Businesses large and small, old and new are embracing remote work these days. Given the benefits that such an arrangement can provide in terms of morale, engagement, and productivity, it’s no surprise remote work has proven quite popular.
A Gallup poll found 43 percent of Americans work remotely occasionally, and it has been predicted that 50 percent of the UK workforce will work remotely by 2020. Globally speaking, 70 percent of people work remotely at least once a week.
But for all the good that comes of widespread remote work, telecommuting can also pose certain issues for managers and leaders. Every company needs to provide employees with the tools and support they need to perform well, but this is especially true of remote companies, which rely entirely on technology to keep employees connected. Fully remote teams require a combination of healthy trust and the right software solutions to ensure employees remain on course to accomplish SMART objectives.
As the owner of a remote business, I have compiled a list of business tools and software that can help you and your remote team collaborate, communicate, and thrive:
1. Video Conferencing Software
Meetings can be a help or a hindrance, depending on how you run them. You don’t want to hold meetings too frequently, and you want to draw up a strict agenda ahead of time. Otherwise, you could end up spending 300,000 hours a year in pointless meetings.
Having said that, meetings are necessary for remote teams, as they ensure everyone is communicating and on the same page. For the most effective meetings, you’ll want to utilize video conferencing software. This allows employees to get to know one another by face, creating a more unified atmosphere that encourages collaboration, engagement, and performance.
There are a number of video conferencing software options to choose from, including Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Zoho. Each has its own advantages and special features, so take some time to decide which package is best for your company.
2. Performance Management Software
Performance management software helps managers stay on top of regular performance discussions, collaborate with employees, and provide real-time feedback. It can also yield detailed data regarding employee progress, which will help you make important business decisions going forward.
The best performance management software is simple and easy to use. If you require extensive training in order to use your performance management software, it may not be the right choice.
3. Team Communication Tools
When you can’t simply visit a coworker’s desk or pop into your manager’s office, you need a tool that still allows for instant communication. Team communication tools provide remote employees with the ability to solicit and deliver feedback more quickly and effectively than they could via email. Most team communication tools also support one-to-one meetings, group chats, and the creation of specific channels for particular departments and campaigns.
4. Password Manager
Your whole team of remote workers will need access to whatever platforms you might use in your business. That means a lot of login credentials will be flying around, which is terrible for security.
To mitigate your risks, you should make use of an online password manager to keep employees’ passwords safe and secure. Solutions like LastPass generate complicated, hard-to-hack passwords automatically, and company administrators can send passwords to relevant employees as needed.
5. Time-Tracking Software
To keep track of how much time is spent on each task, many virtual companies use time-tracking software like Hubstaff. These solutions can give you peace of mind that your employees are, in fact, working when they say they are. Some time-tracking softwares even go as far as to take regular screenshots of your employees’ computers, so you can actually see what they’re doing. This may seem intrusive, but it’s quite reasonable to say employees should be focused on work during work hours. In fact, if employees know their work is being tracked, they might be even more productive than they would be in the office!
6. Project Management Software
You’ll need some way to assign tasks to your remote team members, and this is where project management software comes in. You can use such software to track the progress and completion of important tasks, give and solicit feedback, and keep everything organized and running smoothly.
7. Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is a must for remote businesses, as it allows distributed employees to access, edit, create, and share important resources and documents from anywhere. One of the most used tools is Google Drive, but Dropbox is also quite popular.
Whether your team is already remote or just now transitioning, it’s your job as a leader to ensure your employees are outfitted with the right resources to succeed. Invest in these seven tech tools, and your remote organization will be on the path to success.
Stuart Hearn is CEO of Clear Review.