign and keep track of different tasks. You can upload attachments, add in messages, and do plenty more besides.
It will help you keep track of how your staff is progressing, and allow them to manage their own output effectively too. A great tool.
3. Group Call Software: Recommended – Zoom
As well as electronic communication and online messaging, you will inevitably need to speak face-to-face with your staff sometimes as well. You may want to gather together somewhere for a regular meeting, but if there are urgent issues to discuss you will also need access to a reliable group call software.
Zoom is the market leader in this field for me. They offer state of the art video and online conferencing service across numerous platforms. They are fast, efficient, and user-friendly.
4. Secure Data Access: Recommended – A VPN
Lastly, most businesses like to keep their data is a single secure location to ensure it is safe and to allow everyone in the team to access it. When the staff is all sat in the same office, arranging local access is easy. But it gets harder when people are working remotely.
A VPN solves the problem, by giving users a secure connection to any external location via an encrypted link and a secure third party server. This means they can upload and download data from your company’s central server or cloud storage service without running the risk of losing it, or exposing it to prying eyes.
5. Team Accountability: Recommended – iDoneThis
While Trello lets you keep track of progress with individual pieces of work, many managers like to be able to keep an eye on how their team is spending their time as well.
This is where team accountability tools like iDoneThis come into play. iDoneThis lets users create to-do lists, which they can then check off as they complete the tasks. It also has reporting and management functions and is a great tool to keep track of what your team is doing with their day.
So with just these five years, there is absolutely no reason your startup cannot run a remote team, and in doing so save money whilst retaining a happy and more productive team.