Around 36.2 million people in the American workforce will be remote by 2025. This means that companies will continually be eyeing possibilities to maximize the productivity of teams that will be working from home — instead of working from a defined office space. Technology, health care, and financial services are deemed to be the industries with the highest number of remote teams, and more industries are expected to follow suit in the coming years.
However, making remote work efficient is trickier than might be expected. There is the possibility of collaborators easing off work because there is no physical supervision. Team members may not work at the same pace, information exchange might be slow, and communicating in real time might be a bit difficult if the remote team consists of people in different time zones. Managing remote projects can quickly become burdensome.
Identifying the exact tools needed to keep teams productive and motivated is crucial to making remote work a success, regardless of the composition of team members. This article explores some of the top remote work tools any remote worker needs to produce the best results, whether as a solo worker or as part of a team.
15 Top Tools for Effective Online Collaboration
With rapid developments in the creation of tech tools that connect people to other people regardless of their location, having a remote team or working remotely with people from any location in the world is now made easier. In fact, with the right tools, it is easy to efficiently execute projects remotely while maintaining productivity and team spirit. The following tools are among the best in five remote working phases: project management, communication, document sharing, video conferencing, and time management.
Project Management Tools
- Asana: The most impressive feature of this tool, arguably, is that it completely removes the clutter of many project management software and instead has a sleek interface. Asana allows teams — remote employees or freelancers — to organize projects in three ways: by tasks needing to be completed, by how each task is mapped out over a timeline, or by which activities fall into each stage of the project. It essentially keeps track of who is responsible for what and when. The Automation feature enables you to set rules when assigning tasks to members of the team. With Asana, it is task management at its easiest.
- Trello: Trello is essentially an easy-to-use, customizable Kanban board for teams that wish to work agile and still keep things simple. Using Trello is like placing sticky notes on the large whiteboard in the office to indicate the next task for each team member to complete. That's an oversimplified description, of course, but Trello is a simplified way to manage workflows, streamline projects and tasks, and boost productivity when managing remote work.
- Jira: Jira is particularly designed to enhance agile and software development projects. It contains tracking functionalities that make it easy to keep an eye on checklists, due dates, conversations, and more. The time-tracking feature and real-time performance reports enable teams to measure productivity over a period of time. Jira can be integrated with other remote work tools like Slack to provide a complete project management and communication suite.
- Slack: Slack boasts that it is "more secure than email," but this productivity tool also boasts impressive features that make team communication a lot more fun — even remotely. It has video calling, file sharing, and a flexible way to enhance team collaboration across different time zones. With Slack, you can schedule messages, form a (virtual) team huddle by initiating a quick gathering of team members in a live audio chat, and even collaborate with teams from other companies to complete joint projects.
- Google Hangouts: This instant messaging app is great for voice and audio calling, but it also has chat functionality that allows you to share files and documents. As a Google product, it is very easy to access via many of the other products in the Google suite of work tools. Google Hangouts can be quickly and easily called up in Gmail and G Suite or as an extension in Chrome. It is not exactly full-featured in terms of video conferencing but it is a popular choice for instant communication among teams working remotely.
- Microsoft Teams: Microsoft built this product to meet team needs. Since (almost) everyone uses a Microsoft product anyway, they might as well add this to their suite of Microsoft software. Microsoft Teams has the basic instant messaging functionality of most communication tools, as well as video conferencing. There's a free plan that supports up to 300 members at the same time.
Document Sharing and Collaboration Tools
- Google Drive: Drive is a cloud storage solution that enables remote teams to store and share files securely. When used together with the Google suite of products, such as Google Docs, Spreadsheet, PowerPoint, etc., as an efficient collaboration tool, it enables collaborators to work on the same documents in real-time.
- OneDrive: OneDrive is Microsoft's answer to Google Drive. It is a rather efficient way for teams already using Microsoft Office products to share files and collaborate on documents in real time. As with Google Drive, documents shared via OneDrive are accessible anywhere in the world via a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
- Dropbox: Yet another cloud storage product similar to Google Drive and OneDrive, Dropbox allows users to store their files online and sync them across devices, making it a great way for teams to easily access project files — as long as they are stored in the same Dropbox location. It is arguably a more efficient way of file sharing than emails, especially as there is no limit to the size of files you can share via Dropbox, as long as there is enough storage space. The same applies to Google Drive and OneDrive.
Video Conferencing Tools
- Zoom: This software provides a wide range of options for small, medium, and large-scale enterprises, as well as individuals. There are free options for small team meetings of up to 45 minutes, virtual meetings, large webinars with live chat, branded live events streamed to multiple platforms, and seamless screen sharing, which makes presentations a lot easier. You can even use a virtual background and apply filters to your video calls, making it professional and fun to use at the same time.
- Google Meet: This advanced yet simple-to-use video conferencing tool is part of Google Suite or Google Workspace. In addition to the typical video conferencing features like screen sharing, live chat, and up to 100 participants on the free plan, Google Meet has a live captioning functionality that makes it possible to follow meetings via closed captions generated in real time. One can join meetings on any mobile or desktop browser without downloading any app or logging into an account, making it efficient to use.
- Skype: Skype has taken many forms and adapted its features over the years, but it remains a reliable tool for conference calls, video chats, and screen sharing for up to 50 people at a time using the free plan. File sharing is also possible via the text chat feature, which also allows you to edit previously sent messages. The Skype app is available on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.
Time Management Tools
- Time Doctor: One of the most worrying concerns for managers of remote teams is ensuring that team members stay productive and can manage their work hours independently, without the supervision that is typical in an office environment. Time Doctor solves that problem in an instant. The tool tracks how much time has been spent working, monitors breaks from the computer, automatically creates timesheets, alerts users when they navigate to non-work-related sites, and has a payroll processing feature. It is an immersive and comprehensive tool to keep teams focused on the project at hand and help utilize time efficiently.
- ClickUp: ClickUp enables remote team managers to easily manage workflows, to-dos, project schedules, and team members. It is fully customizable such that the interface can be tailored to allow a seamless transition between different phases of a project, which ultimately saves time. With ClickUp, you can create schedules, organize calendars, track time, and manage capacity for each team member.
- Google Calendar: Many people view Google Calendar as a mere scheduling tool, but it is a powerful way of getting remote teams to work in unison. The shared Google Calendar view means that team members can see each other's scheduled activities and avoid scheduling conflicts. It is perfect for keeping an organized schedule while coordinating with clients and teams for work meetings, vacation coverage, etc. The shared schedule feature enables teams to save time going back and forth when planning meetings or projects.
With these remote working tools, you can keep individual or team tasks effective and efficient. A big plus is also the fact that most — if not all — of them have mobile apps that make it possible to use on mobile phones.
Manage Your Accounts Remotely With Skynova
Accounting is also a crucial aspect of your business that you'll need to consider how to manage effectively in a remote work situation. With Skynova, all of your bookkeeping is done online, hence it is possible to collaborate with your accountant — if you have one on your staff — from wherever.
Get started in seconds and explore how Skynova can help with your account management.
Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is meant to be used as general guidelines and may not apply to your specific situation. Always consult with a professional Business Structure Expert to ensure that you're employing the best system and tools for running your business.