Using the right channels for remote communication and management is important for any businesses today. This is because putting the right systems in place helps companies grow exponentially. Using the right tools, you will be able to:
- Communicate with your group of freelancers from all over the world
- Keep track of project evolution
- Track productivity
- Maintain and manage timesheets
- Share information in real time
- Have discussions
- Manage the tasks on a task list
- Interact across different time zones
And mind you, this is without being confined to a four-corner office or having a physically present group of people to complete daily tasks.
Communication is key to every business. It ensures that everyone in your organization is on the same page every day.
But when you have a group of freelancers all over the globe making the dream work, tight communication becomes vital. It effectively becomes the lifeblood of your business.
We asked 19 business owners to talk about how they deal with remote hires and they’ve shared below what they think are the best channels for communication and management.
1. Samuel Sternweiler, CEO and founder of JEWELv
“Use instant messengers such as Slack to help keep in constant communication.”
For Samuel Sternweiler, doing weekly voice or video calls to give updates and get feedback from remote contractors is crucial. He believes that hearing someone’s voice or seeing their excitement and passion for the work can really be uplifting and helpful for building a stronger working relationship.
2. Michelle Ellis, co-owner of Orapin Marketing + Public Relations
“I like to get to know each person … and connect with them on the phone and in text messages on a regular basis. We also have a private Facebook Group set-up that allows us to motivate and connect with one another on a daily basis.”
Michelle Ellis also feels that a personal approach is the best when it comes to motivating a group of freelancers. She believes being able to turn to others for inspiration helps to better motivate freelancers who work halfway across the globe from her and each other.
3. John O’Nolan, CEO and Founder of Ghost
“At Ghost this means Slack for all our communication and Asana for all of our project management.”
John also advises not to go overboard with channels for remote communication and management. Use a couple of tools that work and stick with them.
4. Eric Raab, CEO of Yodle
“15Five identifies and resolves … issues, stimulates design discussions, fleshes out inefficiencies and averts mistakes. It illuminates individual achievement and brings forth many good ideas.”
Eric also highlights the importance of reporting and discusses success and blockers every workweek so that issues can be quickly ironed out.
5. Codie Sanchez, CEO Codie Ventures LLC
“Quick hack: Use an app like Asana for project management to track daily/weekly email tasks and to hold weekly video calls and bi-annual meetings to bring everyone together.”
Codie adds that it’s important to have just enough together time to bond and to avoid putting your freelancers on a ball and chain. She says remote working is a solution that offers quality talent as well as lower rates and office costs.
So, it’s important to use performance metrics, scorecards, and other tools for effective management.
6. Shu Saito, CEO of Fact Retriever, LLC
“Use video as often as possible. Over half of human communication is nonverbal. There are a variety of inexpensive solutions for video chat, such as Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts. If video is impossible, try using animated GIFs or emoticons to supplement text. If you want a dynamic and healthy company culture, making all employees feel included is essential.”
As an additional piece of advice, Shu also recommends making it a point to ask remote freelancers about their lives. This is because they also want to feel like valued members of the group. In doing so, freelancers will also feel more comfortable coming forward with questions or suggestions despite being miles away.
7. Deborah Mitchell, CEO & Founder, Deborah Mitchell Media Associates
“Virtual office communications rely mainly on emails and phone calls, and the lack of face time with bosses and colleagues also means that there is a lack of daily feedback about performance… A solution is to gather…once a month for a virtual meeting using Google Hangouts, Skype or other video conferencing software and discuss ways to grow skills collectively.”
Deborah ads that it’s important for remote freelancers to see non-verbal clues such as body language and facial expressions. This ensures that they don’t miss any information.
8. Anita Campbell, Founder, CEO and Publisher, Small Business Trends
“Zoho offers a streamlined chat app…called Cliq. It allows text chat, and it also offers audio and video chat with other Cliq users. You can hold video calls with up to 100 users. You can share files, too.”
For Anita, collaborating effectively has a great impact on the level of productivity of any business. This is why she loves using channels for remote communication and management to foster better communication.
9. Valeriy Bykanov, CEO & founder of @X1Group,
“Telegram…grants you an unprecedented level of security thanks to end-to-end encryption and is well-known thanks to denying access to the authorities. It is very capable of delivering … basic projects’ needs with messages and files transferring, as well as managing the topics and editing of names for each participant.”
For Valeriy, setting up the core working principles and the way each participant in your organization communicates with others is important. He adds that instant messaging has become vital, especially for projects involving remote freelancers.
10. Ryan O’Connor, Owner of One Tribe Apparel
“We use Slack to communicate and have it integrated with Trello for assigning specific tasks daily, weekly, and monthly. [In addition] we use Google Docs to host our SOP’s (standard operating procedures) and spreadsheets that track outreach to bloggers & social media influencers.”
Ryan also adds that systems for communicating with freelancers and assigning tasks that are easy to use is crucial. Sometimes the simplest tools work the best for a business.
11. Tanner St. James, Marketing Coordinator at The Scott Resort and Spa
“When it comes to collaboration tools, one of my favorites for managing…and streamlining communication is through an app called Slack. Instead of trying to communicate through phone calls, texting, email, and Skype, everything runs smoothly because it’s integrated directly through the app.”
He adds that an effective channel for remote communication and management should be able to help you and all freelancer hires to find the right content and discussions.
12. Andrew Elliott, Founder of GoDesignerGo
“[Hires] are free to use whatever tool fits … best when they are working, but when files are to be shared…we always use Dropbox. For chat and video, we always use Skype. For shared documents, we always use Google Docs.”
Andrew further explains that it’s important to keep collaboration software consistent across hires. When everyone is on the same piece of software at the same time, the collaboration process speeds up and becomes much more efficient.
13. Hailey Vasquez, Project Manager at Odd Dog Media
“Our office has been using Insightly for a few months now and it’s been a game changer. The software organizes all of our client information, project information, client correspondence, and tasks all in one place.”
Hailey adds that being able to assign tasks to particular freelancers increases accountability and decreases the chances of a request getting lost in the shuffle or the inbox.
14. Andrew Ruditser, Co-Founder and CEO of Maxburst
“Without tools like Slack and Time Doctor, managing remote [freelancers] can get very messy.”
For Andrew, using channels for remote communication and management has become a crucial part of maintaining his virtual office.
15. Aaron Bright, M.D., Co-Founder and CEO of Hippo Education
“We’ve found that we need a very robust video on demand system. We use Sqwiggle.”
Aaron also believes that it’s important for people in a freelance group to chat regularly so they don’t feel isolated. Text messages can only go so far in terms of communicating within a group. He adds that the occasional get-together in the real world also helps build better working relationships.
16. Jimmy Walicek, CEO and Co-Founder of WAKA Kickball & Social Sports
“You don’t need to be available 24/7, however, you need to be ‘seen’ in the office on a regular basis through a chat program (i.e. Google Hangouts, Facebook chat).”
Jimmy also believes that staying in touch virtually is vital when you work with remote freelancers. You need to continually remind them that you are available when they need help.
17. Alex Turnbull, CEO and Co-Founder of Groove
“Since you can’t see [remote freelancers], it can be tempting to constantly be checking in with them all day. Communication is great and we’re always chatting on Slack or Screenhero but don’t micro-manage.”
In addition, Alex believes that it’s important to let people work when they are most productive. As a business owner, you should avoid judging freelancers on the hours they spend working. Instead, give them merit on the quality of their output.
18. Paul DeJoe, CEO & Co-Founder at Ecquire
“We use Getflow for management and Screenhero for chatting and support…[and] try not to communicate via emails for anything internal. We save it for chats on Tuesday mornings. Using flow to communicate forces us to form actionable items for each other based on ideas that are well thought out and not just emails that are half-baked.”
Moreover, as part of promoting better working relationships, Paul and the freelancers he hires try to meet in person in a cool part of the world. It strikes the best balance between hustling separately day-to-day and working together in person.
19. Janet Choi, Chief Creative Officer at iDoneThis
“We use iDoneThis to stay in sync every day without having to schedule and stop to have more meetings. [We also use] Hipchat and video hangouts for real-time discussions, and tools like Hackpad, Asana, and Trello, that are open to the whole [group], for collaboration.”
Janet further explains that it’s important for a group of freelancers to be able to communicate well and write clearly. You should also encourage everyone to indicate when they’ve received a message so others aren’t left hanging.
Additional Tips for Communicating With and Managing Remote Talent
If you’re new to the idea of hiring contractors from various parts of the world to build your business, communicating and managing remote talent might seem like a daunting task at first.
To help you out, here are some strategies that will help you communicate and manage remote freelancers better:
One of the most important things to remember when working with remote freelancers is to be transparent with them. Whether you have hired them as full-time contractors or part-time freelancers, you should share your company’s vision and objectives with them.
You should also be able to set clear expectations from the get-go so everyone is on the same page.
Hold Regular Check-Ins
It’s easy for freelancers to feel isolated when they don’t hear from you regularly. This is why holding regular check-ins like weekly Skype meetings or conference calls is crucial. It helps create a friendly and honest environment for everyone which is crucial for building strong working relationships.
Having regular virtual meetings also helps you stay updated one everybody’s performance.
Avoid Chat and Email Overload
While using channels for remote communication and management is crucial, you also shouldn’t overdo it. Sure, you want to keep everyone in the loop and it’s ideal that everyone is communicating but it can also get distracting and overwhelming.
Give freelancers the chance to focus on their work and don’t overload them every day on your channels.
Working with freelancers to grow your business is rewarding. However, as a business owner, you also have to work harder at communicating openly with them. The good news is that there are channels for remote communication and management that you can use to make this easier.
We hope this roundup of tool recommendations will help you decide what to use every day.
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