Yes, it’s true. Remote work has arrived. It is no more a faraway dream. Just look at the statistics.
The number of people telecommuting in the US grew by 159% between 2005 and 2017.
COVID-19 sped up that move. April 2020 saw the remote workforce in America growing from 17% to 44%. While the end of lockdown did see a lot of companies move back to offices, it’s likely that the way most of us work will forever be altered by this experience.
So, if you’re one of those transitioning to remote work, or are already a remote team, don’t worry. Managing team members who aren’t in the same place at the same time is not scary anymore.
You have immense options in cutting-edge software solutions to support remote workforces. All you have to do is select the right ones for your organization.
Software solutions for remote teams come for every purpose you can imagine:
- • Project management
- • Team collaboration
- • Cloud storage
- • Productivity management
- • Virtual phone systems
- • Call center software
- • Feedback
- • Time management
- • Video call and screen sharing
- • Time zone management
- • Employee rewards
- • Accountability and reporting
- • Help desk
- • Device management
Even work-life balance tools are here to help you thrive! The only question is, which ones you should have to run an efficient remote company.
To help you, we’ve curated a list of seven must-have software solutions:
Irrespective of where your colleagues are working from in the world, having a face to a name is the first step of establishing a connection. Right from the hiring process to the day-to-day meetings, no company can do without an efficient video-conferencing and screen sharing software.
Remember your good old friend Skype? Zoom replaced Skype and even Google Hangouts to become one of the most popular video call services. Today, Zoom is the world’s second most downloaded mobile app behind only TikTok.
Apart from the fact that Zoom provides a high-quality video conferencing service for free for 40 minutes, the software sets itself apart for its:
- • Quick and easy setup, and
- • Simple-to-use interface that anyone can learn with minimum effort
While Zoom is best known as a video conferencing platform, the company continues to add additional features and functionalities. Some of the most popular ones are sharing high-quality videos over the call, company branding, call-recording, and recording transcripts.
You can also use many integrations with Zoom to maximize productivity while working remotely. Some of the most popular ones are Hive, Google Calendar, and Slack.
Trello is most valuable for teams working on a lot of projects at the same time. It is a collaboration and task management tool that has been there for a while. Aligning with its core objective, it helps individuals and teams maximize productivity by giving real-time remote access to documents, tasks, timelines, and status updates to the team to run with.
It is preferred by remote teams for its:
- • Price vs feature flexibility
- • Visual approach towards work by keeping every project within a glance with ‘boards’
- • Fun approach with its customizable backgrounds, gathering around digital whiteboards for brainstorming, etc.
Here is a screenshot from a content writing project board:
You can see the work moving from ‘to-do’ to ‘doing’ and eventually ‘done’, all in one place. You can change the names of your columns, too, depending on your project.
Then there’s the color-coding feature that can come in handy, too. If you’re managing a team of writers, for instance, you can assign one color to each writer. So, when you start assigning articles, you don’t have to include the writer’s entire name in the Trello card. All you need to do is include that writer’s color in the card that contains a specific task. Just look at the screenshot above so you’ll get an idea of how that works.
If you’re not so much into the color-coding method, you can just tag people you’d like to assign specific tasks to in a card.
Let’s say you want James to write the “7 YouTube Metrics You Should Know About” article. Just type @james in the card, and James will see the notification once he accesses the Trello board. He’ll get a notification about his task on his email, too. That way, he can’t use the “I didn’t see the notification on Trello” excuse.
He can even get notified via email about everything that happens to that card even after he was tagged. That’s regardless of whether or not he has already completed the task. How cool is that?
Other than the classic project management task, Trello can be used creatively in a lot of unique ways as a:
- • Job hunt helper
- • List of bucket lists
- • Money tracker
- • Editorial calendar
- • Appointment tracker
- • Event trip planner etc.
The creator of Trello, Joel Spolsky says:
“Some people saw Trello and said, “oh, it’s Kanban boards. For developing software the agile way.” Yeah, it’s that, but it’s also for planning a wedding, for making a list of potential vacation spots to share with your family, for keeping track of applicants to open job positions, and for a billion other things. In fact, Trello is for anything where you want to maintain a list of lists with a group of people.”
So, go ahead and have some fun with it!
Remote teams come in all shapes and sizes. So do the software solutions that empower them.
For remote design teams, InVision is a niche prototyping, collaboration, and workflow tool created by designers themselves. Rather than using multiple tools to create designs, send heavy files back and forth, and then waiting for feedback, you can do all of this in one place.
With Invision, you can:
- • Create your design mockups fast and easy and present them when ready
- • Share ideas and feedback on the designs with comments and notes
- • You can prototype on mobile too and see exactly how the mobile version of the design looks like
With their newest and coolest feature, ‘Liveshare’, you can also share your designs live. Start collaborating with the team by giving each person a separate mouse so they can point and interact.
So, if you are a designer working remotely, you need Invision to amp up your design process. It is completely secure with its built-in security available on all plans and the security features can also be customized as per organizational needs.
InVision is available for both Windows and Mac. It is used by Accenture, eBay, Typeform, and StackShare to name a few.
When people are working together towards set goals, instant communication becomes crucial for a team to succeed. An instant messaging tool is a must-have then for remote teams.
Slack is about chatting within specified teams, topics, and tasks to enhance quick collaboration between remote teams. It is one of the most popular professional chatting programs ever, with complete functionality for iOS and Android devices.
You can search within Slack conversations, and can even leave information for yourself to refer to later.
Here are some notable features of the software:
- • High-end security
- • External app integration with Trello, 10to8, GoogleDrive, etc.
- • Chatbot integration
- • Voice and video call
You can have fun with its visually appealing themes available in bold colors, something that also sets Slack apart from many of its competitors. No need to worry about getting disturbed with constant messaging. You can ‘turn off notifications’ and focus on the task you need to.
With one of the most striking competitive advertising, Hive tells you to pack your bags from Trello and move straight to Hive.
It lists all the features that Hive has that Trello doesn’t. It says that includes list views, Gantt charts, time tracking, among others.
Hive has options for collaborations, too, for example, instant messaging. Hive, however, is only available in English.
The user satisfaction is the same for both Hive and Trello, so it is more a matter of choice for your business than anything else. You can use whatever suits your business needs better.
Simply put, what Invision is for designers, GitHub is for developers and programmers.
GitHub allows individual programmers to work on specific parts of a project’s code through branching and merging, without altering the source code and also keeping it open-source. In other words, it is accessible and can be managed by other team members. Eventually, the work on a code can be combined by the team members without overriding each other.
Companies like Airbnb, Netflix, Reddit, Lyft, among others, use Github in their tech stacks.
GitLab–which owns GitHub–is one of the largest all-remote teams with teammates connecting from 65 countries around the world. So, if you’re a software company, you might want to read about how they successfully implemented and now manage an all-remote team in this case study done on GitHub by Harvard.
If your remote business has an element of software development, Github is a must-have software solution for you. Github is also used by friends, classmates, and even strangers to share code and have fun building things together.
Here is an interesting list of tricks for GitHub that can further speed up your work in case you are using it already or wanting to get on board.
Scared of sitting in front of your computer, just to face the sheer amount of emails? Email management tools are here to help you. Hiver is one of them.
Hiver is a Gmail-based helpdesk that enables shared inbox management for remote teams.
Say goodbye to all the confusion around who needs to take care of specific tasks in your customer support team, for instance. It is time you made the whole process seem like a walk in the park with this great tool.
With Hiver, emails can be distinctly assigned to the members of a remote team. So, there can’t be excuses about a specific task being missed or worked upon twice. Each email can also be tracked to its final point of resolution, so you know it has been taken care of, for good.
When working with Hiver, you are working on the Gmail interface itself, and the data remains stored in Gmail servers. That means you don’t need to worry about security. Hiver is one of the most secure shared inbox management tools in the market.
Hiver also enables you to track key metrics from the analytics dashboard, so you can see who is being productive and who is lagging. That way, you know the people you should give a pat on the back to and those you need to, well, issue reminders to.
Hiver rebranded itself in 2020 and came out with a lot of useful new features. These features allow for benefits that include:
- • Easier identification of shared inboxes
- • Faster access to the shared inboxes
- • Differentiation between the types of activities and alerts on the activity timeline
- • Tag Creation in the inboxes etc.
Also, consider enhancing your productivity by using powerful Gmail extensions and you are all set with optimizing your inbox.
Without a suitable set of effective software solutions, you will struggle with your remote team on a day-to-day basis.
In a recent survey, remote teams expressed the issues that bother them the most, and here are the top 5:
- Miscommunication or lack of communication – 45.8%
- Staying motivated without teammate interaction – 41%
- Difficult to know what each person is working on – 36.1%
- Checking in on people is more difficult – 34.8%
- Different time zones – 26.9%
By investing in the right tools for your team, you can save a lot of time and money for your organization. At the same time, you’ll give your people the power they need to feel connected and succeed as a team. All of this even when they’re in different places across different time zones.
All you need to do now is determine your business needs and use this list to decide which tools will address them. Don’t get left behind. Jump on the bandwagon today.
David Campbell is a digital marketing specialist at Ramp Ventures. He helps manage the content marketing team at Right Inbox. When he’s not working, he enjoys traveling and trying to learn Spanish.