Working remotely is not a new concept. Many schools have been employing remote teams for years, especially for jobs difficult to fulfill in the local job market. There are many remote working tools and apps making it easier for employees who want the option to work from home.
The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a new era of working remotely. Many people expected they’d be working from home temporarily when stay-at-home orders were mandated. Even a year later, many school employees are still doing their jobs from home.
The pandemic has spearheaded a shift for employees who work in educational organizations. In the past, it was rare for school employees to work from home; today, many school employees work remotely at least part of the time. A large number of employees enjoy working remotely and want the option to keep doing so after the pandemic. Working remotely offers more time to focus on tasks, spend time with the family and eliminates long commutes back and forth to work.
While there is a definite shift toward working remotely at least part of the time, there are some challenges that need to be worked through. Obviously, some jobs are not suited for online work, such as in-person teaching. But it may make sense for members of your school’s marketing team to work remotely, at least part-time.
Once you’ve decided which jobs are suited to remote work and are committed to supporting the option to work remotely, the next thing to consider is how to maintain productivity in your team.
Here are 4 ways you can enhance remote Team Productivity among teams working remotely.
Make sure your team has the necessary technology
To work remotely, employees need a computer with a power supply. They will also need access to the internet, usually through a modem. Most modems integrate a router these days, but sometimes these are separate pieces of equipment. Software must be kept up-to-date to ensure security. Most schools have a webpage that gives directions on how to set up for working remotely that includes the equipment required, such as:
- Office 365 or Google Workspace (formerly GSuite)
Get the right tools for working remotely
Most remote teams need a way to store and share files, process data and documents, communicate via email, chat and video calls/conferencing.
Team communication tools
One of the biggest challenges facing remote teams is staying in contact with each other. It’s a lot easier when you share a physical space. But when you’re working from home and on flexible schedules, communication isn’t so simple.
Slack is a communication tool designed for remote teams. It offers a digital space where team members can chat, exchange ideas and share comments. You can even share images and files as well as set up reminders for your team.
Troop Messenger is a user-friendly messaging tool. It offers a wide range of features, such as one-on-one messaging, group conversations, file previews, video calls, screenshare, etc. It’s designed to enhance the workflow of remote teams.
Video conferencing tools
Zoom is one of the most reliable tools on the market for video conferencing and screen sharing. It offers excellent video quality and is fairly simple to use. Zoom is popular because it offers a vast array of features and doesn’t usually glitch, freeze or lag.
Zoom features include:
- Video conferencing for up to 50 participants
- HD video and audio
- Break out rooms
- Ability to record sessions and share transcripts
- Screen sharing
- Share documents, pictures, etc.
- Live chat
- Ability to save chat
Remo Conference is a virtual platform designed to host interactive events, such as presentations, round table events, conferences, and networking. Features include team collaboration, whiteboarding, email reminders, registration and customizable branding (useful for conferences).
Project management tools are invaluable for remote teams. They help you lay out a plan for your project, track your milestones and deadlines, make sure everyone knows what they’re responsible for, share documents, graphics, and other documents as well as communicate about tasks. Plus, it helps your team stay organized.
Asana is an easy-to-use, flexible project management tool. It uses a work graph model to help teams stay connected, meet deadlines and achieve their goals.
Basecamp is a great tool for team collaboration. It’s flexible, organized and you can track the progress of your team.
Offers a user-friendly work platform to help manage workflows. ClickUp is a full team project management tool including a Gantt view for project schedules.
Flow is an all-in-one project management tool for tasks, timelines, files and communication.
Teamwork is a simple-to-use, yet powerful project management tool. Teamwork helps keep everyone accountable and stay on track.
Trello is an easy-to-use, visual project management tool. While the tool may appear to be simple, but there are many features such as checklists, due dates, attachments, conversations and more.
Write is a versatile, robust project management tool.
Process Street helps remote teams manage their workflow, namely, using powerful checklists designed to walk your team members through recurring processes.
Process Street improves time management by automating workflows, prioritizing tasks and presenting clear processes.
Managing your internal digital files is an important part of a school marketing team. If a coworker can’t be reached, other team members need to have access to the files they need to continue being productive.
Google Workspace includes all the productivity tools you’re familiar with – Gmail, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Calendar, Slides, Meet, etc. Workspace offers an integrated user experience that helps employees stay connected.
Icedrive is a simple cloud storage solution designed for sharing and collaborating.
Remote team members need access to the same tools and login information. In order to maintain security, it’s important to use a secure password management tool.
This tool makes it quick and easy to log in to necessary remote team tools while keeping your passwords safe.
LastPass Teams lets you add and remove team members and safely share passwords as well as giving each employee their own vault.
Screen Recording Tool
Sometimes it’s easier to share a short video explaining something as opposed to trying to type up an explanation. That’s when a screen recording tool comes in handy.
Loom is a free screen sharing tool that allows you to quickly make a screenshot recording, including audio. You can even pause, resume and trim your recording before you share it with your team members.
When you’re finished your recording, Loom automatically stores the video in their cloud storage. Loom offers unlimited storage, which is great for larger teams.
You share your recordings through links. Viewers can leave comments and reactions. You can also password protect recordings that include sensitive information.
StoryXpress Recorder is a screen recorder that allows you to record your screen and your face as you talk. It’s a great way to communicate with remote team members as well as provide them with updates on your progress.
Integrations and Automation
Connecting and automating workflow processes is a game-changer. You can streamline your blog production process, automate Slack messages, send emails, and set up Calendar events.
Zapier truly improves the productivity of small and large teams. The software allows you to integrate all the apps you use on a regular basis. Zapier can truly help eliminate tedious busywork.
Zapier works seamlessly with Process Street, further increasing the productivity of internal processes.
Create systems for open communication
Regular, open communication with remote team members increases motivation, resulting in better quality of work and improves productivity.
Working from home can be overwhelming, and it can be easy to become unclear about the work expectations. Daily check-ins allow managers or lead staff to communicate with staff each day. This gives both parties the opportunity to ask questions, discuss concerns about the tasks at hand and share resources if needed.
Instant messaging and phone calls can be used for quick communication throughout the day but try to conduct your daily check-ins via Zoom or other video conferencing software, allowing both parties to see each other face to face at the start of each day.
Daily check-ins are opportunities to provide emotional support to team members.
Weekly Progress Meetings
It is helpful for teams to meet as a group once a week with the specific purpose of reporting progress and making adjustments to the timeline. These can be very short meetings, preferably on Monday mornings, so workloads can be adjusted or modified based on progress. These meetings should not be used to process issues or provide training.
Monthly Team Strategy Meetings
Team strategy meetings should be scheduled once a month. This is a time to go deeper into team issues, provide team training if needed and discuss overall strategy. Periodically team building activities should be on the agenda.
Build a culture of trust, accountability, and transparency
The work of your remote teams should be the same as those working in-person in your school. Everyone should be working toward accomplishing the mission of your organization. In other words, everyone should be working toward the same goal.
Make sure you are clear about your expectations and provide detailed instructions. Make sure you communicate the task to be accomplished, the deadline and quality standards that must be met.
A culture of transparency and accountability can be accomplished by maintaining open lines of communication.
If there is anything we learned through the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that work can be accomplished outside the physical confines of an office environment. A more relaxed remote working environment can translate into less workplace stress. It also offers employees more time to work, increases efficiency and produces higher quality work outputs. You also open your school to a diverse range of talent outside your local workforce pool.
By implementing the tips listed above, your school can improve the productivity and efficiency of a remote working team.
Do your school marketing team members work remotely? What strategies for maintaining productivity are working for you? Please share with the school marketing community by commenting below…