As more and more teams are transitioning away from their traditional office-based environments to more flexible remote alternatives, they’re faced with a new challenge: how should teams evolve their core workflows in order to effectively support remote collaboration and address rapidly changing market conditions?
Moreover, while the need to keep your team aligned and motivated is important no matter where your team is working, it takes on new importance when your entire team is undergoing a massive change that affects nearly every one of its processes.
Based on our conversations with our customers around the world, we’ve crafted some tools to help managers and teams address these issues. Consider these thought starters to help kickstart internal change—tweak them, add new things, and find the right balance for your organization.
Here’s three good places to start:
- Building your remote manager toolkit
- Transitioning key workflows for a remote-first world
- Supercharging cross-functional collaboration
Building your remote manager toolkit
As a manager, navigating a transition to a distributed operating model is already challenging even under the best of circumstances: it takes time for people unaccustomed to remote work to build new habits and fully adapt to the new situation. Adding to the uncertainty, your team members may also be experiencing significant disruptions to the regular rhythms of their home lives.
To help combat the uncertainty resulting from significant changes to work and social structures, your whole team needs to be more deliberate than ever about creating and enforcing appropriate expectations and boundaries around team communications. One way to do this is to create more transparent, formal processes for communicating team priorities and critical status updates—and to ensure that the processes you’re using can accommodate a team which may be working asynchronously more often than it was before.
Weekly team meetings
While your team may have already been running weekly meetings before going remote, the transition to remote work raises several new considerations regarding making the important discussions and decisions from meetings more accessible. Are your meeting notes being organized in a central location? What’s the fastest way to surface relevant notes from previous meetings? How easy is it for a team member who missed a meeting to get back up to speed?
This weekly team meetings template provides a lightweight, flexible solution in which your team can write and store all of its meeting notes and agendas. It also has a built-in form workflow that your team members can use to submit discussion topics ahead of time, ensuring that your meetings can be as time-efficient and focused as possible. By building all of this into a single source of truth, your team can more easily keep everyone on the same page.
Without the spontaneous communication opportunities that naturally occur in an office environment, it can be easy to lose track of what other people on your team are doing. By providing a deliberate, thoughtful structure for daily check-ins with your team members, you can not only get a better sense of what each of them is spending their time doing, but you can also identify potential blockers before they have a negative impact on your team’s productivity.
This daily check-ins template is structured around a form-based workflow, in which each team member fills out a form daily (or on any other cadence you’d like), by quickly listing their most pressing priorities, progress, and problems in quick bullet points.
Team directory and resource hub
Our remote team hub template takes an all-in-one approach to remote team management, combining a team directory and org chart with a project dashboard, team resources, meeting notes and more. In particular, the team directory function is useful for team members who are separated by space and time zones to get to know one another better. With Airtable Blocks, you can test your knowledge of teammates with a built-in name quiz, chat in a dedicated Google Hangouts room, or see how your team's projects are progressing with a shared Gantt chart.
Whether your team is fully remote, entirely colocated, or somewhere in between, everyone can benefit from being on the same page with regard to your team’s objectives and key results. This period of transition might even be a good time for you to reassess your team’s short-, medium-, and long-term goals.
This OKR tracking template will create a venue for you and your team to publicly and transparently commit to specific objectives and measurable results. It can be used as a dashboard for keeping track of team and individual OKRs, and can be customized to fit whatever process makes sense for you. Try creating different views for each team member so everyone can more easily zoom in on exactly what matters to them.
Transitioning key workflows for a remote-first world
Once your team has gotten more acclimated to the basics of working remotely—the team has agreed on which tools to use, team members have begun to set up their home offices, and everyone has figured out a schedule that works for them—you might start to notice that the conditions of a remote-first business create entirely new needs and subsequently, new workflows.
Remote asset tracking
You want to make sure that all your team members have the equipment that they need so that they can get their work done. But managing company assets for a colocated team in a single office building can be difficult enough—how are you supposed to manage company assets when they’re spread out over dozens (if not hundreds!) of your teammates’ home offices?
One critical component to operational success is having a single source of truth where all of the information about the condition, location, and status of all your current assets can be stored. The remote asset tracker template gives you a starting point, combining an inventory of all current items (with barcode support) with a workflow for managing requests for new assets. It even includes a customized mechanism for creating a list of pre-approved home office items for employees to purchase.
Remote internal communications editorial calendar
When your team members are separated by time zones and continents, ensuring that you’re meeting the correct objectives with your written and digital communications—as well as scheduling their distribution appropriately—is business-critical. You and your team can use this remote internal comms template to see each piece of content through from ideation to completion to distribution.
Virtual event planning
Planning a fully virtual event requires a different process than one that incorporates in-person elements. With this virtual events template, you can both plan virtual events and manage signups for those events. Collect signups with forms, track all your speaker details, and visualize your event schedule in whatever way makes the most sense for you: seamlessly switch between calendars, Gantt charts, and custom-designed pages.
Supercharging cross-functional collaboration
Cross-functional collaboration can be difficult enough when the different teams are in the same physical location, so you might think that remote work would make cross-functional collaboration even harder. In fact, the same skills that you develop when successfully transitioning your own team’s operations to remote work—like deliberate and thoughtful communication, or increased explicitness and transparency—apply just as much for intra-team communication as they do for inter-team communication. To make it all work, you need a single source of truth that will keep everyone in the company on the same page, but you also need tools that are accommodating of different teams’ needs.
In Airtable, different teams or individuals can each look at the same information in the way that’s most relevant to their specific needs and skills. This product launch template, for example, can serve the needs of product marketers, product managers, and developers alike. The product marketing team might want to use the calendar view to quickly see important dates while negotiating marketing opportunities with partners, whereas the engineering team might want to use the kanban view to track the status of features as the launch date comes near. With this template, each team can view exactly what it needs to get its work done without getting bogged down in extraneous details.
With this product roadmap template, you can keep the development team and key stakeholders from other teams all on the same page by tracking product features, company goals, and team members in one place. Timelines provide a visual roadmap for the product team, and when dates move around or the scope of a new feature changes, everyone will be in the loop.