These tools will help your team thrive while working remotely

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1. Allow schedule flexibility on both ends



When working remotely, everyone is at their office. This can be great for pinging someone late at night if you need access to a document. At the same time, you should be flexible with employees who occasionally need to take care of personal commitments during the day.

2. Be relentless with follow-up



When you're relying on a variety of apps and communication channels, things can get lost in the shuffle. Be vigilant with keeping tabs on stakeholders. If a task or email is left untouched, ping the stakeholder again. Always tag users. Resurface stagnant tasks. Don't ever assume people are up-to-date and in sync unless you get explicit confirmation.

3. Start (and end) meetings on time



Remote life can be hectic. The last thing you want to do is delay a meeting for someone running late from an errand. Start the meeting on time and worry about absentees later. It's also important to end meetings on time. Employees aren't in the office, but they still have tasks to get done and don't have all day to sit in overdrawn meetings.

4. Record your video meetings



Getting everyone in a remote meeting can be tricky. If some people can't make it, video record the meeting and publish it internally for later viewing.

5. Secure your data



Employees might be working at home, at a coffee shop, or in a coworking space and this makes your data much more vulnerable than usual. While location and work schedule is more lax with remote, security shouldn't be. It's critical that you keep your data safe and secure. Require everyone to use a password manager, 2-factor authentication, and VPN where necessary.

6.Be hyper-specific



When relying on text channels like Slack or email, always over-communicate. Be hyper-specific. Don't be afraid to reiterate or ask for clarity. Written communication tends to lack a lot of the nuance compared to spoken words. If you fear there might be miscommunication, schedule a quick video call and set the record straight.

7. Promote work/personal separation



Since everyone "lives at the office" so to speak, it's easy to blur the lines between work and personal life. As a manager, make sure you respect time off and encourage people to get offline after a long day.

8. Make sure your team has the tools they need



Ensure that your team has the hardware and software that they need to work remotely. If your company uses desktop computers in the office, don’t assume that everyone has a personal laptop they can use. Make sure they're supplied the tools needed to get the job done.

9. Keep communication flowing



With remote, it's easy to let hours go by in silence while working alone at home. Be mindful of how much (or little) you're communicating. Make sure you're checking in with team members and stakeholders at least every few hours on any given workday.

10. Get on the same page



The key to working well remotely is making sure that everyone has a shared understanding of the company’s remote working expectations. Document your remote work policies and make them accessible to everyone.

11. Powerpoint is your friend



Zoom and Google Hangout have powerful screen share functionality — take advantage of it. When leading a meeting, create a PowerPoint as a visual aid for your talking points. It'll make communication more clear, plus you can make the document available later for anyone who missed the meeting.

12. Cut down on superfluous communication with project management tools



Communication is always going to be more time-consuming when working remotely. It's crucial to allocate time toward communication that matters, while eliminating superfluous communication where possible. One area where you can eliminate a lot of extra back and forth are with daily tasks. Use a project management tool like Asana to assign and track tasks, and team members will know exactly what needs to get done without having to touch base with stakeholders.

13. Set up a virtual water cooler



Water cooler conversations are a natural part of the office and you can replicate it in Slack. Create a dedicated channel for your team to chat about non-work related topics. You can also set up virtual happy hour video calls to encourage teams to gather online with no agenda. Hang out, chat, and enjoy each other’s company!

14. Don't use Slack for the be-all-end-all



Slack is perfect for quick, off-the-cuff communication and collaboration. But with important communication, tasks, or projects, rely on Asana or email. This will be especially helpful if you need to backtrack at a later date.

15. Encourage self-care



Everyone is at home, but that shouldn't be an excuse for laziness or poor self-care. Encourage your team to get dressed in the morning, stick to a routine, shower, eat healthily, and get adequate sleep. Management and HR should lead by example.

16. Do wellness checks



Without much facetime, it's hard to gauge how people are doing emotionally: Are they overwhelmed? Are they exhausted? Be proactive and check-in with your employees regularly to make sure they're okay.

17. Let video-chat do the heavy lifting



With projects that require heavy communication, don't rely on text channels. Video chat is the most comparable thing to real face time in the office, so take advantage of it. You might find yourself having more "meetings" when working remotely, but that's okay. It's supplementing the lost contact you'd experience in a formal office setting.

18. Mix up departments with 1:1s



Since everyone is at home, team members no longer experience those impromptu encounters or conversations with random coworkers. This can definitely have a negative impact on team-wide communication. Try implementing weekly 1:1s, where random employees are paired with one another for a quick video chat. This will keep communication flowing team-wide and keep everyone up-to-date on what other teams and departments are currently working on.

19. Create a company wiki



Create a company wiki / knowledge base and document company culture guidelines, company policy, employee contact info, org charts, and more.

20. Make expensing easy



When team members transition to a remote workspace, they may need to purchase dongles, a headset, office supplies, and more. Make sure there's an easy way for them to expense the company or for the company to purchase on their behalf.

21. Keep a tidy (virtual) workspace



The cloud is your new workspace. Make sure all documents are organized and accessible to stakeholders. Avoid storing files locally or sharing via email. Instead, upload the file to the cloud and send links. If a file or comment is relevant to a specific task, drop it in your project management app (like Asana) instead of sharing in a random Slack channel.

22. Take advantage of cloud-collaboration



Use online collaboration tools like Google Docs, Dropbox, and Office 365 whenever possible. This will cut down on versioning hiccups, work overlap, and keep everyone in sync.

23. Stay focused



When working remotely, it's easy to get distracted with the communication buzz in Slack. Don't be afraid to go offline or enable a Do Not Disturb indicator. Alternatively try scheduling a formal "meeting" slot just for yourself, and use that time to buckle down and jam uninterrupted.

24. Be structured, but also be prepared to adapt



Employees need strong leadership and structure, especially if they're not used to working remotely. Create a team-wide gameplan every two weeks and keep everyone informed. Do your best to stick to it, but be prepared to adapt and adapt quickly where necessary.

25. Go outside



When you work remotely it’s easy to look up from your laptop and realize that you haven’t been outside in 3 days. Social distancing does not stop you from taking a walk around your block or stepping out into your backyard or balcony for a bit of fresh air and sunshine.

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