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Why Go Virtual?
The transition to remote work has undeniably spiked in 2020, and with COVID-19 still at large, that transition is likely to continue. However, the shift can’t all be attributed to COVID. According to Review42, remote work had already risen 173% between 2005 and 2018 – and for a good reason.
Though public health concerns are driving the switch to virtual, the benefits of working from home don’t end at safety. For starters, switching to virtual can save a good deal of money – the company is spending less on office space and utilities, and employees are spending less on transportation. Though it’s a bit counter-intuitive, working from home can also increase productivity. Many people are better employees outside of traditional office environments; with virtual office places, employees can work in whatever environment is best for them.
In fact, Review42 found that 77% of remote workers state they’re more productive working from home. Remote positions also allow for a better work-life balance; parents can see their kids in the daylight, the commute is significantly reduced (unless the couch is really far away), and employees have much more control over their schedules. Studies show that over one third (37%) of US jobs can be done remotely, and now that people have had a taste, many employees are choosing to stay remote.
What You Need to Go Remote
A Tool For: Collaborative Communication
The importance of collaboration is well-documented; when team members put their heads together, great things can happen. Employees can combine their strengths to come up with smarter solutions than they could on their own, and in doing so, they have the opportunity to learn from their coworkers. This collaboration leads to more talented employees, better problem solving, and faster turnaround on projects.
Though it may be more challenging to accomplish, a collaborative work environment is still possible in the virtual realm. Employees need a place where they can communicate with each other, and if there isn’t a physical space for them to do so, an online space will be one of your most beneficial virtual team management tools. With a central line of communication, team members can start a dialogue, confer while brainstorming, and feel more connected to their coworkers.
There are countless communication platforms to choose from, two of the most prominent being Slack and Zoom. Slack works similarly to a chatroom; you can have a chat with one coworker, the whole team, or somewhere in-between. Zoom is used primarily as a video or call platform, and it can be a great way to make virtual meetings feel more personal. Feedback looks a little different for virtual employees, and sometimes it can be hard for them to tell how they are performing. With video chats, people can read body language and facial expressions to help fill in the blanks.
The next of these virtual team management tools you need for communication and collaboration is Ashore. With workflows, you can automate the review and approval process for digital proofs and receive automatic reminders when someone forgets to review. One of the biggest communication challenges for virtual workers is uncertainty on where a project stands; with Ashore, this becomes clear.
A Tool For: Status Updates
It can be challenging for remote workers to gauge exactly where a project stands – and you don’t want the deadline to come before realizing things have gotten off-track. Luckily, you can do virtual status updates in many of the same ways as in-person. Video meetings are a great place for employees to share updates, any roadblocks they’ve come across, and what they will be working on in the coming week. Of course, you can also send and receive status updates to employees via email, Slack, or a company newsletter. Whatever your plan may be, it’s generally a good idea to go over it initially; that way, you can be sure everyone is on the same page about how updates will work.
Many employees had to make a hasty transition to working from home, and with so many things up in the air, a remote worker’s schedule may feel hectic. For this reason, it could be helpful to schedule meetings at a recurring time (i.e., 10 AM every Wednesday). Being away from the office, employees may also feel they don’t have as many opportunities to speak to their managers in private. Higher-ups can tackle this by having virtual “office hours,” a regularly scheduled open Zoom call where employees can come and go as they please.
Managing the progress on multiple projects can feel like a juggling act without the right virtual team management tools. One option is to use platforms explicitly built for status updates, such as Taskade 2.0 and Range. However, it may be more efficient to handle status updates through your project management system if you already have one in place.
With Ashore, you always know where your project stands; our user-friendly platform allows you to see who has viewed and approved each file, and it updates the status of each proof in real-time. If you choose to utilize our Zapier integration (which we highly recommend), status updates in Ashore can trigger further actions, such as an email to the client or a message to the designers.
A Tool For: Centralized Project Management
Project management systems are incredibly useful tools for all teams, virtual and in-person. They keep your team organized, improve delegation, track progress, and standardize your team’s processes. Plus, setting automations in your project management system will cut out many tedious, repetitive tasks. The good news doesn’t end there – a project management system is also one of the easiest virtual team management tools to use with remote workers – they’re already accessed online.
With Ashore’s Zapier integration, users can automate many tasks involved with proofing and approval. For example, the approval of a proof can trigger an email to your client, or clicking a button on an app could trigger the creation of a new proof. This integration will keep your team organized and up-to-date on a project’s status, even if they never step foot in an office.
A Tool For: Cloud-Based File-Sharing
Cloud-based file-sharing is another of the virtual team management tools that already exists online. These platforms, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, allow your employees to store and share files in one central location. Employees can access these platforms from anywhere with internet service – even on a smartphone.
With cloud-based storage, losing data is a thing of the past. Misplacing a flash drive no longer means losing months of work; the cloud stores the information safely, and you know exactly where to find it. Not only does cloud-based storage keep you safe from user error (i.e., losing essential documents), they are also subjected to the security of your servers.
Of course, a cloud-based file-sharing platform is only as effective as it is organized. With Ashore’s cloud-based system, users can categorize proofs into custom folders using its tagging system, so finding the right file doesn’t have to be a hassle.
Though the benefits of a virtual workplace are overwhelming, working from home does have its downsides. Many issues can arise when employees are separated and unable to communicate face-to-face. Some of these challenges are unavoidable, but the right virtual team management tools can help make the transition as smooth as possible. If you and your team are ready to get back to work the right way, start your 14-day free trial of Ashore! We’ll make your digital proofing process a cinch.