Have you been considering transitioning your employees from a traditional office to working remotely, or are you looking to hire more remote team members? Technology has made this shift easier than ever before.
The move toward remote work is rapidly on the rise. In the last 15 years, the remote workforce has tripled. In 2018, the American Community Survey of the US Census Bureau reported that 5 million US employees work from home half time or more. Of those surveyed, 80% reported they want to work from home at least some of the time.
The coronavirus outbreak expedited this trend, creating a large-scale, unanticipated experiment in remote work.
It is estimated that 25% to 30% of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
And according to a Stanford University study, the stigma once associated with remote work is fading, with the average employee looking to work remotely twice a week after the pandemic is over.
More and more leaders are on board with this shift. In a recent PwC survey of 699 CEOs, 78% agree that remote collaboration and automation will continue post-pandemic.
A Mercer survey of nearly 800 employers revealed that company productivity has remained the same or increased among 94% of the respondents since employees started working from home during the pandemic.
Now more than ever, it is necessary to establish best practices for seamless and secure ways to get work done.
While videoconferencing, file sharing, project management, and time-tracking tools are helpful for productivity and communication, adaptive analytics and secure data-access technologies are just as crucial.
Real-time analytics help management assess worker performance in a remote setting, while secure data technology, such as virtual private networks (VPNs) and locked PDFs, ensure internally sensitive information stays secure.
Going remote may seem complicated, but there are distinct advantages to shifting to an at-home workforce and hiring remote talent. Working from home increases productivity, decreases overhead, and expands your hiring pool to reach the best talent across the globe. Though different time zones can cause communication issues, remote work also makes for happier, more efficient employees. Of course, managing a remote workforce is more than simply switching from in-office meetings to videoconferences. The right tech tools should be part of a company plan to help assimilate and develop remote talent.
The Types of Tech Tools Needed for Remote Teams
As more employees look to work remotely, businesses can prepare for this evolution by using the right tech stack. Your remote employees will need tools for:
Business management: accounting, documentation, human resources, and other business needs
Communication: quick check-ins, meetings, feedback, conferences, and webinars
Project management: task tracking, time management, prioritization, delegation, and collaboration
Data and security: securing communication through public internet channels that protect and store critical data
Freelance marketplaces: accessing and hiring remote workers with built-in flexibility and scalability
There are a variety of products that tackle the behind-the-scenes housekeeping of a business, so you can devote more time to doing what you do best.
Human Resources and Payroll Remote Work Tools
Geared for small businesses, Workful provides a simple, affordable solution for HR and payroll management. The easy-to-use dashboard can file tax forms, sync with time sheets, and help track your employees’ information, time management, and paid time off.
Zenefits streamlines onboarding, benefits, payroll, and paid time off into one simple platform. Ideal for entrepreneurs and small and midsized businesses (approximately 25 to 1,000 employees), Zenefits offers a 14-day free demo.
Like Zenefits, Rippling is an all-in-one employee management platform for your company’s HR and IT needs. You can manage employees’ payroll, benefits, devices, and apps with a variety of pricing models to suit your needs.
A people operation platform for small and midsized businesses, Namely promises to increase employee engagement and productivity. Namely handles HR, payroll, benefits, and talent management on a cloud-based, user-friendly platform. It makes switching HR systems easy via a six-to-eight-week implementation process guided by Namely specialists.
Gusto is a people platform for small businesses. The app is a one-stop shop to run payroll, manage benefits, onboard your team, use time-tracking and time-off-request tools, handle state and federal taxes, and access HR experts.
Quickbooks by Intuit provides all the accounting tools you need to track your sales and expenses, view profit and loss reports, pay your employees and vendors, and track unpaid invoices. Quickbooks can easily connect to business bank accounts or Paypal and Square for easy consolidation.
An accounting software platform geared toward entrepreneurs, small businesses, independent contractors, and sole proprietors, Wave allows you to track your income and expenses, create invoices, accept payments, pay employees, and scan receipts.
Cloud Computing Remote Work Tools
Cloud computing provides on-demand delivery of IT resources. By eliminating the need for physical equipment and in-house infrastructure, cloud computing is cost-effective, scalable, and convenient. Below are the big three public cloud vendors. Keep in mind, you can also use cloud brokers to mix and match cloud services to optimize for your needs.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), founded in 2006, is a highly customizable cloud-based program offering integrated web services to companies and individuals. A dominating name in creative cloud computing, AWS has three different pricing models and 12 months of free tier access. With more than 175 services, AWS is a market leader.
Released in 2010, Microsoft Azure is a Windows and Linux-compatible solution, which takes a “cloud-first” approach, suitable for any industry. Microsoft Azure has a 12-month free tier and a cost calculator to understand the pricing of its various products and services.
Google Cloud is a user-friendly cloud services provider with strong artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities. Google stands out for its open-source technologies and culture of innovation. Google Cloud offers a free three-month trial period and $300 in credits for new customers to explore the products and services offered.
Team Communication Remote Work Tools
Finding the right communication software for your remote team is paramount to the success of your company. Adopt products that facilitate team collaboration, organization, productivity, and team messaging.
This is collaboration software for your whole company, aimed to replace internal email. The most popular service of its kind, and also one of the most expensive, Slack uses channels as organizing spaces to work on different projects or topics. Depending on your industry, Slack may have some functionality gaps that would lead you to look elsewhere, such as limiting the searchable message history.
Chanty provides simple, AI-powered online chat for small and medium-sized teams. Unlike Slack, Chanty doesn’t limit searchable message history. Through an organizational feature called Teambook, Chanty organizes all files, tasks, and conversations into folders.
13. Microsoft Teams
Heavily integrated with other Microsoft Office apps, Teams is best for companies already using Microsoft products. You can access, share, and edit documents in real time, or host audio, video, or web conferences. The Teams interface is orderly and compartmentalized, with a less casual air than Slack and Chanty, which may inhibit open dialogue.
Videoconferencing Remote Work Tools
Perfect for online meetings, GoToMeeting is a mobile-friendly, stand-alone web conferencing and video call platform by LogMeIn. Payment plans are valued at $14 to $19 per month. The Professional plan can hold up to 150 participants, whereas the Business plan can accommodate 250 participants. GoToMeeting offers features such as screen sharing, recording, and transcription, as well as GoToWebinar and GoToTraining solutions for large-scale virtual events, which can hold up to 3,000 participants.
Zoom is a simple conference solution for video calling and video chat, with free and paid plans ($14.99 to $19.99 per month, per license for Zoom Pro and Zoom Business plans, and $30 per month, per license for Zoom United Pro). Ideal for large audiences, the platform can host up to 1,000 participants and 49 videos on a single screen with the large meeting add-on. Whereas some other platforms cap the number of simultaneous video feeds, anyone attending a Zoom meeting can have a high-definition video feed and webcam on. The team chat feature offers file sharing, a searchable history, and a 10-year archive.
Founded in 2009, this California-based company offers interoperable, cloud-based videoconferencing that supports Dolby voice. It improves productivity with meeting highlights and transcription services, and integrates with more than 30 apps. BlueJeans has three pricing tiers and a seven-day free trial.
Project Management Remote Work Tools
Project management and task management tools help your remote team manage deadlines, resources, and deliverables.
To keep your team on track, look for project management software that offers three main functions:
Communication features: allowing your team to collaborate, provide feedback, and ultimately execute on tasks and projects more efficiently
Time-tracking tools: offering key insights in order to understand how long projects take, how profitable they are, and how to reach project milestones faster in the future
Visual collaboration tools: encouraging team members to brainstorm and visualize ideas
View all of your company’s projects at a glance with this easy-to-use system. Trello is a visually optimized collaboration tool, utilizing kanban boards, lists, and cards to organize and prioritize projects. Butler, a built-in workflow automation software, increases productivity by performing functions on your behalf and detecting inefficiencies.
Calling itself “one app to replace them all,” ClickUp makes it easy to transfer content from other productivity tools and project management software. Their software can handle everything from agile project management for companywide efficiency to simple to-do lists. Offering a list, kanban board, calendar view, and dependencies for each task, ClickUp is fully customizable task management for every type of team. Although, some users may find its inability to create user groups and subfolders lacking.
Wrike is an ideal project management tool for midsized companies, with interactive Gantt charts, calendars, and drag-and-drop dashboards. The highly intuitive interface and support for recurring tasks make Wrike an appealing option, though the high price point and lack of integrated live chat and invoicing leave something to be desired. Wrike also offers a mobile app.
Designed to increase distributed team productivity, Miro is a simple collaborative whiteboarding platform ideal for fostering creativity and idea generation. Imagine one big whiteboard that never needs to be erased. The interactive Miro Mind Map allows teams to capture and organize ideas quickly together. It is a great tool for designers, helping teams to develop projects and discuss them in real time.
Bonus: Best Sites to Hire Remote Workers
By using trusted freelance marketplaces, you can scale your remote team quickly, or hire professional freelancers for contract-based work. There are numerous benefits to hiring carefully vetted software developers, designers, and product managers from an exclusive network. For one, you have access to a leading talent pool with highly specialized skills. You’ll also avoid the potential growing pains of transitioning an in-office workforce to a remote workforce; established freelancers are primed to work independently and on schedule to meet project goals.
Toptal is an exclusive network of the top 3% of freelancers in the world, affording businesses large and small the flexibility to hire expert professionals for any projects that your team needs. Toptal’s standards are exacting; all applicants must pass a rigorous vetting process to prove that their technology, customer service, and project management skills are up to par.
Hired is a curated marketplace matching employers with tech talent, mainly for full-time roles. Hired has automated assessments for all candidates to standardize the hiring process. You can pay a fixed price for all your hiring needs rather than a per-person price. Average time to hire is 25 days after uploading the job.
Upwork is a well-known freelancer platform with a worldwide pool of freelancers of varying skills levels. You can post a job for free and get bids within 24 hours, or search through developer profiles. Upwork offers prices to meet any budget; the quality will vary accordingly.
Conclusion: Find the Best Remote Working Tools for Your Teams
Remember, creating a digital workplace involves more than adopting the right technology and signing up all of your team members. Remote work requires a shift in mindset and behaviors, so that all workers can feel engaged and part of a cohesive team.
When building your remote team, refer to reliable freelance marketplaces to find top talent that is well versed in remote work culture.
The possibilities for remote work continue to expand, which means more and more tech solutions are increasingly available to create a robust workforce of remote employees who do their best work.