Tools to boost the productivity of remote teams
Remote working has been getting more and more popular over the past few years. After the unfortunate spread of COVID-19 and the current social distancing measures applied all over the world, the number of people learning to work from home and becoming remote workers has exploded even further.
If you are new to the remote work lifestyle, this article is for you. Here, we’ll cover some of the most useful tools you should definitely learn about if you wish to become an efficient and effective remote worker. We’ll divide the tools into different categories depending on what they’re mainly used for: project management, files management, time tracking, and invoicing.
Best project management tools for remote workers
Alexa Rank: 202
Trello is one of the most used project management tools among freelancers and remote workers in general. Trello allows you to organize projects by dividing them into specific tasks and assigning them to specific people within your team. Through Trello you can also share comments and files with your team and clients. It’s definitely a straightforward and easy way to organize any kind of project, even if you don’t have a team and work on your own.
Alexa Rank: 1,021
Asana is quite similar to Trello in terms of functionalities, but it allows you to visually organize projects and tasks in many different ways rather than just being a huge board. It is generally better for bigger teams because it has extra features that allow you to see the progress that specific people or the entire team has made in a particular project or all projects. Something that comes in handy when you need to take a look at the big picture rather than just specific tasks.
Both Trello and Asana have free versions as well as premium plans that vary depending on the size of the teams and functionalities required. Some other popular project management tools to consider are ClickUp, ProofHub and Wrike.
Best communication & collaboration tools
Alexa Rank: 207
Slack is one of the most popular communication and collaboration tools for teams working remotely. It is much more than just a messenger, as it gives you the ability to split up your chats into different topics and channels and you can also call other users. Slack has a free plan to start, which limits you and your team to only the most recent 10,000 messages at any given time. The paid version does not have this limitation and has a pricing model based on the amount of users.
One of the major benefits of Slack is the ability to integrate many other tools and apps into it (including most of the ones mentioned in this article). For example, you can receive a notification whenever one of your team updates a Trello card or uploads a file to Google Drive. Most of the popular web apps have standard integration options with Slack, however you can also use a tool like Zapier to build your own automations. This makes Slack an excellent collaboration option for any remote team.
Alexa Rank: 21 (Microsoft.com)
Microsoft Teams has gradually positioned itself as one of Slack’s main competitors in the online collaboration space. This tool has a more corporate look and more robust feel. It goes without saying that it works very well with other Microsoft tools, such as their various Office 365 applications. What makes Microsoft Teams stand out is the ability to have huge video calls with up to 250 participants and the ability to share your screen.
Compared to Slack it offers a lot less flexibility in terms of splitting up your messages into separate channels and topics, and it also is much more limited in its ability to integrate other third party applications. However, it has better security and some powerful features, especially when using it as part of a wider corporate Office 365 application landscape.
Best time management & tracking tools
Time tracking tools all work very similarly. They allow remote workers and teams to track how much time they spend in specific projects by providing them with features that work just like a stopwatch. Users can start, pause and stop it while they work on certain projects and it automatically keeps track of how long they spend on previously set tasks. Some apps also allow remote workers to manually add time spent on those tasks they weren’t able to track in real time.
The most advanced tools include numerous extra features that are very useful, especially for managers to keep an eye on what their team members are working on. These features include random screenshots every few minutes, GPS tracking, daily reports and payroll automation.
These tools include Toggl (Alexa Rank 3,428), Clockify (Alexa Rank: 895,500) and Hubstaff (Alexa Rank 27,806). They all have free versions for small teams that include the very basic functionalities as well as premium accounts which include all the extra features. The three of them work very well and while they’re very similar, some of them have different functionalities that might work best for some and not so much for others. Therefore, we advise you to take a look at them all and choose the one that best fits your needs.
FLYDESK App will allow team members to check-in from their smartphone in one-click or with a tag touch to track working hours and locations. Check-in data will provide insights to users and team managers, it will facilitate team collaboration while preserving a work-life balance. One more thing, the App will allow users to book meeting rooms and desks on-demand and globally within one of the thousands of flexible office and coworking spaces available on FLYDESK.
Best video conferencing and screen sharing tools
Alexa Rank: 1 (Google.com)
Google Meet is one of the most popular tools out there at the moment for video calls and screen sharing which has added a lot of handy new features over the past few years. The most recent examples are the ability to record your meeting and the ability to display subtitles live during your meeting, which works remarkably well. There is a free version of Google Meet, but in order to enjoy all of the features you need to have a Google Suite plan.
Google Suite also allows your team to have their own dedicated email addresses using your company’s domain name and it comes with access to Google Drive. It might be a cost-effective way of gaining access to all of these features for a fixed price per user per month.
Alexa Rank: 235
Skype was one of the first well-known applications for online phone calls, video calls and screen sharing. It’s popularity has fluctuated over the years, but it is still around and still being used widely. One of its perks is that it’s free to use for most purposes and it has a flexible phone credit system in case you want to make the occasional call to landlines from abroad.
Alexa Rank: 16
Zoom is perhaps the most popular and the easiest video conferencing tool to start using, as you can access it via a weblink and you do not need an account (provided someone else sends you a link to a meeting). It has gained massive popularity over the past few months when more and more people worked from home during the COVID-19 outbreak. Out of the three tools mentioned here, Zoom is arguably the most user-friendly and easiest to use for larger groups of people and remote work teams. One aspect to note is that there have been some security concerns (especially if your meeting link somehow ends up in the wrong hands).
Best tools to generate invoices and request payments
Alexa Rank: 20,546
Invoicely is a super easy-to-use and user friendly tool that allows you to create personalized and professional-looking invoices. All you have to do is to fill in the blanks and generate the invoice, as easy as that! You can add your business information, company name, logo, billing address, due dates, payment details, and the description of each product of service you are charging for as well as the hourly rate or price per unit.
Invoicely allows you to create an account so you can save all your sent invoices in a single place as well as create templates you can reuse for recurring billing. You can also keep track of who has paid an invoice and generate reports so you keep track of your financials.
Alexa Rank: 821
Xero is more advanced than invoicely, as it is a full accounting software. It is very popular among remote workers and it has excellent reviews online.
Xero has more advanced features that are more suitable for businesses that make transactions on a regular basis. Its features include invoicing, inventory management, automated payrolls, bank connections and reconciliations, reporting, multi-currency management, performance dashboards, and the option to accept payments from the most popular online payment services.
Understandably, Xero is not free. However, it is very fairly priced and every plan comes with a 30-day free trial.
Alexa Rank: 1,173
Wave offers a series of free software for small businesses, which they offer as 3 different products: Invoicing, Receipts and Accounting. Their solutions come with a Stripe integration and are quite user friendly and straightforward to use. This is a great option to get started and you only need one account to access all of the solutions Wave offers.
Best tools to share and organize files
Alexa Rank: 1 (Google.com)
Google Drive is by far the easiest and more convenient way to organize and share files online, regardless of who you are and what you do… it just works for everybody! Google drive allows you to create, edit, store, organize and share files in many different formats including documents, spreadsheets, presentations and forms.
The free account includes 15GB of storage, but there are several premium plans that go from 30 GB to up to 30 TB (which is a lot!).
Alexa Rank: 131
WeTransfer is a website that allows you to share files for free in a very simple way. You simply go to the website and upload the content you wish to share. It will automatically generate a link you can send to another person so they download the files you want to share. As simple as that!
WeTransfer is a great option for sharing files sporadically as it’s quick, free and you don’t need to create an account to use it. Google Drive, however, is much better for those who want to share as well as create and store files in a single place.
Some other good tools for sharing and storing files are Dropbox, Box and OneDrive.
Best visual collaboration tools
Alexa Rank: 759
Loom is free software you can use to record your screen. You have the option of turning both your audio and video off and on. This makes it an incredibly handy tool to create short instructional videos for your remote team members, perhaps as part of an onboarding process. It’s also very useful to explain issues you encountered, as this is often a more efficient way of showing someone what you mean (versus typing it out or waiting for them to be available for a live screen sharing session).
It can be integrated as an easy Chrome extension. The videos are hosted online in your account, and you can choose privacy settings of sharing them. The default is set at “anyone who has the link can see this video” but you can also add a password.
Alexa Rank: 1331
Miro is a visual collaboration tool which you can use for many different purposes including brainstorming, ideation sessions, mind mapping, workflow design and planning. Think of it as an online and interactive whiteboard.
You can collaborate live with your team, including built-in chat and video call functionality. The free version gives you access to 3 free boards to collaborate on and a limited set of features, whilst the paid versions have many more features and are priced on a per user basis. Miro can be an incredibly useful tool if your work requires creativity and your team is not physically in the same location.
Another good tool for remote visual collaboration is InVision, which lets your team members give feedback on each other’s page mockups.
Best desk and meeting room booking platform
FLYDESK is a platform that allows remote workers to locate the best coworking spaces and connect with professionals in their area. Through the FLYDESK website or app, it’s possible to book spaces to work from as well as meeting rooms on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Give it a try: If you want to check all the coworking spaces available near you, just visit FLYDESK’s coworking spaces page and filter by location and type of space (Hot desk, dedicated desk, private office, even meeting rooms, event spaces or virtual office).
You’ll get instant access to all the spaces available in the area, their monthly, weekly or daily fees, photos and full details about how the memberships work. You can also schedule an appointment to go see the space or even work from there for a few hours for free before you make a decision.