The ‘office’ as we know it has undergone a significant transformation in the past few years, with many businesses and employees warming up to the benefits of remote or virtual working. It’s a trend that has infiltrated businesses of all sizes, from global organisations through to SMEs, sole traders and freelancers.
A recent survey by the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) and BT Business revealed that 91% of firms in Britain have at least one employee working from home, and 19% of companies claim they have over 50% of their employees working remotely, away from the office.
What’s driving this change is long-awaited improvements to digital infrastructure, along with developments in mobile and cloud computing, and of course a growing array of communication and remote working tools. Such changes have made it easier for individuals to operate remotely, while not compromising on their ability to collaborate with other team members, sometimes dispersed across the globe.
We’ve put together a handy guide of 11 indispensable remote working tools, some of which we use ourselves, and some which have come highly recommended within online forums and discussions. They’re in no particular order of preference; we just hope you will find some useful, and worth trying out…
I use Podio on a daily basis. It’s an invaluable task-based management tool for keeping track of projects and corresponding actions, while offering the functionality to chat to other team members. The interface is completely customisable to your needs, with the ability to add and remove apps. Many refer to it as the ‘Facebook for companies’.
A useful little Chrome extension for multi-location teams, that shows your colleague’s time zones every time you open a new tab.
If you’re visually minded (like me!), Trello is a Pinterest-style project management tool which can be used within a team, or individually. It allows you to organise projects via lists filled with ‘cards’, which you can comment within, upload files and images, add deadlines and notifications, etc.
If your line of business involves a fair bit of writing, and you frequently find yourself getting frustrated with track changes, Draft is worth a try. It’s a great tool for collaborative writing and editing, which keeps easy track of feedback and revisions. No more struggling over comments written over comments, and unfathomable in-document edits. What’s more, if you’re in need of a second opinion or another pair of eyes on your work, with one click you can ‘Ask a Professional’. I sometimes need to transcribe interviews and webinars as part of my work, and there’s a nifty tool for that too!
It can be hard to keep track of employee productivity at the best of times, let alone within a virtual team. This simple tool works by emailing team members every night, asking them what they achieved that day. It asks them to take just 30 seconds writing their reply so that it’s no arduous task. A digest is then emailed out the following morning so that everyone can celebrate team accomplishments.
I don’t know about you, but remembering the passwords to multiple online tools can be a real pain, and in the past I’ve been known to give up on a tool because of login issues. Meldium solves this problem, via a single sign-in, so that passwords are never exposed. Instead, managers have control over who has access to individual online tools and apps, all available via a simple dashboard.
It’s unlikely to be a tool that you need every day, but if you require a document or contract to be signed, RightSignature helps you send a document for signature in less than a minute. It’s also secured with 256-bit encryption.
I may be a little biased, but this has been my ‘go to’ online meeting platform for quite some time, and works just as brilliantly for one-to-one calls as team meetings. The ‘record’ function is particularly useful as an easy way to take minutes, and ability to share screens and keyboard and mouse control is often handy. Most importantly though, sound quality is always really good and the technology can be relied upon.
As its name suggests, 10,000ft is a planning tool which enables teams to have a bird’s eye view of the tasks that each individual is working on. Its visual interface, displayed much like a Gantt chart, makes it easy to see what’s going on at a glance. It also has built-in time-tracking and reporting options, providing detailed analytics on the profitability of workers and projects.
If you need to track your time on projects, via whatever device you like, Harvest makes this really simple. The same is true for client budgets and expenses. Gone are the days of onerous spreadsheets to complete at the end of every month, if you keep on top of things daily with Harvest. Further features are also available such as scheduling of team time, and client invoicing.
I heard a client talking about IFTTT recently with great passion, and I made a note to look it up. IFTTT is a tool that allows you to automate routine tasks with the help of ‘recipes’.There are two kinds of recipes: the DO recipe which is automatic and the IF recipe which can be actioned via a single click. So for example, whenever you post something on Facebook, you can create a DO recipe to automatically share it on Twitter.
Do you have a favourite remote working tool which isn’t in our round-up? If so, we’d love to hear about it below…