These remote working tools will boost productivity for each remote worker you manage
As the manager of a virtual team, you’re in a tough spot. You can’t walk down the hall and check in with your employees. If you’re at a big firm or a startup with contractors scattered across the country – let alone a company with international personnel – you probably can’t grab lunch to catch up and get quality face time with a remote worker. And the logistical challenges of facilitating a last-minute meeting to get everyone on the same page make it not even worth the trouble sometimes.
So, what do you have going for you?
A lot, actually. For starters, you have access to remote working tools that will help you and your team get the job done. The catch is ensuring that each remote worker is equipped with, trained on, and accustomed to them. That starts with you mastering the requisite skills and then conveying them to your employees in a clear way. If they’re to meet your expectations, you have to put your employees in a position to succeed.
10 Remote Working Tools That Will Improve Remote Worker Productivity
These are in no particular order – they’re all powerful remote working tools that will have your team on top of their game in no time. Give them a try! They all offer free trials that will give you a feel for their effectiveness.
1. Time Doctor
Keeping track of what you’re doing helps to make sure the right things are getting done. Time Doctor boasts that companies can increase productivity by 22 percent with time tracking. The key is being able to find out what tasks and clients are consuming too much time.
Pricing: Starts at $9.99 a month. There is a 15-day free trial, no credit card required.
One of the best remote working tools for writers, Evernote allows you to manage projects and presentations, while collecting research, clips, pictures, and more – across all devices.
Pricing: Evernote Business, $10 per user/monthly; $120 per user/annually
The aptly named Basecamp seems to combine several remote working tools into one. I often find myself using Basecamp with colleagues and contractors, because it fosters clear discussion, a strong chain of responsibility, and a smooth way to both assign and cross off tasks. Basecamp will help you and your remote worker team coordinate efforts.
Pricing: $99 a month, free 30-day trial
Google’s suite of remote working tools – rooted in its email interface – seems to grow by the day, and the company continues to make improvements to its word processing and workflow feature, Google Docs. My favorite element is the collaboration and co-editing capability, allowing the exchange of real-time feedback from one remote worker to another. It’s great for interactive spreadsheets and calendars, as well! As manager, you can monitor progress with a glance.
Pricing: $5/month for basic, $10/month for business and $25/month for enterprise
Store documents, photos, and other files quickly and easily. Dropbox provides a centralized online repository allowing you to upload, download, and share content via a simple folder-based interface.
Pricing: Starts at $12.50 per month for three users
Primarily used as a “bird’s eye” scheduler and management tool for social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+, Hootsuite also allows you – upon your own custom set-up – to run quality control on posts from all official employee accounts related to company business. You can also see comments, mentions, retweets, and more in real-time, and access some analytics.
Pricing: Pro, $29 per month for 10 social profiles and 1 user; team is $129 a month for three users.
One of your most elusive metrics is team morale, especially when trying to gauge the well-being and outlook of a remote worker. Getting a feel for someone’s state of mind from miles away is difficult. In addition, their input on your business is valuable, but it’s unfair to expect frankness from a virtual employee who might be worried about their job security. TINYpulse provides a cool opportunity to gather anonymous feedback and stay on top of your company’s quality of life.
Pricing: Multi-tiered, contact the company for a quote
This genius software allows you to centralize your various login credentials for company-wide access and manage your passwords with simplicity and security.
Pricing: $48 per year for each license, going down with more users.
9. Hello Sign
A great resource for eSignature technology – a pressing need when you’re managing remote professionals.
Pricing: The Business Plan is $40/month when paid annually. Start with a 30-day free trial.
Set up a video conference at the spur of the moment or schedule one ahead of time. Zoom lets you have live meetings with colleagues around the world. Share your screen and record the meeting for review later.
Pricing: Basic, free; pro is $14.99 per month/per host; Business, $19.99 per month/per host
Remote Working Tools for Every Remote Worker: The Bottom Line
As you can see, there are many remote working tools available for reasonable rates. I can vouch personally or via colleagues for the value and return on investment of these 10 – they’ll improve your performance as manager and ramp up efficiency for each remote worker on your team. And remember, while these are all highly regarded apps, you might find you like a similar product better. Some people prefer Skype to Sqwiggle, others prefer Whatsapp to Hipchat. Try different products out to get a feel for what works best for your remote work.
Don’t get wedded to technology either. Always be on the lookout for new applications. Be open and available to what other people are using. If you’re working with someone who prefers one cloud-based product to what you’re familiar with, be willing to give it a try. This will show that you are easy to work with, and it also might introduce you to a new application to make you more productive or organized!
Have you tried any of these remote working tools? Do you have any recommendations on others? Let Remote Nation© know in the comments!
Photo by Barn Images