How To Build A Remote Team That Is Productive and Cohesive

Working hours are no longer restricted to the age-old 9-5 grind. Rather, companies are increasingly utilizing flexible working hours that allow them the ease and convenience to work according to their family or personal commitments. Whether it be working from home or traveling abroad, the availability of new technology and globalization has enabled flexible working hours in the form of zero-hour contracts, career sabbaticals, and flexitime.

This has helped many people, such as mothers raising children, students engaged in full-time study, or patients recovering from serious illnesses and diseases. Nonetheless, the prospect of a remote team is still relatively new to most entrepreneurs and CEOs. While it helps to facilitate greater worker autonomy and satisfaction, productivity and company cohesion may become lost or diminished.

Therefore, managing a remote team of managers or employees raises important questions of whether projects can be completed within the stated deadlines or how company culture can be cultivated beyond the physical office space. Here are a few tips on how to build and manage a remote team.

Use the right hiring strategy

First things first; building a successful remote team involves taking the right steps from the start – choose workers that meet your requirements. What this means is essentially hiring those who are not only comfortable with working remote hours, but also possess the qualities and skills for remote team effectiveness.

Hire Doers

To do this, you need to first choose workers who are doers. There is no point hiring people who often require direction to get things done. Hiring doers will ensure that your employees will get things done even if they are in the desert outskirts of Africa. Doers are self-learning hard workers; although you may need to give them guidance and direction to complete tasks, you will not have to spoon feed right down to every minute detail.

Hire trustworthy people

It is also important that you hire employees whom you can trust. If you do not trust the person for doing a particular job, then you will most likely end up stressing over the stated deadline. But remember, it does go both ways.

Hire employees who can write well

Writing is an essential communication tool and if your workers are not comfortable writing frequent e-mails and reports, then your remote team will not see fruition.

Utilize the right tools

A remote team cannot be built without using the proper tools. Tools are necessary for bringing cohesion, discipline and productivity. It will help you enforce teamwork and accountability of the work. Therefore, here are some tools that are effective for successfully managing remote teams.


The GoToMeeting conference application offers superior audio and video quality. While Skype or Google Hangouts is great for communicating with multiple people at once, GoToMeeting does a fantastic job in facilitating communication with more than 10 people.

Remote teams should make use of GoToMeeting for promoting a sense of office culture and teamwork.

Google Docs

Working on projects in remote environments requires convenient ways to share data with one another. Google Docs is perfect for this. Easily share documents and spreadsheets for analysis of key metrics and benefit from greater organization of data through this web-based app.

Use the right tactics to influence productivity

Ensuring employees are working together in a smooth and coordinated fashion is not always possible when they are outside the physical bounds of the workplace. Every team, whether remote or otherwise, requires structure to ensure all tasks are being executed within the state deadline. Here are a few tactics that prove to be useful in this regard.

Pairing workers

It gets difficult to communicate with all of your teammates at once. Unlike in the office culture, workers can easily mingle and socialize with one another and develop strong rapport that helps influence better worker coordination and efficiency. To achieve a similar effect in a remote team, it is essential to pair workers each week for a call.

Instilling a culture of accountability

For the purposes of accountability, a day of the week can be set to have online meetings and post their status of their work. They can present updates in the form of presentations, documents or data reports. This way, you will be cultivating accountability within the remote workforce.

Businesses Use Cases for the Apple Watch

–Can the Apple Watch prove to be beneficial for businesses?

Ever since Apple showcased its plan to step into the wearable technology market using its Watch, thought leaders have been speculating on its potential applications in driving business growth.

There is no question that the Watch will be embraced with open arms by customers as technology enthusiasts are sure to adopt the latest and fashionable wearable technologies. According to BI Intelligence, Apple’s Watch is anticipated to capture almost half of the smartwatch market by 2017.

The question though, is that how excited are businesses by the Watch? Is there a soft spot for wearable technology in the hearts of CIOs and CEOs? Can the Watch offer new ways of driving business value to corporations?

After all, Google Glass received its fair share of praise for helping the airlines industry improve customer service by infusing data with everyday tasks. The rising emphasis of the Internet of things (IoT) is quickly materializing into a network of physical components and technologies, and the pressure on I&O leaders to extend their department’s BYOD policy could involve the large-scale adoption of wearable technologies such as the Watch.

Proliferation of Business Apps

What really made the iPhone stand out were the diverse applications covering a range of categories, from productivity apps to entertainment, business to health and fitness. The Watch will not be missing out on these as companies race to develop apps for the wearable technology platform.

There are various apps which consumers are anxiously waiting to download on their Apple Watch; but notable among those which can potentially catch the attention of the business folk include: Salesforce, which lets you have access to your company analytical tools via the cloud, Slack, that allows you to chat with your co-workers, and BetterWatch, that can allow HR and department managers to track and assess the goals of their employees.

More importantly, Windows’ launch of its own PowerPoint and OneDrive apps for the Watch signal the importance and relevance of the gadget for businesses.

How can the Watch help businesses

There are a number of ways that the Watch can be of relevance to corporations with regard to growth. Aside from apps that could be argued to provide only a limited use for businesses, the Watch could be eyed as an important business opportunity in the following ways:

Secure mobile payments

Corporations have enough to worry about what with the escalating rise of cyber security threats in the form of phishing and DDoS attacks, and cloud computing, despite being widely adopted, being subject to serious security risks. SMBs which are keen to attain the benefits of cost-effective, large data storage face high threats.

This is why the Watch’s Apple Pay system, a recent development by Apple that lets users have safe and secure transactions can provide better ways to protect corporate identity. Employees of an organization can safely manage its banking operations via Apple Pay, for example.

Increased employee productivity

As mentioned earlier, the requirement to extend the BYOD policy in an effort to further workforce productivity can be realized using the Apple Watch. Wearable technology, after all, is one of the foremost trends affecting workforce enablement. Worker autonomy is usually limited in corporations that inhibit productivity and growth.

Corporations can instead utilize innovative ways of letting employees use their Watch to have access to data and communication in a far more convenient way. Apps such as Slack can be used to foster greater departmental cohesion in order to drive productivity and growth.

Bottom line

Corporations need innovative ways of using wearable technology to further their ends and achieve a competitive edge over rivals. The extent to which Apple’s Watch can benefit businesses depends on how creatively CIO and I&O leaders craft strategies that make effective use of such technologies.


3 Reasons Why You Need Human-Touched IT Services

Human-touched IT services_Sep 22, 2014

As businesses increasingly reduce tech support in favor of live chat or knowledge-bases, they’re beginning to realize the value in computer support provided by a real person. Whether that person is a friendly voice on the other end of the phone line or a person who comes to your desk to help, humans have an ability to relate to each other in a way computers never can. Here are three reasons your business still needs to retain the human touch in your IT support.

Technology Lacks Human Reason

When a computer is presented with a problem, that computer is programmed to rely solely on logic for solving it. Humans, on the other hand, have the ability to see the subtle nuances in a problem, using a reasoning ability that is unique to humans. As the user explains the problem, a human has the ability to rule out various possible causes for that problem based on past experience. If the IT support person has worked with that user for a while, he may even be able to narrow down the problem based on knowledge of that user’s daily work activities and technical expertise.

Humans Approach Each User Differently

Even a call center learns to detect a user’s mood and anxiety levels based on the inflection and tone of his voice. With human-touched IT services, a person adjusts his support in response to those clues, tailoring help to match what the user needs. Within seconds of speaking to a user, a technical support person may be able to determine that the user would likely have ruled out the simple things, while a computer would have to require a user to answer a series of questions to arrive at the same conclusion.

Hardware Needs In-Person Support

One of the biggest challenges for companies that are trying to remove the human touch from IT is hardware repair and replacement. Occasionally, an employee will walk in to find a computer, monitor, printer, or copier is suddenly no longer functioning. In-person IT staff will usually keep a spare computer for those instances, getting the user up and running in just minutes while new equipment is ordered or existing hardware goes through extensive troubleshooting. Without the human touch, hardware problems can completely disable a valued team member for a day or longer, with new equipment required to be shipped or purchased locally.

Today’s users are more computer savvy than ever, but they still occasionally need technical support. There will likely never be a replacement for the help an empathetic, experienced IT support person can provide, so businesses should continue to retain it as a supplement to the online and remote desktop support they’re providing.