Business Development · Remote teams

Effective communication methods with remote employees?

Olesya Mayorova QA Lead - Towards Mars!

December 15th, 2016

We have a startup where a good amount of its employees are working remotely. It's a startup, doing online paid services for foreigners.


We have employees for different countris, native speakers, and it's very hard to find all of them in one city to be able to work in an office space. Therefore we can only work remotely. But we can't communicate, solve problems properly and effective online.


We hired some of them from their country, thousands kms distance away. When we hire, we must explain the workflow which is very hard explaining it online. We used:Trello Skype Mobile tel Complex explanations are drawn in Photoshop(!!!) sent via emails. None of them were useful and everytime when I hire someone I try to fly there and explain the work etc.


With the above in mind, can you please list your favorite tools that you use to communicate with your remote employees and methods or strategies that you have found to be effective?


This thread can also be used as a reference for others having remote employees or freelancers.

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Konstantin Voyku QA Engineer at StarOfService

December 15th, 2016

Setting up clear goals and having expectations in place is critical when you don't share the day to day with those colleagues.

Sergei Krylov Entrepreneur with passion.

January 11th, 2017

We are web and mobile development agency and have employees in different countries too.


We use Telegram and IFTTT integrations to work together and follow regulations. Our developers use Gitlab in our servers and lot's of professional instruments. All documentaries and team files are on Google Drive.


All tasks are in Jira (for big projects >6 months) and in Getflow.com (best mobile apps and UX for team task tracking tools imo) for small projects and operational tasks. TopTracker helps us to track time and take screenshots for our clients.


Actually remote work isn't about tools you use. People should be self-organized and honest for their fails. There're couple actions that we do for that:

  1. Performance transparency. Each member of the team knows how much he worked this week in compared to others.
  2. Daily stand ups. We use Skype or Telegram for daily discussion about client and company's projects to have a touch between team
  3. Strategy meetings every week. I as a CEO tell our team what's the plan. How fast are we growing, what our metrics are etc. We're working hard and every week we have clear progress.
  4. Common hobbies. It can be only discussions. But e.g. we have 5 employees in Innopolis city in Russia. They have regular meetings at the gym :)
  5. Tough decisions. If any of our PMs feel that somebody don't fit in our company and don't accept our culture, we wouldn't work with him anymore.

All that advices are evident. But you need hard regulations and character to follow them and that need time and patience.

Kevin Macconkey Copywriter/Marketing Specialist

December 19th, 2016

Personally, I've used a combination of Slack and WhatsApp to good success in the past with my contracts. Typically, they do well for the day to day communications, for more in-depth meetings there's go to meeting and Skype as well...


I don't see it as very reasonable to demand one app be the cure-all band-aid solution for communication between remote workers and the office. Until one of these start-ups creates it for me to market and create content for, it's a game of mix and match to enable the desired effectiveness and delivery of information.


But, in reality, it could be worse. We could have to do it the old fashioned way and drag our carcasses into a fluorescent-hell of a cube farm daily and sit through 4-hour meetings. (hehe)


I'll suffer in the comfort of my home office or the local coffee shop and wait for the one-size-fits-all answer to our problems.


Mmmm, Peppermint-Mocha Capp.


Cheers,

Kevin

Ritesh Kumar Rai Technology will keep surprising you.

December 16th, 2016

Hire a team which have a smart leader and manager. Instead of explaining different-different person you just need to explain one.

Give your complete requirement and ask them to arrange all the resources related to the project. Try to fix your project with one company. So it will be easy for you as well to track the work progress. If you hire different person for one project then you will be wasting your time and energy with all the developers/designer in explaining your requirement.


**My suggestion:

Hire one team, explain your requirement to manager and if they have any missing resources then request them to help you via freelancers. Because communication gap is the 2nd biggest problem for project failure.

Alejandro Cremades I am driven by solutions to very complex problems.

December 15th, 2016

We are using Slack, Asana, and Google Hangout with our remote employees. So far it is working very well. We also have team meetings every two weeks and do reviews individually so that everyone is aligned.

Ryan Bilodeau Principal at Bricks Plus Clicks

January 8th, 2017

I think Slack is your best bet. On the other hand, the old-fashioned route of Skype + Google Docs works, too. Pick one system and stick to it.

Shweta Dubey Business Development Manager at ALEA IT SOLUTIONS

January 11th, 2017

Communication Gap actually most of the time leads to project failure, sometimes there is a difference in timezone, sometimes there is difference in understanding, sometimes there is an issue with language, sometimes the person which we hire stop responding and we need to search the other explaining everything again.


Working as project manager, I would suggest to always hire a team from a single agency if outsourcing the project, do all the communication with project manager only. What I have experienced in the past is that sometimes the client demands to communicate with the developer which is absolutely not an issue but at this time also need to keep the manager in the loop, if that employee leaves you don't have to explain everything to the another employee again instead, manager needs to do there job.


Also would like to mention to have the proper documentation in phases which lets you and others also understand that what all has been covered and what all is pending. Do ask for the weekly update or update on every alternate day from the manager.


Flowcharts/wireframes play vital role in explaining if we have that we can set up skype/GOTO meeting which provides us the recording and screensharing option in very easy way. We can have the google docs sharing alo where every query will be on 1 place.

Biswajit Singh

January 9th, 2017

While it’s not productive to be in endless video meetings, useful video chats definitely help connect remote teams. I am an entrepreneur and i have been managing 150+ IT professionals, operating at my set up in India.Here are a few tools i can recommend -


Trello

It’s a very visual project organization tool, that helps you organize information, tasks and documents, and can easily be synced with multiple devices.We ourselves have used Trello to get organized.


Basecamp

As a project management tool, Basecamp offers a great workspace where you can collaborate with a remote team, organize files, tasks and plan your projects. From our experience, it’s a very reliable and easy to use tool.


Mural.ly

Mural.ly can be used for remote brainstorming and idea mapping. This tool facilitates interdisciplinary collaborations.


Slack

With Slack you can create open channels for projects, groups and topics that your team shares.


DaPulse

DaPulse is great for organizing your workflow and keeping your team updated about project status.The tool is integrated with Pipedrive, Google Drive and Dropbox.


Beesy.me

With Beesy.me you can easily manage collaborative projects, consolidate information and assign actions to group members.


Good Luck!




Abhishek Pandey

December 17th, 2016

+1 what Konstantin said. However setting up goals and expectations are not always enough. First of all you need to hire the right talent which is hungry to deliver, has the right mindset and has strong bias for action. If they have worked in the past in remote setup like this one, ask them what worked and what didn't. There are various tools as mentioned by others and you should try all and stick with what works for you. For me, skype, google hangout, join me etc. worked but they all had their own quirks and flaws.

Milan Kazarka

December 18th, 2016

In the last years I worked with people all around the world and it's important to allocate time for explanations. I don't care about tools, software and such - that's useless I figured. The best investment I made was to buy a cheap scanner - I just draw / write basic wireframes & designs, scan them, add some reference images or explanations to them on my laptop and send them over with a lot of basic explanations. I also break down tasks and work in iterations.


I've seen people hop in on the Slack, Mattermost and whatnot bandwagons, but realistically what's wrong with Skype and Google Docs?


In the end - if you have a problem explaining a workflow "or anything for that matter" than it's too complex and maybe you shouldn't put that complexity on the shoulders of external people. It's good to have people with whom you work remotely work on a boxed part of your solution / work in a box. Do they really need to see the whole picture?