If you are reading this now as of early-to-mid April, chances are you have already switched to working remotely. It’s safe to say that, for small businesses, this was a rather painless switch - coordinating the work of 3-5 people online is not all that hard, especially if you are in the IT industry.
However, a lot of large companies with over 100 employees on their staff are struggling to retain the productivity they used to have during the good old days in the office.
Here are just a few:
What used to be 5-minute meetings where everyone could exchange their opinions, come to a conclusion and move on with their work turned into a huge mess where people use different tools to communicate with each other making it almost impossible to discuss anything.
Stemming from the previous point, lack of proper communication leads to disrupted workflows where people forget about their tasks and don’t understand what to do next while managers are desperately trying to bring some order to this chaos.
For certain employees, being in the office means following strict rules and having some sort of discipline. All that goes out the window when they switch to working from home - no one’s really watching over your back or tracking your working hours so the temptation to slack off is at an all-time high.
When the luxury of face-to-face communication is gone and suddenly no one’s really responsible for anything, project managers are having a hard time coordinating the efforts of their team members online.
So how do you face these challenges? Well, turns out there might be a solution - what you’ve got to do is transfer all of your communications, workflows, business processes, meetings, and tasks to an online collaboration platform that has all the functionality you need to work productively even from home - we are talking about Bitrix24.
Bitrix24 is a platform designed to assist teams and companies in improving their efficiency via a number of tools. Let’s talk about these tools and see how you can benefit from them.
Bitrix24 has a built-in punch clock, which works exactly like its real-life counterpart - employees start their working day by clocking in, pause for lunch or other breaks if needed, and then finish the day by clocking out. All done in one click.
The data from the punch clock is crucial for both management and the accounting department. Managers get a tool that allows them to synchronize the beginning and end of the working day. The accounting department gets the correct working hours required for paying salary - all done automatically once it’s been properly set up.
Employees, on the other hand, know exactly when they should start work and simply cannot “be late” without their managers knowing about it.
REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE: all of our sales consultants need to start work at 9 am and finish at 6 pm (with one hour for lunch between 12 and 4) cause that’s when we get the biggest number of calls from our clients and partners. Punch clock and time tracking helps us to synchronize the team and creates a sense of stronger discipline.
Once you have invited all your team members to a Bitrix24 portal, all you need to do is recreate your company’s structure online - organize your employees into teams, departments, sub-departments, etc.
It’s basically like playing an online simulation game - think of it as “SIMS: The Office Edition” with one notable difference: you don’t get to fully control the characters since it’s real people we’re dealing with here.
However, what you do get to do is communicate with your team using a wide array of tools, the biggest of which is our Chat.
Teams can have their own private chats while you as the company manager can create a general chat for making various announcements within the company. All the functionality people have gotten used to in messengers like WhatsApp and Telegram is retained here - besides the obvious exchange of text messages, you can also:
Share images, links, videos, and other types of files
Get notifications and likes
Quote, reply, and mention people
Use smileys, GIFs, and emojis
REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE: you need to quickly ask one of your graphic designers about something - in Bitrix24, you simply search for their last name, open the profile and choose how you want to reach them: via chat, voice call, or video calls (more on that below).
If chats aren’t good enough for you, go full-on Big Brother on your employees by addressing them via a video announcement. This might come in handy when you want to get a simple message across quickly and make sure it’s been understood by everyone in your company.
Plus, the video format makes it a bit more personal and appealing - especially if you’re announcing the end of the quarantine.
REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE: you want to congratulate your team on a successfully completed project - why not make a quick video announcement giving kudos to everyone who worked hard?
Why waste your time exchanging text messages in a chat when you can simply call this person up and quickly discuss the problem over the phone?
In times like these, we all lack a bit of social interaction so seeing your colleague’s face and hearing their voice would certainly be nicer than reading their messages.
REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE: you need to call up your graphic designer and have him completely redo the mockup cause he obviously didn’t get your initial idea right. A 5-minute call will resolve the problem and the work can be continued.
Much like you would expect from a calendar, this tool allows you to schedule events like online meetings, discussions, and presentations - both one-time and recurring.
All of the participants will be notified of any changes/activities related to the event in the calendar, which disciplines your team and keeps everyone more organized.
Oh, and one more thing - you can sync your Google or Outlook Calendar with Bitrix24 and import all the events you had there.
REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE: almost every department in our company has a planning meeting on Monday morning, which is essentially a recurring event in the Calendar. After the meeting, certain resolutions and notes may be made, which are easily added in the comments right down below the event. These can be later turned into actual tasks and projects - more on that in paragraph 7.
Considering the circumstances, this is the next best thing to a real, face-to-face meeting. Videoconferencing in Bitrix24 allows you to bring together up to 12 people in a convenient format where you can discuss work-related issues, have planning meetings, or even make presentations.
REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE: not two days ago we held a major online conference with over 50,000 viewers. Using our videoconference feature, we were able to connect speakers from 7 different cities and everything went without a hitch.
Make sure everyone in your team is busy by giving them tasks, setting the responsible people and establishing a firm deadline. This way you can be sure the project is being worked on and each team member knows what to do and when to do it.
Bitrix24 gives you plenty of opportunities in the task department. You can create:
Task templates (to save time when you’re dealing with a lot of similar tasks on a regular basis)
You, as the task creator, will be notified once the task is completed and get a chance to accept or decline it. Tasks can also have observers (who do not participate in the task directly, just overseeing the activity) and participants (who assist the responsible person in completing the task).
REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE: would be too obvious - you know how tasks work in real-life probably better than anybody else.
When everyone in your company is working from home, coordinating teamwork and running projects suddenly isn’t the same. How do you transfer project management into an online platform?
Well, it’s actually not that hard. Workgroups in Bitrix24 allow you to assemble teams for a particular project and have them work on various tasks related to that project - all done online.
The progress can be easily monitored via the Gantt chart or Kanban board where you can see if the project is moving along nicely according to the schedule.
REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE: before switching to working from home, we had to create a workgroup whose task was to make all the necessary preparations for the switch. Those involved were given their tasks, prioritized and organized according to the general plan.
Working together online means you have to have access to common files, store, and share them - whether it’s corporate rules or spreadsheets with top-secret sales figures.
In Bitrix24, everyone is connected to the Bitrix Drive where you can store and exchange your documents within the company setting restrictions and limiting access as you deem appropriate.
REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE: you need to create a knowledge base for the whole company or a particular department - all you have to do is submit all the content, structurize it, define the access rights, and keep updating your knowledge base as you go.
Think of it as the Facebook timeline for your company where everyone can see only the relevant information related to this particular person’s involvement with the project.
You can post and read articles, upload and watch videos, comment on various posts and give them your likes.
This allows for easier communication and better engagement in the social life of the company on your employees’ part.
REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE: you want to share a useful article with your colleagues and have a little discussion.
One great thing about working in Bitrix24 is that it is a UNIFIED, SINGLE ENVIRONMENT everyone’s working in. All the tools you might ever need for successful remote work are already here, which means you can easily ditch any other services you were using previously.