Tools for Distributed Teams: What You Need to Collaborate and Be ProductiveThe Flow TeamLast Updated: January 7, 2021
Have you ever had a close friend move away? You promise to stay in contact, but eventually it becomes more and more difficult. Maybe you still touch base on occasion, but your relationship has likely fundamentally changed. Similarly, this is a challenge that’s often faced in the workplace as well. Although distributed teams have been around for years, they often come with the price of disconnection if they don’t have the right tools in place to keep collaboration thriving, even at a distance.
When you have a project that involves multiple contributors disbursed in various locations across the country or globe, you must find a way to connect proactively with your team. Fortunately, modern project management tools for distributed teams are feature-rich, dynamic, and intuitive solutions for resolving challenges that could otherwise cause rifts in communication or productivity.
What Do Distributed Teams Need to Be Productive?
Tools for distributed teams are especially helpful in agile project management. With multiple distributed teams spread across various geographies and timezones, there are more dynamics to address than ever before. Teams with incredible diversity, a huge spectrum of virtual work environments, and the challenge of coordinating work across time zones all mean that today’s distributed teams have a whole lot going on.
Communicating asynchronously is critical and works in any agile development model. From face-to-face meetings to remote communication, there are tools and ways to get around common bottlenecks so team members don’t have to be physically located in your office.
Key Tools for Distributed Teams
- An Intuitive activity dashboard that is modern, fresh, and enables teams to integrate, collaborate, and communicate together online from any location.
- Task management features that keep your team organized and on track by allowing team members to assign tasks, add followers, incorporate due dates, and even include reminders for upcoming project deadlines. You can also:
- Create to-do lists for teams and individuals offering a simple, standardized way to check off project lists.
- Set recurring tasks that can be easily repeatable for projects.
- File-sharing capabilities that allow members to attach documents, add comments, and include spreadsheets from one single location. They can also take advantage of:
- Storage application integration with systems like Dropbox.
- Collaborative document sharing through integrated programs like GSuite, Google Docs, and Dropbox Paper.
- Timeline and calendar views enable teams to work together across a project to balance workloads. This includes:
- Project schedule view for easily dragging and dropping tasks when building out a project plan based on a precise timeline.
- Workload tab for viewing and filtering tasks by individual, team, or project so that you can examine how multiple workloads are aligning.
- Built-in group, project, and direct chat options. Many project management tools integrate remote messaging apps, but most do not offer built-in messaging directly as part of a collaborative software tool.
- Mute functionality. When you and your team members are working on short timelines, it’s important to be able to mute all notifications so the team can focus on the project at hand.
- Department-specific functionality. For example, HR options like Lattice can be integrated for hiring, conducting employee reviews and recognition, as well as storing personal information. Other options like BambooHR can be used for managing vacation and time off.
By using the right collaborative workspace solution for all of your distributed teams, you can bring your project members up to speed more easily and quickly so that no one gets caught in communication bottlenecks.
Tips for Distributed Team Collaboration and Productivity
Aided by a powerful task management system and great management fundamentals, a distributed team model can operate just as well as if your entire team was working from a single office. To get started, consider the following:
- Maintain flexible working hours.
- Use an agile approach for connecting project teams.
- Encourage connection and collaboration by setting up virtual social hours and celebrating milestones.
- Choose a system with multiple workflow options to support distributed team members’ unique work styles.
- Ensure calendar integration and the ability to display project timelines by team, individual, or project.
- Incorporate a system with a wide range of app integration tools like Dropbox, Harvest, and Zapier.
Since the importance of remote and distributed teams has grown significantly in the workforce, especially over the last few years, it’s more critical than ever to meaningfully engage day-to-day on projects. If you have a project involving many contributors, working in different time zones, and connecting from different locations, you need the right systems in place to reach your project goals.
Implementing the Best Distributed Team Project Management System
Most teams today have some form of a distributed workforce, and it’s more important than ever to bring together your in-person, remote, and distributed teams across your company to engage effectively. Tools that rely less on interdependencies and more on team collaboration will out-produce disconnected systems every time.
With its intuitive platform, Flow supports teams in adjusting to the new reality of distributed and remote work. With many distinctive features, integrations, tips, and techniques, Flow will ensure that your team never loses touch.
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