Before COVID-19 turned the world upside down, we used to have a physical office with a cool, open-space concept. It was easy to collaborate with team members and keep projects organized. But this wasn’t only because we were working in-person, it was also easy because our files, our calendar and our project management system were all backed up in the Cloud. If anyone wasn’t in the office because of sick days or vacation time, everyone on the team could still access anything they needed. So when COVID-19 required us to start working remotely, we were able to make adjustments and the transition was relatively easy.
Organization is something we do very well, and it’s a primary reason we were able to transition so well to working from home. Every tool we use is online, but it’s the way we use them that helps us work effectively.
Use a Project Management Software
We use a project management software to organize and assign projects. More importantly, we established rules for how to use it. Everyone on our team knows each active project should always have an active task assigned to at least one person and have clear due dates and department tags. These established rules for use ensure everyone is on the same page and our projects continue progressing. Our preferred project management software is Teamwork, but similar options are Hive and Wrike.
Use a File Management Software
We also take advantage of file management software to store all assets and project files in the Cloud. We utilize Dropbox, but comparable options are Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. To reduce virtual clutter, we established a system to properly categorize and store files. Even though projects vary, the same system is used for each project so our team can easily find assets from clients, assets we create, images, copy and more.
When you’re not all working in the same place communication becomes increasingly important. We use tools to ensure we’re all on the same page with our projects, upcoming deadlines and more.
Use a Messaging System
Slack is our preferred messaging system to get quick replies that don’t need an email thread. We’ve created different channels for different tasks or groups of team members such as the business development team or the design team. A messaging system also offers a central place to share articles, memes or other light office humor that helps sustain an enjoyable work environment. Similar systems are Google Chat and Microsoft Teams.
Leverage Your Social Media
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are all free, widely popular platforms to share your message and build your network. We started doing Instagram Live sessions to connect with our audience and hopefully connect with new audiences when we invite guests to join us. These are like mini, informal webinars. We’ve introduced some of our clients and vendors to a new audience.
Working together from separate places can be tricky. We found these tools helped us work better, together.
Gather Feedback Efficiently
Getting feedback from clients on website (think 20-30 pages) or a print design (think 10-15 pages) was a frustrating process filled with delays and inaccurate annotations. With feedback gathering software, it reduces the feedback loop time and gives us more accurate feedback because we can see exactly what our client is talking about/referring to. We’ve been using Punchlist to gather feedback and it’s made a tremendous difference.
Plan with Marketing and Production Calendars
We recommend outlining your marketing plans a month in advance and using a calendar to track the major tasks each team member is working on each week. For both, we use Mural. It allows us to set up calendars for workflows, planned social media posts and deadlines. It’s also a tool for virtual brainstorming sessions, allowing you to write and draw on it like a white board.
Creating an environment (virtual and in-person) that team members can thrive in is essential to success. At the core of our culture, we want to respect our team members’ time so they can:
Meet with Intention
For our team, Monday meetings are focused on marketing, production, upcoming meetings, business development and any upcoming out-of-office time for any team members. Thursday meetings are focused on building team relationships and maintaining those connections we lose/miss out on by not being in the office to have a quick conversation or share a joke.
Celebrate Your Team
When you don’t meet in person every day, you miss out on all the little interactions that help you know your coworkers and staff. We still think it’s important to celebrate our team. So we send virtual cards to commemorate birthdays, anniversaries and more. Kudoboard is an online replacement for the greeting card that you typically pass around and sign in the office.
Respect Work Blocks
We want to help make sure our team is getting work done. Since we work in different time zones, we set key work blocks so we don’t have meetings or other interruptions when our team is making progress on a big project.
Remote work won’t work without it.
Check Your Wifi Speed
Now that we can work from anywhere, with wifi or service, we use this website to check our wifi speed. FAST.com speed test gives you an estimate of your current Internet speed. You will generally be able to get this speed from leading Internet services, which use globally distributed servers.
Hopefully some of these tools will help your team as it has helped ours!