Regent Branding has been a remote agency from its inception – we wanted to always ensure the best talent was available to join our team, in a remote and flexible way. This approach has led to us winning awards and creating some truly amazing work for clients. But managing this ever growing team has been a challenge. Here are 7 tools we use to effectively manage a fully remote workforce:
1. WhatsApp Business
It’s very easy when working with an international team to give them your number for regular correspondence, but this can quickly lead to an unhealthy muddle of work and personal time. We use WhatsApp Business to catch up regularly, whether that’s about deadlines, quick questions about products we’re cooking up or just having a casual chat. WhatsApp business can be set up with your landline work number, meaning you don’t need two different devices or mobile numbers for this to work. It’s free, and also a great way to communicate with clients, as your official business account will always trump your personal number being on display to the world!
This is a brilliant tool for project management, whether it’s a small sprint or a much larger endeavour. Trello works on ‘boards’, where everything can be kept in the right place, with real-time updates from your team members, who can comment, share and update cards. It’s very simple to learn and comes with a dedicated mobile offering, which is refreshingly smooth to use compared to the competition.
Trello helps Regent Branding ensure everyone is accountable for the tasks they need to do, and can ask for support whenever needed, as everything on a project board is visible by people invited to that board. It’s also super satisfying when the final card is moved to the ‘done’ column and a project is ready to be shipped!
3. Google Suite
This one is critical to how we function, and for good reason. The Google suite of products includes Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Drive and Hangouts. It’s the perfect place to collaborate on documents and ensure everyone has one single source of information. The arduous issue of attaching documents to email threads is also solved, as you can just share a link which takes someone to whichever document you want to share. Each edit is tracked in the revision history settings, meaning if someone does make an error, you can always revert to an earlier iteration of the document.
What’s more, GSuite also includes Chrome, meaning Regents can log into their ‘work chrome’ at the beginning of the day, save all their necessary passwords through their work profile, and then log out at the end of the day to revert back to their personal chrome. This prevents passwords and sensitive information sitting on someone’s personal profile – everything is centralised under the Regent master profile and kept secured at all times.
Notion is a great tool for keeping track of to-do lists, making kanban style boards and sharing content in a seamless and simple way. We use Notion when sketching out ideas for clients, with everyone working on a shared workspace contributing cool new avenues we could consider. Notion recently made their personal account free, so if anyone wants to organise their life in a better way and improve their accountability, this is the tool to go for. For businesses, it’s perfect for sharing content, making quick boards to flesh out ideas and handle multi-layered projects, as you can nest pages within a core project very easily.
Getting staff paid on time is crucial when running a totally remote agency. Before, there were a myriad of options such as PayPal, Payoneer and WesternUnion, all of which had their own exchange rate and transaction fees, which was a nightmare when keeping costs uniform across countries.
With Transferwise, you have one powerful business account, which is truly borderless. You can hold money in foreign currencies in your own national accounts, meaning your 1 Transferwise account has child bank accounts across the world in an instant. Sending money is a breeze with a great user experience on the web and in the mobile app too, with money arriving within mere moments at amazing rates that are unmatched by its competitors. Most payments are done via our business Transferwise account, and Regents are saved as preferred payees in the portal, making payments seamless and pain-free.
Communication is vital when running a remote workforce, as messages can sometimes get lost in translation. With Zoom or Skype, you can schedule free video meetings and ensure everyone is clear about what their goals are for the day. Between the two, Zoom is the more capable platform, with the ability to smoothly add numerous people to the call and share the meeting with just 1 simple link, whereas on Skype you have to add someone to your contacts list to talk to them. This traditional method was great a few years ago, but nowadays so many conversations are catch ups with people you may not speak to again for a few months, which makes having their profile in your Skype list somewhat uncomfortable. Zoom circumnavigates this issue elegantly, and in a COVID-19 world, has become the firm favourite for businesses worldwide looking to communicate with their workforce.
Ensuring an hour worked is an hour paid is crucial when working with freelancers who rely on Regent Branding as a source of income. For many projects, small overages can get overlooked, especially if a bug or tweak takes 10-15 minutes to do. However, add up the 10-minute tasks and over the month it can amount to quite a chunk of time! Clockify is a time tracking piece of software that allows the workforce to track their tasks, add in the time they worked on it and add any notes about the work they’ve done. It’s all cloud-based, meaning the business owner can then login, check how many hours have been worked for the week or month, and ensure everyone is paid appropriately.
It’s simple to add a team member and they can leave it running in the background while they crack on with project work. Crucially though, Clockify does NOT record their screen or spy on them. This is totally against the ethics of Regent Branding, where we believe a staff member should feel empowered, trusted and respected to get their work done, without constant oversight or micro-managing.
So there we have it, 7 crucial tools that keep Regent Branding ticking along everyday. Given the current circumstances, we’re using these tools more than ever, and have even onboarded clients to them too, as face-to-face meetings are a thing of the past for now. There are thousands of tools out there, but our main goal is to align ourselves with tools that empower, respect and simplify people and processes in the business, making the Regent Branding machine a more efficient and effective experience for clients and staff members alike.