Over the course of the past decade, traditional office environments have rapidly begun to fall out of favour, replaced by virtual workforces connected solely by technology.
And whilst this new way of working undoubtedly offers businesses countless financial benefits, it does also present numerous challenges for managers tasked with overseeing output.
After all, it’s a lot harder to keep tabs on a team member when they’re out of eyeshot and secure in the knowledge that nobody is going to unexpectedly turn up and steal a glance at their screen.
Not only that, but the reduced amount of actual face-to-face interaction can also have an enormous impact on team dynamics, with remote workers often failing to feel connected to their fellow employees despite the abundance of daily interaction.
So what’s a manager to do? Is it possible to promote a healthy sense of team spirit and keep an eye on productivity without ever being in the same room as your employees?
Whilst it’s unlikely that any technology will be able to act as a substitute for quality human interaction, there are a few widely available workflow systems you can use to more effectively replicate the feel of a more traditional workplace.
Here are some of our favourite online work tools that can be effectively used to help you get the best out of your virtual workforce:
Widely used by a number of high-tech enterprises the world over, Slack is essentially a fully-kitted out chat programme, which allows teams to interact quickly and easily in the comfort of an extremely well designed user interface. It also comes complete with seamless mobile apps, and can be easily integrated with other tools like Trello, making it the one tool no virtual workplace should be without.
A free and user-friendly to-do list programme that can be easily customised to suit the requirements of any workplace, Trello has revolutionized productivity for online teams. Working on a card system that can be adapted to conform to an Agile workflow system or simply serve as a project overview, Trello enables managers to keep sight of the bigger picture at all times.
A project management tool developed by a group of former Facebook employees, Asana affords managers with a more dynamic staff contingent the easy ability to oversee input from all corners. Fully integrated with everything from Harvest to Dropbox, Asana’s colour-coding system makes it easy to manage teams of freelancers, and to keep track of deadlines both within and outside your immediate team.
Essentially a much more visually-compelling version of Trello, Droptask is the ideal tool through which to manage creative teams. Projects are visually represented by large, colourful circles, making it very easy to keep tabs on all tasks underway, and the platform offers up native apps for everything from Mac to Android, meaning interaction is optimized based on the user’s current location.