The emergence of remote work has transformed the world of business, presenting both obstacles and prospects. Effective remote team management requires a distinct strategy, especially in monitoring time and productivity. In the realm of widespread remote teams, time tracking becomes crucial. It allows managers to supervise projects and ensure team responsibility effectively.
In this article, we will cover the most common challenges of remote employees' tracking and the best tips and common practices for the management of a remote team in Jira.
Challenges of Remote Teams Management
To build a comfortable and efficient remote work environment, you need to understand the main challenges of distributed teams' management to address them immediately and always stay on the same page with remote teams.
Let's observe some of the most common:
- Lack of visualization, inability to see the "big picture".
Remote teams often struggle with a lack of comprehensive visualization, making it difficult for members to grasp the overall scope or "big picture" of a project. Without the benefit of a shared physical space, visualizing project timelines, goals, and progress can become challenging, leading to misalignments and misunderstandings about project objectives and statuses.
- Communication issues: different time zones, absence of collaboration tools.
With remote teams, time zone differences can significantly hinder communication. Team members working across various parts of the world may find it difficult to synchronize their schedules for meetings, updates, and collaborative sessions. This can lead to delays in communication, challenges in real-time collaboration, and a slower decision-making process.
- Monitoring of remote workers' progress.
Keeping track of the progress of remote workers is another challenge. Without the traditional office environment's visibility, it's harder to monitor the pace and quality of work being done. This can lead to uncertainties about productivity levels and difficulties in ensuring that everyone is on track and meeting their deadlines.
- Workload balancing.
Balancing the workload in a remote team setting can be complex. Managers may find it challenging to assess how much work each team member can handle, leading to uneven distribution of tasks. This can result in some team members being overloaded while others are underutilized, affecting the overall efficiency and morale of the team.
- Building a strong team culture.
It can be problematic for the Project Managers to encourage team members who work from different locations. Without the organic interactions that occur in a physical office, creating a sense of unity and shared purpose requires deliberate and consistent efforts. Activities such as virtual team-building exercises, regular check-ins, and creating a platform for informal interactions become essential in developing a cohesive and supportive remote team culture.
Remote teams can overcome all these challenges with the right tools. Communication can be supported by instant messaging between team members with tools like Slack or similar. Video conferencing (virtual meetings) via Zoom, Google Meets, etc. strongly facilitates communication too.
Speaking about the "big picture" visualization of the work processes and team monitoring, many companies use a popular project management, task tracking, and team collaboration solution named Jira.
Collaboration of Remote Teams in Jira
Jira is a versatile tool designed for issue tracking, project management, and operational efficiency. It's widely used by teams to manage complex projects and track progress in real time. Jira stands out for its customizable workflows, real-time reporting, and collaboration features. These functionalities make it an ideal choice for remote teams, providing a centralized platform for all project-related activities.
This platform is popular among teams of different types ( business, creative, agile teams, etc.) and sizes, as it provides various project templates to any taste:
It offers planning project boards for both non-technical and software teams, where they can create, schedule, and assign tasks, as well as monitor their status:
In Jira, teams have an opportunity to log time on issues, track worked hours, and bill clients accurately:
The reporting section is also available.
Jira excels in various operational aspects, yet it sometimes falls short in resource planning capabilities that could enhance remote collaboration and work environments. One significant limitation is the inability to identify an individual's location, which can cause issues in establishing appropriate holiday schemes. This ambiguity can also lead to confusion over time zones, creating synchronization challenges and communication barriers.
However, Jira compensates for this by offering a wide range of add-ons for remote resource management, available in the Atlassian Marketplace. One of the popular tools is ActivityTimeline, that's proved to be an invaluable tool for remote work.
Let us reinforce this opinion with examples in the next paragraphs.
Manage Remote Team Members with ActivityTimeline
ActivityTimeline serves as an effective resource planning add-on for Jira, designed to facilitate the planning, tracking, and reporting of resources, issues, and projects. This tool is particularly useful for managing remote teams, offering clarity on task assignments and deadlines, thereby ensuring that all team members are aligned and informed.
Its planning dashboard offers excellent visualization capabilities through the use of timelines, enhancing overall project management and team coordination.
ActivityTimeline tool additionally provides:
- An Individual Workspace for each team member;
- Customizable Team Timesheets for accurate invoicing;
- Reports and Charts for advanced data analysis.
Comprehensive Planning Board
ActivityTimeline's Planning Dashboard allows project managers to monitor team progress in real-time, and at the same time helps team members coordinate their efforts, stay on the same level, and keep track of their tasks. This visibility helps identify delays or issues early on, enabling timely intervention and course correction.
The dashboard looks like a calendar with tasks for multiple teams and projects, so you users can plan and manage tasks for different scopes:
User & Team Timelines
The app provides captivating visuals, including timelines for both teams and individuals. These features are instrumental in efficiently overseeing and managing project tasks and significant milestones.
Each user has a timeline with his/her tasks. Moreover because of the special feature - Team Panel, each team also has its own timeline with tasks assigned only to a team, without mentioning separate users, which is very useful while working with long-term tasks, features, or program increments:
Positions and Skills
Moreover, you can assign roles, responsibilities, and skills in the app, which is quite helpful if you have remote employees. It's very easy to find the needed person to complete the task with the help of the skills and positions:
You can also create various functional teams based on roles and skills, or create teams based on their location, everything is a breathe:
Manage Workload & Availability
Workload balancing is not a problem when you manage resources with ActivityTimeline. Each user and team timeline has special Workload Indicators that help to see the actual workload and prevent burnout or work underload. If the indicator is green the workload is okay, if yellow - the user or team is underloaded, red-overloaded. Based on this information Project Manager can reassign or reschedule tasks to avoid deviation:
There is a possibility to track the utilization of your team with the help of the Resource Utilization Report:
Availability mode is also available, so workload indicators can be changed to show the user availability if needed. Workload and availability tracking help immensely with resource allocation.
Leave Management Features
Additionally, the application's dashboard includes features for managing holidays, allowing for effective planning and management of team availability and workloads. The app encompasses a variety of custom events, facilitating the management of days off, sick leaves, and holidays.
Users can create holiday schemes and allocate them to both teams and individual users, which is very needed when you manage international teams.
Furthermore, it offers the flexibility to create personalized events, such as meetings and business trips.
Personal Workspace for Each Employee
This application provides each team member with a unique personal workspace. In this space, users can view their work schedules, which display various tasks and projects. Through a personal timeline, team members can manage and track tasks, set deadlines, check progress, and prioritize their work according to individual preferences. It also shows how busy they are or how open their schedule is during a specific period. Additionally, users have the option to log their worked hours, differentiating between billable and non-billable time, directly from their workspace.
How to Track the Time of Remote Employees?
ActivityTimeline enables employees to log hours using its array of tailor-made timesheet templates. You can select the desired values, teams, users, and projects, making use of pre-existing templates or crafting your custom timesheets.
These timesheets provide in-depth insights into how time is allocated across various tasks, giving project managers the ability to spot potential overwork or underuse in resource distribution. With the provision of comprehensive timesheet reports, project managers can examine time entries at both the individual and team levels, aiding in accurate financial assessments, client billing, and invoicing processes.
Report on Distributed Teams
Beyond timesheets, the app provides a multitude of reports and charts for resources and projects.
Users can report on various data, including capacity and resource distribution, bookmark reports, and export them like an Excel file effortlessly.
In the era of digital transformation, managing a remote team has become a norm rather than an exception. Virtual teams are very common and more companies have started accepting remote or part-remote forms of collaboration with pleasure.
With the advent and development of collaboration tools, distance became nothing and the overall working experience became more comfortable for employees, as they can save much of their time and work from any spot of the world effortlessly. With professional tools like Jira, ActivityTimeline, Zoom, and others, companies working remotely can keep tabs on every process, stay in touch, gain success, and enjoy their online workplace.