As more companies move to a mobile workforce, it can be a challenge for managers to adapt to the dynamics of managing a team that includes workers scattered across different time zones and geographic locations.
Luckily, as teams have become more location-independent, many companies have developed tools that make managing freelancers almost as simple as managing employees who work onsite.
Check out these nine tools to learn how you can efficiently manage your mobile workforce.
Trello is a visual project management tool that allows workers to collaborate in an easy and organized way. You can separate projects into tasks and track individual contributions and overall progress, quickly and easily.
On each project, you can add comments, upload attachments, create checklists, assign due dates and more. You control the invitations to each project, so you know who has access to sensitive information.
Plus, everything happens in real time, so everyone is always seeing the same information, across all devices. Having every detail of every project stored in a single place is virtually guaranteed to make your job easier.
Good communication is the most effective way to reduce employee turnover. Businesses that have good communication practices have a 50 percent lower turnover rate than other companies, even within the same industry. It’s no surprise then that good communication is also key to maintaining and managing a mobile workforce.
If you don’t have a dedicated communication channel, you’re probably relying on a patchwork system of emails, text messages and phone calls to share information with your off-site team members. When you add in the fact that your people may be spread across a wide variety of time zones, it means that communicating efficiently is probably one of your biggest headaches.
Slack is an all-in-one communication tool for teams. It offers team channels for group discussions, direct messaging for private conversations and even voice and video calling directly from the application. You can share documents and search conversation archives when needed. Take the hassle out of communicating with your team by connecting everyone with this software solution.
Of the 53 million Americans who currently work as freelance professionals, 42 percent said they chose freelance work because they liked having a flexible schedule. Being able to choose their schedule is a great perk for a freelancer, but it can be difficult for managers to keep track of who is working when.
ResourceGuru allows you to see the availability of everyone on your team, at a glance. Freelancers enter their schedule into the calendar and then you assign tasks and projects based on their stated availability. It makes scheduling a snap and eliminates the time-consuming hassle of back and forth conversations regarding availability with individual freelancers.
Honest feedback from your workforce is something that can be difficult to obtain, no matter where your employees are located. 15Five has taken the concept of employee feedback and made it into a simple and fun way for companies to get detailed information from their workers on a regular basis. Employees and freelancers take 15 minutes a week to answer questions about everything from projects and productivity to coworkers and benefits. Then, managers spend five minutes reviewing and commenting on the responses.
15Five offers a great solution for companies to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening with their workforce at any given time. The quick delivery of the information makes it possible to see patterns and pivot quickly on issues that are causing problems for your team.
Ninety-seven percent of Fortune 500 companies use the popular cloud storage and file-sharing program Dropbox. The wide adaptation, more than anything else, clearly illustrates the usefulness of the software.
With Dropbox, you can give team members access to specific folders and they can share large files quickly and easily. You can also invite non-Dropbox users to download files by creating a link and sharing it with them.
Dropbox works with and offers support for nearly every type of device, including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and Blackberry. Files are automatically synced across devices, so you always have access to the most current version of your data.
Tracking employee time and managing timesheets can be a very time-consuming task for managers. Toggl is a time tracking software for freelancers that makes it easy to track, manage and bill time spent working on projects.
It features a simple online timer and offers in-depth reporting. There are multiple features that make it easy for you to monitor your team’s efficiency and better direct your organization’s resources. It also helps freelancers be more focused and has been shown to increase productivity during work hours.
If you’ve been looking for an easy way to more effectively manage your freelance team’s billable time, Toggl is a great choice.
Zoom is an online meeting service that makes it easy to hold online conferences and meetings with your offsite team. Using Zoom’s cloud-based service, you can schedule meetings with your team, whiteboard and collaborate as a group and much more.
Attendees can join the meeting via phone, computer, mobile or tablet, ensuring there’s a way for everyone to connect. The controls are simple and intuitive to learn, yet robust enough to be a complete solution for nearly any need. Organizers can also record calls, which is a valuable feature not yet available on all online meeting applications. Recordings can be reviewed later to note important points or in training new freelance team members.
Snagit is a screen capture program that makes it easy to work with and communicate with your remote team. With Snagit, you can capture screenshots and annotate them to call out important points and indicate suggested changes.
It saves time and improves efficiency by allowing you to show your team exactly what you want, instead of trying to describe an issue over the phone or via email.
Training new freelancers can be a difficult prospect when everyone works remotely. Jing allows you to create a video capture of your screen and add a voice recording to it. It’s especially effective for creating training videos to demonstrate tasks. You can save time by sharing the videos with new people on your team and avoid repeating the same training over and over.
As more companies recognize the benefits of the mobile workforce, it’s likely that your company will begin to employ additional freelance workers and remote employees. Use these tools to effectively communicate with your remote team members and you won’t miss a beat in efficiency.
About the Author: Cassie is a freelance writer for Secure Thoughts, an authority website on data protection and internet security. She loves sharing tips with small business owners and other freelancers and hopes that her work helps make your work easier.