The idea of working remotely was becoming popular even before the coronavirus pandemic. However, the global crisis expedited the number of companies that started to implement work-from-home for their employees.
As of 2017, 65% of Chinese and 52.6% of US workers were reported to have been working remotely for an average of 2.5 days a week.
A 2020 work situation report published in April, also showed that 20% of Americans were able to work from home and are actually working from home, compared to the 17% who go to their respective workplaces to get things done.
There are still a few companies that are scared of plunging into remote work, and that’s because they think their employees may not be productive. Some have implemented remote work but are not getting the results they want from their work-from-home employees.
Perhaps you are yet to implement a work-from-home scheme for your business because of uncertainties, or you have a remote team that’s not giving the results you want to have, what you need are the right tools to make your remote team productive.
Useful remote work tools help with features ranging from communication to file sharing, project management, and time tracking. Most of them are also known for real-time analytics and secure data-access technology.
As such, we’ve put together this article to share the 10 must-have tools for your business and remote team. Just before we start exploring them, let me show you how the right tools can help boost your remote team's performance and also expedite your business success.
Why You Need the Right Tools for Your Business and Remote Team
Using the right tools for your business can help you and your remote team complete several work milestones within a short period. Even more, it can help you and your remote team to deal with distractions and achieve a high level of productivity while working from home.
Some of the more specific reasons you need to use the right tools for your remote team include the following:
1. High Level of Productivity
Are you wondering why your remote employees are not very productive despite seeing several stats about remote work being more results-driven than working in the office space? For instance, a remote work stat on Hubspot said 77% of remote employees claim they are more productive while working at home.
Working from home is not the problem, but the tools that your workers can access matter a lot. A report article on Wrike showed that 85% of businesses recorded increased productivity by creating flexible work plans and using the right tools for work.
The annual IWG (International Workplace Group) global workspace survey also showed that 85% of businesses said productivity was scaled because of increased work flexibility.
2. Higher Team Morale
With tools that support live communication, conference meetings, seamless and secured file sharing, as well as voice and video chats, your remote team will be excited to work.
Working remotely can be fun, but sometimes, your employees may miss the human interactions they enjoy at work, which may lower their morale.
Providing tools that allow seamless communication among your team members can take the boredom out and replace it with enthusiasm and high-spiritedness.
What Are the 10 Must-Have Tools for Your Business and Remote Team?
Success in business doesn’t come by accident but by careful planning, strategizing, seeking expert advice when necessary, ensuring strong communication among team members, monitoring employees’ productivity, and a lot of other things.
Therefore, tools for remote teams should adequately cater to all the needs and processes of a business. In this article, the tools have been split into four categories for better understanding.
These four categories are communication tools, file sharing tools, time tracking tools, and project management tools. Below are brief descriptions of the 10 must-have tools for your business and remote team in 2020.
» Communication Tools
Communication is vital when it comes to growth in any area of life; this truth also applies to your business.
If you want to get the best out of your teammates, you need to communicate the company needs to them via meetings, conferences, and perhaps chat messages too. This way, they can understand their roles and take commensurate actions.
Some of the most commonly used communication tools are as follows:
Slack is a well-known communication tool that helps you to achieve better organization with your remote teammates. It supports text, voice, and video chats to enhance communication between you and your team.
With Slack, you can also search the database for actions you have taken in the past using the platform. Although it isn't the best for file sharing, Slack also allows users to share PDF files, images, and videos.
2. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams works in a way that is similar to Slack, though the two platforms are very different. Microsoft Teams enables its users to host audio meetings, video meetings, and web conferences for up to 10,000 people.
It also has a feature that supports the live recording of web conferences in case you need the conference details for future reference. For now, Microsoft Teams is only compatible with Office 365.
The coronavirus lockdown is perhaps what brought Zoom to the limelight, with many tutors and businesses bringing their online classes and meetings to the platform.
Zoom supports real-time chats, video presentations, screen sharing, and real-time video recording if you need to reference recordings in the future. The platform also supports as many as 1,000 video participants as well as 49 on-screen videos.
Skype is another useful communication tool, which makes communication a lot of fun. It also features real-time chats, voice and video calls (though you may need to purchase Skype credits to use the video call function).
Skype also allows users to set their availability to active, away, do not disturb, or invisible. With Skype, you can also engage your teammates in real-time group chats and share files.
Note that you may not be able to register on Skype using other email platforms except Microsoft outlook.
Highfive is a communication tool that is specially designed for video conferencing. Unlike most video conferencing tools, Highfive does not require pins and other details before you can initiate a video call.
Simply press “meetings,” and you will be good to go. Moreover, with Highfive, there is no limit to the number of meetings you can hold or the length of time for each session.
» File-Sharing Tools
When it comes to sharing your files, you can only trust tools that ensure maximum security for your files so that unwanted parties won’t be able to gain access to classified information about your business. The best file-sharing apps we’ll show you are Google Drive and Dropbox.
6. Google Drive
Besides being a tech giant and taking the lead in almost every sector they are in, Google offers a lot of products to businesses that can make their business operations simpler. Google Drive is a secure way to share files among teammates without an unwanted party being able to access it.
It allows users to customize access to files by granting permission to selected emails and choosing whether files can be “seen only” or “edited” by the receiving user.
The paid version of Google Drive offers more security and cloud memory for sharing and storing large files securely.
Dropbox is another useful file-sharing tool with features such as automatic organization and back-up of files, file accessibility from any device, link-sharing via email, online back-up and file recovery, activity audit, and an admin dashboard to see a detailed overview of your files.
It uses a 256-bit AES encryption security that helps you protect your files from unwanted parties. The file event tracking also helps a great deal in ensuring safety. Interestingly, you can also use Dropbox for team activity tracking, auditing, and CRM integration.
» Time Tracking Tools
It’s not that you want to spy on your employees because you don’t trust them. The reason for using time trackers sometimes is to monitor the work employees are doing in real-time and also to log activities so that employees are fairly rewarded for their work.
One of the best time tracking apps that can help you and your remote team members to enjoy working remotely is Traqq.
Traqq is a good time tracking app that is customizable to track specific needs. It can also integrate with other systems seamlessly.
Traqq uses powerful analytics for time logging and user monitoring, and it also features some other time management functions that can help you and your remote team make the most of your time while working from home. What’s more, it has a simplified stopwatch that your remote team can use whether they are online or offline. This way, you can ensure that every minute they spend working will be accounted for. Indeed, Traqq makes the process of time tracking and invoicing convenient and simple.
» Project Management Tools
Assigning projects to employees, adding timelines to the projects to keep your employees in check, and keeping tabs on the progress of the project, is an almost impossible task to do while working from home since you can’t see your employees face to face.
But that's not a challenge anymore, with project management tools to help you resolve all the difficulties from assigning the project to employees and monitoring it until it's completed. Here are must-have project management tools you and your remote workers should learn to use:
Trello is a simple, visual PMS (Project Management Software) that is easy to understand and easy to organize. Jobs are executed on boards divided into lists, which represent different stages in a project.
The lists contain cards that represent specific tasks, due dates, attachments, and other things that may be necessary for the tasks.
Asana is another useful and popular PMS that is more complex and sophisticated than Trello. In addition to the “boards” and “lists” features on Trello, Asana adds “timelines” and “calendars.”
However, what seems to be a stronger selling point for Asana is its templates that are adaptable to any niche – marketing, HR, design, and so on.
Having a remote team is cost-effective. In a report on the benefits of working remotely published on Global Workplace Analysis, businesses would save about $11,000 annually per remote half-time worker, which is beneficial to companies.
On the flip side, remote workers said they were able to save $5,000 that would have been incurred in work travel and other related expenses. So, working from home is indeed a profitable venture if you arm your business and remote team with the right tools.