By: Nick Callos
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 43% of employees already worked from home at least occasionally. Even when things return to normal, expect the percentage of telecommuters to stay higher than before the Coronavirus.
Because bosses have discovered their team members can perform just as well from home. The research shows why the remote office works. A SurePayroll survey found 86% of workers believe they hit maximum productivity when working alone from home.
The fact is technology, specifically remote work apps and tools, have made communication and teamwork seamless—even if one employee is on a beach in Peru and another is in their apartment in New York City.
No matter what your industry is, your team can benefit from online collaboration tools. In this article, we’ll go over the best tools for working remotely with your team.
5 Best Video Conference Meeting Apps
Video conferencing has become so ubiquitous that Saturday Night Live made a skit about it. If your company needs a reliable tool for video conferences, consider one of the following five.
Have you zoomed lately?
A few years ago, that question may not have made sense. Now, everyone knows what zooming is. Zoom’s high-quality sound and picture and rich array of features make it widely popular. Zoom is also good for webinars with prospective clients. Just protect your passwords. ‘Zoombombing’ is a thing.
It sounds casual, right?
Google Hangouts is great for small businesses that want an affordable video conference tool. Hangouts also seamlessly connects to the rest of G-Suite, which is convenient if you use Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.
This name gets right to the point. With GoToMeeting, you can schedule video meetings with clients in an instant. The tool also offers transcription services, ensuring no good idea or important piece of info gets forgotten. Pricing is very reasonable as well.
If your company uses Office 365, then Microsoft Teams makes sense. Where Teams excels most is in its privacy and security. That’s crucial if you’re exchanging sensitive data. The free plan is also very generous, with unlimited chat and video calling, 10 GB of team file storage, and real-time collaboration with Office.
With exceptional video capabilities, rich features, and extra storage, Webex is great for everything from team brainstorms to presentations for clients. The app even comes with a digital assistant, making certain team collaboration runs smoothly.
5 Best Online Collaboration Tools
Collaboration is key to success in challenging times—you need seamless collaboration within your team, across departments, and with clients. That necessitates the best online collaboration tools. Consider using some of the five below (if you don’t use them already).
Create content and edit together in real-time within Google Docs. Analyze the numbers together in Google Sheets. Make a presentation with Google Slides. And keep track of deadlines and meetings with Google Calendar. As you can see, G Suite offers a lot for a (mostly) free online collaboration tool.
You don’t need to look hard to find articles about how emails can kill productivity. Slack brings communication and collaboration into one place. You don’t have to bounce between email and other platforms. Workflows are organized into channels, allowing everyone a unified view of progress. As soon as you begin using Slack, you’ll see the focus is productivity. That’s what you want, right?
Asana not only keeps team members organized and connected, but the app works really well for ensuring deadlines are met. As a work management platform, the design of the app makes setting expectations and responsibilities easy. Asana is also excellent at tracking the progress of projects.
The advantage of Office 365 is the familiar software, collaborative editing, cost-effective bundling, and unified communications with the Teams app. As a cloud-hosted platform, Office 365 isn’t limited to Windows devices. It can be used with Mac, iOS, and Android.
Here’s what’s cool about Trello: You can organize and prioritize projects with boards, cards, and lists. Yes, it’s fun and easy to use! Even better, the app simplifies delegating tasks and integrates with apps like GitHub and Google Drive. There’s even a bot that oversees and updates the workflow chart. Say hi to Butler!
5 Best Communication Apps
Anne Fisher, a career and workplace columnist at Fortune, attests that office banter improves teamwork and office culture, and therefore boosts productivity. Those watercooler jokes aren’t a waste of time. If you’re now in a remote office environment, you need a way to continue the casual conversations (and, of course, discuss work too). Here are five messaging apps that can keep your team connected and provide them a place to take breaks.
The original king of video chatting! Skype still works well for video meetings. For remote offices, though, it’s best use is perhaps as a group chat. It’s great for jokes, memes, and GIFs. It can also be used to bounce ideas around.
Most team members already have WhatsApp, which will make setting up a group easy. WhatsApp enables simple, fast messaging. It’s also quite secure, as the app has end-to-end encryption. That protects sensitive company information.
Workplace is a good option if you don’t want to bother with multiple platforms. You can use it to organize work and have casual watercooler-style conversations. Features like Groups and Live make communication efficient. With Insights, you can analyze key communication metrics and see where team collaboration needs to improve.
A cloud-based messaging app, Telegram offers arguably the highest level of privacy of any communication tool—as long as you make the group private. All Telegram messages are securely encrypted. What’s also convenient is that you can share and store basically any sort of doc or media. Groups can have up to 200,000 members (and it’s free).
Want a platform built for voice, video, and text chat? Then go with Discord. The team chat app has channels for any topic you want to discuss. And there are ample emoji reactions so you can give feedback.
Winning with the right tools and a fun, productive remote office culture
You may choose one, two, or five of the work from home apps above. Just remember the point of these work collaboration tools: to make the company more efficient and the team more connected.
As many companies begin to implement long-term flexible workplace plans (that’s good for us digital nomads), there has to be a focus on office culture. As the experts say, culture is everything.
After all, the right remote work apps will not only boost company productivity, but they’ll help create an atmosphere that supports the health, learning, and development of the team members. And that’s what will set your team up for success over the long run.
About the Author
Nick Callos has always had a passion for reading, writing, and discovering the new and unknown. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Nick holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Boston College. He currently splits his time between his hometown, Chengdu, China, and the open road. A full-time travel writer, Nick hopes his work can inspire others to explore the world more deeply and enjoy the digital nomad lifestyle.