Online Task Management: Expectations vs. Reality

Sinan Hatahet

With the rapid and explosive evolution of the cloud, companies are increasingly replacing on-premise and archaic systems with online SaaS products, including online task managers. This transition has allowed many teams to cut their costs, increase their efficiency, and enhance collaboration among their ranks. Alas, technology alone is not enough to succeed, and it still comes with intrinsic limits that fail to replace the old traditional way of managing a business entirely. Indeed, with every useful and practical technology, there are challenges that you have to face to adapt and act accordingly. If you are considering entrusting your project management to an online tool, there are some issues that you should consider before making up your mind. Let’s find out some of these issues and the most common expectations from online task management tools.

Expectation: Better Communication 

Your employees will communicate and build strong relationships among themselves.

Reality Check: With the growing tendency to hold less frequent physical meetings, it becomes harder for them to build healthy relationships and to increase their attachment to the company. Such a setup might lower their motivation and intensify their feeling of isolation. Sure, the Internet has provided us with many awesome communication tools. Still, it also made it harder to hold in-depth discussions. Common practices shared experiences and bonding exercises are harder to build over bits and bytes. To achieve a high level of affinity at work, your team members need to connect over subjects other than work. Showing up to a video conference and putting faces next to names will never substitute a small chat over coffee or a lively but friendly discussion on which sports team is best. You would be surprised how many employees are willing to travel just to meet other colleagues and physically feel part of a broader, more tangible community. 

Online communication is not an easy art to master; in many cases, a simple and banal misunderstanding quickly escalates to full-frontal confrontation. Necessary verbal communication skills, such as conveying the right tone and body language, taking the time to choose the right word, or merely reading the general mood, are all obscured from online collaboration channels. In the long run, all this friction would affect the productivity of your employees, and would most certainly plumb their job satisfaction. 

Taking into consideration the apparent shortcoming of relying on online communication, management should always find new ways to enhance the relationship among their teams. These could include many tactics such as more frequent face to face meetings, restricting written communication to certain activities only, or just going out for a meal.  

Expectation: Life-Work Balance

With the help of project management tools, your employees will be able to balance their life with work.

Reality check: As internet connections grew faster and devices got smaller and more portable, the traditional workspace also became more mobile. Even though great for business, this mobility took all pre-existing boundaries between work life and personal life and destroyed it to shreds. Work-life balance is a tricky thing to achieve, and working from home can add substantial stress on your team. Unfortunately, collaboration tools will not help you accomplish this balance. You ultimately need to adopt a different philosophy that prevents employees from getting distracted while remaining productive and leading a healthy social life.  

When home becomes a place of work as well, the lines between the two can easily blur, and problems are abundant. From simple day-to-day distractions, household chores, and the ever-present issue of isolation, working from home is difficult. Decreasing distractions and maintaining motivation is a challenge, whether at the office or at home. Everyone’s definition of work-life balance is different. Still, there are a few basic rules you can follow to define it for yourself and your team.

To overcome these challenges, you have to establish a working system that ensures the productivity and the job satisfaction of your employees, tracks time, and effectively manages tasks. Allow your employees to set a schedule, communicate it, and share it with others, and help them stick to it. Institutionalize communication, define the right channel for each activity, and establish frequent pre-programmed meetings to discuss specific issues. Promote efficiency and assist your employees and teammates to focus on specific tasks, one item in time, multi-tasking is overrated and often distracting. 

Expectation: Promoting Cooperation Culture

You can easily create one work culture for all your employees.

Reality check: Building a cooperate culture in a remote team is generally perceived harder than a traditional workspace. However, remote work encourages management to look at this issue more seriously, as oppose to co-located teams where the expectation is that culture would naturally happen. Keith Cunningham in “The Road Less Stupid” describes work culture as the mindset you demand your team to embrace to get work done in perfection. It is much more than ping pong tables, or Sony PS consoles. Taking that in mind, building it online is the same as building it in the office, it is about clear objectives, strategy, and tools. 

A remote team needs to develop its personality through a collaborative environment. The easiest way to achieve this is through the careful choice of the day-to-day toolset. Ultimately, the most essential factor for success and great cooperate culture is achievement. There is no other way to measure results in a remote team. We inherently evaluate each other on what was completed over a period of time. Getting things done induces implicit trust among your teammates and shows them proof in hand that collaboration realizes greatness. 

In Workiom, we chose to handle all our marketing, sales, and product activity in one place only. In our tenant, we added all the tools we need to succeed collectively. This centralization allowed us to consolidate all our data and communication in one place where all actions are linked and synced to work together on achieving the same objectives.  Of course, in-person meetups are still essential, and getting all the team together for an outing event is very beneficial and helps everyone to each other more. 

Expectation: Accountability and Transparency

You will easily maintain the accountability of your employees

Reality check: Working with remote teams can allow for tremendous flexibility, but also opens the door for aloofness. One of the considerations to guarantee productivity and maintain a positive culture is transparency and accountability, so all the team works well together. Productivity can suffer when transparency is not present, and promoting a culture of reward and compensation is impossible to build without accountability. Ultimately, a working remote setup should allow team members to see what they and their co-workers are accomplishing.

Lots of helpful apps can help keep track of all team members’ contributions, comments, and questions, but they can only work if you convince your employees to use them. Create a habit for your employees to check in daily to your virtual workspace, and ask them to share all their ideas and issues. Also, insist on them to report their work output in a manner that is easy for all team members to access. Tracking progress is essential for any project, and making team members accountable for their work output keep team morale and productivity at high levels. This is precisely why Workiom holds a record of all changes made on your data, by whom and when, and also allows you to create progress and productivity reports.

Expectation: Data Security

Your company’s data will be secured.

Reality check: Whether running a traditional office or a remote work environment, your data is in danger if you do implement the proper procedures to protect it. There are many scenarios that your company could face, such as data leakage, workers stealing data, devices with sensitive data getting lost. In a remote workplace, there are three additional concerns you need to look out for: Home Wi-Fi Security, Phishing Scams, and Insecure Passwords. Needless to say, you should carry out virtual training for team members to educate them on what to do in the event of a cyber-attack and what potential risks they should watch out for, such as suspicious emails, malware, and other threats.

Insist on keeping sensitive work data on work computers. This, of course, goes opposed to mobility, but you still should be able to impose restrictions on sensitive data and to restrain access to them from unauthorized devices. Also, use only software than encrypt data communication. Workiom implements state-of-art security technology to protect your data from intrusion. It also enables the creation of different access rules to reflect your organizational structures.

In conclusion, your company can have access to all the benefits of remote working with the proper preparation and the right tools. It is quite essential to be fully aware of all the challenges that you will face before switching or establishing your mobile agency to be well prepared.

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