At the present moment, shifting toward remote operations is necessary to keep your business moving forward.
To reap the benefits of remote teamwork, though, you need to approach the shift strategically and comprehensively. The goal is to simulate the traditional office setting as best as possible, despite the inherent differences that come with remote work.
Running a high-efficiency remote team requires the help of high-powered remote tools. In this article, we will cover the best tools for remote teams to maximize productivity and efficiency.
Tools for communication
With communication being so vital to the success of your remote team, it just makes sense to use technology to facilitate it in a variety of ways.
Internal instant messaging
For real-time communication and collaboration, there may be no better go-to tool than Slack.
The popular instant messaging tool can be used in a variety of ways:
- 1-to-1 communication between individual team members
- Team-wide conversations and chats
- Company-wide announcements and discussions
Managers and team members can set up separate chat rooms for different purposes, as well. Whether you have multiple employees working on a single project, need to loop specific individuals into a conversation, or simply want to allow for "water cooler" chat, Slack allows you to make it happen smoothly.
Team-wide inbox messaging
For team-wide conversations that don't necessarily happen in real-time, tools like Hiver can ensure essential messages and information never slip through the cracks and go ignored.
Hiver keeps all conversations and communications centralized in one spot, regardless of how they're sent. Additionally, the software also allows teams to tag messages for safekeeping, as well as to notify specific team members as needed.
For moments when text-based chat just won't do, video conferencing tools like Zoom will be essential.
With Zoom, you can facilitate 1-on-1 video chats, or you can pull multiple team members into a single video session as necessary. Zoom supports video conferences involving up to 100 team members:
What's more, Zoom also provides a variety of collaborative features, such as screen sharing and live document annotation. Administrators can also manage multiple rooms at once, ensuring that all employees can get where they need to be (virtually) to meet with their fellow team members.
Check out our Zoom vs Skype comparison to gauge which tool is best suited for your business.
Tools for project management
With teams spread throughout the country, and possibly the world, managers face the tough task of communicating team-wide progress on specific projects and tasks.
Which is where tools like Monday come in.
With Monday, project managers can:
- Define project scope, priority, and due dates
- Assign tasks and track team progress with reports
- Effectively manage workflows with the ability to visualize each step on a graph or timeline.
With all of this in one place, your employees will always know what they're responsible for, who they're working with, and what they'll need to do to keep things moving in the right direction.
Tools for team management
The number one reason an employee shows up and tries? Their manager. As a remote manager, you'll want to make the most out of the best opportunity to engage your team: One-on-ones and team meetings.
That's where Soapbox comes in.
Shared agendas enable your team to:
- Come prepared to discuss the essential things every single time
- Access a comprehensive list of suggested questions to prompt meaningful conversations
- Assign the next steps after every meeting to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks
Soapbox also provides analytics into the conversations you're having with your team based on four key topics: Growth, motivation, communication, and work. This allows managers and their direct reports to balance their conversations (and avoid the risk of status updates from dominating the meeting).
Because your remote team members will likely be spread out over different time zones and working different schedules, it can be challenging to schedule team-wide meetings and conferences.
Luckily, AI-based virtual assistants like X.ai can quickly analyze your employees' various schedules to determine the optimum time for you all to get together on a single screen.
In the above screenshot, "Amy" is X's AI-based scheduling tool.
This and other tools can also be used to schedule meetings with clients and customers for various purposes—again, a task that can potentially be a logistical nightmare when approached manually.
Tools for knowledge management
With so much information, data, and knowledge flowing through your organization at all times, it's crucial to keep it all documented in a single, centralized location.
Helpjuice can allow you to do just that.
An internal knowledge base can hold a ton of information, such as:
- SOP and employee handbook documentation
- Staff directories and contact information
- HR-related documents, such as contracts and other terms of employment
The goal here is to provide any proactively and all resources your team members may need to access over time. In turn, they can quickly find what they're looking for—and just as quickly put this knowledge into action.
Tools for employee training and professional development
Providing professional training and development opportunities to your remote employees is the key to keeping them engaged and growing more valuable within your organization.
With the GoSkills LMS, managers can also create and present their own courses to develop their employees' skills and abilities in various ways. You can also track your employees headway through their courses, and generate progress reports based on their efforts.
GoSkills also provides opportunities for social and gamified learning, allowing you to keep your employees motivated and connected.
You might also use GoSkills in a "meta" sort of way, developing courses specifically aimed at training new and current employees to be more productive and efficient when working remotely.
If your team is new to learning online, check out our guide on how to implement remote learning in your organization.
Tools for tracking time
As the manager of a remote team, one of your key responsibilities lies in keeping track of their productivity and progress at all times.
You also need to enable your employees to keep track of their efforts, as well.
Tools like OnTheClock, then, are a necessity.
OnTheClock helps track the time your employees spend on both tasks and projects. Employees can easily clock-in and clock-out via phone app or the web. Additionally, OnTheClock can integrate with payroll software such as ADP and QuickBooks to help produce accurate time cards for employee payroll reporting. This saves you and your team countless hours that can, in turn, be better spent on more pressing matters.
Tools for recognizing employees
Due to the nature of remote work, there tends to be a lack of opportunities to spontaneously congratulate a remote employee for a job well done.
However, if you want to ensure that team morale is high and that employees are more motivated and engaged with their work, then it's essential to find opportunities to recognize and reward employees for giving them a sense of accomplishment.
One useful tool to help with celebrating wins is Bonusly.
Bonusly makes it easy to show employees that their efforts, contributions, and achievements are appreciated with the ability to tie rewards to any action you want to reward. You can then use Bonusly to announce these various accomplishments to further recognize employees for a job well done.
Bonusly comes with analytics as well as a weekly digest, in the form of an email, to help managers better understand the effectiveness of your recognition program.
Tools for gathering feedback
With loneliness being one of the most significant issues for remote workers, it can be easy for employees to become disconnected from your organization.
Unfortunately, it can be a real challenge to get a pulse on your remote team and figure out how they're feeling and whether they're still aligned with the company's mission. That's why it's so important to periodically gather feedback from your employees, measure engagement, and check-in on their well-being.
Culture Amp is one tool that can help with its library of survey templates to help with gathering the right feedback. Additionally, Culture Amp's reporting tools can help with figuring out what's working as well as what isn't.
Tools for team building
In aiming to create a sense of alignment and camaraderie throughout your remote team, you'll need to provide ample opportunities for your employees to connect in ways that go beyond the scope of their duties.
As we said above, communication tools like Slack let you set up virtual "water cooler" chat rooms for team members to use for more recreational purposes.
You can take this even a step further with Slack plugins like Donut.
Donut allows managers to set up virtual meetings between team members who may or may not interact with each other during their ordinary course of business. You can then deliver prompts or questionnaires to get the conversation started—then sit back and let your teammates get to know each other.
Donut also allows you to take a vertical approach when creating meet-and-greet scenarios, setting up ground-level employees with C-level execs and other managerial staff members. This can help forge multi-level connections that simply wouldn't otherwise exist—and that will often lead to a valuable exchange of ideas throughout the organization.
Ready to supercharge your remote operations?
Even after this current storm has passed, continuing to focus on remote operations can lead to significant growth for your company moving forward.
That's where the best tools for remote teams come in. If you can mitigate the risks involved with remote operations—and take full advantage of the benefits of taking this approach—you're all but guaranteed to end up leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors who have stuck with the more traditional route.
Whether your team will be working remotely for the short or long term, the GoSkills LMS is the ideal way to train your team, help them gain new skills, and keep them productive. Access GoSkills' award-winning course library, upload your courses and resources, and watch your team bond and grow together, even while they are apart.
It's free to sign up and add unlimited learners to the GoSkills LMS, so you can start providing your team with the essential skills and information they need while working from home today.