The number of Americans working remotely grew from 20 percent in March of 2020 to more than 70 percent a year later. While studies have found that some companies experienced increases in productivity during this period, the sudden shift to a work-from-home (WFH) model was challenging for many others. Managers with little or no experience in leading remotely suddenly found themselves wondering how their teams were spending their days. Without face-to-face contact, accountability seemed nearly impossible for many organizations.
According to Tzur Gabi, Co-Founder of Caligenix, “People’s efficiency during WFH very much differs from person-to-person and can’t be evaluated in a blanket statement. Some workers thrive from being in their own space without distractions from coworkers or the pressures of commuting; others find WFH isolating and have many additional stressors around the home.”
For many organizations, success could be attributed to having effective business management software in place when they made the shift to working remotely. The tools provided by a management system encourage accountability and open communication, two essential requirements for a successful WFH workforce.
Benefits of Business Management Software
The best management systems provide a set of integrated online tools that help organizations align business goals with resource management. They also help measure productivity. When used correctly, these tools empower managers and team members to improve workflow processes. Effective business management software holds everyone accountable for their commitments by providing well-defined performance metrics that can be used to ensure that performance reviews are equitable.
There are a variety of free software tools available from Google and other vendors that perform many of the functions of a business management system, including tasks scheduling, team communication, and file sharing. However, using individual tools instead of an integrated system for business management is difficult, and the features provided by free software may be too limited as an organization grows. Separate tools typically require more support and training than all-in-one management software, which can be a problem for remote teams.
One of the most important features of an effective business management system is a high level of transparency for project tasks and milestones as well as individual goals. In addition to allowing team leaders to measure team progress, effective systems allow team members to view their teammates’ contributions. Remote teams benefit from this kind of transparency because it helps maintain their sense of purpose. Working from home can feel like working in a vacuum without a clear sense of where your work fits into the bigger picture. When a team’s goals and assignments are transparent, everyone can be held accountable for their role in achieving those goals.
A high level of transparency is possible when information is shared within and across teams. The best business management software promotes this kind of sharing by providing cloud storage for file uploads and allowing anyone on the team to access them over the internet. Without this capability, team members can become unmotivated because they don’t have insight into the value of their contribution.
In the words of leadership authority Stephen Covey, “Accountability breeds response-ability.” This quote reflects the interdependence between commitment and clear communication. Individual accountability requires communication of information about task assignments and completion dates. A good business management system supports this type of communication and allows consistent follow-up to be built into the process. Without follow-up, conflicts and confusion may arise–especially for remote team members.
Working from home requires even higher levels of communication than an in-person workplace. Through email and messaging tools, a business management system can integrate communication for remote team members who often need extra support for getting questions answered. A messaging app that keeps teams connected throughout the day facilitates quick chats that can increase productivity. When leaders encourage this type of open communication, they can help remote workers manage loneliness and isolation.
Workforce efficiency depends on managers and team members being held accountable for their commitments. Building accountability in every project fosters transparency about the utilization of time and resources. In the long run, it supports more precise estimates for planning and resource allocation. Workloads can be more evenly distributed among team members, increasing the chances that deadlines will be met.
Accountability depends on measurement. Tasks that have measurable results, deadlines and are followed up with status updates have a far greater chance of being completed. Using effective business management software is key to establishing the who, what, and when of work that needs to be done and holding both team leaders and team members accountable.
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