Remote work is on the rise. And it’s not surprising. Working remotely offers a more flexible lifestyle. Not being restricted to a strict schedule means that you can more easily fit your other interests and passions around your work and into your daily life (rather than waiting for the weekend to do the things you love). It also means that you can live and work from anywhere in the world. On top of that, contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that remote workers are more productive and engaged than traditional in-office employees.
So if you are a manager looking to give your team more flexibility, a start-up founder looking to maintain low overheads, or an online business owner looking to combine work and travel, growing a remote team may be the perfect solution for you. But – in order to make sure your team remains efficient and productive when working remotely you first need to have the right tools in place.
To help you get started I have put together a list of some of the best remote working tools that will help you and your team communicate, collaborate and manage projects efficiently despite the distance.
1. Slack for internal communication
Slack is an instant messaging platform designed specifically for team collaboration.
The big advantage of using Slack compared to e-mails or other messaging tools is that team conversations can be organised into channels. Channels can be created for different topics, projects, departments, … whatever makes sense for your team. When you create a new channel you can select whether you want the channel to be public (i.e. accessible by everyone in your Slack workspace) or private (i.e. accessible only by team members who have been invited to the channel in question).
Another feature I really like about Slack is its searchable history: all conversations, messages, files and documents posted within your Slack workspace are searchable for future reference.
Another great benefit is that you can easily integrate other apps (like for example Trello, Google Drive etc.) with Slack. These integrations allow you to centralise information into a single place and make your team’s work processes more efficient.
Here is a screenshot of a Slack workspace to give you a better idea of what the tool looks like:
2. Monday.com for managing projects
Monday.com is a cloud-based project and team management software. It can be used to plan project timelines, allocate tasks to different team members, track progress, track time and schedule your week ahead.
When you first get started with Monday.com you can choose the template that best suits your project. You can then customise the template to fit your exact needs and workflows and to highlight what is most important for you and your team.
One of the things I really like about Monday.com is how visual it is. You can view your project data in a number of different formats (timelines, charts, Kansan,…) to help you quickly evaluate your progress.
Here is a very in-depth video explaining the different features and capabilities of Monday.com:
3. Trello for keeping track of tasks
If you are the type of person who loves writing to-do lists (like me!) then you will love Trello. Trello is a visual productivity tool that can be used to keep track of how your projects are progressing. It is a slightly cheaper and simpler alternative to the Monday.com app that we’ve just discussed.
The way Trello works is that you have “boards” for each of your projects. Within each board you can create “lists”. You can then add “cards” to each list. Each card covers a sub-project (like for example “Trip planning” or “Magazine article submission” or “Sponsorship”).
You can add checklists and deadlines to each card. If you are working on a project with other team members you can share cards and see each other’s progress on the assigned tasks. You can also upload documents onto Trello cards to share them with your team members.
This is what a Trello card looks like:
4. Harvest for time tracking
Harvest is a really simple time tracking software. You can use it to create invoices based on billable hours and to assess how much time your team is putting into different projects and tasks.
When you use Harvest you can track your time either by starting and stopping timers as you are working or you can enter hours manually into a timesheet. You can also integrate Harvest into tools like Trello or Google Drive to make it even easier to track time.
5. Zoom for video calls
When working remotely it’s essential to have a tool that allows you to hold good quality meetings with your coworkers and clients. That’s where Zoom comes in.
Zoom is an interactive video conferencing tools. It allows you to share your screen with other people on the call. During a Zoom call you can share files with other call participants. There is also a chat feature which can be especially useful during Q&A-type calls.
6. Google Drive for cloud storage
Google Drive is a comprehensive file sharing tool.
It is a very useful tool to have when you need to collaborate on a document with other team members. In fact, Google Drive allows you to grant people access to some of your Google documents. Team members can then make real-time changes and leave comments within the document.
You can use folders to organise your Google documents and you can also make files accessible offline if you need to work off-grid.
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