As the pandemic of COVID-19 continues, many companies have been functioning with their employees working from home, and the term “business as usual” has been redefined. While some companies have begun to return to the office setting, many are discovering the increased efficiency, productivity, and employee morale that working remotely can generate. In light of that experience, many companies have decided to continue working remotely for the foreseeable future, and others are adding remote working options to their in-office schedules.
As many of us have learned firsthand, working remotely is most successful when teams communicate, collaborate, and stay focused. In this digital space, paper binders are not easily shared among groups and in-person conference room meetings are non-existent. We have leapt into a digital reliance.
Lacking a paper trail and losing the ability to pop into somebody’s office to ask a quick question or collaborate can make a company lose any sense of order. Now more than ever, staying organized is key to productivity. We provided employees with tips to self-organize in our blog 8 Tips for Balancing Your Job as a Remote Worker and Caregiver. It is also essential that the company as a whole project manage their work to keep track of what is on each employee’s docket and ensure nothing falls through the digital cracks. Tackling project management during COVID-19, when, oftentimes, no plan has been in place, can seem challenging, but these tips will help your company stay organized and keep forging ahead in a remote work environment.
Status With Your Team
Clear communication is a main ingredient to successful project management: clear communication between coworkers and on projects. At Furia Rubel, we have always held a daily stand-up meeting. This is a quick status at the same time every morning to discuss the work we have going on and to keep all team members in the loop. Since working at home because of COVID-19, we now have a regular Zoom status call daily. Not only is this a place where we can keep each other abreast of our client workload, but this also has kept our Furia Rubel team connected when we cannot see each other in person. Along with Zoom we utilize Slack, a multi-channel chat room for our company that keeps communication flowing in real time.
The difficulty working remotely can present often is data centralization. Often, one worker updates an excel sheet at the same time somebody else makes changes and then two versions exist. Or a team member needs a document that another employee has and ends up waiting for that employee to email the document to them. One way to share documents more effectively is through Google Docs, Google’s browser-based word processor where you can share, edit, and create documents in real time with internet connection. If using Google Docs, it is recommended to use two-factor authentication to prevent phishing for your password.
The most common data centralization example is a server. At Furia Rubel, we utilize a central server to store our files. It has allowed all of our team members to access files from home and collaborate. Servers are secure and, with a centralized back up, can protect against data loss.
Project Management System
Once your team has access to centralized data, a method to keep track of the work and process is key. A project management system is an extremely effective tool in keeping your company organized. Various platforms exist that provide companies with job tracking, reporting capabilities, timesheets, and even invoicing, and most are accessible through the internet to allow for remote working. The system best suited for a company varies depending on the functionality desired.
At Furia Rubel, we use Basecamp for all of our marketing, public relations, crisis communications, graphic design and website development projects. Every project is created and named, and a calendar is generated to schedule the milestones for each job. Milestones for every task that need to be completed are assigned a due date and a responsible team member. Once each task is finished, it is checked off and, as long as each agency representative completes work on time, the project stays on schedule.
Dozens of other reputable project management systems are available as well, such as Zoho, Box, and Smartsheet. As COVID-19 has given us a new work-at-home norm that may continue once the pandemic is over, researching a project management system for your company may be beneficial for your workflow. We at Furia Rubel are assessing ours and are always looking to stay ahead technologically. As budgets may be tight during this economic downturn, many project management platforms are offering free services so now might be the best time to test one out for your company. Just check the websites for free trial offers, as information changes daily.