By Laura Grant

Coronavirus is changing so much about everyday life. Perhaps one of the most extreme changes is the work environment. Countless businesses have needed to make the shift into a remote work setting. Of course, this can be very challenging for managers and employees who have never had this option. Luckily, in the past decade, countless amazing remote working tools have been created. 

Remote working tools allow for us to maximize efficiency as well as create an ability to be well organized. They are purposely made to make it easier to complete tasks during the workday. This is why I prefer to call them “essential” tools over “remote.” 

What are a few of the major benefits of remote working tools?

Access to talent across the country or world

One of the greatest advantages is employers now have access to talent that would not be available otherwise. Similarly, employees can land a position from anywhere in the world rather than needing to be in a specific city.  For instance, there could be a fantastic candidate that must be a work at home parent or an experienced employee hire that doesn’t want to move to the home office location. Remote tools give the flexibility and option to have access to these people.

Collaboration and creativity

Some might believe that there is a major loss in the ability to successfully collaborate with team members without being in person. However, there are plenty of tools to collaborate virtually on new ideas and strategies and it has never been easier. While working with these programs, everything can be recorded and nothing is forgotten as new ideas pop up. They aid in planning and discussion which can make the experience similar to meeting in person.

Team and task management

One of the most important things to do when choosing a remote tool set is to make sure they work well together. When you have seamless integrations within communications and tools, the team will gain a competitive advantage with the ability to quickly get work done. An example is the use of Slack and Asana. Teams can task in Asana (project management tool) within a chat in real time on Slack. 

As previously mentioned, there are several types of remote working tools that will be essential for a team to be efficient. Ultimately, choosing the right ones for the specific team will be vital. There is no one type of tool that can help remote teams connect and flourish. The more important types are project management, communication, collaboration and file sharing tools. 

What types of apps are out there and what are our top choices? 

Project Management Apps

These are tools to help you manage your team and stay organized around project progress. They allow for identifying due dates, resources working on projects, and managing details of tasks. They are on the cloud so real time updates happen and should have a mobile app to ensure you don’t miss anything in real time. 

Asana is a wonderful, easy to use app. The tool is straightforward and also allows for a bundle of configurations. Tasks of a project can be loaded into the Asana system directly from a calendar.  It works and functions well with integrations and time tracking tools such as Harvest. The mobile application is also efficient and helpful to keep up with while on the go. Project status updates are easily shared and the dashboard and task management is simple to stay on top of. 

Todoist is perfect for planning productively on an individual level. Their newest feature allows users to see the entire week at a glance and proactively organize each day. The Todoist app also lets users flag top priority tasks, add subtasks and even add recurring tasks. 

Communication Apps

Email boxes are difficult to manage and maintain conversations. New communication tools allow for teams to continue to easily follow conversations and add others to these conversations. It breaks down barriers in making sure conversations are on topic and relevant. These include virtual meeting platforms as well as chat/team applications. 

Uberconference is a free tool that works well for small group calls. It integrates well with Gmail and Slack. Some key features are the auto record function, video conferencing option, and ability to share screens. Uberconference is really a great tool if budgets are small and there is no need for all of the features offered in a larger platform like Zoom.

Twist gives more structure in a communication app. They organize conversations into threads and it is much easier to break out conversations over Slack. Users are encouraged to create a new thread for every new topic of conversation so information is easily found. Twist was created in reaction to Slack being too hectic. The app promotes productivity and asynchronous communication which allows for the team to be as efficient and stress free as possible. 

Slack is ideal for quick communication with internal teams. The app also makes it easy to create workspaces to interact with other clients easily and in one place. Some of the arguably best features are in the paid version of Slack such as integrations to other applications. 

Zoom does not need much of an introduction. However, this video conferencing app has proven to be triumphant over competitors.  Zoom is ideal for larger groups.

Collaboration Apps

MURAL is a gem. It is the ultimate tool for real time collaboration and visualization. They include agile methodologies in its structure. The templates they provide are thorough and they have an amazing support team that consistently help solve collaboration problems. MURAL is used by engineering teams, marketing teams, and others as a top tool. It integrates easily into Google Suite and has many other integrations. 

Milanote is a good option for creating an initial vision board. Milanote encompasses an easy to understand user interface and gives the ability to easily share and restrict access. 

File Sharing Apps

Google Suite is a favorite. The programs within Google Suite are great for copywriting, spreadsheets as well as more traditional document management. They also include creative tools that allow us to visualize our ideas and planning.  Document access can be easily restricted and the linking features are simple to use. The drive also configures well with virtually every platform and operating system on the market. Not to mention, files can be shared and collaborated on with anyone inside or outside of the company that needs access. 

This article only brushes the surface of the many amazing remote working tools on the market. The products chosen for a team must work well together and integrate smoothly to have the most efficient workspace.  

At this point in time, there is no telling when the world will return to normal following the coronavirus. Many teams will likely choose to stay distributed even after it is deemed safe to return to the office. It will probably take some time for people to feel comfortable in public spaces again. The safety of working from home sounds a lot better than entering an office building that may or may not have been cleaned properly. Also, the shelter in place rules have been in place for weeks giving time for teams to get used to working in the remote environment. 

Any team can succeed working remotely as long as they choose the correct applications and tools. Added bonus, a lot of tools can actually be used free of charge!