Even without taking the recent world events into account, there are lots of reasons why both businesses and individuals are starting to see more and more benefits in working remotely. According to the State of Remote Work report, 99% of their respondents would like to try working remotely for at least some time in their careers. Businesses, on the other hand, find the cost-cutting and hiring flexibility advantages of remote operations quite appealing. Ensuring a smooth transition of a business to an effective remote working structure can have quite a few moving parts that one might need to consider. From managing people in different time zones and varied workplace cultures to overcoming technological and productivity barriers, keeping a business safe in a new working mode can be quite a challenging undertaking.Fortunately, we live in a time when we have access to a wide set of tools designed to make our professional lives easier. From time control software to productivity tools, there is more than one way to ensure a safe remote working structure for a business. In this post, we have summed up 8 of such tools.
Slack: Prevent Miscommunication
Miscommunication is undeniably one of the biggest problems of companies transitioning to working remotely. Of course, this leads to a loss of productivity. Teammates are no longer able to see each other face-to-face and clarify issues by just stopping by each other’s cubicles. Consequently, certain aspects of communication get messy, with things getting lost in translation. While email may be a relatively efficient way of exchanging ideas, it’s quite far from being convenient, especially when you have to talk to several people on small issues at the same time. Now, if you want to learn how to boost productivity while working remotely, Slack can be a workable solution. The app features an advanced instant messaging system that comes with add-ons and two primary communication methods: channels and direct messages. Using these, colleagues get to exchange ideas as a group or individually. The tool also comes with video calling and file-sharing features. What’s more, it is compatible with other team management tools like Google Calendar and Jira.
Traqq: Prevent Time Theft
Since managers are unable to oversee their remote employees in an office, ensuring accountability can be challenging. After all, there are more distractions at home than in a traditional office. For example, a survey discovered that a significant number of full-time employees spend between 1.5 to three hours a day on private activities. That said, studies have shown that employees tend to work faster when they know that their actions are being monitored. Indeed, it is crucial for managers to observe their remote workers through a proper system. Thankfully, there are some best time tracking apps that make it easier for the company to identify and address time theft.For instance, managers can use Traqq to monitor the websites, software, and apps that remote employees use during work hours. The tool will track the number of minutes or hours that a worker spends on particular activities, tasks, sites, or programs. So, if an employee spends too much time shopping online, loafing around, or reading online news, a manager would know. Detailed reports will be generated, providing supervisors with data they can use for feedback and coaching.It is also worth noting that Traqq has been designed to perform automated time tracking. It can monitor employee activity without interfering with their day-to-day work or causing delays in their systems. The tool can take screenshots and video recordings of screen activity, thus providing employers with visual data. The app has an extensive collection of features for monitoring productivity across the board. Traqq lets managers analyze activity levels for individual team members and optimize overall team performance. Consequently, they can ensure that every minute worked is every minute paid.
LastPass: Prevent Data Leaks
As a company moves its operations online, lots of digital tools will now become part and parcel of everyday business processes. Handling several digital tools means dealing with lots of digital accounts — and, thus, lots of passwords. Keeping these passwords secure while making sure that employees don’t get locked out of their accounts is a necessary part of running an efficient business.With LastPass, each of your teammates gets to keep a single master login password. All the other passwords for the multitude of other accounts can be securely stored in the LastPass account and will be automatically loaded when they are required. The app is available on a number of devices and platforms and has been designed specifically to simplify remote business operations.
Google Drive: Prevent File Loss
Secure file sharing is yet another important ingredient for running a business remotely. As company operations are moved online, the number of information employees will need to exchange digitally will significantly increase — and with it, the risk of miscommunication as well as data breaches. Having a secure system ecosystem in place for exchanging work files and collaborating on projects can make things much more efficient.Sending files over email can quickly become tedious and messy — especially when working with large hefty files. While large companies often have the resources to invest in customized file sharing and exchanging tools, small businesses may not have the resources to do the same.Fortunately, Google itself comes with a comprehensive selection of services for sharing and storing files that can help out small- and mid-sized teams. You can store and share files on Google Drive (with 15GB of free storage), collaborate on text files in Google Docs, work on and share sheets with Google Sheets, create presentations with Google Slides, and more. As most people are already well familiar with Google interface, the transition to using other Google tools should not be difficult.
Mural: Prevent Mental Blocks
Working without face-to-face interaction and lively office banter may take a toll on employees’ creativity. Team building events, fun brainstorming sessions, and other cooperative working events often help with getting the creative juices flowing. When working remotely and using digital communication tools, things start to turn stale and less interesting. Mural can help. The app is basically a canvas for ideas — and unlike with most project sharing apps, you will have the freedom to share these ideas in any form you want. Your teammates will be able to put their thoughts on digital sticky notes and then arrange them into flow charts, diagrams and even drawings. This way, Mural can be a great alternative to more conventional project management tools and a new fun way to stay organized and boost creativity for your team.
Yammer: Prevent Feelings of Isolation
Lack of person-to-person communication can be a threat to team motivation in a company that has transitioned to working remotely. While most professional communication tools do have all the right features in place for efficiently exchanging files and working information, they may not leave enough room for some social aspects of cooperating on a project that a lot of us may be used to. Consistent communication personally delivered feedback, and teambuilding outings are some of the traditional methods for developing strong employee relationships. However, most of these are virtually impossible when you’re managing a remote team.Yammer can help. Often called “the Facebook for business”, the app is organized in basically the same way as a social media network. However, instead of being focused on personal updates and random news sharing, Yammer is focused on updates on work projects where teammates can post comments, like, share, and basically interact in much the same way they would on social media.
Every Time Zone: Prevent Inefficient Task Delegation
When running a business remotely, your team will need to adjust to the fact that its members may be working from different locations and, thus, in different time zones. This may be quite a challenge, especially in the beginning, and may also lead to some notable slow-downs in productivity. Keeping track of all the different time zones may get complicated and colleagues may end up messaging or even calling each other at strange times, which can further hinder productive communication.An app like Every Time Zone can make things easier for you by taking the math out of the issue. The tool lets you see what time it is in every time zone your colleagues are working in so that you can easily know who is available for a chat. Though it may seem like a relatively small thing, knowing who is available and at what time can help teammates better delegate responsibility and lead to a significant productivity boost.
Just because you’re moving your operations to the homes of your employees, it doesn’t mean that you’re sacrificing efficiency, productivity, and security. With the tools we shared in this article, you will have various means to protect your business from miscommunication, time theft, and data hacking. By solving these common remote work issues, managers can focus their efforts and time on other crucial operational aspects, such as improving their products and services.