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Re:work

Do I Have to Socialize with Teammates After Work?

In our new series, re:work, our columnist tackles the tough situations that arise when working as a team. From appropriate use of shared space, to getting quick answers from remote teammates, we’re breaking down what troubles you, and helping you fix it. 

“Dear re:work,

My coworkers like to go out drinking after work. I’ve joined in a couple of times but it’s not really my scene. I don’t want to be seen as anti-social, or not a team player, but I also don’t feel comfortable in that environment. What do I do?

Sincerely,

Big Homebody”

Submissions may have been edited for length and/or clarity. Submission was made prior to isolation orders.

Dear Big Homebody,

Spending time with your coworkers outside of work is important, there’s no denying that. Not only is it a chance to have some fun, it’s also integral to team bonding. That said, it’s arguably more important to respect your personal boundaries. If you aren’t comfortable going out for drinks, then we just need to adapt!

Communicate Your Needs

Letting your team know how you feel is the first step. Don’t feel pressured to get deep or personal about why you aren’t comfortable going out for drinks. Whether you prefer quieter spaces, or don’t vibe with the atmosphere of alcohol; whatever the reason is, it’s entirely up to you whether you share or not. Not comfortable sharing the reason? Just let them know you’re not a fan of that environment and leave it at that.

Suggest Different Activities

I’ll always advocate that people try new things and step outside their comfort zone. In your case, you’ve tried their way and for whatever reason it didn’t feel right. Instead of forcing yourself to do something that makes you genuinely uncomfortable, try to suggest a different activity. 

Maybe you like board games, sports, or cooking. Whatever it is, plan an event and invite the rest of your team. That way you know it’s within your comfort zone, but you won’t miss out on the ever important team time. Keep suggesting these alternative activities and I’ll bet your team will start to suggest different things too! Once a habit is broken it becomes much easier to continue trying new things.

Dealing with your own weird, frustrating, or downright awful work situation, and need a little help? Email community@getflow.com for a chance to be the subject of our next re:work piece.

May 21, 2020

Productivity

Project Management System Software That Supports Your Team’s Work Style

Whether you work in an office, on a distributed team, or are making the shift to remote work, it’s no secret that project management can come with its challenges. Documents lost, missed deadlines, and lack of communication are just some of the common issues teams face on the regular. It’s true that finding a solution for all of these challenges can be tough to navigate, even when it’s for the best. The good news is that so many of the tech and communication issues are avoidable. But ensuring team members feel fully supported to do their best work goes beyond just avoiding the issues. You need a collaborative system that will set the team up for ultimate success.

Project management system software can help you untangle a broad range of work challenges. The first big step is to find a software solution that offers project management tools that support a diverse range of work styles. It sounds like a tall order, but you’ll discover that some systems do deliver. Let’s look more closely at the benefits of project management software and some of the popular systems that might fit your team’s needs.

What Is Project Management System Software?

At its best, project management system software does exactly what the name implies: it helps teams move from one phase of a project to another without skipping a beat. Team members can create and allocate tasks, track timelines, communicate, and find documents and other resources in one place. The result? streamlined workflows, more productive teams, and less stress overall.

The best project management system will also provide a variety of tools for remote work and key integrations that are not only easy to implement but also intuitive to use. Team collaboration becomes possible even when work styles differ. The right tools should make it easy to get your whole team on track quickly.

Popular Productivity Platforms That Streamline Workflow

Five of the most popular project management platforms are listed below with notes on their core features, prices, and designs. 

Asana

Asana has been around for more than 10 years. In that time, it has grown into one of the most popular software programs, thanks to its range of features and savvy marketing. There’s a lot to Asana, so here’s a peek at what you can expect:

Features

  • Project views help you visualize work, whether you prefer boards, lists, or calendars.
  • Shareable tasks, subtasks, and sections organize project details and meeting agendas.
  • Reports are available in various formats like timeline and portfolio. 
  • Permissions and privacy can be managed by admins.
  • In-app communication centralizes project, team, and social conversations.
  • Unlimited storage for every account (individual files maxed at 100MB).
  • Free trial, credit card required. You’ll be charged after 30 days if you don’t cancel.

Price

  • Basic: Free for individuals and new teams who need to manage their own tasks and to-dos.
  • Premium: Plan and track projects for $13.49/mo per user. 
  • Business: Manage more aspects of team member workloads for $30.49/mo per user. Builds on the Premium subscription with extras, such as a rules builder and app integrations.
  • Enterprise: Price not disclosed—you have to give Asana a call. Includes Business features plus add-ons like SAML and customer support.

Design

At first glance, the busy layout of Asana can be overwhelming, despite all the open white space. Unfortunately, the complexity of the platform, plus the time it takes to learn, does overload a lot of users which can negatively impact team engagement and increase the learning curve for new users on the platform.

Jira

In the beginning, Jira was used to track bugs and other issues for software development teams. But, in the nearly 20 years it has been around, features have expanded to include several aspects of project management. Here are the details:

Features

  • Scrum and Kanban boards visually organize to-dos. Certain features can be turned on or off to individualize workflow.
  • Automation is available for any task or process using the easy drag-and-drop function.
  • Roadmaps track your projects and communication about them.
  • Agile reporting provides real-time updates in a variety of charts, diagrams, and graphs.
  • Custom filters can be written with Jira Query Language (JQL).
  • Integration with third-party apps gives you access to various coding and chat tools.
  • Free trial for seven days, no credit card required.

Price

  • Free: Limited functionality for up to 10 users. Includes 2GB of storage.
  • Standard: More robust features for $10/month for up to 10 users. Eleven users or more are priced at $7/mo each. Includes 250GB of storage.
  • Premium: Access to all features for $14/mo per user for up to 5,000 people. Unlimited storage included. 

Design

Despite how long it has been around, Jira isn’t well-loved by many of its users—and that has a lot to do with the design. The developers aimed for clean, colorful lines, but ended up with a stark and jumbled look that isn’t intuitive to use. It’s still primarily designed to work best for software development teams.

Basecamp

Making its first appearance 20 years ago, Basecamp is one of the earliest project management platforms. So, it has the benefit of time and experience on its side. Here’s what else it has:

Features 

  • To-do lists act as tasks and can be assigned to one or more people. You can also add notes or files, make comments, and set due dates for yourself and others.
  • File storage is housed in one location for each project. You can drag and drop most file types, color code them, and see version histories. You can link Google Docs here, too.  
  • Schedules reflect daily to-dos and larger project tasks. It works with Google Calendar, iCal, and Outlook.
  • Hill charts visually track a project’s progress. You can also add annotations. 
  • Multiple communication channels include private messaging, group chat, and message boards. There’s even a question thread that keeps team check-ins together.
  • Notifications can be scheduled or turned off completely.
  • Free 30-day trial, no credit card required.

Price 

  • Basecamp Personal: Free for up to 3 projects, 20 users, and 1GB of storage.
  • Basecamp Business: $99/month for an unlimited number of projects and users plus 500GB of storage.

Design

Basecamp is designed to be simple and straightforward. But that also gives the software a rigid feel, especially since customization and integrations are limited. Unfortunately, it’s not built for all types of teams, either. Finance teams, in particular, will notice few helpful features.

Trello

Since 2011, simplicity has been the name of Trello’s game. In place of complex features, there are basic boards, lists, and cards. This Kanban-focused platform works well for modest projects and teams. Here’s what you get:

Features

  • Power-Ups allow you to use calendars, create custom fields, and set limits on your lists.
  • Third-party integrations assist with file sharing and communication.
  • Automation lets you schedule commands, notifications, and create usage rules.

Price

  • Free: Unlimited boards, lists, and cards for individuals plus access to 10 team boards.
  • Business Class: $12.50/mo per user. Comes with expanded individual and team features, Power-Ups, automation, admin, and security. Maximum file size is 250MB. 
  • Enterprise: Starts at $20.83/mo per user with discounts for higher numbers of users. A step up from the Business Class option with more admin and security features.

Design

Trello’s design is simplistic, colorful, and easy on the eyes. As long as your project is simple or even of a personal nature, this platform can be a fun way to stay organized. But it lacks a lot of critical features and integrations. If you’re doing more than planning a wedding or starting a very small business, the design may not meet all of your needs and may even bring hours of disorganized frustration.

Flow

Flow provides project management software for small teams, bigger businesses, and fast-growing startups. They work with a variety of nonprofits, too. Flow’s customers love the platform. Here’s why:

Features

  • Multiple workflow options support every unique team and individual. Whether it’s Kanban boards or to-do lists, you’re covered.
  • Comprehensive task feature organizes work by keeping files and communication in one place. You can track due dates, attach files, add comments, and set tags for easy filtering later. There’s even a sidebar where you can choose to follow your team members’ tasks.
  • Project dashboard tracks overarching initiatives in a customizable view.
  • Calendars display timelines for all projects and team members’ tasks, as well as individuals’ schedules.
  • Powerful chat feature lets you set up group chats and one-on-one messaging, and you can personalize your notifications. (Available in Flow X—coming June 2020).
  • Wide-ranging integrations are available so you can keep using your favorite tools. From Dropbox to Slack to Zapier, there isn’t anything you’ll have to give up.
  • A home tab where everything can be seen at a glance, including completed and upcoming tasks for you and your team.
  • A Customizable platform that is easy to make your own with everything from themes to accent colors. (Available in Flow X—coming in June 2020)
  • Free no-obligation trial. No credit card required, and you can cancel anytime.

Price

  • Basic: $6/mo per user. Includes all essential features and some integrations for up to 25 team members. Storage capacity is 50GB.
  • Plus: $8/mo per user. Includes everything you get with the Basic plan for an unlimited number of team members. Storage capacity increased to 250GB.
  • Pro: $10/mo per user. Includes all features and integrations for an unlimited number of team members. Security is increased, and storage capacity is unlimited.

Design

The team at Flow has designed a robust, yet simple, workspace that finds a balance between everything you need and nothing you don’t. It’s easy to learn, intuitive to use, and elegantly designed. In fact, Flow’s fans love it, in large part, because the space is so beautiful. For all of the productivity tools out there today, it’s surprising that it’s such an intuitive, enjoyable system.

Your Team Needs Engaging Collaboration Software

One important thing all of these project management software systems have in common is cloud storage to support remote teams from anywhere. But easy accessibility doesn’t guarantee engagement. Real, efficient collaboration happens only when a project management platform runs smoothly and keeps team members excited to log in. The system that combines these elements is the one your team will want to stick with for the long haul.

It’s hard to effectively support a team without a centralized platform that keeps workflows smooth and team members connected. Flow is an easy-to-use project management software platform that does both. Try Flow free today!

May 21, 2020

Productivity

Task Management Tips: How to Make the Most of Your Software

Using the right task management software helps keep you and your team focused on big picture goals while providing manageable steps to get there. After all, getting to the finish line of a project isn’t always fun or easy. Whether you’re working from home or in an office, there will always be distractions that can make the trek seem even harder. Using a great task management software is like having a coach or trainer at your side: you have access to the best support, tools, tips, and motivation to move towards your goals—despite the obstacles.

How Task Management Software Impacts the Big Picture

Task management is not something you can skip or ignore. Someone or something has to do the heavy lifting to keep workflows, deadlines, and collaborators organized. As task management software becomes more sophisticated and reliable, using these tools gives managers the option to focus their attention in more critical areas such as strategic planning and big-picture thinking.

When everyone on your team is familiar with a single task management platform, small efforts along the way keep everything in check. Workflows become streamlined and seamless, and each team member can manage their own to-dos in the way that works for them, making progress on a project as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

More specifically, the right platform can: 

  • Increase productivity—teams know exactly what to do and when.
  • Minimize time-consuming searches with everything consolidated in one place.
  • Improve collaboration—team members can create, share, and discuss tasks proactively.
  • Track the progress of workflows in real-time with task notifications.
  • Make the transition to remote work effortless with cloud-based storage.

Any team can benefit from using the right task management software, but it’s important to know how to take full advantage of it—as you would if you had a great coach or mentor. With that in mind, we’ve listed several task management tips below to help your team gear up for their next sprint or marathon project.

Task Management Tips to Leverage Software Solutions

Now is the time to start working smarter, not harder. By using an all-in-one project management system, you can leverage these 12 tips to optimize your task management:

  1. Use succinct but clear language to name tasks and create tags such as “client-ready” or “unassigned.”
  2. Add supporting materials, such as notes and links, directly to your tasks.
  3. Set start dates, due dates, and urgency level for quick sorting by timeline, priority, and status.
  4. Bookmark important tasks to stay organized and focused on priority work.
  5. Subscribe followers to tasks to encourage your team’s input and notify them when a task is changed or completed.
  6. Create private tasks for individual to-dos. Get them out of your head and attached to a deadline, or delegate accordingly.
  7. Schedule recurring tasks to repeat daily, weekly, monthly, or annually.
  8. Set a task view that works best for you, whether it’s lists, kanban, or a visual timeline. 
  9. Filter tasks based on relevant tags, such as “feature request” or “bug fix.”
  10. Attach files to keep everything in the same place under a single task.
  11. Mute notifications to minimize distractions and stay focused. 
  12. Break large tasks up into smaller subtasks—and use the same task management tips above to create, organize, and track them.

Achieving More with Easy, Intuitive Collaboration Tools

In combination, these task management tips will help your team achieve more in less time. Still, it bears repeating that your software has to provide the right tools in the first place—and be a platform your team can easily navigate. If the software you choose isn’t robust and intuitive, your team will continue to run into roadblocks. The right all-in-one workspace can inspire collaboration and motivate your whole team to work hard toward those big-picture goals.

Without the right tools, empowering your team can feel like a perpetual uphill battle.  Flow solves that problem with an all-in-one workspace that is a joy to use on a daily basis. Try it free for 30 days!

May 19, 2020
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