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Remote

How to Increase Productivity at Home and Decrease Distractions

It happens. After dreaming about working from home for years, the right remote opportunity comes along—or the company you’ve been working for decides to catch up with the times. You’re finally in front of your laptop, on the couch, doing your job. The long commute, tiny cubicle, and late-night fast food dinners are finally a thing of the past. There’s only one problem. It hasn’t gotten easier to manage stress from work; it’s actually harder now that you’re doing it from home.

Working from home (WFH) comes with its own set of unique challenges that aren’t always obvious until you find yourself living the dream and unable to focus. To increase productivity at home, without also increasing team member’s stress, you have to get creative. We’ve got a few remote work tips to get you and your team started.

How to Get More Done When You Work from Home

The lack of a physical boundary between work and home introduces new challenges and distractions. You want working from home to make your team’s productivity—not break it. In the end, developing the necessary boundaries have as much to do with mindset as with the physical workspace.

With only so much cognitive energy available to us each day, the importance of managing all of your day-to-day tasks and streamlining the focus you need to get work done is always important. With even more distractions to contend with, it takes a lot more effort. So, how can you increase your productivity while working from home and help team members to do the same? Here’s what we suggest:

Designate One Space to Act as Your Office

Ideally, you already have a home office or a guest room that can be converted into your workspace. But a separate full-sized room isn’t your only option. Walk-in closets, breakfast nooks, and attics work just as well. A well-equipped corner of the living room or bedroom can suffice, too. The point is that the particular space is designated to function as your office.

This designation does a couple of things. First, it helps to habituate you to performing work when at your desk while also preventing you from working elsewhere in the house. Without these lines drawn, it becomes too easy to be in work mode constantly—especially if you’re spreading your workload everywhere. Plus, it eventually trains other household members to respect when you’re “at work” and when you’re “home”—so they are more aware of their potential to distract you from your tasks.  

Create Office Hours and Honor Your Schedule

To further maximize your productivity, especially when your entire team is remote, announce office hours to coworkers, friends, and family. Then, put them on your calendar and honor your schedule. One of the biggest benefits of working from home is flexibility. But, without a known and predictable schedule, others will feel anxious over when they can reach you, and you’ll feel trapped by always being available.

If your team uses a remote workspace to handle shared projects and generally communicate, it’s a good bet that there are options to publish your hours on a calendar or keep your current status up to date. At home, you may need to remind your housemates for a while, put up a sign, or set a timer. You might have to get used to saying “no” a lot, too. Increasing your productivity at home includes managing others’ expectations as well as your own. 

Control the Distractions (Even When They Come from the Team)

Unfortunately, even with a designated workspace and the effort to keep a strict schedule, you will still have to contend with distractions. Whether it’s a neighbor’s home renovation project or frequent DMs from a teammate, there will be sights and sounds you’ll have to work to tune out.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make that part of your job easier:

  • Buy noise-canceling headphones to eliminate ambient disturbances.
  • Use a background noise app, like Noisli, to generate soothing sounds you enjoy.
  • Turn the volume down on your phone’s ringer, and mute incoming texts.
  • Batch emails to be delivered once a day or week with an app like Boomerang.
  • Sign out of shared software and chat apps, or set your status to “away.”
  • Mute notifications and team updates, knowing that you’ll be able to turn them back on again once you’ve had your focused time.

Use Task Management Software Designed for Remote Work

With task management software that’s designed for remote work, you’ll have access to features that keep distractions at bay—like a timer for focusing and the ability to customize notifications. With everyone’s tasks organized and accessible from one platform, managing overall workflow gets easier and faster. Here’s how:

  • Ongoing tasks can be scheduled to recur so that valuable time isn’t spent constantly recreating them from scratch.
  • Start and due dates for tasks can be set, as well as due times, which help team members prioritize workloads.
  • Files and other supporting documents for a project can be attached directly to a task, which cuts down on time-wasting searches.
  • Large tasks that may be overwhelming can be split into more manageable subtasks.
  • You can finally let go of email altogether, especially if there is a built-in chat function.

While nothing can prevent distractions entirely, you have creative solutions and tools at your disposal to get more done with less effort.

Increase Productivity at Home and at the Office

For some teams, there’s still a need to spend time in the office—and to transition back and forth between the office and home—or to occasionally travel. Regardless of the particulars for your team, what’s great about online task management software is that it goes with you no matter where you all are. Even if you have to adjust to new surroundings from time-to-time, the team’s workflow doesn’t have to feel the disruption.

Worrying about how to increase productivity at home without stretching your team thin will be a thing of the past. The short commute, view of your garden, and on-time dinners with the family can become a fresh new focus. You might even come to love your work because of how it has improved your work-life balance.

Flow helps teams increase their productivity whether they work from home, at the office, or a combination of both. Streamlined workloads can greatly improve your team’s work-life balance and their enjoyment of the job. Try out Flow for free today, and see just how easy the transition can be.

July 29, 2020

Teamwork

Top 6 Online Team Collaboration Software Options

As businesses are upping their game and offering more unique products and services, centralization is the key factor that can bind teams together. With centralized resources, projects, and tasks, individuals can amplify their own skills and better collaborate toward shared goals.

As you’re turning your attention toward possibilities for online team collaboration software, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to discard the tools you already have. Rather, the best software platforms integrate apps and tools into a central hub for easy accessibility and ultimate collaborative functionality. While you may be carrying over some of your team’s favorites, an all-in-one platform streamlines your tools overall to reduce wasting time and free up creative potential.

Core Features of Online Team Collaboration Software

Don’t assume that all team software packages offer the necessary project management benefits. You need a good balance of task management, tools for communication and collaboration, and productivity features—all in an intuitive, flexible, and enjoyable workspace. Consider the following features:

  • Collaborative Task Management: From a centralized space, you need the ability to optimize workflows, monitor larger projects, and connect team members.
  • Chat Features: Communication is the glue that holds collaborative projects together. So, you need handy chat tools that allow you to organize conversations around tasks and help teammates stay connected.
  • Flexibility: Especially as more teams are operating remotely and in different time zones, flexibility cannot be overrated. Regardless of the team structure, flexibility gives individuals the freedom to work in ways that promote greater productivity and satisfaction.
  • Integrations: Even as you consolidate your collaborative toolbox, you’re still going to want to take advantage of familiar tools that can continue to work well for your team in the future. So, you’ll need an online team collaboration software that has robust integration capabilities.
  • Visual Design: Since your team will be spending every day in this workspace, it needs to be welcoming and inspiring. Ideally, it has a universal appeal and it organizes the many tools and features simply and accessibly.
  • Ease of Use: Don’t let a new collaboration platform scare your team off before they’ve had a chance to really access the benefits. A powerful tool doesn’t need to be difficult to learn and to master—but some of them have a steeper learning curve than others.

Comparing Your Options for Collaboration Platforms

Considering the important features we’ve discussed—plus the important element of price—we’ve rated some of the best options for you to explore here:

Trello
Trello has competitive pricing and provides more features than many other tools. Best of all, the features won’t overwhelm you, and its simple platform will minimize learning curves. It’s a great option for small or mid-size teams. The tiered pricing plan is competitive with other options, but the enterprise version is pricier.

Collaboration: B
Chat Features: C
Team Flexibility: B
Integration: B
Visual Design: C
Ease of Use: A
Pricing: B
Asana
Asana is one of the most powerful collaboration tools on the market, but it can be hard to use at first. Once familiar, users can take advantage of flexible tools that track workflows and tasks with ease. Asana does not have a chat feature but offers integration with Slack—and a host of other tools and apps. 

Collaboration: B
Chat Features: D
Team Flexibility: A
Integration: B
Visual Design: B
Ease of Use: D
Pricing: B
Wrike
Wrike is a handy tool in terms of streamlining communications and improving productivity. But it doesn’t offer the same integrative benefits as other software packages. Also, be prepared for a lengthy learning commitment, especially in order to bring your whole team up to speed with the software. It does have a simple chat add-on that creates tasks and allows users to get to work right away.

Collaboration: A
Chat Features: B
Team Flexibility: B
Integration: D
Visual Design: B
Ease of Use: D
Pricing: A
Monday.com
Monday.com isn’t a project management app. Instead, it’s a work management app. If you need a system that establishes start dates and end dates, you may want to look elsewhere. But it creates an atmosphere where you can track projects and tasks. Monday.com has no chat feature, but you can integrate it with Slack. Be aware that the convoluted pricing structure may confuse you. Instead of charging per person, Monday.com charges per group. Be sure to read the details carefully to see which pricing model fits your business.

Collaboration: C
Chat Features: D
Team Flexibility: B
Integration: A
Visual Design: A
Ease of Use: B
Pricing: D
Clickup
Clickup has a wide array of customizable features. Because of this, the learning curve can be steep. It offers more than enough features (arguably too many), which require additional time to learn. Also, the visual design can seem daunting with unneeded spaces and empty panes that may cause confusion. The murky colors and small text can make reading difficult. On the plus side, it’s a stellar project app for groups and individuals. It also comes with a universal connector that will connect with any app.

Collaboration: B
Chat Features: A
Team Flexibility: B
Integration: A
Visual Design: C
Ease of Use: D
Pricing: B
Flow
If you’re looking for a comprehensive project management app, look no further than Flow. It’s especially useful for small and mid-sized teams, allowing for truly streamlined processes and customizable work styles. A built-in chat function is particularly handy for collaboration and productivity. And, overall, it is an elegantly designed and easy-to-learn platform. It also comes with a free 30-day trial‒giving you enough time to learn the software, compared to many other apps that offer only two weeks free. Flow’s prices are also more competitive than other apps.

Collaboration: A
Chat Features: A
Team Flexibility: A
Integration: A
Visual Design: B
Ease of Use: B
Pricing: A

Elevating Your Team’s Collaboration and Productivity 

The best online team collaboration software has the potential to enhance communication and expand flexibility. But collaborative software isn’t just about creating a dynamic team setting; it also highlights individual skill sets and makes team members feel valued. With supported communication and better organization, your team can streamline workflows and free up resources for the most important tasks.

Not to mention, your company can take advantage of these benefits while also meeting a tighter budget—as a single software package can consolidate resources and streamline administration. Even though pricing is important, don’t get hung up on cheap prices. Instead, consider the best software package that will help you reach your goals faster, even as your team becomes more connected.

With Flow, you can improve your workflows and enhance communication between team members. A centralized platform will help you establish a firm foundation for success. Take advantage of our free trial offer today!

July 23, 2020

Productivity

Making Online Task Management Software Better—The All-in-One Solution

With more businesses embracing practices to help team members achieve work-life balance—and many embracing remote or distributed team models—the call for better tools was inevitable. Instituting task management tools that can be accessed online has been a lifesaver for teams that have had to shift how (and where) they work to also keep up with industry changes. The time has come for you to pick up online task management software to optimize your team’s workflow.

New tools, in-and-of-themselves, aren’t always enough to keep the day-to-day tasks running smoothly. Your software needs to offer other features to help keep your team organized and engaged. That’s what we’re highlighting here.

Optimize Workflow with More Than Organizational Tools

There is, of course, a bare minimum of features that your online task management software should provide. If it doesn’t help your team get and stay organized, there’s no point in using it. You’ll only waste money and compound existing problems with more disorganization—adding to the team’s stress. With any modern task management platform you should be able to:

  • Add files, photos, and links directly to a task workspace.
  • Assign, tag, or subscribe team members who need to have their hands—or eyes—on a task’s progression.
  • Create tags for due dates, project names, and team members to make prioritizing tasks easy for everyone on the team.
  • Schedule recurring tasks, whether for every Friday or once per quarter.
  • Divide tasks into subtasks to make the workload more manageable.

Assuming your software provides this baseline functionality, let’s look at other features that will make your team’s day-to-day experience even better.

Built-In Chat Function for Deepening Connection

There are a variety of tools that support communication in real-time, and many of them integrate well with task management software. But a built-in chat feature provides more ways to connect with team members and to exchange, record, and find task-related information. With an in-task chat option, critical details or updates can be discussed—and kept organized—in one place. Group chats allow wider teams to stay on track and to stay connected, and direct messaging allows for private and spontaneous conversations.

Additionally, if there is an advanced search option, you can find a spreadsheet or client referral in seconds—even if the link was dropped into a chat channel last month and has since gotten buried. By using @mentions, the right people receive notifications—meaning, you don’t have to bombard everyone with updates. So, a built-in chat function gives you more options for organizing tasks. At the same time, the opportunities for team members to connect also increase.

Full Range of Capabilities for Streamlining Projects

Because task workflows are usually part of a bigger client project, team goal, or company vision, your software tool should also act as a project management system. Having a full range of capabilities at your disposal does a couple of things. First, it keeps you from jumping from one tool to another by centralizing operations. This cuts down on costs, time, and frustration. Second, by streamlining access to tasks, projects, and conversations, all business activities become more visible and easier to manage. Imagine:

  • Tracking task and project progress easily from a calendar, from your dashboard, or by receiving personalized notifications.
  • Customizing your daily operations with Kanban boards, Gantt charts, or to-do lists.
  • Generating reports for your team, company, and clients. 
  • Integrating with other tools like Google Drive and Zapier.
  • Inviting client access to certain aspects of a project while maintaining online security.

This is just a snapshot of what an all-in-one solution can provide your company. So, it’s worth seeking out a platform that will help you streamline everything.

Intuitive Design for Encouraging Collaboration

The look and feel of software often get deemphasized—as if functionality were all that mattered. But design does matter—and not just to teams managing creative projects. If a platform is clunky, confusing to navigate, or takes a long time to learn, people will avoid using it whenever possible. Eventually, it’ll get abandoned all together.

The more intuitive a software solution’s design, the more your team will feel encouraged to learn and play around with it. If mastering the platform takes only a matter of minutes, that’s one more thing taken off your team’s plate—leaving extra brain space for collaboration. Don’t underestimate the power of online task management software that is as easy on the eyes as it is to operate. It’s important that your team feels at home in the software since they’ll be working with it all day—and since the height of their collaborative success depends on it.

Online Task Management Software That’s Designed to Engage

By broadening what you expect from online task management software, you expand what’s possible for your team to achieve. It sounds simple, maybe even unrealistically so. But the advantages of having all the necessary tools accessible from a workspace your team loves are worth the extra attention in this search. An all-in-one platform that serves all of your team’s needs in an enjoyable space is the ultimate goal.

And since the modern “office” is no longer just about getting more done faster, but also about engaging teams so that they can—and want to—do their best, there’s no reason to settle for less. Yes, optimizing workflows is important. Inspiring people to work together with a sense of purpose is next-level.

Flow isn’t just an online task management software. It’s an all-in-one platform designed to keep your team engaged and connected. Sign up to check out Flow for free, and help your team love what they do.

July 21, 2020
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