Before the COVID-19 outbreak, remote working constituted only a small percentage of the global workforce. Post pandemic, it has become the primary mode of working for most of the organizations.
But for those who’ve traditionally been working from an office, the move to a remote model is unfathomable. With Office desktops, data residing on-premises, and employees who’re used to office culture, defining how these organizations operate, especially for companies in engineering or financial sectors, implementing a remote work environment is hard work!
Remote working challenges
Remote work may be demanding and challenging to set up. Although organizations have set up remote work environments quickly in the time of a crisis, there are several challenges organizations face, especially when it comes to tracking progress.
• Marketing professionals who are used to a bustling and exciting office life find it extremely difficult to cope with a remote work environment. Common challenges include tracking productivity, measuring time efficiency, and ensuring quality.
• HR departments who are normally interviewing candidates in person, encouraging, and empowering employees are also getting greatly impacted by the work-from-home model. Conducting virtual interviews, virtual on-boarding, setting up ramp-up programs, enabling remote communication, ensuring employee engagement, and providing training is not easy.
• Software engineering teams, accustomed to brainstorming sessions with peers in meeting rooms, also have a lot to contend with in a remote work environment. Remote setups which lack proper tools and process may come in the way of optimum output, communication, collaboration, and task management. Project managers struggle to get a comprehensive view of the status of assigned tasks.
• Customer support executives also don’t have it easy in a remote work environment. They need tools and systems to address and keep track of the increased support requests from stressed customers. They need systems to help them seamlessly communicate with other departments and get a 360-degree view of the customer.
Why tracking is important
As remote working becomes a way of life, organizations need to get ready for this new operating model. In addition to setting up the right processes, investing in the right tools, and ensuring seamless real-time communication, organizations also have to enable and ensure the right tracking mechanisms.
Using tools like Jira and Confluence, organizations can enable efficient and continuous tracking and ensure:
• Schedule adherence: Since the lines between personal and professional lives get extremely blurred in a work-from-home model, tracking tools can monitor employee adherence to schedules – so they can meet their individual and company goals quickly and efficiently.
• Time efficiency: Several distractions at home can make managing time in a remote work environment challenging. With tracking, organizations can follow how employees are managing their time and how they can improve their time efficiency, so tasks can be completed sooner.
• Resource utilization: With every team member working from home, monitoring the progress of projects across resource utilization, milestones, deliveries, and roadblocks can be a Herculean task. Tracking tools can provide insight into how resources have been allocated and their utilization rate – to optimize resource utilization.
• High quality: Quality levels also tend to get impacted in a remote work environment, but not when the right tracking tools are used. Using tracking, QA managers can constantly monitor the quality of the product under development, empowering the team to fix issues as soon as they are detected.
• High productivity: Tracking can also help ensure higher productivity of geographically dispersed teams. Using modern tools, organizations can assess the employee productivity while proactively taking action when productivity levels drop.
Using Atlassian cloud-based tools to enable tracking
Cloud-based tracking tools pave the way for efficient monitoring of projects in real-time, enabling maximum resource utilization while ensuring that software products are delivered in time.
These tools are typically easy to set up, easy to get started with, are reliable and secure, and ideal for tracking the productivity of cross-functional decentralized remote teams. They are perfect to meet the growing demands of businesses while making it easier to manage projects and deadlines because they are easily scalable.
Here are some cloud-based tools in the Atlassian ecosystem to enable tracking in a remote work environment:
• Schedule adherence: For remote working teams, schedules can easily be tracked using cloud-based tools like Jira. Jira is a useful tool for business function teams like Marketing, Accounts and HR and not just for software teams. Features such as Sprints and Boards empower teams to commit to performing (or solving) a certain set of tasks (or issues) while constantly working towards building a working product increment. In addition, reports such as Sprint Reports (to view a list of tasks in a sprint as well as their status at the end of the sprint), Velocity Charts (to understand the amount of value delivered in each sprint) and Burn Down Charts (to get graphical insight into outstanding work) help track estimated and actual work done. Project managers can also use plugins like Big Picture Gantt charts to track schedules and interdependencies, check critical paths, and increase efficiency.
• Time tracking: Jira extensions like Tempo Timesheets offer managers the insight they need into the time being spent by teams on different tasks across the project lifecycle. Offering reliable reports on productivity, billing, and accounting, the plugin helps create automated reports for easy tracking and timesheet approvals. Using Tempo, managers can analyze work performed across the business, manage time tracking for billing purposes, and leverage powerful reporting capabilities to see where time is spent and improve efficiencies. Work Time Calendar for Jira is another plugin that is perfect for planning project activities and tracking time spent by individual team members across different activities. Using Work Time Calendar, managers can plan for work activities, create customizable daily, weekly, or monthly reports, and use appropriate time formats to visualize time spent across different projects.
• Resource Utilization: Atlassian tools such as Big Picture can be a great asset to project managers for tracking and managing resource utilization. Offering cutting-edge Gantt charts, Big Picture can be used to create, organize, and manage tasks, allocate them to resources, build project roadmaps, and manage resources across the project lifecycle. Portfolio for Jira is another tool that can help managers in resource utilization. Regardless of how many people or how many teams need to be managed, Portfolio provides end-to-end visibility into resource utilization, fueling realistic strategic planning.
• Quality Monitoring: When it comes to maintaining quality in a remote work environment, tools like Zephyr can allow project managers to enable and ensure continuous testing. Offering a starting point for roadmap planning, it provides a suite of tools that allow managers to learn action items to implement and metrics to measure quality levels. Using Zephyr, managers can optimize speed and quality of software testing, while achieving the flexibility, visibility, and insights they need to achieve Continuous Testing Agility.
• Productivity Tracking: Tools like Jira can also be used to track resource productivity. Offering an array of reports such as Cumulative Flow Charts and Control Charts, Jira can highlight bottlenecks in the project, provide insight into lead and cycle time, and list items that are in progress. Such details can help understand the overall health of projects and ensure the success and smooth operations of remote working teams.
With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of a slowdown, organizations need to prepare for a work-from-home model.
Cloud-based tracking tools are what organizations need to maintain the productivity and efficiency of remote working teams and deliver high-quality applications.