Recently, I landed a consulting gig that was both challenging and a total blast to work on. The challenge? Take a three-year-old company with a remote team to the next level in collaboration and productivity. They came to me with flooded inboxes and some pretty old school project management methodologies. My goal was to streamline everything and increase productivity by tenfold. That’s exactly what I did.
The Quest for Inbox Zero
When everyone on the team has thousands of emails, my first question was “How on earth do you track projects and overall communication?!” I felt as if many items were probably slipping through the cracks. There needed to be a better system to manage projects, especially since this team has members in the USA and abroad. It was a nightmare of multiple email threads, help ticket requests, and forgotten CC’s. All of this resulted in a domino effect of miscommunication and incomplete tasks.
Trello to the Rescue
Keeping cost effectiveness and efficiency in mind, I implemented Trello. The free account was an option, but due to my vision of streamlining everything through tight integrations, I opted for the Business Class upgrade.
Trello comes with several useful integrations which helped me to streamline daily operations. First, the employees and contractors needed the ability to track their time, so I went with Harvest. Now, the company is able to accurately allocate time spent on projects for various clients. There are some great reporting features as well, which make invoicing the client and processing payroll a breeze.
Next, I saw the need for a real help desk. I just don’t think it’s a good look for a client to email a random employee and hope for the best. There should be a legit system in place for opening and resolving tickets, keeping everyone in the loop. I went with Zen Desk and many of the desired requirements were already included in the basic plan. Within minutes, we had a fully functioning help desk.
Finally, file sharing amongst the team was an absolute requirement. It would be great if somehow we could integrate this into Trello, and low and behold, it was possible. Dropbox was the preferred method of file sharing, and Trello made it very easy to integrate this with just a few clicks.
The best part? All of these integrations are now options in every card that is created in Trello. Instead of sending multiple emails to everyone and blowing up inboxes, signing into multiple websites to track time and share files, now the team can do all of these things in one place. To further reduce spam and keep things efficient, each team member can choose whether or not they want to subscribe to a board or specific card and stay in the loop.
Now that we solved the overall project management issues, we still needed to do something about communication. Let’s just be honest. Nobody should have their inbox flooded with emails that are essentially a text message. It just shouldn’t take up valuable email space.
We’ve Been Slackin’
Persistent Team Messaging, or PTM, is a hot buzz word that is taking the way we do business to a new level. This remote team needed a way to communicate, keeping in mind that many team members lived in other time zones. The idea of asynchronous chat was more than a “nice to have” option for this team. I had a great recommendation in mind to address these needs by introducing them to Slack. Regardless of time zone, the team never misses a beat on any group discussions, shared files, or DMs. As an added bonus, Slack is fully integrated with Trello and has other great integrations, such as a handful of great video chat solutions. Whether we need to chat, get a quick update, or set up a video chat through an integration, Slack does it all.
The icing on the cake is that not only can the entire team work and communicate via a desktop, everything is also mobile, which opens the door to the beauty of being a remote worker. We really can work from anywhere!
It’s Time We Have a Talk
Now that the remote team had access to Slack’s video integrations, it was time to take things to yet another level. In my experience, nothing gets the point across like a good face-to-face meeting. Yes, it is great that we can use Trello and Slack to manage our tasks and group chats, but often times, there are things that just need to be discussed with some real human contact. As we see here every day at Let’s Do Video, chat isn’t enough when you really need to dig into a project. The ability to pull your team from Slack into a video call can be the difference between chatting about a project, and completing that project. The team was familiar with Skype and Zoom, but they weren’t really utilizing these tools and reaping their true benefits. Remote teams can get so much productivity out of working sessions together. Not only do projects get done more efficiently, but it keeps us grounded and in check that we still work with other human beings. Meeting face to face helps boost morale and build a real community with the team.
Movin’ on Up
This company quickly made leaps and bounds in the way they handled their day-to-day operations and the entire team is less stressed and more productive as a result. Here at Let’s Do Video, we are obsessed with all things video, collaboration, and productivity. It was a real treat to share our successful productivity methodologies with another growing company and to see how well it worked for them.
Are you part of a remote team? Comment below and let us know how your team collaborates!
Update: One of our readers shared this list of helpful time management apps for remote teams. Please share your favorites in the comments below!