Since the rise of remote working, remote team workflow management has been a recurring topic. Why? Because managing a team from afar is not as easy as it looks!
So, to help you get the most out of your team, no matter where you are, we’re unpacking how to establish an effective workflow management system.
The three foundations of every remote business
Before we explain how to establish an effective workflow management system, it’s important to understand the foundations of a remote business.
You see, managing a remote team is much (much) harder than overseeing employees on-site. So, if your business is ever going to succeed in a remote setting, you need to have these three elements at the core of your company:
Communication is the cornerstone of every successful company. However, communicating exclusively online can be quite a challenge. After all, you can't just wander up to your colleague to assign a task or ask a question anymore. So, what's the solution?
The key to effective online communication is to develop strategies that encourage camaraderie and create a team-like atmosphere. For example, host a weekly Zoom meeting to check in with colleagues, share your daily to-do lists and schedule team-building events.
Whilst comms are essential for remote team workflow management, it's important to note that their value goes far beyond assigning tasks and holding people accountable. They ensure your employees don't feel isolated, which is essential when managing an effective and engaged team.
High-quality software is essential for any remote business. Why? Because all of your operations are about to move online. So, you'll need software that can efficiently and effectively facilitate your needs.
With that said, whatever industry you work in, all remote businesses need software that supports remote team workflow management. So start by searching for reputable, user-friendly task management software.
To manage a highly effective team, you need solid strategies in place. (Especially in regards to remote team workflow management.) After all, clear communication and high-quality software can only take you so far.
Your processes explain how you get things done - so your employees understand:
a) what is expected from them
b) how to complete each task
Yet, whilst you may have some strategies in place (for example, weekly team meetings or accountability checks), you will probably have to adjust some of your processes to ensure everyone remains on track despite working from different locations.
How to establish an effective workflow management system
Now that you understand the foundations of every successful remote business, it’s time to discuss implementing these core features to manage your remote team’s workflow.
1. Select your management software
Your task management software will become the hub of your business. (Think of it as your online office.) So you want to select software that facilitates all your needs.
As a general rule of thumb, you'll want to invest in software that has:
- A customised dashboard so you can easily access important information like progress reports, company calendars and performance metrics.
- Shared documents so you can collaborate on projects, create checklists and organise information.
- Automation so you can make mundane tasks more efficient (we'll get into that later on).
- The ability to integrate with other essential platforms like Zoom, Slack and Gmail, so employees can access everything they need all in one place.
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Find out 5 things you need to do BEFORE investing in a practice management system, and whether best-of-breed is better than all-in-one for your practice.
2. Adjust existing workflows
As we mentioned earlier, you will probably need to adapt some of your existing processes to accommodate remote working. But that isn't a bad thing! In fact, it presents you with the perfect opportunity to address your inefficiencies! So take a look at your processes and assess what isn't working. (For example, instead of scanning, sending and signing physical documents, utilise e-signatures to speed up the process.)
You will also need to establish new processes for assigning work, monitoring progress and overseeing your team's workflow management. Our advice with this is to break bigger tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. That way, you can keep a close eye on your team's progress and delegate some of your lower-value tasks to other employees.
3. Take advantage of automation
The benefit of automation is that it allows you to streamline your strategies and improve your communications. You see, with code-free automation software, you can automate tasks like:
- Deadline alerts
- Approvals and assignments
- Progress updates
- Email notifications
So, for example, if you assign an employee a new project, you can automatically notify them about their new task. Similarly, if something is overdue, you can automatically alert the person in charge of that project.
By automating these tasks, you can ensure everyone is on the same page and working as efficiently as possible. So don't overlook automation. It really is imperative to the success of your remote team workflow management!
4. Introduce your team to online task management
Now it’s time to bring it all together. Your software and strategies are prepared and in place, so all that's left to do is introduce your team to the new system. But how do you ensure everyone understands your new setup?
Start by scheduling a meeting. Your goal for this meeting is to introduce the new system to your team whilst explaining how it works and why it is necessary.
A great way to get your team on board is to explain all the benefits of task management software! For example, explain how an online system offers them greater flexibility, more control over their work and the freedom to work wherever they want (within reason).
You also want to ensure everyone knows how to use the software correctly. So offer a demonstration, answer questions and share helpful resources like online tutorials and workflow diagrams. Not only will this make your team more confident, but it will also help them adapt more easily (thus improving efficiency from the off-set).
Finally, you'll need to establish any new rules and expectations. So now is the perfect time to set boundaries around:
- Working hours
- Mandatory meetings
- Communication systems
After all, half the battle with remote team workflow management is ensuring your team understands and respects your boundaries.
Trust your team
Managing a remote team is no mean feat. But, with the right systems in place, you can reduce costs, increase efficiency and offer your employees a lot more freedom. So, trust your team! Remember, you don’t need to be under the same roof to communicate effectively or optimise efficiency. And if you haven´t already, don´t forget to download our free Practice Management Software cheatsheet to help you choose the right system for your firm!