Remote working is not something new. It has been around for quite some time, bouncing between the boulders of round-table discussions, delegations, and apprehension. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic raising serious questions about the health and safety of the traditional office culture, remote working is being looked upon with more prospects and a positive outlook.
Now with the avenue of remote working wide open before us and depending upon the size and nature of your organisation, your employees could be across the state borders or even across the globe. While this comes with its own set of pros, maintaining seamless communication among the team members can be a hassle. Sharing the work, taking regular updates, holding virtual meetings, and team-building across a scattered workforce can pose some serious challenges.
Remote Working Toolkit Essentials
Perhaps the greatest challenge an HR manager or a project manager faces during their job is to coalesce between the different departments and sub-departments and ensure a smooth workflow. The challenge only multiplies when the teams are working remotely.
Dropping an email or dialling up the employee every time isn’t a solution. So, here we bring a set of absolutely essential tools that you can use to organise tasks, engage with, and make life easier for your team and of course, for yourself.
#1. Team Chat Apps
When it comes to regular team communication, you really can’t cut any slack. So, despite the name, Slack is a powerful tool for the company to stay connected. It is essentially a private chat room for your entire company, while still retaining the personal messaging option.
Its alternatives are RingCentral Glip, Microsoft Teams, and Rocket Chat.
#2. Video Conferencing Apps
Real-time communication apps can suffice for your daily communication needs to quite an extent. However, at times, the need for a traditional round-table conference in an office cannot be ignored. When it comes to remote teams, video conferences are the alternative to such physical meetings.
One of the most common names, when it comes to video conferences is Zoom. This popular video calling app for official conferences allows hundreds of users on a single call.
Even Slack has a video conferencing feature.
However, if your organisation uses Google Suite or GSuite as it is popularly called, you have Google’s very own Google Meet app, which is a great option for your virtual meetings.
Some other options are Whereby and Join.me, which are web-based alternatives that require no downloads or plugins.
What’s more, almost all of these tools have a screen sharing option – which means you can showcase those PPTs to everyone, just like you’d do in a usual meeting.
#3. Cloud Storage Service
Hard disks and pen drives are things of the past now. Secure cloud storage that can be accessed from any device is critical for remote collaboration. Your coworkers can easily share documents and multimedia files that are too large to share by email.
When it comes to cloud storage, Google Drive is the universal favourite. From documents and spreadsheets to slide presentations, your team can easily share and collaborate on projects. Another great alternative is Dropbox. Both options support storing large media files as well.
Microsoft’s OneDrive is another great alternative for companies that mainly rely on Microsoft’s Office solutions.
#4. Remote Desktop Software
Remote desktop apps let you access a computer in another location so that you can completely operate it with your keyboard and mouse. It’s great for troubleshooting problems of your coworkers or guiding them for certain tasks.
Microsoft’s Remote Desktop client is built into Windows and is also available for Mac.
Anydesk is another secure and intuitive remote desktop software alternative that you can use apart from the popular TeamViewer app.
#5. Project Management Tools
Projects have multiple dimensions with a specific list of tasks that need to be followed in a specific sequence. Simply emailing your team won’t suffice in such cases. A proper task management tool is essential.
ProofHub is an online project management software that comes with an organised task manager, scheduler, and discussion boards.
Other options include Trello, Asana, or Airtable, which have simple and easy-to-use interfaces and great functionality.
#6. Online Office Suites
Once office suites were all about Microsoft Office with its host of software – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. This came pre-installed with most Windows systems. However, with the shift to remote working, we need online versions of these software that can be accessed from anywhere.
Today, G Suite is the most popular of the lot and comes with its own secure, online versions of word processors, spreadsheets, and slide presentations. However, if your preference is still Microsoft, their office suite is available online too.
#7. Productivity Tools
The in-office environment is almost always motivating and competitive. But working from home or a cafe can get messy and distracting for even the most productive employee. For the management, productivity apps are a great way of ensuring that every employee is as productive as they can be.
Krisp is a noise-cancelling app that comes handy for remote working professionals during a video call with their teammates or an important conference call with clients.
For taking quick notes and saving them in an organised manner, Evernote is highly recommended. If any of your employees suffers from a lack of focus, ask them to use Focus Booster or PomoDoneApp.
However, productivity is a subjective thing and as a company, you need to be rational about your expectations with regards to an employee’s productivity. Simply because they work from home, doesn’t mean they would be working 24/7.
#8. Brainstorming Tools
Whether working remotely or from the office, brainstorming sessions are a must. While many professionals are fans of good old whiteboarding, the good news is that anyone can mimic this experience when working remotely.
Our picks for the best mind mapping software are Coogle, Mindly, and Draw.io.
#9. Time Management Apps
For every employee working from home, time management can be a struggle, and we know that. So, if you are looking for a remote time management app, our pick of the lot is Timely. It allows you to schedule tasks and track the time spent on each project in real-time.
Other efficient time tracking options are Toggl and Everhour.
#10. Security Tools
Remote working professionals working from their personal systems or a personal or public WiFi may result in untoward risks for confidential data. Storing information on personal laptops or smartphones is not always safe.
So, as much as possible, we recommend relying on various cloud services for your data storage, backups, and file sharing. However, in cases where this may not always be possible, ensure every remote employee uses some form of encryption and anti-virus tool.
This is why we suggest Windows’ built-in BitLocker or Mac OS’s FileVault for file and disk encryption.
Updated and strong anti-virus protection is also a must for every device.
All these apps and software are incredibly powerful tools to boost a smooth workflow in an organisation. However, there are plenty of other tools and tricks out there that you can try as per the nature of your work. In the end, managing a team of remote working is about patience, determination, and innovation.
A Quick Summary of the Tools:
- Team Chat Apps: Slack, RingCentral Glip, Microsoft Teams, Rocket Chat
- Video Conferencing Apps: Zoom, Google Meet, Slack, Whereby, Join.me
- Cloud Storage Service: Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive
- Remote Desktop Software: Microsoft’s Remote Desktop, AnyDesk, TeamViewer
- Project Management Tools: ProofHub, Trello, Asana, Airtable
- Online Office Suites: GSuite, Microsoft Office Online
- Productivity Tools: Krisp, Evernote, Focus Booster, PomoDoneApp
- Brainstorming Tools: Coogle, Mindly, Draw.io
- Time Management Apps: Timely, Toggl, Everhour
- Security Tools: Windows BitLocker, Mac OS’s FileVault