Remote workers carry out their work differently compared to their in-office counterparts. Aside from possibly working in different time zones, remote teams are also faced with the challenge of working harmoniously through the digital sphere. That's why they have to use specific programs to keep themselves synchronized with their team leaders and coworkers. In this post, we've listed the essential tools that every remote worker should use to maximize their productivity and engagement.
Project Management Apps
Having to manage projects and tasks can be a huge undertaking for both remote team leaders and workers. For one, team leaders should be able to distribute work fairly between those who are under them and maximize everyone's skills. And for team members, knowing the priority of tasks and projects in an orderly manner is crucial in being an efficient worker. Project management apps aim to facilitate these essential conditions. Forbes' John Hall points out that project management apps help maintain communication and productivity— two aspects of utmost importance in remote team settings.
These are some of the project management apps that every remote worker needs:
Essentially, Trello is a virtual corkboard where you can organize 'cards' that contain projects, tasks, notes, files, into a neat list. This allows both remote managers and workers to arrange tasks in order of priority or deadline. What's more, you can collaborate with team members on 'cards' and even have a full discussion with them in the comment section. Trello's 'card' system allows remote workers to boost their productivity by having a visual on their workflow.
Asana is a project management tool that can break down even the most complex projects. This tool makes this possible by helping you determine how to divide projects into more manageable tasks. For example, you can create a workspace in Asana with your other team members. In that workspace, you can list all the projects that the team inside your workspace has to work on. Then, every project has its own set of to-do's that are assigned to at least one team member. This kind of workspace can help team leaders maintain accountability in the virtual office.
Time Tracking Programs
Remote team managers have the unique task of monitoring their team members from a distance. Doing this can be especially difficult, as they can't physically see what and when their team members are doing their work. This is where time tracking apps can come in. HP's Daniel Horowitz writes that time tracking apps allow teams to understand better how their time is spent, as they show how long remote workers are spending on a task. Besides that, time tracking programs also give team managers an idea of the average length of time it takes a worker to finish a task — leading to adjustments for efficiency. Furthermore, the data on time tracking apps can also be attached to client invoices to serve as proof of work.
Below, we've listed a few of the best time tracking programs for remote teams.
A lot of remote workers will love Everhour's time tracking and scheduling tools. For one, it can be fully integrated with a lot of remote productivity apps that you may use like Trello or Asana. What's great about Everhour is once you sync it with a supported app, all the projects you have created on the supported app will also show up on Everhour. This makes it easier to reflect on how long it takes you to finish a task. The only downside of Everhour is that you need to be connected to the internet to use it.
Toggl is a cloud-based time-tracking app that's beloved by many virtual workspaces. It's easy to use; simply tap the 'start' button to start tracking the time you work on a specific project and hit 'stop' after you're done. Other than its easy interface, Toggl also allows workers to delete or edit any unwanted entries for those times that you accidentally hit 'start' on a project without actually working on it. But the best thing about Toggl is that you can automatically track your time. You can do this by predetermining programs and keywords that can trigger Toggl's start action on a project.
In remote teams, communication is one of those things that has to be constantly nurtured. As the virtual workspace removes any sort of physical communication, the need for effective communication between remote workers and their supervisors is magnified. In fact, US News notes that constantly having communication in remote teams encourages accountability and engagement. This is why it's important to have the right communication platform where remote teams can interact. A proper communication platform for remote workers allows managers to effectively oversee team communication and can be integrated with other remote productivity apps.
Below, we've gathered the communication programs that will serve remote teams the best.
Slack is a team communication platform that's beloved by remote teams all over the world. It's most known for its 'channel' feature, where business leaders can create virtual departments. You also have the option of creating a separate channel to collaborate with other remote team members on a project. Slack is also built with fun features to make communication between remote team members engaging. You can use emojis to react to messages or share a status to make your availability known.
Flock is a business communication program that can be an alternative to Slack. Firstly, Flock is a little cheaper compared to Slack, so small start-ups and SMEs could use this if their budgets are tight. Secondly, Flock can better facilitate collaboration, with task management and file-sharing features built into the program. Another great feature of Flock is that you can easily send multiple emails to different individuals in the company by creating a mailing list inside the app.
As the world is thrown into uncertainty due to the current health crisis, more and more people are using video calling platforms like Zoom to connect with their loved ones. But aside from helping people connect during these precarious times, Zoom can also be used in corporate settings. For one, it can accommodate as many as 500 participants during a meeting. Furthermore, it has an extensive screen sharing feature, can record meetings, and has an easy-to-use UI.
Other Productivity Apps
Remote workers are granted a ton of flexibility when it comes to how they approach work. That's why remote working needs vary, depending on the individual. However, some core productivity apps can prove to be beneficial for every remote worker.
Here are the best productivity apps for remote workers:
Remote workers tend to be more vulnerable to security threats — especially if they frequently connect to the internet using public Wi-Fi. That's why they have to take extra precautions and download a reputable VPN like ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN offers a diverse fleet of internet servers and constantly undergoes strict information security practices to deliver the best VPN experience.
In remote teams, being able to collaborate without any hindrance is crucial. One program that can help foster collaboration in virtual workspaces are cloud storage services like Dropbox. The great thing about Dropbox is that it's integrated with a ton of other remote productivity apps like Slack and Zoom — so you can collaborate, even if you're not using the main Dropbox app. Simply upload huge files on the Dropbox cloud inside a partner app and send your coworkers a link to the file. Furthermore, Dropbox will keep your files secure as you store them on the cloud.
When it comes to virtual presentations or even doing an on-boarding session with a new remote worker, screen-recording apps can come in handy. Capto is a great screencasting app that we loved using, but it's unfortunately only available for the Mac. That's why we recommend using the equally feature-packed Screencast-O-Matic. With Screencast-O-Matic, you can record your screen and webcam simultaneously, edit the video inside the app, and have access to stock photos and videos.