The Making of a Successful Remote Team

Elina Peedoson
Successful remote teams

Communication is everything.

At Skyrocket Marketing, we’ve learned a thing or two about what it means to communicate effectively. Our entire team is remote – meaning we don’t commute to a shared office every day, we instead use the wonders of the digital world to stay connected online from wherever we are.

Being in a remote team has some huge benefits – one being that when we were scouting for new team members to support our growing business, we weren’t limited to finding people who were within commute distance to an office. We wanted the best of the best – Australia-wide, not merely conveniently situated locals to keep a seat warm.

So we cast the net wide, searching the whole of Australia for talent that complimented our capabilities – as a result we have a team that collaborate remotely. Initially that posed a lot of challenges in communicating effectively with one another.

Improving your lines of communication within your business at every level – with staff, customers, vendors, contractors and anyone else you deal with can improve productivity, morale and revenue.

So, we’ve pulled 6 of our best communication tips we’ve learned along the way:

Lesson 1:
Everyone communicates differently.

Learning the communication style of individuals within your business is essentially to everyone being communicated with effectively. Communication is all about how the recipient receives it, not what you intended to say.

Lesson 2:
Good communication requires effort.

In busy times it’s easy to make a remark off the cuff without putting much thought into it, this is the first step in a communication breakdown. Take the time to think through what you want to get across.

Lesson 3:
Communication is 55% body language, and 38% tone of voice.

The actual words you speak accounts for only 7% of how someone receives communication, and it’s important to be aware of that (especially when working remotely!)

Lesson 4:
Culture matters.

It’s easy to find talented people, it’s harder to find talented people who have personalities that fit your workplace and its culture. Effort should be put in to cultivate this and forge strong relationships

Lesson 5:
Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Communication doesn’t need to be complicated, keep it concise, keep it human. Don’t introduce ambiguity into communication for the sake of sounding clever, focus on having a clear message

Lesson 6:
Use communication tools.

Online business, offline business, remote business, it doesn’t matter – utilise communication tools!

6 Powerful Tools we use to Improve Communication

We’ve tried and tested a lot of communication and collaboration tools to find what works best for us, and we certainly don’t believe that what we do is a one-size-fits-all solutions. However the importance of using tools to improve your communication can’t be understated.

Here are the tools we’re currently using in Skyrocket Marketing, see if they’re a fit for your business or look at some similar tools/platforms.

Redbooth

Redbooth is a workplace collaboration tool where pretty much all of our work happens! This is where we set each other tasks for all client work, discuss projects, schedule entire workdays, deliver feedback on work done and handover completed projects. It creates everyone a to-do list while letting the manager also re-arrange others’ lists according to changing priorities.

Redbooth – Starts at $5/user/month

Popular alternatives: Basecamp, Podio, Trello

Dropbox Business

All the briefs, media and files we use to complete projects and tasks are stored in one magical place – Dropbox. Dropbox is an online file hosting system that allows collaborators to seamlessly share files via a special folder on their computer. It automatically synchronises across each user’s computer so all updates are real-time and accessible to everyone. We can all access the same files effortlessly, without having to upload, download, share or send anything manually. Dropbox also integrates with Redbooth which makes the two tools even easier to use.

Dropbox Business specifically (instead of Personal) adds a wealth of important business features – like unlimited storage, file version control/recovery, access control, and more.

Dropbox Business – $17/user/month (minimum 5 users)

Popular alternatives: Box, Google Drive

Minutedock

Time tracking has never been so simple… We use Minutedock to track the time we spend on all the work we do – both billable and unbillable work. MinuteDock simply works as an online Stopwatch, where you can record the time you spent on each of your clients’ projects. It allows you to create handy reports so you know exactly where your time and each of your time members time is being seent (or wasted!) –  record when tasks are completed, time spent, which project and campaign and what team member etc. What’s more, Minutedock integrates with our accounting software we use – Xero. At the end of each month all the completed work is sent to Xero for invoicing.

Minutedock – Starts at $19/month for 1 user

Popular alternatives: Toggl, Chime, Redbooth (also does time tracking)

Xero

Xero is the bees knees when it comes to cloud based accounting. It was specifically designed for  small business and has lots of handy features to help you stay on top of your accounts with ease. Xero integrates with over 450 business apps and also syncs with your bank accounts.

Xero – Starts at $25/month

Popular alternatives: MYOB Online, Quickbooks, Reckon

Skype

Skype allows for real-time chat, video calls, conference calls, file sharing and even screen sharing. It makes communication simple and efficient, and the best part – it’s free!

Skype – Free

Google Apps

Google really is the master of all… What would we do without Google Apps?! It allows for collaboration on documents such as spreadsheets, written documents, forms and slideshows. It also has a shared cloud-based drive where you can store everything for easy access.

Google Apps – Basic version is free, business email and extra storage starts from $5/month per user.

And of course, don’t forget to have some fun!

Without the convenience of a water cooler to gather around, a challenge for our remote team was finding creative ways to keep morale high and giggles flowing.

Without distracting ourselves too much… we’ve created team challenges like a paddle pop stick house building competition, video game high score competitions and we like to share a cheeky Friday afternoon beverage over Skype video.

Making time for fun and team building will mean communication will stay strong, open and not too heavy. When communication is good at home behind closed doors, communication with your customers will also benefit.

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