1. Disable notifications on whatever messaging tool you’re using
Now that your team is working remotely, if you were using a messaging app (Slack, Teams etc) beforehand then you’ll probably notice a small increase in activity. If you weren’t using these before and have just implemented one to help improve communication, then this tip is just as valuable.
It’s good to be responsive, but it’s also really hard to be productive when there are multiple notifications flashing up throughout the day. I’d recommend setting aside certain parts of the day to review these messages (first thing, lunch time, and before you finish).
If you’re using Slack you can turn on ‘do not disturb’. That way, if somebody messages you they’ll see that your notifications have been turned off. If it’s important, they can choose to push the message through to you anyway.
Be wary, one of the big downsides of these communication apps is that they create an “always-on” culture that is neither healthy nor productive. Encourage team members to disable notifications entirely in the evenings and weekends, especially if they have it installed on their phone. Here at Pixie we moved away from Slack to Basecamp for this exact reason.
2. Do a virtual daily stand-up
Communication is key when you’re managing a small remote team, and one of the best ways to improve communication (whilst also getting some face time and seeing all of your team members) is to run a virtual daily stand-up.
These can be run on Zoom, Google Hangouts, Teams - whatever your chosen video conferencing tool is. I’d recommend running them most morning’s, and the agenda is really straight forward. Each person takes it in turn to answer the following:
What did you work on yesterday?
What are you working on today?
Do you have any bottlenecks, challenges, issues, discussion points for the team?
By doing this you’ll improve your communication whilst also getting a good grasp of who is working on what (without looking over their digital shoulder).
3. You can still do regular social events with your team (but virtually)
When you’re in an office with people it’s easy to have a bit of downtime and just chat about non-work related things. On a Friday you might even go for some food or some drinks with them socially.
With a remote team, you don’t have this luxury, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do anything.
Here at Pixie every Friday afternoon at 5:30pm we have virtual Friday beers. It’s a chance for us all to jump on a video call, enjoy a drink and chat socially about different things. It’s perfect for keeping team morale up and people motivated.
As well as some of the more popular apps that everybody is talking about (Zoom, Teams, Slack, Calendly etc) I wanted to highlight 2 other apps which can be really helpful when managing a remote accounting team.
If you’re just moving to a remote team and allowing people to work-from-home for the first time, then keeping your finger on the pulse in terms of employee happiness and motivation is going to be key.
A great way to do that is by using apps like 15Five (there are alternatives such as Jell). 15Five allows you to check in with your team on a weekly basis to figure out how they’re doing, align them with any business objectives and also recognise their hard work.
Ok, time for a not-so-shameless plug. We really believe Pixie is the perfect practice management, CRM and workflow app for small and remote accounting teams.
You get full visibility of what tasks, jobs and clients your team are working on, as well as the ability to easily delegate more work to them if you choose.
See how easy it is to see what they’re working on below!
Here's another great user-case example. Let's say one of your team members is unwell, and you need to pick up a job from them. Instead of needing to access their emails to pick up the conversation they've been having with the client, you simply click onto the job or client record, and all incoming and outgoing emails from your team member to the client will be there for you to see. Our 2-way email sync and automatic email allocation means that this is happening 24/7 in Pixie.
When you first move to having a remote team with people working-from-home, it’s a big step into the unknown.
I completely understand the need to want to know the exact movements of all of your team members, but if I had one piece of advice for you it would be this…
Trust them to do the right thing. This is also going to be very new to them, and they’re going to be finding their feet. Don’t assume they will take advantage of the situation. Give them the freedom and space to get on with their work and do the job. You might just be surprised by the results (and maybe even want to make remote working more of a permanent fixture in the future…)
So there you have it, 3 tips, 2 apps and 1 golden piece of advice for managing a remote team in your accounting firm.
If you’ve got any questions, or want to share ideas, feel free to email me ‘celso at usepixie.com’.
P.S. If you haven’t read this book on remote teams, then it’s a great place to start!