Whether you’re traveling frequently or working from home to avoid a lengthy daily commute, many top-level executives find themselves managing their teams from a remote location on a regular basis. While modern workstyles offer greater flexibility and productivity, managing your business from afar presents multiple challenges and plenty of uncertainty.
You’ve probably heard the best way to improve remote management is to move to the cloud. While this is certainly true (and I strongly recommend it), there are many additional tools and technologies designed to help leaders manage their teams and business locations. Imagine managing your facility, individual departments, employees, data and other assets from the comfort of your home, hotel or airport terminal.
Sound like a dream come true? Keep reading to discover how savvy executives are succeeding at all of the above with remote management tools.
1. Sophisticated Mobile Devices
In addition to having a sophisticated smartphone or tablet that’s compatible with the applications you use to run your business, you also need the most reliable service provider (especially if you’re often traveling internationally). Not all call or data plans are created equal, and you’ll want to pay particular attention to local service maps and international calling plans.
Looking for recommendations? Check out Business Insider’s new list of the 17 best smartphones in the world.
2. Mobile Software
Speaking of applications, equip your mobile device with mobile software. Especially for workplace leaders, mobile software enables you to do your job on-the-go. A space and move application allows you to track and manage space just as you would on a desktop. Service requests can be created and received by management and field service representatives in real time. An asset-tracking app helps you organize serial numbers, location, owner, etc., and a room reservations app gives you a bird’s-eye view of the occupancy of your facilities.
3. VoIP Solution
VoIP for voice communications can feel like a miracle solution for traveling executives. This is because VoIP uses the Internet, not hard lines, to transmit phone calls. The phone unit is plug-and-play, which means it (and your business number) will travel with you. And because the voice technology uses the Internet, you can save big bucks otherwise spent on long-distance calling. In fact, most hosted VoIP solutions offer free long-distance and international calling built into the service plan.
4. Video Chat
Don’t leave all communications to phone and email. If you spend a lot of time away from your staff, you need to get creative about reinforcing relationships between yourself and your employees. Ever jump on a conference call and zone out? So do they.
Video chat ensures lively participation. It also allows you to see body language, which aids in communication, ensures clear understanding, inspires greater participation and is more effective than phone and email alone. If you’re trying to build team mentality from afar, then video chat will help.
5. Instant Messenger
An instant channel for communication? Yes, please! Instant messaging is a fantastic communication tool, but some business leaders are concerned it, like texting, will become an unnecessary distraction. The truth is, instant messenger services can actually increase efficiency.
Instead of dialing a number, waiting for pick up and leaving a voice message if no one answers, or typing an email, sending and waiting for a reply, you can communicate in a heartbeat. See which of your team members are presently at their computer, and send a quick message to one or multiple members. Like texting, the connotation behind instant messages is that one should reply immediately upon receipt.
6. Task Management Software
The tough part about being away from your office is keeping an eye on team productivity. Task-management software centralizes data and enables remote managers to not only oversee progress, but delegate tasks and monitor their completion in real time. Beyond that, the software promotes greater collaboration between all members of your team by providing file and notes sharing, email notifications related to specific project milestones, message boards and more.
7. Time-Tracking Software
Toss paper time sheets in the trash! Nobody has patience for paperwork in the 21st century. Time-tracking software eliminates the burden of manual paperwork by providing an online time sheet. Each employee can log their hours, attribute time to a specific client, project or category and send electronically to management for assessment.
Some task-management software will include time-tracking tools in-suite. Others will require you to use a separate software offering.
8. Collaboration Software
Also referred to as Unified Communications and Collaboration, or UCC, collaboration software is primarily for your employees, but has residual benefits that ultimately impact management. The software simplifies the sharing, processing and management of documents and other data types between groups of people. In a work environment that utilizes collaboration software, multiple employees can work on the same task at the same time, and all users can see real-time progress.
Furthermore, communication is streamlined with a rich suite of collaboration tools, including presence—which allows each team member to see who is available for communication and when.
The result? A major increase in workforce efficiency and productivity. Collaboration software streamlines processes by combining all of your business tools into one suite, including your calendar, communication tools, document storage, workflow tools and project management functions.
9. Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS)
More than 20 percent of most organizations’ spend goes to real estate and facility expenses. If you’re like most business leaders, you’re probably looking for ways to bring down this hulking cost.
Integrated workplace management systems are software solutions designed to optimize facility management including space management, maintenance management, project management, employee services functions, facility assets management and more. Managers benefit from a single database, the opportunity to monitor overall facility capabilities and the ability to resolve issues with a more efficient work order process that doesn’t require your physical presence.
10. Remote Access Software
Remote-access software gives you control over computers within your organization without needing to be physically present. For CIOs and CTOs, this software is a lifeline to the company network. You can easily add or block users, create settings or policies, manage access and use remote control for training or support. You can also use remote-access software to keep an eye on the health of your devices, including information security and malware protection.
11. Expense-Tracking Software
While you’re likely already using a traditional expense-tracking software, you may be interested in upgrading to a Web-based solution. This modern alternative allows you and your staff to update spending on-the-go. They also include helpful tools like receipt capture, which uses a smartphone camera to capture, assess and log receipt information. Never collect paper receipts again! Even better—ditch the arduous paperwork that usually follows a business trip. Track spending as you go, and increase efficiency in your accounting department.
While you may have a brick-and-mortar office as your home base, the workplace is no longer limited to the confines of office space. As a busy executive, it’s important to leverage the unlimited potential of the digital workplace by investing in the right tools and technologies. Although managing from afar presents challenges, taking advantage of these tools will help you overcome communication hurdles, improve team cohesion and increase future success.
Interested in learning more about maximizing efficiency and productivity of your workspace, even while you’re off-site? Check out our free eBook, The Essential Guide to Space Management Software.