Out of our current 60 employees, 50% of them work outside of Connecticut, the location of our only office space.
Of the other 50% who do live in Connecticut, roughly 30% choose to work remotely each day.
We offer the option of remote working because it allows us to assemble the best team of people across the country (and recently outside the country!), and it’s an increasingly more popular perk as employees seek more flexibility and work-life balance.
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Having a strong remote culture, however, isn’t simply about the ability to work remotely.
To make it effective, and enjoyable, you need to have the right tools in place in order to be productive, communicate effectively, and make everyone feel like part of the team.
While we’re always evaluating our tools and testing out new ones, the following seven platforms are some of our current favorites to facilitate a great remote experience and combat some common pain points.
When all or some of your teammates are remote, you can’t just walk up to someone’s desk when you have a question or need something. You need reliable tools to facilitate communication.
Slack is an instant messaging tool and when a face-to-face meeting isn’t necessary, it is a life-saver for sending quick notes, updates, documents, etc.
Between the desktop notifications and the ability to add the Slack app to our phones, it’s the best option we’ve found for connecting with someone quickly, if not in real-time.
At IMPACT, everything from team collaboration to lunch orders is done in Slack, and we’ve connected apps such as Google Calendar, Zenefits, and more in an effort to flow regular communication through this platform.
Karisa sharing some lunch options with the local team.
When you’re not within ear-shot, it can also be more difficult to manage projects and tasks. Luckily, there are plenty of tools to help with that as well.
For more complex projects, we use Jira, an Atlassian product for agile project management.
With the ability to log in and make changes from anywhere, our teams are easily able to see what’s on their plate for the week, see how their team is progressing on projects, and communicate back and forth with updates.
Within the tool, users are also able to attach files, flag items that need attention, and reassign tasks to new people as needed.
Screenshot of the Jira board showing the progression of each of these projects.
Document/Process Creation and Storage
Now document sharing and access is important for any digital organization, but even more so if you have remote team members.
When organizing and documenting processes and things that should be accessible to the whole team, we use Confluence, a content collaboration tool by Atlassian.
Confluence allows us to organize information and processes in a portal that is easy to organize and search.
Using confluence for processes ensures that everyone is using the same documents and has access to everything at all times.
At IMPACT, we have playbooks and documentation for almost everything we do regularly within Confluence.
With this, most times someone has a question on how to complete a task, they can quickly find what they need right in the hub.
Starting at a new company can be nerve-wracking and overwhelming. Implementing onboarding tools like the ones below not only reduce paper, but allow new team members to complete their paperwork virtually.
Zenefits is a cloud-based software that we use for managing paperwork, healthcare, payroll, and generally all things human resources related.
While there are a lot of things I love about Zenefits, my favorite has to be how seamless and simple they make getting employee onboarding paperwork completed and organized.
A few years back, our traditional process looked like this:
Find the most up to date onboarding forms and the proper state forms if necessary
Print the forms (or hope a remote person has a printer)
Employee physically fills out the forms
Scan forms into a digital folder
Scan and print copies of identification
Scan identification photos into a digital folder
Realize employee didn’t complete a certain form(s)
Re-do most of the process above until all forms are in the employee’s folder
Manually type the information into a system for background checks
Manually type the information into a spreadsheet to track all employee info in one place
Try to keep the spreadsheet of info up to date
I’m sure I’m even forgetting a few things, but what a hassle right?
Not only was it a frustrating administrative process on our end, but it was also a poor experience for the new employee.
Now, with Zenefits, once we type the employee’s basic information into the system, the proper paperwork is automatically pulled together, auto-populated, and sent to the employee.
Not only that, but the employee can digitally sign everything - no printing or scanning required!
Once they hit the send button, everything automatically organizes into their employee profile, and a background check request gets submitted without me needing to lift a finger.
If your current paperwork process is anything like ours used to be, I suggest testing out a platform such as Zenefits to save time, energy, and to stay sane.
Bring on the new remote tools!
If you have a remote team, you should always be testing and trying new platforms to ensure your employees are having the best experience.
Ironically, I had to pause in the middle of writing this article to take a call from a company that is in beta for an awesome remote backdrop product. (More info to come when they’re out of beta!)
If you have any remote employees, I encourage you to evaluate the tools you use to see whether or not they’re truly remote-friendly and look into things that will enhance the experience and productivity of your whole team.
Do you currently use something awesome I should know about? Let me know in IMPACT Elite!