Share This Article:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

With the advent of all things Web, mobility and Tim Ferriss’ “The 4 hour work week,” it’s easier than ever for team members to work from different locations (or even from home offices). At Egnyte, I commonly work with our teams in Spokane, Poland and the UK, in addition to outside vendors and customers. While this dispersed group situation may seem difficult to manage, having the right tools in place can bring any team together – even if they are thousands of miles apart.

If you are faced with managing and collaborating with a team like this, here is my top list of tech tools I use to help remove the distance barriers and enable effective remote team management.

Get regular face time.

The hardest obstacle about working remotely is not seeing what’s happening on the other end of the line. While instant messaging, phone calls, and email have their places, having regular face time helps team members understand each other through non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and posture. Non-verbal cues like these are what allow us to see the difference between a person that is aggressive, someone being sarcastic, and another that is passionate about his/her work.

For example, you’ve probably heard or said the classic comment “Let’s take this offline” during meetings. If you are managing this team, sometimes that phrase can come across with a more serious tone if the remote team members can’t see you when you say it. Adding in face time helps you better understand your colleagues by seeing their body movements, how they are sitting, etc.

My Tech Recommendation: Video conferencing for face time, mobile phones for voice time, and your favorite airline (Yay, Virgin America!) or other mode of transportation for the most important time of all – face-to-face, in-person time.

Productivity anywhere you want to be.

Collaboration, productivity, remote teamProductivity doesn’t have to stop (or even slow down) if you can’t all be in the same room at the same time. Eliminate binding the team to certain locations by embracing some of the cool new technologies that allow people to move around and seamlessly work together just like they are sitting across from each other in the conference room.

For example, if someone needs to be in your headquarters to access certain files or applications, that’s a huge barrier to productivity. You don’t have to have a “case of the Mondays” since you were able to say “NO” to your boss. Instead of going into work on the weekend, you were able update a few files from your mobile device at the beach. Both you and your boss are happy.

My Tech Recommendation: Cloud-based applications allow teams to work from pretty much any device that has an Internet connection and a browser. Find ones that are easy to use and are secure for business use, and your team is on its way to increased productivity.

Create a work plan and check in regularly.

Now that you have remote access to files and face time via technology to stay engaged and connected, it’s time to plan. Ensure your team always knows timelines, deliverables, and deadlines with regular check ins. You can easily foster a culture of regularly updating progress within the team, which keeps everyone accountable, especially those who you can’t just walk down and sit in their offices for status updates.

Using project management tools helps, but you can also make use of simple tools that are collaboration-friendly. Our team uses Google slides to track weekly updates for our products. It’s helpful to be able to drop into the slide from anywhere with an Internet connection and post my update, while multiple other team members are also making their updates simultaneously. As I mentioned before, ensure the technology is approved by IT, so you don’t put your business’ intellectual property at risk.

My Tech Recommendation: Project Management tools, Google Docs for easy collaboration and simultaneous updates, and of course, Egnyte, for all of your file-sharing needs, especially when Internet connectivity isn’t available and for enterprise-level security and collaboration.

Making smart use of tech can bridge the gap between good and great remote team management. Your best talent may not live in the same city, and by embracing these tools, you can effectively manage this strong team spread across different locations. Are there any other tools that have helped you? Please share them in the comments below.