The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that life needs to move forward despite debilitating challenges. Even when we can’t be there in person, we still need to show up for ourselves, our families, and our careers.
When we couldn’t make it to holiday parties, birthdays, or family gatherings in-person because of stay-at-home orders, we adapted to being there virtually. Likewise, when we couldn’t work in-office anymore, we transitioned to remote work. Now, companies worldwide are warming up to the idea of making remote work a permanent part of their structures.
But productive project management, collaboration, and communication seem to suffer if your remote workforce isn’t set up for success. However, these aspects of your company can easily be mended if you empower your employees with the right tools. Below is a list of some of the best tools to boost your remote team’s productivity and success overall.
One of the things you miss most when working remotely is the conversations you have with your colleagues. Those conversations aren’t just good for the soul, but good for the cohesiveness of your team.
To replicate this, you need collaboration tools that mirror real-time communication.
Slack, for example, is a great collaboration tool to use to keep your remote team connected. Their chat feature makes it easy to communicate with your team members in real-time. In addition, you can create a workspace for your entire team and keep it organized with channels dedicated to different projects or topics.
Trello is another collaboration tool that allows you to track, manage, and share tasks with team members. For example, you can attach documents and images to your task cards. Also, you’re able to set up deadline reminders that alert your entire team.
Choose a single collaboration tool or a combination of tools that allow you to:
- Engage in real-time chat
- Attach documents, photos, and videos to your messages when needed
- Mention specific team members to reply or use direct messages for private conversations
- Create multiple workspaces for different teams in your company
- Switch in and out of conversations seamlessly
- Integrate with other remote tools and applications
Online Brainstorming Tools
There will be things that weren’t as appreciated or used in-office that are now vital to the success of your remote team. One of those things is brainstorming. In the office, these brainstorming meetings were probably undervalued and underused.
In a remote work world, brainstorming sessions are a must to keep creativity and productivity flowing. Therefore, you need an online brainstorming tool to keep your team fresh and engaged. A whiteboard tool, for example, gives you a platform to host interactive, creative brainstorming sessions. This digital whiteboard takes the place of the one you’d use in the office.
Other brainstorming tools also can allow you to host sessions anywhere and invite team members to collaborate. The online brainstorming tool you should pick should include:
- The option to use templates or start from scratch
- The ability to engage in freehand drawing
- Sticky notes to help you jot down ideas and organize them faster
- The ability to create visuals
- Real-time chat feature
- Instant updates
- Integration with other popular apps
Often, in remote work, you find that the simpler the tools, the better. You also find that having specific tools for specific team functions is a great way to keep your team organized and efficient. Storing, accessing, and managing your team’s documents is essential to a productive remote team. Therefore, you need reliable file storage.
Google Drive is an excellent example of a safe, secure platform where you can access and backup your team files from anywhere. In addition, you can share the entire drive with every member of your team.
With whatever cloud storage you end up choosing, it’s best practice to keep all of your documents on a central platform, so your team can find what they need when they need it. Your team will also find the ease of access to many cloud storage platforms will allow anyone in your department to access documents quickly and painlessly.
Project Management Tools
Whether you’re in the office or working from home, you need a solid system for tracking your projects. Project management is crucial for a remote team because project details and deadlines can be easily misplaced.
Tools like Asana or Toggl Plan provide an excellent project dashboard that can help you keep track of all of your projects. You can invite team members to a collective project dashboard. You can also invite specific collaborators to workspaces designed for particular projects.
Your project management tools should be equipped with:
- The options to use a template or start a new project from scratch
- The ability to toggle between dashboard views
- Mention features to communicate with specific team members
- A calendar sync feature for tracking deadlines
- Simple navigation
- Real-time updates
- A chat or message feature
Your business is probably made up of multiple teams to keep everything running smoothly. For example, most companies have at least a sales, marketing, and customer service team.
Each of these teams serves their unique purpose but work together to some degree. Therefore, it’s important to find a tool that can make it easier for multiple teams to interact with one another to improve cohesiveness and the overall customer experience. A CRM, or a content management system, can ultimately provide this solution.
Hubspot is an example of an all-inclusive CRM, content management system, customer service hub, and sales software all in one. Salesforce is another CRM software with tools and integrations to help you grow your business and keep your teams connected.
Either option allows multiple departments to keep customers’ information organized, execute deals, send quotes, manage customer service issues, and more. Overall, CRM tools allow a company to stay connected within different departments and with customers.
Video Conferencing Tools
Connection is also established with in-person interaction. With remote work, this isn’t always feasible. When you can’t be face to face with your team, you still need to see them and interact with them as if you were.
Being able to video chat and meet virtually allows you to mirror in-person interactions and team conversations. Your remote team needs reliable video-conferencing software to be successful.
Zoom is one of the best tools out there for video calls, virtual meetings, and screen sharing. It’s straightforward to use and accessible to anyone, anywhere. Skype is another video conferencing software that allows you to interact with your teams remotely.
Whatever video conference tool you end up choosing, you should find one where you can set up recurring meetings, rely on high-quality video, share your screen, record meetings, and engage in a live chat. By picking a video conferencing app, not only will provide your employees with the connection they need, but you can also improve their productivity.
As stated above, sometimes the best approach is to use different tools for different team functions. But other times, depending on your team’s structure, it’s best to have a tool that allows you to do everything.
Productivity tools like ClickUp can replace all of those apps mentioned above. It’s got most, if not all of what your remote team needs to get things done.
For example, you can engage in real-time chat, manage your projects, store and access your team documents, host a video conference, track your goals, and so forth, all on one central platform.
A solid all-in-one productivity tool is set up with:
- Various dashboard view options
- The ability to customize functionality
- Features that enable you to create lists, add tasks and assign said tasks to multiple collaborators.
- The ability to set goals and track your progress
- An Import function that syncs information from other apps
- A live chat feature
- A direct message and a mention function
- File storage
- Video conferencing
Although you can pick and choose if it’s necessary to include remote tools like productivity tools or communication apps, HR software, on the other hand, is essential. Even when your team is remote, you still have the same HR responsibilities like payroll and timekeeping.
Many remote team leaders don’t make a big deal out of keeping up with their team members’ hours. This is mostly because remote workers don’t work regular 9 to 5 hours, they take irregular breaks, and don’t keep a set schedule.
Accounting software can help you see who’s working and who’s not, reduce timesheet errors, eliminate time theft, and improve time tracking for your remote team. Accounting software that is best suited for remote work tracks time off, allows team members to clock in and out easily and estimates labor costs based on progress all within the same app.
This software will provide you and your employees with insight into their productivity which can therefore improve the overall company goals.
Effective remote work relies on teams employing best practices. Company leaders, collective teams, and each individual plays a unique role in the success of remote workforces. Although there are plenty of advantages to working at an office in person, remote work can be just as effective, if not more successful with the help of some of these tools.
As a company leader, it’s important to include some of these tools within your best practices to ensure your team is equipped to perform at a high level. Explore communication, collaboration, project management, and HR tools like the ones above to keep your remote team running smoothly.