By Andrea Graham.
The Covid-19 pandemic has expedited a previously increasing worldwide trend of employees working remotely. A Swiss study published in 2018 found that 70 per cent of professionals worked from home at least once a week. Undoubtedly, remote work has much to offer both employers and employees. No commuting, increased flexibility and a better work-life balance typically appeal to workers. For businesses, reduced overheads and office costs along with a happier workforce.
Resources to create the culture you’ve always dreamed of
The pandemic has resulted in the explosion of remote work where whole workforces have become remote workers with little notice and in some cases not much time to plan. In most countries, governmental lockdown periods are stretching into several weeks with uncertainty surrounding when operations might get back to what we previously defined as normal. For many businesses, remote working may well become the new normal as employees and companies realise the benefits.
In light of the changes, successful, sustainable remote working requires the right approach and the best toolkit.
Try googling ‘remote work tools’, and you will find there are thousands of possibilities out there. The choice is overwhelming, so where do you start?
Well, as a software engineer and team lead here at Workvivo and a remote worker, I really love this stuff! And so to give you some ideas, here’s our take on the best tools for remote workers.
Managing Remote Teams
Managing remote employee teams requires managers to adjust their typical leadership styles. Leading an employee working from home is entirely different from leading a distributed team.
Internal communications, collaboration and productivity become more of a challenge when team members are working from home. But while it’s daunting, it’s not impossible, especially when technology has created plenty of tools to help manage remote employees.
Best Tools For Remote Workers
So, perhaps you are looking to make the adjustment to a remote team manager. Maybe you are part of a remote team and want to be more effective. Or possibly you just want to manage yourself and your workload better. Whatever the case, here’s a selection of the more popular tools for remote workers broken it down into different categories.
Best Communication Tools For Remote Work
Workvivo (us!): For remote workers, communication needs to take place on two levels. There’s transactional communication – the sharing of information to complete a task or make a decision. And there’s engaged social communication between colleagues – the casual chat in the lift, or by the coffee machine. Back in the workplace, we take that social communication for granted, but for remote workers, it’s a lifeline. And it keeps alive the company culture along with team spirit and a shared sense of purpose.
Speaking from experience, our employee communication app cleverly addresses both needs. With a familiar, personalised activity feed popular in social media, it’s super easy to use. Remote workers can read and post content with images, videos or attachments. And they can also interact with the content through likes and comments and share content with others.
Of course, I’m a little biased! Still, whether it’s used to support social engagement and connection or to get the job done, Workvivo’s flexibility certainly makes it an excellent remote communication tool.
BlogIn: BlogIn is a beautifully simple internal blog and knowledge-sharing platform for teams of all sizes.
The internal blog acts as a central information hub or a ‘virtual bulletin board’ for the company, allowing all employees to stay in the loop with what’s going on in and around the office. At the same time, the blog opens a new, transparent, two-way communication channel inside an organization, where everyone can ask a question and get the information they need to make faster and smarter decisions.
The internal blog is intuitive and easy to use, so everyone can quickly get on board, which is one of the reasons why it works so well as the internal communication tool.
Slack: Another popular communications platform for remote workers is Slack. It’s commonly used as a real-time chat platform for teams or individuals. However, it also has video calling and file-sharing capabilities. Chats can be organised using familiar #channels and are supported by an advanced search function, so it’s easy to find information.
For the quick and easy resolution of issues, Slack is the perfect tool. And it’s also an excellent vehicle for maintaining social connections between remote workers with informal conversations.
And, the good news is Slack can be integrated into the Workvivo app, creating a single platform for seamless communication.
Other remote team communication tools out there include Microsoft Teams and Mattermost.
Best Tools For Remote Work Meetings And Presentations
Zoom: The need for face-to-face communications, meetings and presentations doesn’t go away with remote working therefore as an alternative, I recommend a video chat app. In particular, Zoom, it allows you to hold team meetings or conferences with up to 500 participants.
Businesses are using Zoom for team chats, screen sharing or video recordings. Here at Workvivo, we use zoom social coffee breaks to catch up with team members. Easy-to-use and versatile, Zoom is one of the best remote work tools out there.
Skype for Business: Skype, developed by Microsoft, is a telecommunications app that works for audio and video calls and instant messaging. Unlike Zoom however, Skype has a limit on the number of participants.
Google Hangouts and Appear.in are possible alternatives to engage remote employees.
Best Tools For Remote Team Collaboration
Workvivo: Us again! However, Workvivo isn’t just about employee communications; it also supports remote team collaboration. Every employee needs to collaborate with others to complete a task. It could be brainstorming ideas, sharing data, asking questions, or working on a report or presentation.
Also key, is celebrating the success of remote workers and teams, on Workvivo you can recognise employees through shout-outs.
Workvivo supports teams of remote workers on desktop and mobile devices in continuing to collaborate with their colleagues. Either in public or private spaces, employees can come together to share content, interact and collaborate. Intuitive and straightforward to use, our remote team collaboration spaces have the same social interface for a highly engaged user experience.
Teamwork: Another possibility is the Teamwork app. Primarily a project management tool, Teamwork also supports effective team collaboration. It uses task lists, boards and portfolios so team members have clear responsibilities and expectations. Furthermore, the increased transparency and communication make it easy for managers to retain oversight of remote collaboration.
Other remote team collaboration tools to consider include Basecamp and Troop Messenger.
Best Tool For Remote Task Management
Clubhouse: Remote task management can be a challenge, but technology offers several tools to support managers. For software teams, Clubhouse is the collaborative home for software development that makes it easier and more enjoyable to plan and build with your teams, wherever you are.
Other tools include:
Trello: Highly visual, Trello’s simple but very effective approach makes it easy to use. Built around boards, lists and cards, Trello helps you break down projects or tasks into hierarchical processes. Cards are assigned to team members and come with due dates, chat boxes, attachments and much more.
When it comes to remote work, Trello is a handy app to have when manging the workload of remote workers.
Asana: Asana is also a popular choice for remote task management. It can be used for workflow management as well as task management. With the same system of boards and lists, managers can easily track project progress and assign tasks and sub-tasks to team members. The software also comes with a useful project template feature. The app has developed standard workflows for common processes in marketing, HR and IT, among others. All you need to do is input the information for your project and then follow the procedure set by the software.
Other work from home tools in this category include Notion and Monday.
Best Time Tracking Tools For Remote Teams
Keeping an eye on productivity is essential when managing remote teams. While you don’t want to turn into Big Brother, knowing how staff are spending their time helps you identify support needs as well as any roadblocks to more efficient remote working.
Hubstaff: Hubstaff is a comprehensive employee monitoring software solution. It allows managers to see how staff are spending their time and what task they are working on at any given time. Using an eye-catching design, Hubstaff is super easy to use. And if your business involves billing clients for hours worked, then it’s one of the best remote work tools around.
Toggl: Toggl is another popular time tracking tool on the market. Available for use on smartphones and tablets as well desktops, Toggl doubles up as a personal productivity tool. It allows users to monitor how they are spending their time and the in-built analysis means you can optimise your own productivity as well as team members.
Other work from home tools in this category include Google Calendar and RescueTime.
Best Document Management Tools For Remote Teams
G Suite and Office 365: When it comes to document management tools, it’s hard to beat the offerings from Google and Microsoft. Both are cloud-based so colleagues can have anytime anywhere access to documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Users can easily collaborate, edit and share files. And they can ask questions or clarify issues. For effective remote work, G Suite or Office 365 are indispensable tools for remote teams.
Dropbox: Dropbox is also a great vehicle for sharing large files and documents. Popular with millions around the world, the Dropbox file hosting service is straightforward to use. If your business requires lots of storage with a more organised structure, then Dropbox is a good choice.
What Are The Absolute Best Tools For Remote Workers?
There’s certainly no shortage of options out there, but when it comes to the absolute best remote work tools, then here’s what you need to look for:
- Simple and engaging to use
- Customisable with your own company personality and requirements
- Integrates easily with other systems for seamless working
- Provides single sign-on access
- In-built engagement metrics to assess impact.
The Workvivo team has been working remotely throughout the pandemic and we have lots of experience with remote work tools. We love talking (and writing) about how digital channels can be used for effective communication in organizations. Check out some of our other content below.