How we make remote work work for us
March 18, 2020
At bellette, we are BIG advocates for online systems and cloud-based solutions. We’re all the way on board with enabling our workplace to thrive in remote working arrangements.
Why do we believe in remote work so strongly? Because, and we’re sure many of you can attest, it can be really hard to find and retain good staff in the NT - this transient location is full of ups and downs in the workplace. We have found that by being flexible with our working arrangements, catering to the needs of our team, everyone can find an advantage. For us it means we get to build on the strengths of our team, they are not restricted by location or circumstance. Everyone’s happy!
We have spent the last number of years finessing our systems and software integrations to optimise our remote working experience. It’s proven to be one of the best moves we’ve made for our team. As it turns out, when all information is centralised and accessible to your whole team all the time, it also eliminates bottlenecks and helps projects to run seamlessly regardless of any emergencies that may arise.
If you’ve been testing the waters of remote work, or if you’re thinking about working it out for your team, we can help. Here is a bit of a list of some of our core software (all cloud-based) that we use to keep everything running at utmost efficiency.
We use Slack for all our internal communications. It’s an instant messaging software that allows for direct messaging between our team members as well as designated channels for projects. It keeps all conversations about certain topics or projects in the same place, it’s searchable AND it’s fun (hands in the air for GIFs am I right?)
With Slack you can also make video calls, share your screen (you can make marks where you want to talk about), you can also bring in other integrated apps to allow you to create polls, play rock, paper, scissors and all kinds of other fun interactive things!
Slack is great for when you need to get an answer from someone straight away or bring everyone in for a focussed group chat on a topic. It’s also great for having random chats with your team members who aren’t in the office, making them feel less isolated and keeping them in the loop of office goss.
We’ll explain Podio a bit more when we talk about our project management software. But in terms of communication, this is where we put all project related info. We paste all relevant emails into here and communicate what needs to be done for a project to progress. Keeping all this communication in one place means that if someone is away sick, another person can jump into the project and see ALL the information regarding where it’s at. They can answer any questions and they can continue on with the project from where it was left if needed.
We’re sure we don’t really need to tell you what Gmail is (it’s emails). Internally, we use Gmail for not-so-urgent information, more formal communication or things that require a considered response. Externally, we use it for organised communication with our clients, paper trails, formal comms etc. You know, emails.
For project management
Everyone, meet Podio - our go to for all project organisation/management. Podio is our filing cabinet, our communications archive, a central location for every single thing to do with a project. Here is where we input the creative brief for a project, we add the team who will work on it, the contact details of the main client contact, link all materials and work in progress. There is an ongoing comments thread where we communicate about each task that needs to be completed, add in any updates from the client and bring together creative ideas.
Podio is huge, there are so many integrations and ways that you can tailor this software to suit your exact needs, it could be a whole other blog post. But we’ll leave it here with the main features we use it for. If it does sound like something that would be good for you, you can always drop us a line and we’ll tell you every other thing it can do.
For file sharing/storing
Over the last couple of years, we have been in the process of moving all our project work to Google Drive. At first, we cautiously tested the system as they brought in their ‘Shared Drive’ feature, which allows whole teams to access the same files, it’s basically a server. Increasingly we have been moving our practices from our physical server to the cloud-based Drive. This one thing is probably the most major step forward in harmonising remote work. Our team can access everything they need just by logging in (with a few extra security precautions). Combined with Google File Stream, there is no lag, no having to download and reupload files, there is version control and easy document collaboration. We LOVE Google Drive.
With different levels of admin and team member access you can also make some top level folders invisible to other team members, meaning you can have your management files in the one place too without any worries of confidentiality breaches.
Many of you will have already come into contact with Wipster if you’ve worked on a project with us. Wipster is our review software. Through it we send design concepts, videos, pdfs and audio clips for our clients to review. We love it because people are able to click and comment exactly where they want a change made, that comment then converts into a to-do list for the creative working on the project. They work through that list, upload a new version and send it back through for review, a record is kept of previous versions and comments made and the project moves forward without having to wait for downloads, scans and meetings to get their changes through. It also has a nice big green ‘Approve’ button for our clients to hit when they’re ready to approve the final product which is oh-so-satisfying for all involved.
For the money side of things
Harvest is where we create quotes and invoices, it’s also where we log our time and track the budgets for projects. It links to Podio, our project management software, so that all this information is easily accessible by the team. Harvest is great for keeping track of the money stuff.
When we send a quote, it comes with a big green button for you to click accept. We don’t start work until that button is clicked. It keeps both us and our clients accountable for what we’ve agreed to.
Similarly with invoices, our clients can pay straight from the invoice we’ve sent (through Harvest). Stripe integration allows seamless and accountable payments, providing us both with a record of the transaction. Invoices are built directly from the time that each team member has logged on the project, we keep our time logs as detailed as possible so that the process we’ve gone through and time we’ve spent on a project is clear to the client on the invoice.
The time logging and budget tracking features is what our whole team uses every single day. As we log time against a project it comes off the project budget in a very clear graph and list format. When we’ve got a task to complete, we quickly jump in and check how much time we have to do it before we proceed.
Xero is a software that many will have heard of already. It makes accounting easy. It’s used for payroll, expenses, tax, and all other accounting related tasks. It’s a lifesaver and gets rid of a TONNE of paperwork and double handling.
These are the off-the-shelf products that we have chosen for our business that work well for us. Different software may work better for you. At the end of the day, being able to work efficiently with your team spread across different locations comes down to how well you are able to communicate and collaborate. Good communication not only helps with workplace efficiency, it also helps your remote working team members feel connected, reducing the isolation that comes with working from home which is also important for mental health.
In an age where remote work arrangements are becoming more and more common, it doesn’t hurt to start putting systems in place to be able to accomodate this. Really, flexible work arrangements can only mean positive things all round.
Well, if you’ve made it this far it probably means you are in fact interested in how to make remote work work for your business. We’ve had to be quite restrained in this rundown, really we could talk about this stuff all day. If you want to chat more about it though, we’re happy to. Furthermore, if you want to put some of it into action, our sister company HutSix can help set everything up for you so that it’s perfectly suited to your team and processes.