The year 2020 brought way too many new and unexpected trends. One of the biggest trends so far has been this major shift from office work to remote work.
Even now, when strict quarantine restrictions have been lifted in many countries, millions of people still have to work remotely. Thousands of companies that have never had their staff working remotely before are now faced with the task of managing their employees and processes on a remote basis.
Tough task? Undoubtedly, yes. Unsolvable? Hardly so. There is plenty of digital software and tools for remote work to choose from but, to our best knowledge, there hasn’t been a tool that could enable a whole company to switch from office to remote work within mere days and ensure the same productivity and reliable internal communications. That is if you don’t count Bitrix24.
Even though COVID-19 was not exactly what we had in mind when we first developed Bitrix24 back in 2012, it turned out surprisingly (for some, maybe, but not for us) great in helping businesses around the world to deal with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
How exactly? Well, this requires a bit of a backstory. In its original form, Bitrix24 is a multi-component online collaboration suite featuring 30+ tools for marketing, sales, project management, and communication.
Available as an in-browser version, desktop app, or mobile app, Bitrix24 is essentially an online workspace for you and your employees. And it takes little to no time to set up - create your free account using just an email and invite your team members to start collaborating.
Here’s a quick overview of Bitrix24 explaining how this seemingly overwhelming myriad of tools and possibilities manages to work together like a well-oiled, tight machine. Meanwhile, we’ll return to our main topic - remote work in the times of the COVID-19 crisis.
Back to the COVID-19 and the challenges it brought for millions of businesses, large and small around the world that had to switch to remote work. Based on the feedback we received from our clients and our own experience (yep, our team of 400+ people had to switch to remote work too), we have been able to identify the following challenges:
· Communication is all over the place
What used to be brief conference-room meetings where everyone could exchange their opinions, come to a conclusion and move on with their work turned into a huge mess where employees and departments use different tools to communicate with each other online and share work-related files.
· Disrupted workflows
Lack of proper communication led to disrupted workflows where employees and teams started losing some of their tasks and while managers are desperately trying to bring some order to this chaos.
· Productivity is decreasing
For some people, being in the office means following strict rules and having some sort of discipline. All that goes out the window when they switch to working from home - no one’s really watching over your back or tracking your working hours so the temptation to slack off is at an all-time high.
· Efficient project management has become a nightmare
When the luxury of face-to-face communication is gone and suddenly no one’s really responsible for anything, a lot of project managers are having a hard time coordinating the efforts of their team members online.
· Decreasing sales
This is especially true for small shops, restaurants, and cafes. Due to the quarantine restrictions, many of them had to close down or switch to takeout only. The only feasible option for these small businesses now is to compensate for the lack of offline business with online sales.
These are the challenges that need to be faced. Facing them means, among other things, transferring all of the company’s communications, workflows, business processes, meetings, and tasks from offline into online. That’s when Bitrix24 comes in.
Of all the tools and modules that comprise Bitrix24, these are the ones that are quintessential to the success and productivity of your company’s remote work:
· Tasks and project management
· Online communication
· Online sales and marketing
· Employee management
· Unified workspace
Let’s take a closer look at these tools and see how they can help your company to organize more efficient and productive remote work.
Since Bitrix24 was originally conceived as a project management tool, this is where it really shines. Plenty of project management methodologies are at your disposal - Kanban, Agile, Scrum, classic waterfall, and more. All built in, integrated, and ready to be used right from the get-go.
Project management in Bitrix24 is based on something we call workgroups. “Workgroup” is essentially a virtual department or team consisting of several people (users), each with their own role, position, and access rights.
When planning a project, you as the manager, have to assign tasks to the users in your workgroup. Each task has such properties as:
· name + description
· responsible person
· automation settings
The latter is particularly interesting since you can create both standalone tasks or repeat tasks based on task templates with customizable automation settings (to save time when you’re dealing with a lot of similar tasks on a regular basis).
You, as the task creator and the manager, will be notified once the task is completed and get a chance to accept or decline it.
Tasks can also have optional properties like “observers” (who do not participate in the task directly, just overseeing the activity) and “participants” (who assist the responsible person in completing the task).
If there’s a matter to be discussed, you can easily do it by writing comments right under a task. If you have to deal with hundreds of tasks every day, you can easily navigate them by adding custom tags to each task and searching by these tags.
Once you assembled a workgroup and had the users in it working on your project, you can kick back and relax. The progress will be shown on the Gantt chart or Kanban board where you can see if the project is moving along nicely according to the schedule.
Communication and human interaction are what people miss the most while working from home. Bitrix24 solves this problem by offering you effective tools for online communication and collaboration. We’ve got:
· HD video calls and conferencing
A must-have tool for remote work. Unlike some other videoconferencing services, we do not have any time limit for our calls, which means you can speak as long as you need to. You can hold online meetings with up to 24 participants or simply have quick one-on-one calls.
That’s not to mention the more or less standard options like sending files and sharing your screen to show images and presentations during calls. All of our calls are encrypted to protect so there’s no need to worry about extra protection.
A format that’s familiar to everyone, our chats will allow your employees to discuss work-related issues, share files, or simply enjoy a casual conversation.
· The Activity Stream
Think of it as a social network feed for your company where everyone can see only the relevant information related to this particular person’s involvement with the project.
You can post and read articles, upload and watch videos, comment on various posts and give them your likes. This allows for easier communication and better engagement in the social life of the company on your employees’ part.
A really cool feature we have introduced recently is video announcements - a nice way to update your employee on what’s going on or simply share some exciting news.
That’s where Bitrix24 gets really interesting. Many would recognize us for our CRM, which is, in fact, a top-10 CRM in the world by the sheer number of users and we are indeed proud of that. Here is a detailed video talking about Bitrix24 CRM.
But how exactly can a CRM system help if it can’t sell? Well, our CRM can. Using Bitrix24, you can sell products and services online directly to the contacts from your CRM - no other equipment or software required.
This could prove really useful for the shops or cafes that had to close down due to the COVID-19 restrictions and cannot work in the “brick-and-mortar” format anymore. Switching to remote sales online may open up a steady stream of revenue.
The way it works is like this - you hook up one or several payment methods to your CRM (credit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, etc.). Then, after receiving an order from your customer, you have to go through 3 easy steps:
· Create an order page and generate a customer link to that page
· Send the link to your customer via SMS, receive the payment, and send the receipt
· Organize the delivery by choosing from one of our options or adding yours
The beauty of this process is in its simplicity - the whole thing can be tracked in real-time on your screen.
Managing your employees remotely is much easier when everyone can start, pause, and finish their working day using an online time clock, which we happen to have in Bitrix24.
The data from the time clock is crucial for both company’s management and the accounting department. Managers get a tool that allows them to synchronize the beginning and end of the working day. The accounting department gets the correct working hours that can be later used for wage calculation - all done automatically once it’s been properly set up.
Employees, on the other hand, know exactly when they should start work and simply cannot “be late” without their managers knowing about it.
There are even more things you can do with Bitrix24 in terms of employee time management like creating shifts, managing sick leaves, overtimes, paid time off, as well as ensuring accurate payments and tax calculations every pay period.
Working together online means you have to have access to common files, create, store, edit, and share them - whether it’s corporate rules or spreadsheets with top-secret sales figures.
In Bitrix24, everyone is connected to the Bitrix.Drive cloud storage where you can store and exchange your documents within the company setting restrictions and limiting access as you deem appropriate.
Our Knowledge Base tool will help you to keep all your documentation neatly organized and easily accessible for all your team members.
There’s only so much we can write about Bitrix24 and remote work in a single article. But why trust us when you can get your own, firsthand experience?
Bitrix24 is available for free - follow the link below to create your free account and get access to the world-leading online collaboration platform with 30+ tools on board. Switch to remote work and stay that way for as long as you need with Bitrix24.
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