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Working Remotely and In-Office? Here’s How To Plan Your Week
Remote Working 5 min read

Working Remotely and In-Office? Here’s How To Plan Your Week

Worrying about how to adjust to a flexible work schedule? Check out Wrike’s guide to working remotely and in-office to help you plan your week accordingly.

5 Tips for Embracing Cross-Cultural Differences on Project Teams
Collaboration 5 min read

5 Tips for Embracing Cross-Cultural Differences on Project Teams

With the advent of cloud services and the widespread availability of high-speed internet around the world, it’s becoming more and more common for organizations to have teams made up of people in different countries, working remotely from one another, using technology to collaborate efficiently despite the distance. But with this rise in remote teams comes the challenge of dealing with different cultures within one workforce. To a certain extent, these differences tend to be smaller issues when compared with overarching project goals and clearly stated deadlines. But what happens when there is difficulty understanding one another’s speech? And how do you coax teamwork from every member when some cultures tend to be more aggressive and vocal than others? Cultures are based on unseen values and assumptions created by shared experiences and events. When exposed to the same situation, different cultures might react in different ways. All of this underscores the need for cultural awareness in order to avoid, or at least limit, misunderstandings and miscommunication. From the very start, Wrike has functioned as a cross-cultural team, and we’ve found ways to work efficiently with colleagues in different countries and cultures. We like to think we’ve made it work, though there is always room to grow. So we’ve put together our five strategies for managing cross-cultural teams: 1. Learn About One Another One of the easiest ways to learn about the cultural diversity of your team is to flat out ask them. A perfect icebreaker is to ask about office holidays: Why do your colleagues in the Philippines and Russia get a week off after Christmas? What festivals are your Indian colleagues observing? What exactly is Boxing Day in Canada? Why is Thanksgiving such a big deal in the U.S.? Dedicate a section of your onboarding process to reading up on the different cultures in your organization. After all, there’s no better time to drill the importance of cultural awareness than at the start. Another fantastic way to learn about your international teammates is to visit or invite them over. Here at Wrike HQ, we often host our remote team members, their visits timed for important conferences or seminars. This allows us to interact with colleagues on a day-to-day basis away from the computer screen and has given us the chance to get to know them better. 2.  Allow for Different Learning Styles Any elementary teacher can tell you that every student learns in a different way. But stepping further back, different countries also typically educate students in various ways. So on an individual level, there are people who are more studious and bookish overall, learning new material by consuming technical documents and manuals. Others among us learn better go by experiencing things hands-on, or watching demonstrations. Allow for these different learning styles when collaborating together. If you’re all trying to absorb new material, have downloadable/printable PDFs for those who learn best by reading, audiobooks for those who need to hear concepts aloud, and webinars or video tutorials for those who need to see it done in front of them. 3. Make the Recap a Part of the Meeting Don’t forget that English is not a common first language outside of some countries in Europe and North America. In many places, it’s a second or third language. You should never assume that what you say is understood — even if you speak slowly and use shorter words. Instead of asking if your team understood next steps (that’s a yes or no answer that can easily be fibbed) make it a habit to ask the team to recap their assignments before ending a call or meeting. This has the added bonus of clarifying everyone's priority tasks and giving the team a last-minute chance to ask questions. 4. Involve the Quiet Some cultures are more vocal, more aggressive, more able to express themselves in a meeting. And in that way, they might seem to dominate discussions. Conversely, some cultures are more quiet, comparatively passive, willing to sit out a meeting without saying anything while the more vocal members debate. In a situation like this, make sure to circle back to the quiet people after a meeting and get their input on the discussions, apart from the larger group. Make use of a collaboration tool such as Wrike that can capture everyone’s comments and feedback — something that balances the scales and gives the quieter people an equal chance to be heard. 5. Incorporate Humor Humor is an easy way to break the ice — just be aware that it’ll take time to learn what each culture finds funny. One of our team members shared that she had a little difficulty comprehending American humor. But because she brought it up, we were able to explain some aspects of it and give her relevant links to YouTube clips showcasing examples of what we found funny. So definitely, incorporate humor into your teamwork with virtual icebreakers for large groups. One of our favorite tips is to designate a virtual water cooler channel in your instant messaging app and make it a place where the team can hang out and NOT talk about work at all but about the stuff they find interesting, funny, or entertaining. In all these tips, the basic underlying premise that’s always worked for Wrike has been one of respect. If you respect the different cultures and ask the right questions in order to understand what you don’t know, you’ll have much more successful interactions. If you have any tips of your own, we’d love to hear them. Share your experiences of working with a cross-cultural team in the comments below!

Working Across Borders: How COVID-19 Shattered The Confines of Physical Locations and Work
Remote Working 5 min read

Working Across Borders: How COVID-19 Shattered The Confines of Physical Locations and Work

For many global employees, work has traditionally been a physical location upheld by norms around attendance, communication, and collaboration. Over the course of the COVID-19 crisis, as swathes of global office workers transitioned from physical to remote work attendance, many attitudes around work have evolved.    From reigning in an out of control “always on” culture to prioritizing workplace flexibility, employees are exploring new ways of managing work. As organizations pay special attention to hybrid and remote-first hiring, it has become clear that our collective understanding of where work can take place is changing, too.  Distributed work before the pandemic  Though COVID-19 significantly increased the number of people working from home on a regular basis, remote work has been on the rise for years.  Improved infrastructure and work management innovations have enabled digital nomads to travel while working or connecting with teams from decentralized office locations.  Remote-first organizations are hardly a COVID-era phenomenon, either. Companies like Hubstaff, Doist, and Zapier have been remote-first pioneers for years, highlighting the cost and talent acquisition benefits of distributed hiring.   “We can hire people wherever we want to. We don't have to compete for Bay Area talent, and instead, we get to hire the best people all over the world,” wrote Zapier co-founder Wade Foster back in 2020. “Not only does it increase the size of the applicant pool, but it adds a layer of diversity into the company.” The steady rise in remote work has also made the modern workplace more accessible overall, allowing workers with varying needs and backgrounds to access opportunities they might otherwise have missed out on just a few years ago. The structures that make distributed work possible have been a long time coming. However, if 2020 taught businesses and their employees anything, it’s that “making it work” could also mean “making it work remotely.” [caption id="attachment_466235" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash[/caption] Reconsidering work and where it happens  “Effectiveness can’t be measured by the number of hours people spend in an office,” Spotify wrote in an announcement for their distributed-first work policy, Work From Anywhere. “Instead, giving people the freedom to choose where they work will boost effectiveness.” In February 2021, Spotify outlined their decision to allow employees to choose “whether they’d prefer to work mostly at home or in the office — as well as their geographic location.” Spotify’s WFA policy is by no means the “norm” for enterprise or even the company’s industry peers. Still, it does underscore the idea that work potential and effectiveness are not tied to a physical location. Employees know this, too. Many have spent the last year doing jobs they were previously told could only be done in an office. Now that tools like Slack, Zoom, and Wrike have empowered digital workspaces, organizations are adapting their approach to hiring in an environment where workplace flexibility (geographic and otherwise) is a top priority for jobseekers.  Distributed hiring LinkedIn data offers additional insight into how organizations are approaching remote and distributed hiring.  As of May 2021, the career networking site said that the percentage of paid “remote work” job listings on their platform was up by 457% from the previous year. The industries that saw the greatest percentage of remote work growth, according to their data, include media and communications, IT, and corporate services. Presumably, these jobs won’t just disappear once the pandemic is over, signalling a shift in how companies are thinking about talent acquisition over the next few years. In one survey of US-based HR professionals, one-quarter of respondents said they’d be willing to hire fully remote workers anywhere in the country (up from 3% pre-pandemic), with 7% saying they’d even hire globally for open roles (up from 2% pre-pandemic).  Even as global vaccine rollouts see more and more office workers returning to in-person and hybrid attendance, the last year has certainly tested the strict geographical limitations of the pre-pandemic office. Looking beyond local  As with any complex conversation about the ever-evolving workplace, there’s much to consider beyond changing attitudes. COVID-19 may have impacted the way we think about where work gets done, but experts warn about the tax implications of an increasingly remote workforce. Even Zapier’s Wade Foster calls this the “compliance and regulatory elephants in the room,” noting that hiring, payroll, and taxes for teams in multiple jurisdictions can be a huge undertaking.    Still, we are witnessing a real-time evolution in how organizations and employees view work and where it happens. Gradually, many are moving away from the idea that you have to travel each day to a physical location to achieve work goals or connect with colleagues.  By revisiting ideas about strict in-office attendance and creating more remote opportunities, organizations can access a wider talent pool of workers and increase opportunities for diverse and more inclusive hiring.  Building the workplace of the future with collaborative work management The tools we use to meet objectives, collaborate with co-workers, and manage tasks are more important than ever.  Wrike’s collaborative work management features empower an increasingly hybrid and dispersed workforce to manage tasks, collaborate in a flexible environment, and build systems and workflows that reflect how they achieve their goals. Learn more about how Wrike helps teams adapt to the evolution of work by creating digital hubs for innovation and enabling work management from anywhere. Try a free two-week trial and discover why 20,000+ teams trust Wrike.

5 Principles for Managing Remote Employees
Leadership 7 min read

5 Principles for Managing Remote Employees

Tracking and managing accountability, productivity, and priorities can become extremely difficult when team members are remote, especially when that team is spread across various time zones. We've put together a list of tips to help you get a handle on the chaos of remote collaboration, while keeping your team productive and happy from the comfort of their own home.

Lessons from Remote Working We Shouldn’t Forget
Remote Working 7 min read

Lessons from Remote Working We Shouldn’t Forget

It’s been almost 15 months since the WHO declared COVID-19 as a pandemic, the US borders closed to much of the rest of the world, and around 42% of 157 million US workers (almost 66 million) switched to working remotely full-time. While some experts argue that this has led to an unhealthy always-on culture and the rise of Zoom fatigue, we have learned a few very important lessons from remote working that we need to keep in mind as some of us choose to return to work in an office setting. As a result of the flexible remote work policies that have remained for many post-pandemic, many workers are moving to more affordable parts of their metro areas. In the cities of New York and San Francisco specifically, they are leaving the city completely, ditching high living costs for more affordable locations. But it hasn’t been the only major change the remote work revolution has brought. Even before the pandemic, achieving work-life balance had become the second most important factor for US workers in relation to choosing a company after compensation. And the blurred lines that a year of remote work (along with closed schools) brought have forced that further into focus. As Forbes shares, the increased acceptance of working from home may help our workforce to finally gain a better work-life balance. It’s no doubt that a year of remote work has changed both our lifestyles and our priorities greatly. So, what have we learned from the advantages of remote working? And what impact will that have on our decision of whether we want to be working from home or the office? A flexible remote work policy is a must for employers An interesting trend emerged when younger generations entered the workforce – they weren’t afraid to prioritize work-life balance. But what is even more important is that older employees are just as likely to want flexible working — they are just less likely to ask for it, according to The New York Times.  In a report by Harvard Business School, the vast majority of the 11,000 workers and 6,500 business leaders surveyed listed expectations for flexible, autonomous work, better work/life balance, and remote work as the development most urgently affecting their businesses. Only 30% cited that they were prepared for these. And according to The Times, 50% of employees would quit if denied a flexible remote work policy, so it’s a shift that employers will need to pay serious attention to. Teams need the right tools working from home or the office Leaning into a year of remote work made it blisteringly obvious that not all employees had access to the right software. According to a report by Deloitte, employees who worked in a culture that encouraged innovation and had access to collaboration tools were 34% happier than those who did not. And although a third had requested better collaboration tools, only a third of these received a positive response to the request. Interestingly, when employees used the tools they were familiar with at home in the office, they reported increased productivity, higher engagement, and improved morale.  [caption id="attachment_466139" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash[/caption] Achieving work-life balance is more important than ever When many employers initially feared that a move to working from home would lead to lower levels of productivity, study after study has found the opposite – employees get more done but only because they work longer hours. In fact, US workers are working on average three hours extra a day. The long-term result of this? Higher levels of burnout and decreased productivity. And in the short-term? Half of us (54%) are checking our devices more outside of work hours, feel more alone (24%), have gained weight (22%), and feel a decrease in our mental health (21%). The impact of these worrying trends from remote work has revealed that achieving a work-life balance is absolutely paramount for our health and happiness. It is vital that employers need to do what they can to encourage and promote this for their employees. Remote working has proved not every meeting is necessary Like it has done for achieving work-life balance, remote work has made it glaringly obvious that we need to use our time at work wisely. And often, that means clearing our calendar of unnecessary meetings. Recently, investment bank Citigroup announced a ‘Zoom-free’ Friday to ease the video call fatigue associated with our new ways of working.  A large-scale study by Microsoft found that in about 30% of video meetings, employees interacted with their emails, while in 25% of meetings, they worked on other files such as documents. This was especially true for longer meetings and meetings held early in the day. Possibly the most important finding was that attendees of meetings that lasted 80 minutes or more were six times more likely to multi-task than those who were in meetings that lasted 20 minutes or less. Whether we are working from home or office, we need to be selective about how long our meetings need to be (or indeed, if the discussion requires a meeting at all).  Employees need the choice of working from home or office It will come as no surprise that sharing a workspace with your children, pets, or spouse (sometimes in very small spaces) is not for everyone. The Society for Human Resources Management reminds that some employees are uncomfortable with the isolation of remote work. They share the example of The New York Times’ newspaper unit who prefer working from the office as it is what they are used to.  According to The Wall Street Journal, around 25% of work time will be from home (versus 5% pre-pandemic). Meanwhile, Forbes shares a lengthy list of employers that are offering indefinite remote work. The main takeaway is that employees will inevitably have different preferences – the most important thing is that they are given a choice. We need to rethink how we use office space As a result of this choice and the reality that fewer employees will be in the office, organizations will no doubt need to rethink how they use their office space. And let’s face it, it’s a massive expense for employers – it can cost up to $595 per square foot. Even pre-pandemic, it’s estimated that around 30-40% of desks were typically unoccupied anyway.  A study by WeWork found that post-COVID, most employees will want to split their time between the office, home, and other locations such as co-working spaces, libraries, or cafés. ComputerWeekly shares that a quarter of employers are planning to reduce their office space, while almost three-fifths say they planned to change meeting room layouts to make it easier for remote staff to participate in discussions, while 55% would add video-conference rooms.  The biggest lesson from remote work whether we are working from home or office? This year of remote work has been the catalyst to readjust our relationship to work and how we work. In the next normal, employers will need to give employees the opportunity to decide where and how they work, prioritize work-life balance, and get the flexibility they need to do their best work.

Tips for Agile Team Management When Working Remotely
Remote Working 7 min read

Tips for Agile Team Management When Working Remotely

Agile team management can make remote teams more productive, less isolated, and more dynamic. Learn more with these remote team management tips.

8 Biggest Challenges for Leading Virtual Teams (Infographic)
Leadership 3 min read

8 Biggest Challenges for Leading Virtual Teams (Infographic)

Imagine you’re managing a team of remote workers. You’ve created a strategic work breakdown, devised the optimal workflow, and developed an airtight project plan. At the project kickoff your team is energized and motivated to succeed. Now it’s halfway through the project and your colleagues are disengaged and listless. They're not collaborating, team productivity has tanked, and you’re barely making deadlines. Your project looks like it’s dead in the water. What do you do? Top 8 Challenges Facing Remote Teams Virtual teams face some daunting challenges, but knowing what you're up against means you'll be ready to handle any bumps in the road. The following infographic shines a spotlight on the top 8 roadblocks to remote team success: Poor communication: 33% of respondents cite communication as their greatest challenge. Access to expertise: 14% report a difficulty in accessing the knowledge they need to succeed. Technical management: 14% say technical management is their biggest hurdle. Planning overhead: 12% have a difficult time planning. Lack of training: 10% claim their team is not adequately trained. Cultural differences: 9% say overcoming cultural diversity is their team’s biggest challenge. Team morale: 4% have trouble keeping their spirits high. Lack of support: 4% don’t feel encouraged in their work. Check out the infographic below for more statistics and insights into remote work trends. Infographic Source: Projects At Work Does your team have what it needs to succeed?  What have you learned from managing distributed teams? How can you manage your virtual team meeting to make sure every member feels heard and included? Check out our post on remote work trends or share your wisdom in the comments below.

3 Ways to Ensure the Success of Your Remote Workers
Leadership 5 min read

3 Ways to Ensure the Success of Your Remote Workers

How can you ensure the success of your remote workforce?  Being in a software startup where remote work is part of daily life, we get asked how to successfully work from home a lot — by job applicants and peers alike. It's a situation that's near and dear to our heart as Wrike was created to solve collaboration issues among remote team members. So when people ask how they can ensure the success of their remote workers, we draw from our own experience.  This is how we set up our virtual teams for success in Wrike.  1. Nurture a Communication Culture It’s important to have an office culture that makes it easy for an employee to communicate with everyone else whether they’re working in the office or working remotely. The remote worker should be able to communicate with the rest of the team in an easy way using the agreed-upon technology. Here at Wrike, we strongly believe that the three basic technologies for remote work are:  A work management platform (such as Wrike) A file editing system (such as Google Docs/Drive), and  A screensharing/voice chat software (such as Skype or Google Hangouts). It should be made clear to everyone in the company that “These are the main tools we use for communication.” And if it's not in these tools, it wasn't communicated properly.  Get people used to using the tool and communicating when there's a roadblock. In the same vein, get everyone into the habit of sharing their small successes and victories. It serves as an awesome motivator.  It’s easy for remote workers to feel like cogs in a machine being given orders. Communication helps maintain a good human relationship with them so that they know they are valuable members of the team. 2. Set Metrics How can you measure success for the remote worker? Metrics.  Metrics can help you evaluate the success of your remote workers, but try to boil it down to the metric that really matters. Take our support team as an example: we measure the time it takes to respond to a ticket, how long it takes to resolve, how many tickets come at which time of day, and many more, the most important one for our support organization is our Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score. As long as our CSAT score is high, we can safely assume that all individual contributors are performing at a high level. But we have the data available to report on individuals or subgroups if needed. And by comparing metrics from week to week, we can monitor how well we're improving our customer support processes.   3. Ensure Face-to-Face Interaction Happens Here's a truth you need to face even when working with a virtual team: nothing can replace in-person interaction. So find a way to meet regularly. Or at the very least, be able to see each other's faces on a regular basis via webcams. Some suggestions: a) Make webcams a necessity for remote workers.  Being able to talk to someone's face is essential to building camaraderie and reading non-verbal communication. b) Call instead of write.  Remote workers tend to write a lot of emails, and this takes time. If you want to speed up the process, opt for voice communications and video calls over emailing or instant messaging.  c) Schedule times throughout the year to actually meet in person.  Being able to work side-by-side in the same office environment for 3 to 5 days at a time can provide a better understanding of your teammates' habits and personalities.  How Do You Make Remote Teamwork A Success? Remote work will always be a challenging situation for both the company and the individual worker. But following these guidelines will help ensure that your remote workers are given the chance to succeed at their work — despite the distance.  Using a work management tool like Wrike that supports seamless remote working can be a gamechanger for dispersed teams. Keep track of projects, streamline your workflow and improve teamwork, all on one platform.  Image credits: Geekgrind on Flickr. Some rights reserved. 

Wrike Research Uncovers the Technology That Will Power Hybrid Work
Project Management 5 min read

Wrike Research Uncovers the Technology That Will Power Hybrid Work

New research from Wrike uncovers what you need to know to power the future of work. Support your workforce by investing in technology for hybrid work.

Video Conferencing Etiquette You Need To Know
Remote Working 7 min read

Video Conferencing Etiquette You Need To Know

New to video conferencing? Learn to excel at virtual meetings and pick up some video conferencing etiquette and best practices. Read more to find out.

3 Ways to Improve Remote Teams’ Communication
Remote Working 5 min read

3 Ways to Improve Remote Teams’ Communication

The move to remote work has changed the way that teams must now collaborate with one another. Here’s how to improve remote team communication in your organization.

How to Improve Remote Collaboration Across Teams
Remote Working 7 min read

How to Improve Remote Collaboration Across Teams

Businesses can improve remote collaboration across teams with effective communication and the right tools. Learn more about remote collaboration best practices with Wrike.

The Past, Present, and Future of Remote Collaboration: Where Does Your Team Stand?
Collaboration 5 min read

The Past, Present, and Future of Remote Collaboration: Where Does Your Team Stand?

We asked you and other people representing companies of all sizes, from solopreneurs to Fortune 500 corporations, how you feel about virtual collaboration and where you see it going. Your input helped us get a bird’s-eye view on the current state of this prominent trend. Click the preview on in the top-right corner to see our infographic visualizing the results of the survey. Today, we’re sharing the prominent findings of the survey so you can see and compare where your team stands in the area of remote collaboration. Check out the major trends: 1. Remote work is on the rise Apparently, virtual collaboration has expanded at an impressive pace, as 43% of surveyed workers report that today they spend much more time working remotely than 2-3 years ago. See what the stats look like if we slice the respondents by organization level as we take a look at this question: 2. The big future of distributed teams Less than 17% of respondents say they get all things done in the office only. And it seems that those who already leverage the opportunity of working remotely are craving for more! One in four respondents expects their office to go fully virtual within just a year or two. The remote work expectations are especially high among the business owners who took part in the survey. It’s almost 44% of them predicting such a rapid shift to virtual teams in their companies. 3. Pros and cons of a virtual workplace Of course, it’s not that easy to work just as efficiently across distances as when you sit in the same office and can discuss all issues face to face as soon as they arise. Here are the main hindrances for collaboration within distributed teams that our survey revealed: By the way, we saw a consensus among workers of all organizational levels when they shared their thoughts about the disadvantages of remote work. Lack of direct communication is something that team members, managers, executives, and business owners equally suffer from. But when you know how to overcome this and other apparent disadvantages of remote work, you can yield some great benefits. Once you master some key challenges, i.e how to make virtual meetings fun or how to give direct feedback across dispersed teams, you can begin to see your remote team flourish. Here are the absolute favorites of our respondents: A curious thing to notice: while time savings turned out to be the No. 1 benefit for team members, managers, and executives, what business owners value the most about remote collaboration is boosted productivity. 4. Sacrifices for the benefit of remote working Getting more things done in less time is a treat, isn’t it? It looks like the vast majority of surveyed workers would agree with this statement since 89% of them responded that the opportunity to work remotely is an important fringe benefit in a job. In fact, 25% of respondents value this perk so much that they’d accept a reduction in their salary in order to continue working remotely! Here are some more sacrifices workers are ready to make: 5. Software matters When we asked the respondents about social communication tools (social networks, microblogs, IM’s, etc.) and the role they play in people’s day-to-day work, here’s what we discovered: over a half (to be precise, 56%) said they use these tools no more than 1 hour every day. The survey revealed that to a significant extent, the success of remote teams leans on the shoulders of helpful online collaboration software. A full 87% of respondents think that collaboration software from remote workers is important or even mission critical for efficient work of their teams. Once again, we thank all the respondents for the input to our survey that has brought such interesting findings. Want to find out more about how Wrike can help your team to embrace remote working? Take a look at some of our features here.

5 Top Tips for Leading Marketing Teams in Virtual Environments
Remote Working 7 min read

5 Top Tips for Leading Marketing Teams in Virtual Environments

Managing virtual teams can be tough but rewarding. With that in mind, check out our top tips and learn how to lead teams in virtual environments.

Remote Collaboration Tools: Best Wrike Features for Teams
Remote Working 5 min read

Remote Collaboration Tools: Best Wrike Features for Teams

Remote collaboration tools like Wrike help teams stay together and be productive, even when they’re apart. Learn more about Wrike’s top collaboration features for teams.

5 Ways to Show Your Remote Workers Some Love
Leadership 3 min read

5 Ways to Show Your Remote Workers Some Love

Managing a team of remote workers can be tricky, especially when it comes to communicating and building rapport. Without careful attention, remote workers can easily start to feel that they're "out of sight, out of mind." So how do you help your distributed team members feel valued, keep them engaged, and even have fun working together? Here are 5 ways to show your remote team some love: 1. Engage With Them Just because you're not all in the same location, doesn't mean you can't enjoy team bonding activities. Try some fun activities for remote employees, send each other packages of goodies from your local area, and find ways to liven up conference calls and get to know each other. Use this list of team bonding activities for remote teams (scroll to the bottom of the article) for more ideas. 2. Include Them in Office Celebrations Include remote teammates in regular office activities like holiday parties, big announcements, and special celebrations. Live video streams, invites to participate in Secret Santa gift exchanges, ugly sweater or costume contests, online karaoke parties — the possibilities are endless. 3. Chat About Life Outside of Work Provide an informal place like Skype or Google Hangouts for the team to chat and get to know each other (and you)! Even though you may not meet face-to-face more than once or twice a year, you're still colleagues. Talk about the same stuff you discuss with your co-located peers in the hallways or kitchen: vacations, families, sports, pop culture, the works. That camaraderie and familiarity will be a huge benefit when it comes time for your team to collaborate, brainstorm, and creatively solve problems. 4. Don't Micromanage! When you can't physically see your team at their desks, typing away or making phone calls, it can be tempting to start micromanaging or checking in needlessly just to reassure yourself that things are getting done. Instead, set a regular schedule for how often you'll check in with your team, both as a group and one-on-one, and then stick to it. Focus on results and show your team that just because they're working remotely, doesn't mean they're being treated any differently than your local employees. Setting clear expectations and building trust can go a long way when it comes to keeping your employees happy, engaged, and motivated. 5. Send Them Company Swag As Jason Evanish points out, it'll help them feel like part of the team, boost morale, and reinforce the fact that they're valued just as highly as their colleagues who work from the office. 5 Ways to Show Your Remote Workers Some Love   More Tips for Managing a Remote Team As part of a global team ourselves, we at Wrike have learned from experience how to avoid the common pitfalls of remote work and discovered strategies for effective collaboration. Download our free eBook for simple techniques that will keep your team productive, no matter how many time zones separate you.

First-hand Experience To Succeed with a Distributed Team
Collaboration 5 min read

First-hand Experience To Succeed with a Distributed Team

  This is exactly the case of Avi Cohen, CEO of Pacific54, who successfully manages the five offices of his company, spread around Latin America, the Middle East, Europe and the U.S. "We run multiple projects on online marketing strategies, and the main challenge for us was establishing a healthy workflow for all of them," Avi says. "As we managed to do it with the help of Wrike project management software, now we are able to reach markets of clients and employees that we never thought would be possible to maintain virtually!"   Avi has shared with us the rules that helped him efficiently manage his remote team in order to attract more customers. If you are ready to see your business grow, take a look at these great tips: 1. Make sure all team members keep up with the deadlines Plans may change, and when the team is decentralized, it's tricky to ensure that everyone always stays up-to-date with the new schedule. Things have become much easier for us with the interactive Gantt chart that instantly provides all team members with a current project schedule wherever they are. When I create new tasks or reschedule existing ones, they always stay in the loop, receiving e-mail notifications about the changes. Also, on the online Gantt chart, I can instantly see who is responsible for which task and whether it will be completed on time. 2. Always stay on top of your team’s agenda When you manage several projects split between a numbers of remote workers, you need to focus on the most important goals one step ahead. That’s why I customize the widgets on my dashboard to show tasks and projects I am currently interested in and eliminate the others. With custom settings, I always concentrate on the most important items of the work, be it overdue tasks, tasks to do this week or tasks assigned to a particular person in the company. 3. Create a collaborative online environment Enthusiastic collaboration and idea exchanges are behind every successful project. When your team is separated geographically, you need to provide them with a convenient space for project-related discussions. For our team, that place is the Activity Stream. Here, we oversee all the recent updates and share our news, comments and files. And handy avatars make our communication more personal! 4. Dedicate enough time to each client Good customer relationships are the key to your flawless reputation! As all Pacific54 team members keep their time logs in Wrike, at the end of the month I can easily create time reports to see how many hours were spent on each client. Analyzing this information helps us assure that all customers are satisfied. 5. Let your customers see the project progress themselves! To make your relationships more productive, provide your customers with the full or read-only access to the project. This way, they will always have the most recent data available, while you will no longer spend a minute on keeping them up-to-date. A win-win situation! The viewer license feature alone saved me so many sleepless nights.   Nevertheless, your team members' personalities are also important for success, so simply maintaining an efficient online communication isn’t enough. What can be better than a phone call when you need to talk over an emotional issue? Why not try some virtual team building games activities? Or how about occasional face-to-face meetings with your colleagues that will definitely help you build strong team relationships? You will be surprised to see how even one such meeting improves your team’s virtual collaboration! "Having tried many different project management tools, I was a bit skeptical about all of them. However, I was surprised by the ease of use and control over the projects Wrike immediately gave me. Now we leverage Wrike in our business in a way that saves us ton of time and money!”Avi Cohen, CEO at Pacific54 Pacific54 is a boutique online marketing agency that specializes in effective Search Engine Optimization, Social Marketing, Pay-Per-Click methods and much more.

Long Distance Leadership: Successfully Scaling a Remote Team to 50+ Employees
Leadership 10 min read

Long Distance Leadership: Successfully Scaling a Remote Team to 50+ Employees

Nic Bryson is the Senior Director of Customer Support at Wrike. Since joining the company in 2009, he’s grown Customer Support from just one person to a remote team of 50+ members, spread across the globe. In the past 10 years, remote work has grown by 103% in the US alone. Fueled by increased worker satisfaction, greater productivity, and an average cost savings of over $11,000 per worker each year, the growing trend of remote work shows no signs of slowing. The ability to effectively manage a remote team is now a must-have skill, especially for small business and startup teams who need to take advantage of the global talent pool and freelance workforce in order to find workers with the skills they need, on terms they can afford.  While the benefits of remote teamwork are compelling, it’s not without challenges—particularly for managers and project leaders. Communication, tracking progress and priorities, and managing resources are all made more difficult by distance, in addition to logistics like time zones and language or culture barriers. Even with the right tools and processes in place to make day-to-day work easier with remote teams, a larger challenge presents itself: that of scaling your team alongside your growing business. How do you successfully train new team members and cultivate a thriving remote team culture? And how do you provide your team with professional development and growth opportunities, when you may only meet face-to-face a few times each year?  Here at Wrike, we’ve faced these questions head on with our own Customer Support Team, led by Nic Bryson. Over the last 8 years, he's grown the team from just himself to a group of over 50 people, spread across North & South America and Europe. From onboarding new members to developing and promoting new Support Team leaders, Nic has experienced firsthand the growing pains of scaling a remote team, and shares some of the vital lessons he's learned along the way.  Essential Tips for Hiring Remote Workers Not everyone has a temperament that’s suited for remote work. Many telecommuters grapple with isolation, the pressure to be always on, and establishing a healthy work/life balance. That’s why it’s so important to go beyond technical skills and knowledge to consider whether a candidate’s personality is compatible with remote work. When you’re evaluating a potential new hire, what qualities should you look for?  According to Nic Bryson, Senior Director of Customer Support here at Wrike, the key is to find someone who’s proactive: who will both seek out the answers to their technical questions, and put in the extra effort to connect with their teammates.  In the support world, that means someone who isn’t just waiting for a new ticket to appear, but looking for ways to improve processes and projects. As a manager, this requires you to look deeper than the sheer number of tickets cleared or tasks completed, but the quality of work and willingness to go the extra mile. Who’s not only answering the customer’s question, but also providing them with related resources, or taking the time to follow up a few days later? Who’s considering how the work gets done, and looking for ways to make things more efficient or effective?  The other important question to consider: is the candidate a people person? It may seem counter-intuitive that extroverts would pursue a remote position where they likely won’t interact with other people face-to-face, but Bryson says that drive to connect with others is essential. These are the kinds of people who will go out of their way to interact with their colleagues, whether via chat apps or video calls, and contribute to a successful remote team culture.  Onboarding Strategies to Keep Remote Workers Engaged from the Start Remote team members can’t simply stop by your office or lean over to a colleague in the next cubicle to ask a quick question, so opportunities to see how other people work and learn through observation are limited. Casual office chats or lunch conversations with colleagues from other departments don’t happen naturally like they can in an office environment, which can limit a new team member’s understanding of how the company functions as a whole.  That’s why thorough training is a must when onboarding new team members. Remote managers must make the extra effort to be available to their teams, answering questions, offering ongoing support, and providing the training resources and context that enables cross-department collaboration.  Bryson says, “It’s just as important for people to know what they don’t know—and also understand that they’re not expected to know everything. There are no bad questions, and people should always feel comfortable asking for help. They need to be able to self-serve, or know who the best person is to answer their question.” Make sure your remote team has access to ongoing training and is always encouraged to ask questions, regardless of how long they’ve been with your company. "Servant Leadership" and Building a Strong Remote Team Culture Establishing a vibrant company culture is difficult enough when your team shares an office. When you’re communicating via laptop, it’s that much more challenging to cultivate close working relationships and a collaborative atmosphere. And as your team grows, that challenge grows with it.  When Wrike’s support team was only a handful of people, new members spent enough one-on-one time training with their colleagues that relationships formed naturally. As the team began to grow, however, Bryson says he made a point to establish a servant leadership mentality. People were promoted to management positions not only based on their job performance, but their willingness to support their teammates. Now, the leadership team consists of people who look for opportunities to help their direct reports and provide them with the resources and mentorship they need to excel in their roles and grow their careers.  Tools like Slack allow the team to be in constant contact throughout the day, discussing everything from work-related issues to personal news and pop culture. People are encouraged to be open about any challenges they’re facing and to ask questions. Bryson says this openness helps them resolve process problems, which are more difficult to uncover and diagnose as a remote team where visibility is limited, and people can be more hesitant to admit that they’re struggling with an aspect of their work.  The team also relies on Zoom for team meetings, which allows for up to 25 webcams. Bryson says having everyone turn their webcams on during meetings makes a big difference, letting the team get in as much face time as possible. “If someone doesn’t have their webcam on, their teammates will make a point to say ‘hey, we want to see you!’ It’s not just me talking to a black screen,” he says.  It's important to remember that it's not just the frequency of communication, it's also the quality. When your team is reading your messages via email, chat, or the comments section of your work management software, important cues like tone of voice and physical expressions are lost. And when you add in language and cultural differences, those nuances are even more difficult to translate.  Even common sayings that are second nature to you can be easily misunderstood by remote colleagues who aren’t viewing the message with the same cultural lens. Bryson recalls, “Early on there was a customer communication with a support team rep, where at one point the customer said, “You guys are killing it!” And the support person replied with something like, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that”—they thought they’d done a bad job—and it was just one of those instances where you realize how fast idioms and cultural context comes into play. And you have to make sure your team understands what’s meant by those slang phrases that they might not be familiar with.”  As workspaces become more and more informal, the use of emojis and gifs can help make up for some of the context cues and make communicating with your remote team that much easier (and more fun!)  Meeting the Challenge of Leadership & Career Development on a Remote Team  While offering advice and guidance to your team is tricky when you don’t get a lot of face time, providing opportunities for career development is essential to keeping talented team members around for the long haul. If you want remote employees to grow with your company, supporting career development is a must. For Bryson, this is why weekly one-on-ones are so important.  In a culture of constant communication, sometimes one-on-ones can seem redundant. Since Support Team managers are always available in Slack, questions get answered right away and conversations are ongoing. As Bryson explains, “Sometimes there’s this sense of, we’re already talking all the time, so what’s the point of having a separate one-on-one? It comes down to a distinction between training and development.”   Training is what the person needs to know to do their job. That’s what’s being offered during Slack conversations and team meetings. It’s where managers communicate the specifics of, “This is what you need to do and how to do it.” The one-on-one is where the team member gets to say, “This is what I want to be doing.”  The weekly one-on-one makes career development a priority, giving team members dedicated time to talk about their own goals and professional growth. Plus, it gives managers an opportunity to delegate responsibilities and provide their team members with opportunities to build new skills.  How the Most Successful Remote Teams Work Together As more organizations embrace new ways of working, managers will have to do away with the misconception that remote teams only work when they stay small. Teams that embrace structure, transparency, and a culture of knowledge sharing can—and do!—scale just as efficiently as co-located teams.  How Wrike can scale your remote work processes Want to utilize Nic's advice and empower your teams to do their best work, regardless of where they are in the world? Wrike's flexible work management platform allows teams to keep track of projects, communicate seamlessly, and collaborate in real-time, all on one platform. Find out more here. 

How to Connect Global Teams With Online Team Management
Collaboration 5 min read

How to Connect Global Teams With Online Team Management

With teams often spanning the globe, efficient remote team management is a priority. Find out how Wrike's unique and streamlined online team management software can connect international companies.

How to Build a Culture of Sharing in Distributed Project Teams, and More Questions from PMI Dallas Chapter Dinner
Project Management 5 min read

How to Build a Culture of Sharing in Distributed Project Teams, and More Questions from PMI Dallas Chapter Dinner

After the short holiday break, the new year quickly gained momentum. The first event on my 2013 speaking calendar was the dinner meeting at PMI Dallas Chapter. The topic of remote collaboration and its efficiency brought up a great discussion. The engagement of the audience is a clear sign of how many project managers face the challenge of dealing with mobile workforce today. And the trend  will only expand: as Wrike’s survey revealed, every fourth worker foresees his or her office going virtual in the near future. Of the numerous post-presentation questions, there were a couple that were especially interesting, and I’d like to share some takeaway notes with you. One of the efficiency tips that I talked about during the session was the importance of remote work monitoring and sharing within a distributed team. According to our survey respondents, bad visibility into colleagues’ actions is one of the biggest problems in remote collaboration. Learning to share tasks, ideas, file and other work-related info is critical to making the workflow transparent to the team. The audience asked how to build up that culture of sharing. The word “culture” here implies that it’s not a rapid shift to make. One of the working tools is leadership by your own example. Say, when you assign a task or finalize an important document, make sure that your workers are aware of it and can easily check it out. Then, when you have some “champions” on the team who follow your example, you can use some peer pressure, too. As with many other changes, you can slice the big change into smaller steps that are easy to reach. You can approach it from two dimensions: horizontally (begin with a part of the team and then step-by-step roll it out to the rest of the employees) or vertically (in this case, the idea is to start by sharing a certain type of item, and then add more of them to the mix.) For example, it won’t be too much trouble for your team to exchange important documents they worked on before your weekly meeting. Adopted gradually, this practice should develop into people’s working habit that will naturally solve the challenge of poor visibility and siloed project data. Another remarkable question was asked about granular workload management. I spoke about the convenience of splitting work into smaller, tangible deliverables, instead of big tasks where a worker reports on what percent has been completed. One of the attendees asked how to make it work if you need to report on the progress to your customer? Once again, visibility is the key word for answering this question. Here’s a simple, real-life example. Imagine you’re having your house remodeled, and you want to check on the progress. “50% completed” doesn’t give you, the customer, any insight into what’s really happening. Is the bedroom ready, and can you bring the furniture in, or was it the kitchen, or is it just an abstract number, and none of the rooms are actually finished? So the point is to bring your customer in and give him or her more visibility. With smaller tasks, tracking progress (for managers, stakeholders and customers) and reporting (for workers) becomes easier. When the team reports on a more granular level, you don’t need to run meetings so often (which isn’t that easy for a virtual team!) to clear up the details. If you don’t want to overwhelm your customer with too many updates, or don’t want to share some operational details, then you can share the major milestones with him or her. One of the positive aspects of giving customers visibility into your projects is the opportunity to get earlier feedback from them and to make sure you’re moving in the right direction. One of the greatest things about conferences and other professional get-togethers is hearing first-hand what challenges fellow project managers currently face and seeking for efficient solutions to them. So I’m looking forward to the upcoming events on the calendar. This week, it’s IBM Connect in Orlando. In February, I’ll be speaking about remote collaboration at PMI Los Angeles Chapter dinner meeting. In April, you can meet me in PMI Chicago Chapter and at Stanford’s Strategic Execution Conference in Silicon Valley, where I’ll discuss how to make open innovation work in project management. Hope to see you there!

5 Practical Tips on Making Virtual Collaboration Efficient
Collaboration 3 min read

5 Practical Tips on Making Virtual Collaboration Efficient

My post about The Secret Ingredients of a Successful Distributed Team turned out to be quite popular, so I decided to follow up on it by sharing a slide deck I recently presented to the Information Management Forum members (IMF). I was invited to speak about virtual teams, as well as how companies can easily overcome challenges connected with their set up. The presentation has 5 practical tips on how to manage remote team more efficiently. The list is not complete, and there’s always room for more! I hope to extend this list in a future post with your help. Easy and Effective Remote Collaboration What secrets of organizing a successful virtual team can you share? Please share your thoughts in the post comments.