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21 Experts Share Tips & Tools for Managing Remote Teams

Updated: July 30, 2020
Team Huddle Hands In Center

What are the best tools for managing remote teams? 

Well, one of the problems we encountered when gathering data for this article was that it’s almost impossible to find a team management tool that’s obviously better than the others. 

You could even argue that there’s no such thing as a “best tool” for team management. After all, experts enjoy using different tools based on their personal preferences, just like normal users. And that gave us a new idea on how to approach this topic: 

What if we asked experts to tell us what tools they use to manage remote teams and we ranked the tools according to the number of experts who use them? That could give us an unbiased estimation of what tools are better for this purpose. 

So that’s exactly what we did. We asked 20 experts who manage remote teams on a daily basis to select the best tools for the job, tallied their votes, and used them to create the following lists. 

Whether you’re looking for a single tool that could help you deal with a certain process or a suite of tools that could help you manage a remote team without any hiccups, this post will give you a shortlist of the best options to consider. 

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the best tips and tools for managing remote teams, ranked according to team managers who do this every day.

Best Tools For Managing Remote Teams (Leaderboard)

Slack and Zoom were the clear winners, with Loom, Asana, Google Docs, and Google Sheets tying for a distant second place. Slack was also the winner in another top made by Attendancebot (which also included Zoom), and it takes one of the top positions in every other list we found, including this one from Saviom

As a caveat, the Google Suite was mentioned in one form or another by many of our experts. Google Docs and Sheets were mentioned by name, so they made the list. 

But here’s the thing, most remote teams use the Google Suite to get things done. However, people have been using Docs or Sheets for so long that they might have gotten used to having them and might not have thought of mentioning them for our list. 

Let’s take a look at our leaderboard:

  1. Slack - 9 votes 
  2. Zoom - 9 votes 
  3. Loom - 4 votes 
  4. Clickup - 3 votes 
  5. Asana - 3 votes 
  6. Google Docs - 3 votes 
  7. Google Sheets - 3 votes 
  8. Trello - 2 votes 
  9. Teamwork - 2 votes 
  10. Notion - 2 votes

It shouldn’t be surprising that our top tools are both apps that enable team members to connect and communicate. Communication is extremely important in a team, and probably doubly so in a remote team where walking to your colleague’s desk to discuss one problem or another is not a possibility. 

In an online team, everybody needs to be on the same page from the start. Our top two apps enable team members to ask and answer questions quickly when they work, but they also allow teams to connect on a personal level. 

Here’s what our experts say about the importance of communication in a remote team:

“We also have a weekly Zoom team meeting where we just have fun.  It's been a huge success and the conversations go on all week in slack. We ask random questions, have break out rooms and do quick team debriefs... but it's mostly fun.”
Jason Vance
Vance Media
Jason Vance
“The biggest challenges we've faced is the lack of personal connection. Even though we have an app that helps us work, taking time to touch base with my small team at a personal level is key.”
Andrea Greenhous
Vision2Voice Communications Inc.
Andrea Greenhous
“... we've added ways to increase human connection like a coffee shop chat channel on our instant message service, virtual birthday celebrations & employee-hosted lunch and learns”
Danielle Cuomo
Virtual Assist USA
Danielle Julia Cuomo
“It’s important to have channels in place that are accessible. No point in sharing news only on the intranet if no one can read it or people don’t have access. Always have channels that people can access at any time from anywhere. If you make it easy for them they’ll engage.”
Advita Patel
CommsRebel
Advita Patel
“I overcome these challenges by having scheduled recurring zoom meetings with the project team with an agenda and action items captured it allows a place for group decisions to be made, vision to be cast and the team to ask questions of one another.”
Amy Appleton
BELAY
Amy Appleton
But why would so many of our experts choose these particular apps to communicate with their teams? What makes them so special?
Slack Apps Integrations Screenshot

Slack

Slack is one of the most popular business messaging apps in the world. The app enables you to message your entire team or individual members concisely, whether you’re chatting in real-time or not. 

The app’s interface is intuitive and easy to learn, which means that your non-tech-savvy colleagues will be able to use it without too much effort. But Slack also comes with multiple integrations that can take your team’s communication to another level. And with the help of various integrations, you convert your team’s Slack chat from a messaging board into a project management and collaboration tool. 

Like most other apps nowadays, Slack has multiple pricing tiers but users can also use it for free. The free version doesn’t offer some of the features the paid versions do, but even so, it offers a great platform for internal communication.

Zoom Video Conference Meeting Screenshot

Zoom

Zoom is a video conferencing app that became famous around the world thanks to its generous free plans. The app took the video conferencing industry by storm during the COVID-19 outbreak, when millions of businesses around the world used it to communicate face-to-face with their teams. 

Zoom offers lots of business-oriented features, such as user management, cloud recording, non-stop support, API access, diverse integrations, and 720p video calling. 

But what really sets Zoom apart from other video conferencing apps is its free plan. The free plan doesn’t limit the host’s monthly meetings, and users can join a conference through the mobile app or by calling from a phone line. The free version supports meetings of up to 100 participants for up to 40 minutes, unlimited one-on-one meetings, and even local recording. 

Zoom’s paid plans add business-oriented features to the app. Hosts can access an admin dashboard to keep track of meetings and participation, and they can easily get online chat support if they need to.  

Zoom is simple to install and use. The video quality is great, and the app has a clean interface that’s intuitive and easy to learn. This made Zoom the go-to app during the COVID-19 outbreak when people needed a reliable app to communicate with family and colleagues.

Webex Teams - Slack & Zoom Functionality (and more) in a Single App

Why use separate tools when you can use a single app that unifies your teamwork and gives you additional productivity and collaboration features like white-boarding and voice calling?
Webex Teams

Remote Team Management Challenges (And How To Overcome Them)

Overseeing and managing remote projects can sometimes be challenging because there are always multiple moving pieces, deadlines, and conversations you have to take into account. Here are some of the challenges remote teams face:

1. Different Time Zones

Managing a remote team can be extra difficult when some of your team members are not living in the same timezone as the rest of the team. 

Here’s how our experts dealt with it: 

“Overcoming it was simple. We're based in EST so we simply made it a policy that our internal meetings are based on EST. This is transparent during the interview process and we've removed 95% of the issues we experienced.”
Marcus Dickinson
How to Project
Marcus Dickinson

2. Productivity

Being productive is not easy when everybody's working remotely because your teammates might get distracted. There’s always a funny cat video to watch, a kid to run after, or some chores that need doing. 

But here’s some expert advice on how to keep your remote team productive:

“We overcame it by adding in a daily check in, and adding basic time tracking on activities. From a management level we made sure to review project workload each week and map out our expectations.”
Nick Gulic
Creative Click
Nick Gulic
“Previously our process is not documented and the structure is not clear due to which huge time got wasted into team training. Now we use Notion to document each process and make SOPs which helps our team. We also created some mini-courses or tracks for our team training.”
Raunak Hajela
What a Story
Raunak Hajela

3. Processes

Processes give you and your team a structure to follow when you tackle certain problems. When you use standardized processes, your team’s tasks can be distributed to multiple people, which means they can be completed faster. 

In addition, using standard processes can also help your team achieve the same result multiple times, which can be a huge bonus if you have a lot of repetitive tasks. 

Here’s how our experts handle processes:

“We drafted a set of communication guidelines to help our team understand what were the appropriate scenarios for using Asana task comments, a Slack channel message, a Slack DM, a text or even old-fashioned email.”
J.P. VanderLinden
EmberTribe
Jp Vanderlinden
“Everyone has their own way of doing things, and this can add great value to a company's growth. However, when it comes to metrics and reliable data, there are certain things that must be done in a consistent manner. Teamwork came to the rescue again with the introduction of Teamwork Spaces, which allowed to put all of our corporate materials onto one place, as well as assign required reading with the ability to track who is doing that reading, and when.”
Marcus Dickinson
How to Project
Marcus Dickinson

Tips On Managing A Remote Team

We asked our experts for tips and suggestions on managing a remote team. Here are some things every team manager should be aware of:
“... make sure you’re communicating a lot. Check in regularly, make sure everyone is going okay and not stuck. Your job is to help everyone else do their job. Don’t just assign a task and ignore them until it’s done.”
Nick Gulic
Creative Click
Nick Gulic
“While it is important for corporate teams to have fun, it is not a substitute for "real" team building. When teams are working remotely, more not less time needs to be devoted to managing team interaction and issues.”
Anne Thornley-Brown
Executive Oasis International
Anne Thornley Brown
“... maintain flexibility in the working schedule of their teams. Instead of focusing on tracking strict working hours, track their productivity instead. The measure should be the productive work done during the day, and not the amount of time they are spending glued to the computer screen while working from home.”
Vartika Kashyap
ProofHub
Vartika Kashyap
“... when you get to communication around work or tasks, what's important is to focus on clear outcomes and expectations. Where you work, when you work, etc. isn't the point anymore -- it's about results.”
Andrea Greenhous
Vision2Voice Communications Inc.
Andrea Greenhous
“Ensure that everyone has a clear contingency plan for internet connectivity. As an example, internet connections, on occasion, may go out. Each of your team members should have a back-up plan in this case, such as a phone's Hot Spot or an alternative venue to access the internet.”
Danielle Cuomo
Virtual Assist USA
Danielle Julia Cuomo

Expert Tips And Tools For Managing Remote Teams - Deep Dive

Okay, so that was our quick recap of the team managing tools our experts recommend and their advice for other team managers. 

Now it’s time to see how our experts use the tools to manage their team

Amy Appleton

Amy Appleton

Director of Marketing, BELAY
Remote Team Members: 85

Must Have Software:

Asana, Salesforce, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Dropbox, Password Boss

Remote Team Management Challenges:

Overseeing and managing projects with a remote team can be challenging, many moving pieces, deadlines, group and individual conversations and decisions.   

I overcome these challenges by having scheduled recurring zoom meetings with the project team with an agenda and action items captured it allows a place for group decisions to be made, vision to be cast and the team to ask questions of one another.  Also using a cloud based project management tool like Asana allow me to see the big picture and individual tasks simply with the communication all being housed in one place.

Remote Team Management Tips:

Over communicate and confirm understanding:  Don't assume because something was stated in a meeting that everyone heard, or understood what you were trying to communicate. 

Follow up after meetings with an email of the most important decisions made or communication given.  

Set an expectation of acknowledging email communication even if there are no questions asked of them.  A simple - "thanks" or "got it" lets you and them know the email was read.

Bethan Girdler Maslen

Bethan Girdler-Maslen

Content Marketing Executive, Gradwell Communications
Remote Team Members: 70

Must Have Software:

We use 3CX and Microsoft Teams to speak to one another, via chat, voice and video calls and virtual meetings. Communicating via instant messaging apps and unified communication systems were the norm for us when we were still in the office. 

Having these systems already integrated into our staff’s laptops and phones helped the transition to remote working easy and seamless.

Regularly communicating is vital in order to get things done and stay up to date with colleagues. We’ve found that combining strong unified communication tools, like Microsoft Teams, with task-based tracking software, like Trello, has helped us stay productive and coordinated with one another. 

We've found services like Trello beneficial as we’re able to see our upcoming tasks and jobs, including that of other team members. This helped us become accountable with work and deadlines and stay up to date with what our colleagues are working on as well.

Remote Team Management Challenges:

Despite being cloud communication experts and using a range of telephony, communication can be difficult when you are unable to speak face to face like you would in the office. You can’t always be certain if people are at their desks, having a break or in a meeting when they’re working remotely.

Once we made the transition to working from home, we realised the value and advantages of status and messaging updates. Microsoft Teams especially has been helpful with communicating what people are doing. Having this connected with other Microsoft products like Outlook and Office means all our meetings are synched and can be seen within Teams. 

This has helped us communicate better with one another and get a better understanding of what colleagues are doing and when they’re available.

We’ve also invested in sales automation and engagement software to help keep a consistent prospecting and sales process across our teams, even when we’re working in very different locations.

Remote Team Management Tips:

Our main tip is to schedule daily and weekly catchups with your immediate team. This helps your team stay updated with one another, discuss any issues that they might be experiencing and to organise workflows. Lockdown isolation has been difficult for many people so it’s so important to check in with your team regularly to make sure they’re coping with both their work and home life.

Having a shared space for tasks – like Trello or Jira – is great for transparency and accountability. It helps keep people on track, keep them motivated and check on productivity. It’s also a great way to check on resource levels, making sure your team isn’t overloaded with tasks or projects.

Jp Vanderlinden

J.P. VanderLinden

Director of Operations, EmberTribe
Remote Team Members: 25

Must Have Software:

Asana, Slack, Zoom

Remote Team Management Challenges:

When you have a project management software, real-time messaging platform and email as well as phone/text, there are a lot of places communication can happen, which can lead to things being missed. 

We drafted a set of communication guidelines to help our team understand what were the appropriate scenarios for using Asana task comments, a Slack channel message, a Slack DM, a text or even old-fashioned email. 

The rationale behind when to use which had to do with urgency, whether it was generally related to a client or subject or more directly to a certain task, and whether it was strictly internal or included external partners.

Remote Team Management Tips:

You cannot over-communicate - you can talk too much, communicate too frequently or fail to add value, but there is no such thing as being too clear, too transparent. 

Making sure everyone fully understands status, timeline, needs, expectations is even more paramount in remote work environments than in-office.

Marcus Dickinson

Marcus Dickinson

CEO, How to Project
Remote Team Members: 13

Must Have Software:

It's imperative to have a central repository for files (with version control), tasks, collaboration, milestones, and everything else involved in project management. For us, the goto is teamwork.com.

Remote Team Management Challenges:

Timezones would be the first. Overcoming it was simple. We're based in EST so we simply made it a policy that our internal meetings are based on EST. This is transparent during the interview process and we've removed 95% of the issues we experienced. Someone still occasionally sleeps through a 3 AM call. 

The other biggest challenge is standardized processes. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and this can add great value to a company's growth. However, when it comes to metrics and reliable data, there are certain things that must be done in a consistent manner. 

Teamwork came to the rescue again with the introduction of Teamwork Spaces, which allowed to put all of our corporate materials onto one place, as well as assign required reading with the ability to track who is doing that reading, and when. 

There are other challenges such as children, pets, shiny object syndrome at home, etc. These can all be resolved through core value hiring, and honestly aren't unique to remote work.

Remote Team Management Tips:

People and systems. Whether on premise or remote, a sustainable business model MUST be built around these things. Remote work simply reveals the cracks much faster than on premise. 

Don't think of remote work as something new. Think of it as something you should've always done and be grateful for the learning opportunities it provides.

Chris Castillo

Chris Castillo

CEO, Propel Digital Media Solutions
Remote Team Members: 7

Must Have Software:

Zoom, Slack, Loom, ClickUp

Remote Team Management Challenges:

The biggest challenge has been establishing processes and SOPs that are clear and have everything team members need to perform their duties to a high degree of quality and reliability. We've made the process of building SOPs a team effort with everyone contributing to these master documents. The end result are documents that are easy for them and others to follow.

Remote Team Management Tips:

I think a good project management software tool hosted in the cloud is essential. Getting your PM software set up for your business and processes takes time but it is the lifeblood of our agency. There are several really good options for PM software, but I've found that ClickUp has everything we need and more. It's also very easy to use - which is sooo important in order to have all of your team members using it.

Another tip would be to take the time to actually get to know your remote team members - personal likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc. Where physical distance means a reduced emotional and human bond with your team members, taking the time to build that connection in other ways is an essential part of remote team building. 👌

Shauna Moran

Shauna Moran

Founder, Operate Remote
Remote Team Members: 3

Must Have Software:

There are so many apps and software to choose from. Lately, I've been a big fan of Loom, which allows me to easily screen share and talk through. It's also very convenient- and allows my team to watch it at a time that suits them.

Remote Team Management Challenges:

My journey into coaching and working with remote teams and leaders started from the challenges I’ve experienced myself. Building and growing remote teams for various SaaS and tech companies, I came across multiple remote-specific challenges when it came to leadership effectiveness, communication and company culture.

That led me on a journey back to university to study innovation management, and base all of my research around remote teams. Fast-forward to today, three years later- I’ve coupled that real-life experience with my academic background to build Operate Remote.

Operate Remote specializes in leadership coaching and team effectiveness in remote teams. We work with leaders of fast-growing distributed and remote teams to guarantee highly engaged and productive teams.

Remote working is no longer the future- it’s the present and organizations need to be prepared to handle the complexities of remote working- of which there are many. The best way they can be equipped is to empower their leadership teams.

I’m also living and breathing remote working as a business owner. I’m based in Vancouver, Canada and my team are based in Ireland and Spain and I have clients all over the world. I’m living and breathing remote working every day.

Remote Team Management Tips:

Keep investing at getting better at remote working- whether that’s tapping into a more effective schedule for yourself, training your team on remote working best practices or improving your communication remotely. Investing your time and energy into this will only continue to pay off well into the future- regardless on if you go back to an office or not.

The biggest challenge for teams right now is over-communication. Many teams that have shifted to remote working are trying to overcompensate for the lack of in-person communication. These then leads a team to becoming easily distracted, unable to truly focus and they aren't working on the most meaningful tasks because their day is blocked up with meetings.

The most effective solution is to improve written communication and empower your team to take ownership of their time and create some healthy team boundaries.

Datis Mohsenipour

Datis Mohsenipour

Director of Marketing, Outback Team Building & Training
Remote Team Members: 15

Must Have Software:

SmartSheet + Microsoft Teams + Loom

Remote Team Management Challenges:

Thankfully, we've been working partially-remote long before COVID-19 so it was an easier transition for my team to go fully remote.

Remote Team Management Tips:

The biggest challenge for any organization will be to keep a positive culture, encourage impromptus "water-cooler" talk, and keep teams engaged with one another.  Here are a few recommendations:

Meet face-to-face via Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or any other video conferencing solution more than you normally would. Carve out a little time for social banter.

As a leader, you'll want to make sure that your instructions are clearer than ever. I really like using Loom to communicate tasks, especially if the task is something that my team member is unfamiliar with or hasn't done before.

Use a project management tool to manage and assign tasks. When switching to a remote environment, it's easy to fall into the trap of micro-managing. Project management tools will help prevent that.

At Outback, we use Smartsheet. Each of our team members has their own "performance management" sheet that highlights larger projects for each half-year and "business-as-usual" commitments that they are expected to complete regularly. 

They also have an ongoing to-do list that they update on a weekly basis. Each task and project contains a progress status field. If a task's due date is approaching and the status is either "Not Started" or "On Hold" an automated notification will be sent to my team member and me. This allows me to check in on the status of tasks and projects without pestering my team members for updates. We also meet weekly to discuss completed and upcoming work.

Now is a critical time to engage in group activities. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the job market in a terrible way, many folks are worried about their job security, and lots of people are bummed because they can't spend time socializing with their colleagues. Good news - Just because you're social-distancing, doesn't mean you can't be social. We've compiled a list of 20 virtual team building activities (free and paid) to help you keep your team connected, engaged, and social.

Nick Gulic

Nick Gulic

Founder, Creative Click
Remote Team Members: 7

Must Have Software:

Clickup, Slack, Zoom

Remote Team Management Challenges:

You miss the certainty of knowing people are there and working, what they’re up to, things like that.

We overcame it by adding in a daily check in, and adding basic time tracking on activities. From a management level we made sure to review project workload each week and map out our expectations.

Remote Team Management Tips:

Get your processes sorted out. If you have good processes, you usually don’t need to micromanage. If they’re lacking, you probably will need to - and your team won’t enjoy that.

Also make sure you’re communicating a lot. Check in regularly, make sure everyone is going okay and not stuck. Your job is to help everyone else do their job. Don’t just assign a task and ignore them until it’s done.

Anne Thornley Brown

Anne Thornley-Brown

President, Executive Oasis International
Remote Team Members: 100+

Must Have Software:

Zoom

Remote Team Management Challenges:

Clients are inundated with emails and they rarely pick up LinkedIn messages

Remote Team Management Tips:

Team building is my area of specialty. Many companies have been replacing facilitated business team building to achieve business results with fun and games.

This trend is now making its way to virtual teams.  Some leaders think that playing video games together or participating in online escape rooms will resolve business issues. These activities can be used as energizers.

While it is important for corporate teams to have fun, it is not a substitute for "real" team building.

When teams are working remotely, more not less time needs to be devoted to managing team interaction and issues. Ditto business challenges. They won't solve themselves but require targeted focus.

On your next page, you ask how many remote team members and it requires a number. I have alliance partners all over the world. Before I leave Toronto and land in places like Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Jamaica, Barbados, Dominica, and Mexico, I need to work virtually with my hotel alliance partners who will provide the accommodation, transportation, meals, activities to go with my facilitated business team building activities, etc. 

Depending on the size of the group, I can have over 100 people working together to deliver a quality service for the client. All of this I must coordinate. I have been working on this basis since 2000, long before COVID-19.

Vartika Kashyap

Vartika Kashyap

CMO, ProofHub
Remote Team Members: 40

Must Have Software:

There are two main apps that you need to have for managing teams remotely. The first one is a virtual task management tool that lets you clearly assign tasks to team members. 

The second one is a virtual communication and collaboration tool.  Also, if you want to track every productive minute that your employees are spending at work, having a time tracking app can work great.

Luckily for us, we have the power of both these tools combined in a single software - ProofHub.

As an all-in-one tool, ProofHub allows us to view all our tasks, projects, files and workflows from one central place. It also gives us a dedicated space to carry out discussions in real-time. 

Moreover, the in-built chat app ensures that we don’t have to switch outside of ProofHub for communicating with each other. It also gives us the time tracking feature as well. So, we don’t really need many different tools to manage our work and remain productive while working from home.

Remote Team Management Challenges:

One big challenge that we had to face when working remotely was to get everyone on the same page. However, the challenge was easily solved with ProofHub. 

Since it gave us a central place to store all our information, assign tasks to every team member, create custom workflows and track every task’s and person’s progress, and at the same time communicate with everyone without juggling between too many different apps, we were able to stay right on track even when we switched to remote working.

Remote Team Management Tips:

There are a couple of suggestions that I have for leaders and managers who are handling remote teams. The first one is to maintain flexibility in the working schedule of their teams. Instead of focusing on tracking strict working hours, track their productivity instead. 

The measure should be the productive work done during the day, and not the amount of time they are spending glued to the computer screen while working from home.

The second suggestion is to give them a suitable tool using which they can access everything related to their work (be it tasks, files, deadlines, project milestones, workflow and more) from a single place. 

Not only will it simplify things, it will also ensure that they are not wasting time juggling between too many apps instead of using their time productively.

Raunak Hajela

Raunak Hajela

CTO, What a Story
Remote Team Members: 20

Must Have Software:

Notion, Google Meet, Github, Bitbucket, Slack, Whatsapp, Google Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Figma, Gmail

Remote Team Management Challenges:

Previously our process is not documented and the structure is not clear due to which huge time got wasted into team training. Now we use Notion to document each process and make SOPs which helps our team. We also created some mini-courses or tracks for our team training.

Remote Team Management Tips:

Always document a process and focus on having more and more SOPs

Use a project management tool which you can customize based on your project needs. Every project requires a different project management setup. We use Notion for this.

Jason Vance

Jason Vance

Owner/Founder, Unbranded Media Inc.
Remote Team Members: 10

Must Have Software:

Zoom. Slack. Basecamp. Gmail.

Remote Team Management Challenges:

Productivity. I'm still working on solving them.

Remote Team Management Tips:

We've given our team a lot of room to make their own hours and set their own schedule.  We're still working on this, but it's worked great for some.  

We also have a weekly zoom team meeting where we just have fun.  It's been a huge success and the conversations go on all week in slack. We ask random questions, have break out rooms and do quick team debriefs... but it's mostly fun.

Andrea Greenhous

Andrea Greenhous

Founder and Chief Internal Communications Strategist, Vision2Voice Communications Inc.
Remote Team Members: 4

Must Have Software:

We use Monday.com to manage our work and everything happens in this platform. It is fabulous!

Remote Team Management Challenges:

The biggest challenges we've faced is the lack of personal connection. Even though we have an app that helps us work, taking time to touch base with my small team at a personal level is key.

Remote Team Management Tips:

Our internal communications agency, Vision2Voice, helps leaders connect with employees to build mutual understanding and connection. It starts with reinforcing purpose (why we are here) and then clarifying values (how we work and expected behaviours). 

Then when you get to communication around work or tasks, what's important is to focus on clear outcomes and expectations. Where you work, when you work, etc. isn't the point anymore -- it's about results. 

The final two suggestions I have, is the importance of listening and making sure you are in-tune with how employees are feeling and then to ensure your communication conveys messages as empathetically and compassionately as possible. 

Sorry! Two more things: transparency and authenticity. 😊

Robbie Richards

Robbie Richards

Founder, robbierichards.com
Remote Team Members: 5

Must Have Software:

Harvest - time tracking
Asana - project management
Google Sheets - project management/ processes
Google Docs - processes
Slack - team chat
Uberconference - video calls/ proposal reviews
Loom - quick explainer/process videos

Remote Team Management Challenges:

One of the biggest challenges I faced was time spent assigning task descriptions in Asana. As a result, I started creating pre-built Project and Task templates that I could quickly clone and copy to different client projects. These were standardized with the same subtasks, descriptions and process docs/ templates. Huge time saver!

Remote Team Management Tips:

Hold one-on-one at least every month to check in on how team members are going, and if they need anything to be more happy/ successful in their roles.

Bi-weekly client planning. This is where we jump on a call and review all the open tasks for each client, address bottlenecks, and prioritize workload for the next two weeks.

Monthly client strategy planning. This is a collaborative effort where all ideas are welcomed in the context of trying to solve a specific problem or challenge for the clients.

Use a project management tool like Asana, and make sure it is open in every planning/ strategy meeting. Everything should live in here.

Try to create SOPs around the projects and tasks that you consistently execute for clients. Then, have them live inside your project management tool.

Bri Morgaine

Bri Morgaine

Content marketing, Canny
Remote Team Members: 7

Must Have Software:

Slack, Zoom, Trello, Notion, ClickUp, Missive, G Suite (primarily Docs and Sheets) and Airtable are probably our most heavily used tools in terms of remote collaboration.

Remote Team Management Challenges:

There are often way too many different documents spread across a wide variety of tools, so keeping track of everything is one of the biggest challenges. 

We solve this by keeping a central knowledge base in Airtable, Trello, or Notion, depending on the particular project/org.

Remote Team Management Tips:

Get on the same page from the start about how you plan to organize information. It can be tricky to keep track of where work is and who has done what if things are spread across varying project management tools. 

Having a clear understanding of where things "live" is one of the most important aspects of effective remote collaboration. Additionally, it's helpful to get clear on how your coworkers work best; do they prefer to be messaged throughout the day on Slack, or do they find that distracting? 

Would they rather do a quick video call, or is it better to send over some bullet points in a doc? Take the time to get to know the work styles of your various team members; it'll make it much easier to communicate effectively as a remote team.

Mahesh Makvana

Mahesh Makvana

CEO, Outflow Media
Remote Team Members: 3

Must Have Software:

Slack, Trello

Remote Team Management Challenges:

Who's doing what and we overcame them by using Trello.

Remote Team Management Tips:

Be specific in your conversations, include emojis to express emotions.

Danielle Julia Cuomo

Danielle Cuomo

President, Virtual Assist USA
Remote Team Members: 23

Must Have Software:

Teamwork PM Chat, focusbooster & TimeTrade

Remote Team Management Challenges:

It was a challenge to find a way for the team to work together cohesively - when we were all remote and spread across the country. Because collaboration and coordination is so important in our work as an all-inclusive Virtual Assistant service, I had to find a way to foster the sense of team. 

Culture is more important than ever now, so we've added ways to increase human connection like a coffee shop chat channel on our instant message service, virtual birthday celebrations & employee-hosted lunch and learns.

Remote Team Management Tips:

Ensure that everyone has a clear contingency plan for internet connectivity. As an example, internet connections, on occasion, may go out. Each of your team members should have a back-up plan in this case, such as a phone's Hot Spot or an alternative venue to access the internet.

Set a specific expectation for regular communication. This is especially important because you can't drop by someone's office. As an example, set aside times twice daily when you will check in via Slack or phone.

Time off (vacation time) is more important than ever in a remote working environment. Due to the ease of being able to work remotely, it's also very easy to turn your vacation into a working vacation. When an employee is going to take vacation, make sure that every single responsibility is handed off well in advance. 

Don't allow the employee to fall into the trap of "This is a tiny task, I'll continue to check in daily while on vacation to get it done, because it would be easier than training a co-worker to do it." Allow the employee to truly let go to prevent burn out and have the time off that they truly deserve and desire.

Bruce Bolger

Bruce Bolger

President, Bruce Bolger Company
Remote Team Members: 30

Must Have Software:

Video conferencing is critical for team meetings. Important information (body language, etc.) is missed when people "call in" and are not available for video connection.

Remote Team Management Challenges:

Getting use to the technology and learning the expanding opportunities that exist. I started my career when mimeograph machines were used to make copies (late 70's) so for me simple apps are critical for success.

Remote Team Management Tips:

Be aware of the importance of your professional appearance when video conferencing. Take time to identify the "best look" when you are projecting yourself to others whether to is from your home office or kitchen table. I am surprised by how many people do not take this into consideration. Lighting and background are important.

Ben Hoffman

Benjamin Hoffman

CEO, cityHUNT
Remote Team Members: 10

Must Have Software:

We use Zoom a lot as well as our cityHUNT app

Remote Team Management Challenges:

How to have fun and stay connected

Remote Team Management Tips:

We start our daily meetings with everyone talking about one thing that is awesome or what they are grateful for. Make sure your group continues to have fun vetted virtual team building events, it still is possible to have fun and connect over zoom

Steve Ockerbloom

Steve Ockerbloom

Director of Professional Development, Best Corporate Events
Remote Team Members: 1

Must Have Software:

Zoom and OneNote

Remote Team Management Challenges:

Being able to communicate effectively. We found out each other's communication dos/don'ts

Remote Team Management Tips:

Find out what they value

Advita Patel

Advita Patel

Director, CommsRebel
Remote Team Members: 1

Must Have Software:

You need to make sure you do your due diligence before you bring any software / apps on board. Make sure you’re checking in with your workforce and you understand the key issues first. 

I’m a big fan of gathering insight and measuring effectively so I look for apps / software that can capture that for me. I’ve also recently been using the Guild app which is a messaging app for businesses. 

I love how you can create a profile and the information stays secure. A great way to build a community and bring people together.

Remote Team Management Challenges:

Connecting with people and sharing information in a timely manner. It’s a challenge when you don’t have your team under one roof and it’s not that easy to call a team meeting either if they are shift based workers for example. 

It’s important to have channels in place that are accessible. No point in sharing news only on the intranet if no one can read it or people don’t have access. Always have channels that people can access at anytime from anywhere. If you make it easy for them they’ll engage.

Remote Team Management Tips:

It’s important to understand what works for your colleagues as well. Don’t make assumptions. Check in with them on a regular basis and make sure you have two-way engagement so that they can feedback up the channel if they have any questions. 

This will reduce misinformation and gossip. If you don’t provide a suitable platform for them to share their thoughts, they’ll find their own and that will be harder to manage.

Tools for Managing Remote Teams 2020

So there you have it - our experts’ tips and tools for managing remote teams. As a reminder, our results were:

  1. Slack - 9 votes 
  2. Zoom - 9 votes 
  3. Loom - 4 votes 
  4. Clickup - 3 votes 
  5. Asana - 3 votes 
  6. Google Docs - 3 votes 
  7. Google Sheets - 3 votes 
  8. Trello - 2 votes 
  9. Teamwork - 2 votes 
  10. Notion - 2 votes

What do you use to manage your remote team?

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