COVID-19 Pandemic: 14 Tools for Remote Teams to Stay Connected, Productive and Sane
When the existence of COVID-19 was first acknowledged, who thought that it would be responsible to bring such a drastic transformation in the way organizations work?
Even organizations that were not ready to deal with a small remote team started managing all their employees that left with no option but to work from home.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it a norm for organizations to manage remote teams. However, working remotely can be a little demanding, especially when you work from home.
You will not only have to concentrate on your office tasks but also have to maintain a good work-life balance. Nonetheless, the main takeaway for you is to make sure that you stay productive and handle your job responsibilities well when you are working from home or a remote place.
Well, we know some of the best tools for remote teams that you can use to perform exceptionally and leave a good impression on others.
Tools For Instant Messaging
The best way to stay in touch with your team is to communicate using an instant messaging tool. With instant messaging/chat tools, you can send and receive messages in real-time and without facing any delays.
Here are our top picks for instant messaging tools:
Powered by AI technology, Chanty is a handy messaging tool for keeping your remote team connected at all times. It has a simple yet intuitive interface, which makes it possible for you to exploit its features in no time. Also, this tool is developer-friendly, you can share clean lines of code with your teammates on chats.
- You can send files and links over chats
- Organize everything you shared using Teambook feature
- Unlimited message history
- Supports integration with third-party apps like Google Drive
- Make chats more fun with emojis and animated gifs
Recommended Plan: Business – Available for $1.50/user per month
Slack is a household name among remote teams and is well-known for its lightning-fast message delivery. It allows all the members of a team to stay in the loop and work together to achieve optimal productivity. You can create channels within Slack where you can add other members to talk about a particular project or topic.
- Drag and drop files and documents to share them with your team members
- Trendy UI design
- Allows you to search for old messages and shared files
- Enterprise-grade data protection
Recommended Plan: Plus – Available for $5/user per month
Tools For Audio/Video Conferencing
At times, your remote team needs to interact with one another in a more humanly approach and thus, the audio/video conference becomes practical for you. Moreover, as someone from your team may need to present something important related to the project, the following audio/video conference tools will allow them to share their screens with co-workers:
Zoom is one of the most powerful video conference tools for remote teams that you can completely trust. It allows you to make high-quality video calls to your remote teammates as well as clients and vendors. The layout is straightforward and you can use Zoom to attend meetings from a device of your choice.
- Comes with built-in messaging feature
- You can also make audio calls to your remote colleagues
- Video meeting participants limit ranges from 100 to 1000 (depends on the plan)
Recommended Plan: Business – Available for $19.99/host per month
Not necessarily a pure video conferencing platform, but Rev is great for transcribing or captioning your audio or video conferencing meetings. Rev currently has a beta program for Zoom Live Captioning, and transcribing your video recordings through a video conferencing program is easy.
- Live captions for Zoom video conferencing
- Professional transcription services
- Automatic AI-powered transcription services
- Professional closed captions
Recommended Plan: Rev is the best place to find professional 99% accurate transcription & captioning services, for $1.25 per video or audio minute.
5. Google Hangouts Meet
Google Meet is a video communication service representing the new version of Hangouts. To start a video conference with your remote team, all you need to do is set up a meeting and share a link with others that’ll allow them to join the meeting. Additionally, all the meetings are encrypted and various security measures are in place to make sure your meetings are completely safe.
- Support up to 250 participants in a video call
- Allows you to stream 720p video
- Minimalist user interface design
Recommended Plan: G Suite Business – Available for $12/user per month
Tools For Managing Projects and Teams
For organizations and managers who have to manage multiple projects and remote teams simultaneously, they need to use a specific tool known as the project management software. Here are some of the best project management tools for remote teams:
ProofHub is a leading project management software that brings together all the tools required to plan, collaborate, organize and deliver projects. It has integrated kanban boards that you can use to divide a project into multiple stages, assign tasks to different team members, set due dates, and prioritize tasks. ProofHub also allows you to track time spent on each task manually or by using built-in timers and access the records anytime using timesheets. Also, managers can define the role of each member of the team so that there’s no confusion about their responsibilities.
- Simple user interface with little to no learning curve
- Online proofing feature allows your team to review, suggest changes and collaborate on files & documents.
- Generate detailed project and resource reports
- Built-in chat interface
- Supports integration with third-party apps like Dropbox, Google Drive, Outlook, etc.
Recommended Plan: Ultimate Control – Available for $89/month
Asana is yet another popular online tool for project management. It is suitable for remote teams to stay focused and manage their projects effectively. With this tool, you can easily create project plans, share those plans with other people on the team, and even make changes to it dynamically to always keep projects on track. You can also use Asana to see how much each member on the team is busy with their work.
- Prioritize and set deadlines for each task
- Project progress monitoring in real-time
- Visualize your work using Boards
- Mark teams and projects as private to restrict unauthorized access
Recommended Plan: Business – Available for $24.99/user per month
Trello makes the life of remote teams easier with its ability to organize projects using boards, lists, and cards. You can use this tool to keep yourself updated even with the smallest activities happening within a project. Add comments, set due dates for tasks, and create checklists on a card that represents a task.
- Straightforward user interface
- Drag and drop cards from one list to another
- Deadline alerts & notifications
Recommended Plan: Enterprise – Starts from $20.83
Tools For Time Tracking
For remote teams, it is quite important to keep track of the time spent on each task or activity to assess their productivity. Following are some popular time tracking tools to consider:
9. Time Doctor
Time Doctor allows you to keep a complete record of the time spent working and on breaks. Along with tracking work hours of individual team members, you can also see the time spent on each task and project. It also takes screenshots of the employee monitors at intervals specified by you, which will help you identify distractions, inefficiencies, and time-wasting.
- Let your clients access Time Doctor at no extra cost
- Alert user when sitting idle for too long or visiting a non-work website
- GPS tracking for getting employees’ location information
- Integrates with popular project management and accounting tools
Recommended Plan: Standard – Available for $9.99/user per month
The time tracking features offered by Hubstaff helps remote teams to enhance their work efficiency. Its productivity monitoring allows managers to measure the productivity of each employee with its simple yet precise time tracking. Hubstaff uses GPS and geofencing to know the location of an employee and alert managers when an employee enters or leaves a job site.
- Online timesheets allow you to record and view time tracking history
- Time Cards for accurate payroll
- Offline tracking, sync with servers once the device is reconnected to the internet
Recommended Plan: Enterprise – Available for $20/user per month
Tools For File Sharing
While working remotely, there’s a need to keep all the important documents in a centralized place so that remote workers can access them anytime and anywhere. Here are some recommended file sharing tools for remote teams:
11. Google Drive
Cloud-storage has become the most popular choice among teams to store and share all their files and documents. Google Drive is a name that many teams throughout the world rely on when it comes to organizing all the business’ data securely. You can use Google Drive to share files of almost any type with your colleagues.
- Select people with whom you want to share your files or folders
- Offline access to stored data
- Review changes and restore previous versions of a fie
Recommended Plan: Drive Enterprise – Available for $8/user per month with an additional cost of $1/25GB of storage
Dropbox is a great tool to centralize all the team content. You can create, store, and share files directly from your storage space at Dropbox. Search for files and get quick access to recent files. It is more like a smart workplace that brings teams, tools, and content together for effective collaboration.
- Admin dashboard allows monitoring of team activity and view devices connected with your Dropbox account
- Recover deleted files
- Remote wipe lets you clear files from devices that are lost or stolen
Recommended Plan: Advanced – Available for $20/user per month
Tools For Staying Sane
Working remotely means that there is a huge gap in the social interaction that usually happens between colleagues at traditional offices. This may kick in boredom into your work regime and to tackle it, you can use the tools mentioned below:
Headspace is a meditation app that you can use to eliminate stress, boost happiness, and develop peace of mind. By having your personal mediation sessions, you can reap several mental, physical and emotional health benefits. Choose meditation sessions that suit your mood and lifestyle from the extensive Headspace library.
- Short sessions are perfect to practice meditation during short breaks from work
- Sophisticated user interface
- Backed by the science of meditation
Recommended Plan: Headspace Plus – Available for $12.99 per month (single user)
Remote work is pretty much incomplete without listening to music and nothing can be better than streaming music online using Spotify. Create your own playlists by adding songs of your choice or listen to ready-made playlists. You can also turn on the autoplay feature from the settings menu to let the app play songs indefinitely based on what you have listened to recently.
- Share music tracks and playlists with your teammates using a QR code like feature
- Stream podcasts
- Download music to listen anywhere
Recommended Plan: Individual – Available for $9.99 per month (single user)
Choose and Start Using Tools for Remote Teams Today
Whether you have decided to work full-time as a remote worker, or your team has recently made a transition to remote working, you can use the tools mentioned above to empower yourself. While choosing a remote tool, it is advisable to consider both the requirements and budget of your remote team.
Help others to know about these top-rated tools for remote teams by sharing this article with them.
Author Bio: Vartika Kashyap is the CMO at ProofHub and has been one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in 2018. Her articles are inspired by office situations and work-related events. She likes to write about productivity, team building, work culture, leadership, entrepreneurship among others and contributing to a better workplace is what makes her click.