13 Tools to make your remote team more effective
The benefits of remote work
Working with remote teams is on the rise in 2020. Work remotely opens up the possibility of creating collaborative teams of people from around the world, with many potential benefits:
You can co-work with top-notch specialists and great talent no matter where they're located.
You can work for your company from the comfort of your own home and save the time you would normally spend on the way to the office.
You can reach the best business approach and professional skills based on different cultural insights
You can expand your market area and grow your business non-stop, working with specialists from different countries and time zones
I can keep listing benefits, but you get the idea
Coronavirus and remote work
Unfortunately, remote work becomes even more pertinent and important day by day because of the worldwide spreading of the Coronavirus.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is rapidly spreading across countries and continents.
On the 11th of March, the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
That means that a lot of companies all over the world have to start working remotely.
But there can also be challenges that come with being a part of a distributed team, especially if your team has no experience in remote work:
- You no longer sit in the office next to the person with whom you work most closely, so you can feel the lack of communication.
- You're not in the same space, so it can be hard to establish meaningful relationships with your colleagues and new customers.
- Project management can be difficult.
This is why we decided to share our own experience which can help other teams to be successful in remote cooperation.
So what's the secret? You should include particular technologies in your everyday work.
In this article, we have shared 13 of the best remote work tools that will help remote teams to overcome these challenges and enjoy all the benefits that remote working can bring.
Tools For Internal Communication
Digital communication is vital to productivity for businesses in the modern age.
So, we’d like to share the tools that helped us personally to be more successful in our team communication
Slack is a must-have communication tool for every company.
Why is it so popular? Because Slack is more than just a team chat. It’s your online workplace where you can send private messages to your team-mates, and create entire channels that are dedicated to specific projects, topics or teams.
So, you can easily find the file or link or message that your colleague or boss shared.
Slack is flexible, approachable, and easy to use. You can use it on all computers, as well as iPhones and Android phones.
Learn more from this guide about how to working remotely in Slack
- Website: https://slack.com
- Free plan: Yes (limited to 10k searchable messages, 10 apps and integrations, 1-to-1 video calls, and two-factor authentication)
- Pricing: From $8 to $12,5 /user/mo (billed monthly)
Chanty is a good Slack alternative for small teams. It’s two times cheaper than Slack, but frankly, it's not as powerful.
One of the main benefits of Chanty is the unlimited searchable history in the free plan. It means you'll never lose access to your messages. You'll always be able to search for every single message, even your first message.
Chanty is like a younger brother of Slack. You should try it if you want to save access to your messaging history without extra payments.
- Website: https://www.chanty.com
- Free plan: Yes (for teams with up to 10 members)
- Pricing: From $4/user/mo (billed monthly)
#3 Google Hangouts and Meet
Google Hangouts is the Google default tool for video meetings. It’s your online meeting room.
But I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that Google Hangouts has already been divided into “Hangouts Meet” (a tool for video) and “Hangouts Chat” (a tool for messaging). In the long run, Google plans to eliminate Classic Hangouts by the end of 2020.
So why should you use Hangouts Meet? Because it's a free and useful tool. It provides teams with the ability to start video conference calls and share a full desktop or just one of an app. That allows you to feel that you are in the same room with your teammates, even if they are spread around the world.
Zoom is an alternative to Hangouts Meet. This tool also allows you to do video conferencing for free.
You should choose this tool if you want to add more than 25 users to a video conference because Zoom provides you with a higher number of people (up to 100) who can be in a meeting at once. But, unfortunately, it has a 40-minute limit for group calls in the Free version.
I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that, to start participating in the calls, you have to download the program to your computer.
Frankly, though, that’s really not a big problem, but it’s a bit inconvenient when you just need to make a one-off call with a participant who is not in your team, or if you have to make your first call with a person who doesn’t already have Zoom on their desktop.
- Website: https://zoom.us/
- Free plan: Yes (up to 100 participants, up to 40-minutes group call duration)
- Pricing: From $14.99/host/mo
As you know, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Especially if you work remotely. CloudApp will help you to save a ton of time when explaining things.
It allows you to create and share videos, gifs, screenshots and also to add arrows, lines, texts, or blur any sensitive information.
CloudApp is available for Mac, Windows, iOS and Chrome
- Website: https://www.getcloudapp.com/
- Free plan: Yes (1 Min Video Recording Limit)
- Pricing: From $8/mo/user
Loom is another tool that helps you to be more clear in your explanations.
Loom is a Chrome extension that allows you to record videos in one click. Then you can share your links or add links to play in-line in your favorite platforms, such as Trello, GitHub, Invision or Intercom.
Moreover, Loom will notify you when someone clicks the link you shared. So you always know whether your video record was viewed or not.
- Website: https://www.loom.com
- Free plan: Yes (25 videos you can access)
- Pricing: From $4/mo/user
InVision is a prototyping tool that makes your remote communication so much easier.
It allows you to create interactive mockups for your designs quickly and easily.
You can share your mockups with your teammates or clients, and discuss them right inside the app by leaving comments.
It's very easy because you can leave comments for a point on the screen that you want to discuss.
It makes presenting your designs much more effective than sending out files in PDF format or just screenshots.
- Website: https://www.invisionapp.com/
- Free plan: Yes (1 active prototype)
- Pricing: From $15/mo/user
Project Management and Productivity Tools
JIRA is one of the best product management tools, which includes:
• Issue tracking and management
• Product management
• The best reports that show the progress of the projects
• Configurable scrum and Kanban boards
Jira also supports a ton of external plugins, which can be used to manage everything regarding your products.
Despite all its strengths, Jira has one huge weakness – it’s very difficult to set up.
But it's worth it.
- Website: https://www.atlassian.com
- Free plan: Yes (up to 10 users and up to 100 executions per month)
- Pricing: From $7/mo/user
Trello is another one of our favorite project management tools. It’s affordable and extremely simple to use (especially compared to Jira).
You can use Trello for:
Listing and assigning tasks
Collaborating with team members
Organizing very complex projects
So it’s not just a great tool for task and project management, but it’s also good for leading remote product feature prioritization sessions.
- Website: https://trello.com
- Free plan: Yes (10MB per file attachment, 10 team boards, 1 power-up per board)
- Pricing: From $12.5/mo/user
Notion is an all-in-one workspace where you can plan, write, collaborate and get organized. It allows you to take notes, add tasks, manage projects, and more. So you can use it as a Trello alternative and a Google doc alternative.
You can also use Notion for tracking personal productivity. The “To Do” list is one of the best features in our opinion. You can create a weekly “To Do” list of tasks you should complete throughout the week and track everything you’ve been getting done each day.
- Website: https://www.notion.so
- Free plan: Yes (up to 1,000 blocks )
- Pricing: From $8/mo/user
Even if you use Slack or other team chats, I bet you still send emails to your clients and colleagues.
Because of the huge email noise, you can’t be sure your emails are reaching your recipients. So you don’t know whether your colleague missed your email or just ignored you.
How many times have you sent a follow-up with the question “Have you seen my email?” or “Have you already viewed the PDF I sent?”.
Sometimes such a “discussion” of one simple question with your colleague can go on for days or even weeks.
Docsify can help you accelerate your internal communication.
It will show you:
Whether a colleague opened your emails, clicked links, and downloaded attachments
How much of your PDF file was viewed by your colleague
What your recipient’s geolocation and device type are
Docsify sends you a real-time notification when a recipient engages with your emails.
It also allows you to create your own templates and shortcuts so you can quickly add them to Gmail messages.
All that can save you around 4 hours per month.
- Website: https://docsify.net/
- Free plan: Yes (unlimited email open tracking)
- Pricing: From $6/mo/user
Tools for Shared Access and Security
#12 Google Drive
Most of you may think that Google Drive needs no introduction. But I think I need to clarify how to use Google Drive for collaboration because many people think of Google Drive as just cloud storage. But it is also a suite of online apps that are compatible with Microsoft Office Store.
If you still don’t use Google documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more, you should begin immediately, because it will make your life much easier.
Just imagine – you can access your copy from any device in the world in seconds. You just log in to your Google account and open your document. That’s all. You don’t need a thumb drive if you are going to work from an unusual place (home, co-working, coffee shop, etc.).
Moreover, you can share your documents and communicate with colleagues online right inside the document by adding comments, tags, and notes.
- Website: https://www.google.com/drive/
- Free: Yes (up to 15 GB for Gmail users, up to 30 GB for GSuite users)
Truthfully, remote work is not for everyone. That's why you should be ready for the fact that some employees may leave the company. That's why you should think about the security of your sensitive data.
If you want to prevent insider threats from exploiting your Google Drive and G Suite you should use Spinbackup.
It allows you to detect suspicious behavior of team-mates and to check whether your ex-employees still have access to internal documentation.
Moreover, it provides backups with version control and data deletion control. So your critical emails, documents, sheets, and other files are protected from being permanently deleted by accident, from hacker attacks, or even data corruption.
- Website: https://spinbackup.com/
- Free plan: No (14-days trial)
- Pricing: From $7/mo/user
Take care of yourself and those around you. Start working remotely. I hope our recommendations will help you to save your health.