If you manage a remote team, you know how important technology's role is to your success. The traditional "workplace" has been redefined by high-speed internet, collaborative technology, and the need to be in 5 places at once.
Coordinating assets, project details, and responsibilities doesn't have to be difficult. There are countless solutions that will meet your remote team's unique needs.
These 12 tools for distance workers stand out because of their flexibility, ease of use, and overall exceptional functionality.
"Be Less Busy"
Slack is an excellent team chat program that allows you to create custom channels. You can then have everyone join the channels relevant to them to work on various projects as needed. One of the nice features is that you can tag whatever you wish to be alerted of your message using their @username handle within slack. Set up your preferences to ignore all other messages that aren't direct and never get bothered by your remote team's idle chatter unless it's important!
- Files can be dropped straight into the chat for sharing
- All conversations are searchable
- Integrate everyday services (Google drive, Twitter, MailChimp, and more) and get popups / notifications when actions happen in your other communication channels
As a small business owner or team manager, you'll be able to manage multiple projects with various teams of remote workers all from the convenience of your computer or mobile device; no need to deal with the hassle of using a different communication medium for each project.
"Everyone's favorite project management app"
Whether you're a business owner or a project manager, Basecamp can accommodate your needs. The design decisions of Basecamp are geared towards providing high-level employees with a "big picture" way of seeing what kind of progress is being made within the company by breaking things up into individual projects. View separate project timelines, calendars, progress reports, meeting schedules, and notes within a few clicks of one another.
- Ability to keep track of project steps and check them off a "to-do" list as they're completed
- Easy-upload feature that allows you and your distance workers to upload images, text, and other files to brainstorm
- A daily executive summary of current projects automatically e-mailed to you every morning (can set update preferences)
If you're a small business owner, you've likely got several projects on your plate. Sometimes, it's hard to see the big picture when your attention is absorbed into the nuances of individual projects; with Basecamp, you're always one click away from reverting to your high-level views. Another nice feature is that navigation functions in an overlapping fashion, meaning that you can dive into any project or section quickly and can backtrack easily to make another pass at a different section.
"The professional way to send & share files and folders with anyone"
Sending files back and forth among your distance workers can be tedious at times. Hightail strives to make this easier for you and your workers by allowing for quick and simple file sharing of packages up to 10GB. Plus, you can set up files and folders for each project, set user levels and editing permissions, and access your work from anywhere, whether it's on your smartphone, tablet, or work computer.
- Mobile app available on both Android and iPhone platforms
- Secure 128-bit SSL encryption and 256-bit AES encryption
- Desktop app lets you drag and drop files or folders for easy upload
You're out of the office and an employee needs a file, large or small. Hightail allows you to manage, send, and receive documents on the go so that you're not limited to transfers from your desktop. What's more, a 10GB limit will handle all reasonable transfers that you could possibly think of.
"Easy performance review software online"
Getting projects completed is your primary goal. If you will be tackling multiple projects with the same team in succession, performance reviews and feedback are an integral aspect of continued efficient cooperation. Small Improvements, a 360-degree feedback program, makes your life easier by simplifying the process of leaving feedback, conducting performance reviews, and setting goals for your workers. Ideal for small to medium-sized businesses, this program is sure to improve communication and transparency all around.
- Easy profile setup for you and your team
- Write and easily share quarterly objectives
- Collect anonymous feedback from your remote workers and use it to improve your operations
Why Small Improvements?
This is an absolute must-have if you have any semblance of an HR department. From performance reviews, individual objectives, and feedback to the benefit of opening up more honest lines of communication, you want to retain only the best employees. Tools like Small Improvements make gauging sentiment and performance far easier and more comprehensive than asking for feedback via any other channel.
5. KanBan Tool
"Increase team performance with a visual project management tool."
Excellent for tackling individual projects, the KanBan Tool is one that no team manager should go without. Online KanBan boards, organized visualizations of what your team is working on, allow for real-time views of each project so team members can visualize workflows and collaborate on assignments. Additionally, users can attach documents to each task and upload them to your company's integrated cloud storage (ex: Google Drive or Dropbox).
- The ability to view time reports by task, user, or project
- Limit work in progress to prevent bottlenecks
- Easily digestible analytics and charts
Why KanBan Tool?
Project managers love this tool. You can delegate tasks and organize goals in a way that's easy to follow for all team members. It provides you will a full overview of to-dos and allows for easy "drag and drop" functionality to reorganize tasks. Furthermore, the built-in upload tool makes sharing ideas a breeze and saves team members the hassle of using separate programs to relay assets.
"Insights into your team"
Whether you're running an online business or managing a remote team, it can be difficult to gauge whether or not your people are happy and productive. This is compounded when face-to-face meetings are rare. WeekDone strives to make the process of openly sharing information and increasing productivity easier than ever with a graphical metrics dashboard, automatic compilation of reports, happiness ratings for each worker, and searchable archives.
- Simple task manager that allows managers and their employees to set short and long-term goals
- Ability to easily monitor team members' contributions and identify inefficiencies
- Automatic generation of progress reports for each of your project teams
In any business, your company's success is largely dependent on the motivation and job satisfaction of your employees. You, the management, also need to be happy with the reporting process and have a high-level overview of the entire organization's sentiment as a whole. Weekdone gives you this perspective, while allowing your teams an outlet for progress management and performance assessment.
"Teamwork without email"
No matter what industry you're in, Asana helps to delegate responsibilities and tasks to your workers so that there's never any confusion on each others' responsibilities. At the same time, other team members can be made followers of those tasks so there's no confusion or needless meetings, status reports, and e-mails. Since everybody knows what's going on, the job can get done more efficiently.
- Available "focus mode" allows users to see only projects and tasks that need to be completed in the immediate future
- Filter tasks by due date to prioritize work that's falling behind
- Add "followers" to individual workers' tasks to increase sense of accountability
If you're tired of wasting time answering e-mails from your distance workers and having to trudge through and forward chains of tasks, Asana is for you. You will save time and increase productivity by making sure everybody's on the same page at all times and in all tasks.
8. Help Scout
"Scalable customer support, no help desk headaches"
Managing a remote customer service team or are your employees moonlighting as customer service reps for your business? You need consistency in your dealings with customers, especially if tickets are handled via individual e-mail. Increase uniformity of service and customer satisfaction with Help Scout, which allows you to keep track of help desk interactions in the form of e-mail messages, phone calls, and even voice mails.
- Insightful reporting, which allows you to track the number of inquiries submitted, replies sent, and average reply time
- The "Traffic Cop" feature, which prevents your workers from sending the same reply to the same customer
- Ability to add your own notes to each inquiry, visible only to your remote workers
Even if you're not running a dedicated remote help desk, a collaborative customer support manager like Help Scout can be a blessing. You'll enjoy more streamlined and consistent responses from your workers, while your customers will enjoy quicker response times and less duplicate mail. Meanwhile, you benefit from the transparency of being able to monitor replies, increasing the accountability of your workers.
9. Time Doctor
"See exactly where you spend your time"
As a remote team manager or online business owner, making sure your employees are being as productive as possible isn't easy because you can't physically oversee them on the job. However, TimeDoctor's software makes it possible to see how and where your employees are spending their time. Specifically, the software tracks employees' working time right down to the second, making payment of your employees more accurate.
- A "Nudge" feature, which will bring up a polite dialog box to remind employees of the task at hand
- Automatic tracking of employees' activities while they're on the clock
- Automated weekly reports send to team managers
Why Time Doctor?
One of the key pitfalls of remote employment can be distractions. Time Doctor aims to eliminate wasted time by highlighting employee trends and providing analytics to alert employees of where they could improve efficiency. If you deal with short-term contract employees who may need some extra help getting into a work rhythm, Time Doctor is a powerful and flexible tool.
"The world's best resource planning tool"
If you're the type of manager who loves to visualize the big picture, then 10,000ft is the high-level management tool for you. With its completely interactive business management plan, you'll be able to see who's working on what, who's available for more work, and what's planned for the future.
- Innovative "schedule view" feature, which allows you to see which employees have a full plate and which are partially available
- Status bar that makes it easy for workers to see when you're available, busy, or on vacation
- Simple and intuitive drag-and-drop interface
Providing a balanced, manageable workload to your employees is key to their overall satisfaction in the workplace. With 10,000ft, you can always know with confidence who's working on what and whether you may be overloading them. Get accurate time estimates and forecast your business plan with 10,000ft.
"Work better, together"
You may lose the nuances of communication when employees aren't communicating in person (think body language, emphasis, etc.). With Sqwiggle, you can get as close to a face-to-face meeting as possible without being in the same room. Create a virtual office where employees can create instant livechats with others to make communicating fast and informative.
- Set up an automatic webcam photo update taken and posted to the team every few minutes to make it known that the employee is available
- Ability to instantly launch a video call with employees. You can even set it to be conversational (no accepting the call required, just talk!)
- Absolutely free for teams of three or less people
If you're a scrum master or agile team and complex, descriptive communication between your employees is essential, Sqwiggle can make your life infinitely easier. Help your employees feel like a true part of the team, create a communal office environment, and eliminate much of the back and forth rigor of traditional text conversation with Sqwiggle.
"The Best in Conferencing"
UberConference is a useful conferencing program that enables real-time communication among your distance workers and clients. Workers can collaborate and share ideas with the "screen share" feature, which allows everybody in the call to see what the employee is working on on his or her own screen. All of this can be done easily, without the need to remember conferencing pin numbers.
- The ability to text chat with individual callers during conferences
- High-definition audio and ability to connect phone with computer users
- Affordable plans for businesses of all sizes
Call in on your cell and connect with coworkers who are on their laptops for impromptu meetings. Just head to the web address and meet up. You can share screens with everyone in the meeting, making presentations quick and easy.
Looking for more remote team resources?
Check out these 11 Effortless Employee Time Tracking Software.
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Let the community know about your remote teams' collaboration experience in the comment section below!
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