Remote working has grown exponentially in the past few years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Remote work enables companies to hire the best people and gives employees more control over their working environment. One of the things that has allowed for this remote boom is the growth of tech tools designed to support virtual teams. In order to make the most out of any given remote working arrangement, managers need to become familiar with these tools and what they can offer them.
The first thing you are going to need is a cloud-enabled platform for all of your company’s documents. Google Drive is the most popular option, with shared document editing that is ideal for collaborating teams. It’s a great piece of software, but you should make sure you are using all the tools it offers. The Muse has a great list of tips and tricks that will help you make the most of your subscription, from learning the best shortcuts to pulling out text from PDFs.
One of the first (and biggest) mistakes managers make when recruiting remote teams is ignoring onboarding. Your remote workers should be introduced to their job and the company with the same care as an in-office employee would.
Of course, it can be harder to answer every question, so it pays to have a comprehensive internal knowledge base at your workers’ disposal, containing all the info they need to get started. ProProfs Knowledge Base is an industry favorite tool for this, and it even has a free option for small businesses.
Chat functions are great for quick communication, but you can’t beat having actual face-to-face conversations. In remote teams, “face-to-face” often means video conferencing. There are several apps available for this. TechRadar rates Zoom as the best free option, but others are ideal if you want extra functionality. For example, Adobe Connect allows you to download and edit your calls as videos, and design how you want the call to be laid out.
A handy extra tool you can use for video conferencing is a digital transcription service. For as little as $1 for 10 minutes of audio, you can get a full transcript of your calls, which can then be sent to all parties as a full set of notes on the meeting. Some of these services offer up to 95 percent accuracy and can have your transcript ready in five minutes.
Slack is the top name when it comes to remote team communication tools. One of the reasons for its success is the huge availability of integrations and apps you can add to customize your experience to your team’s needs. Some of the best Slack integrations include Time Doctor, which helps you track your team’s time input and productivity, and Donut, which helps build personal connections within your team to boost morale and fight feelings of isolation from working remotely.
It’s already complicated enough coordinating a team’s schedule when they are in the same office, but this can easily become a nightmare when they are spread across different time zones. A simple tool like World Time Buddy can help with this; just pick the relevant time zones, and you will get a view of where people’s work hours will overlap.
Research has shown that 81 percent of company data breaches are due to poor passwords. One of the easiest ways to protect your company and your customers’ data is to ensure everyone is using strong passwords. However, these can be hard to keep track of, especially in a remote team, which is where a password manager comes in handy. There are several great options available, most of which are free.
Gone are the days where “working from home” meant struggling to be understood over a crackly and confusing conference call. Nowadays, tech has enabled remote teams to work smoothly and effectively with each other. In many cases, you will find dozens of great tools, many of them free or very affordable, so always remember to do your research to find the best fit for your team.