It’s no secret that more people are transitioning from office to a work-from-home setup.
Remote work isn’t a trend. It’s here to stay.
In fact, Buffer’s “2021 State of Remote Work” report found that 97% of workers would like to work at least some of the time remotely throughout their entire career.
And the biggest benefit they see is the flexibility it offers. Being able to pick up and go to a remote location while still being able to work is a massive game-changer for people.
But it’s also a game-changer for businesses. You get access to a wealth of talent. You reduce overheads, and it allows you to build a lifestyle business. You can wear whatever you want, live anywhere you choose, and work at your own pace. So virtual teams are a must. Great. Now what?
If you’ve got team members living in different places, you need tools to run your entire remote team effectively. This is really important to get right, so I’m going to share the tools you’ll need daily to successfully run a virtual business.
The best tool is the tool everyone can use.
Don’t get me wrong. There are a ton of tools meant for to-do lists, time management, and other areas. But I’m going to focus on the essential tools that will keep your remote team productive and connected.
Remote work also presents a whole bunch of challenges.
As your team works remotely, you can’t just go to a colleague’s desk and ask for an update. It’s hard to organize documents if they’re all coming from emails being sent to you. And, there’s no guarantee that you can schedule emergency meetings because your team might be in different time zones.
Thankfully, everything becomes possible with a project management tool.
There are a few popular tools to choose from, but Asana is my team’s favorite (and we’ve taken a few for a spin). We’ve found that it’s a great platform to manage even the largest and most complex projects.
Systems play an integral role in running a remote team successfully. And project management tools like Asana are the right solution for creating and managing a centralized system. With your team, you can collaborate in one space. Its main features allow you to:
- Create multiple project boards designated for different tasks
- Build a hierarchy of tasks for a seamless workflow
- Assign tasks to different people
- Monitor tasks that are either completed, in progress, or blocked
- Store documents and other files
Slack is a virtual messaging tool that remote workers love. It’s a communication platform that helps your teammates collaborate—to share ideas, comments, and other real-time updates.
It also takes away the necessity for email within your organization, which is not really that bad, but communication tools like Slack notify you when someone sends you a message. It has other integration features too.
Slack basically allows you to:
- Create multiple channels for different team members
- Send personal messages
- Have an audio and video call with someone
I still see a lot of people using Microsoft Office, and while it’s the best tool for office set-ups, it won’t work when running a team remotely.
It can feel daunting switching from MS Office to G-Suite, but it will be the cornerstone of your team’s ability to create assets, share files, and keep everything centralized. And once you’re up to speed on how to use it, you’ll never go back.
These are the G-Suite applications my team uses and loves:
- Gmail is the world’s most popular email service with a user-friendly interface and additional features that make it a great choice for business and personal use.
- Google Meet is a popular video communication and collaboration tool you can use to set up weekly or monthly meetings with your team.
- Google Docs allows you to create and edit text documents. Instead of attaching files to your emails, you can simply share an accessible link with your team.
- Google Sheets is a free, web-based spreadsheet application that allows you to create spreadsheets. It has a lot of awesome features, such as colorful charts and graphs, built-in formulas, tables, and other formatting options.
- Google Drive is a cloud storage platform that keeps all your files in one secure, centralized location. Remote workers can store and share documents, spreadsheets, and slide presentations.
- Google Slides allows you to make both online and offline presentations for business use.
- Google Calendar is a time-management and scheduling calendar service so you can keep track of meetings, events, and get notifications about upcoming activities.
Since G-Suite is cloud-based, every single application under it allows your remote team to:
- Share files and projects
- Make changes in real-time
- Maintain a full version history of files and track changes
- Integrate with third-party applications
Since in-person meetings are not possible when working remotely, Zoom is a great tool for scheduling weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings with your virtual team. On these calls you can:
- Check on each team member’s roles and responsibilities
- Track the progress of various projects
Set a plan of action
- Discuss other concerns or issues
- Catch up with each other
Even if you haven’t met your team members in person yet (or may never if you live oceans apart), virtual meetings bring the human element to the remote workplace.
So aside from talking about work, allot time for some chit chat—this will help cultivate relationships and build trust within your team.
And don’t forget to put together business systems for your team. These are step-by-step instructions on how to use each of the tools mentioned above. You’ll thank me for it. Learn what is a business system here.
Other Remote Work Tools:
1. World Time Buddy
If you have to schedule a meeting or event with anyone from the team, you can use World Time Buddy. This is a popular world clock and time converter. It’s the perfect solution for dealing with time across multiple time zones.
My team is spread across multiple time zones. I also have clients from other parts of the world, so I keep this open at all times to ensure I’m not scheduling calls for 3 am.
Loom is a Chrome extension that enables you to record your screen and share the video through a link in just a few clicks. It’s basically a video messaging platform for work.
So for example, if you want to train someone from your team, you can simply record yourself while doing a specific task then share the link and they can access it anytime. This is also helpful for addressing urgent matters, especially among teams working across different time zones.
Gone are the days when you have to manually write emails to each team member about the upcoming meeting schedule. Calendly offers a powerful and versatile set of features that allow you to schedule one-on-one appointments, group events, and team meetings.
It’s also great for setting up meetings with clients, consultants, vendors, media, whatever. You can just share your link and they’re able to choose a time that suits them and you.
Using Remote Work Tools to Get Things Done
These remote work tools are a necessity for your business’s success. They enable:
- A productive, motivated and happy team
- A collaborative work environment
- Strategic planning with achievable objectives
- Seamless workflow
- High-quality project deliverables that make clients happy and convert to real ROI
It’s up to you to try them out. And don’t hesitate to explore more options. Use what’s best for your team. The good news is, most of them are free, and some have free trial versions, so you can decide before committing to them.
But giving your team the tools they need to do a great job won’t guarantee they deliver the goods. You also need to build a strong work culture. Here’s how.
Now I’d like to know what you’re currently using. Did some of your favorites make the list? Is there anything you want to try?