How to Keep Your Team Motivated and Organized When Working From Home
Working from home poses its own unique set of challenges. With those challenges, however, the rewards are endless. (Consider more time with your family, freedom to work from anywhere, perhaps less structured working hours, and of course, no dress code! Hello sweatpants!) If you are a solopreneur, you may not have to worry about organizing and coordinating with other team members. However, the day may come when you build your business to a point where you have to hire and manage other people, yet you would like to avoid the overhead costs of a brick and mortar office or location. Read on to learn our favorite hacks for how to stay motivated when working from home.
COVID-19 has been a bummer… a really, really awful and expensive bummer. However, one of the positives of the Coronavirus pandemic has been living proof (to the many skeptics of the world) that remote work is entirely possible and practical. In fact, we predict that after seeing proof in the proverbial pudding, this may become the way of the future.
Why wouldn’t companies who don’t require face to face interactions with their customers opt for a less expensive solution? In a study conducted by Global Workplace Analytics, a typical employer could save an average of $11,000.00 per half-time telecommuter per year! It is better for the personnel as well. The same study revealed that the average employee would save the equivalent of 11 workdays per year in the time they would have spent commuting if they worked from home instead. That doesn’t even include the time it would take to get dressed and pack a lunch!
So why aren’t more companies utilizing this option? Well, for starters, it can be a challenge to keep your team motivated and organized. It can also be difficult for management to provide appropriate oversight for projects, deadlines, and even company ethics. Luckily, there are many resources and tactics to assist with the soup to nuts of project management. We have chosen our top five to share with you.
ZOOM, because socializing is still essential when working from home.
It is human nature to crave social interactions. Having a sense of community is necessary for mental health. During the COVID-19 quarantine, every office (aside from those deemed essential) had to function remotely and virtually, thus posing a stark interruption to office and company culture. In many cases, entrepreneurs have shifted from fulfilling company duties with permanent positions to freelance platforms, such as Fiverr or Upwork. While they make work somewhat impersonal, these platforms make a global network possible and relatively common. So how does one create a favorable office culture without an office?
If your team is remote, make sure you create opportunities for team building activities and social breakout groups. You could begin by planning a virtual team lunch once a month. Schedule a Zoom conference in a time zone that everyone can attend. Spend 30 minutes or an hour just “hanging out” with your team, without the pressure of discussing anything work-related. Perhaps you can plan a short group challenge or activity as part of the lunch. Seeing each other face-to-face, even if only on a screen, is beneficial. It makes the company culture feel more personal and important by knowing that there are other, actual humans on the other end of transactions and tasks completed throughout the day.
ASANA, because deadlines, checklists, and oversight will keep your team organized.
If you are looking for the ultimate answer to organizing your team’s workload, Asana is it! This project management platform allows you to designate projects for everything your company is working on. For those who require visual organization, each project can be color-coded or otherwise customized on your company’s interface. Within each project, you and your team members can create tasks. They can be given due dates (single dates or recurring), and they can be assigned to anyone on the team. When a task is completed, it flies off of your screen with a rainbow-colored unicorn. How did they know that this was what the entrepreneurial world needed?!
What’s more, each user can customize their view according to his or her preferences. For example, if you like bullet point checklists, all of your tasks can appear that way. They can be sorted by project or by the due date. If you need a calendar view to understand your priorities and create your attack plan, that is also an option! Team members can leave notes and upload files and images directly to the tasks. The platform also automatically displays timestamps of updates that were made and by whom. Of course, project management software is only as effective as the users who use it. In other words, if tasks are not entered into the software, they may be easily overlooked. We recommend designating a systematic team catch-up each week to go over any outstanding tasks from the week before and add anything new. This can be in the form of a conference call or email. Make sure one person is designated to update the tasks in Asana.
CANVA, because not everyone on your team is a professional designer.
There will likely come a time when you will need some element of graphic design. This can be in the case of your Facebook profile background, new business card designs, blog banners, or even flyers or brochures. While the Adobe creative suite has much more functionality and advanced features, its sophistication may be overwhelming to a non-artist and somewhat unnecessary for basic designs. Enter Canva!
We love Canva for so many reasons. Firstly, it is incredibly intuitive and user-friendly. The majority of first-timers will have very little trouble figuring out the basic functions. Secondly, if you need to rely on team members for design assets, you can create and save templates on the platform. When users log in to your account, they will be able to open and manipulate your templates without actually having any real sense of design or aesthetics.
With the upgraded Pro version, you can create and save an entire branding kit with your company’s specific hex code color palettes, fonts, and image uploads. The program comes with a fairly large database of unique backgrounds, textures, and design elements that users can drag and drop onto their canvases. Also, with the upgraded Pro version, you can easily resize a design to any dimension. So, let’s say that you wanted to convert a blog banner image to an Instagram post. This can be done with one click and minor tweaking once your design appears on the new canvas.
TIME DOCTOR, because you need to know how your team is spending their time.
In a remote work situation, you will not have the benefit of in-person oversight. This means that if your employee is using Facebook while on the clock, you may be overpaying him or her. Time tracking is vital for other reasons as well. Knowing how long things should or do take will be extremely helpful for quoting clients, financial reports, setting benchmarks, and even for future hiring. For the ultimate time tracking platform, we love Time Doctor. Nothing contributes to work from home motivation quite like having your boss watch your screen periodically and unannounced.
Time Doctor features include time tracking, screenshots, clients feature (in which your tracked time is shared with your clients), reporting and timesheets, web and app usage (see which websites and apps have been used), automatic payroll, time use alerts, off-track reminders, attendance tracking, and break tracking. In addition to all of these powerful features, Time Doctor can be used across all devices (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iPhone, and Chrome). It also integrates with all leading project management tools (Asana included!)
KARMA, because if you can work from anywhere, why shouldn’t you?
Our final recommendation for remote working is Karma. And no, we are not talking about the golden rule of doing unto others. Karma is a portable, pocket-sized WiFi access point (AKA “hotspot”).
“But I already have a hotspot on my phone! I don’t need another device for WiFi!”
Okay, Karen. But how much are you paying for that each month? We are willing to guess that it is roughly $15, on top of your typical cell phone bill. So, it costs you $180 for a whole year of service, plus any data overages. AND it drains your cell battery super fast! Karma costs a one-time fee of $80 to $150, depending on which model you get. From there, it is only $2.95 per month for the subscription. You will purchase data at $10 per GB, which never expires. 1 GB of data lasts roughly 20 hours. That is more than two full workdays! You can’t even buy a latte and a bagel at a coffee shop (to use their WiFi for a couple of hours) for $10 these days.