Staying productive and meeting deadlines is a challenge for any remote team. And even though there's no "I" in the team, the reality is that the only person you can rely on in your daily work is yourself. Therefore, effective time management, word processing, computing, and scheduling software are vital. Moreover, the versatile nature of remote work and the variety of job profiles associated with different areas of work are essential to keep in mind.
In this article, we will discuss several categories of applications and websites for remote teamwork, including:
Time management applications;
Apps for creating lists, boards, and notes;
Billing and accounting software;
File sharing applications;
Project management tools;
Other productivity software, etc.
We're going to skip such giants as Slack (for communicating), Google Drive (for cloud storage), Trello (project management and productivity), and Zoom (video calls) since you probably already use them. Instead, we're going to tell you about a few other tools that help to improve employee productivity and tools that you can easily add to your every-day work in a remote team. Here we go!
Time Doctor is a time-tracking software tool with many useful features, starting with employee tracking ending with project management. The interface looks somewhat outdated, but it's still a solid platform that definitely deserves your attention. Overall, it's a good time tracker, designed for a wide user audience, whether remote workers or dev teams working for large companies such as Apple and Verizon.
Time Doctor provides an ability to create a special interface for clients to track projects, reports, and check screenshots. Essentially, the tool works in a read-only mode, which shows clients screenshots with the work done.
Admins can restrict client access to monitor certain projects and people. You can expect a white-label login feature and URL to make everything look like the company's website (instead of Time Doctor's).
By connecting Payoneer, PayPal accounts in the iTunes Store, and TransferWise to Time Doctor, you can pay registered employees for their work.
As mentioned earlier, Time Doctor developers also did a great job by combining basic aspects of a project management system with a time tracker. This resulted in a compromise solution that many remote teams will surely appreciate.
Companies that need to track the activity of their employees and the time spent on work should definitely pay attention to Time Doctor. If your primary concern is time management, this program will be quite sufficient.
A good use case of the platform is if you hire a college student online to complete administrative work for your company. While you could blindly trust them and have them bill you for their hours worked, it may be a better idea to use Time Doctor on their machine to confirm they’re actually working on what they say they are and the billable hours are accurate.
A more sophisticated alternative is Kickidler https://www.kickidler.com/. It has a simple and straightforward interface, through which you can track an unlimited number of computers. Create lists and switch between them, assign access levels to track different employees and departments.
Kickidler doesn't restrict access to resources but analyzes the working day of every employee, providing a precise verdict on their performance. A built-in tool for analyzing activity dynamics shows the intensity of employees' work at their computers. So you can identify patterns in employee behavior, declines, and rises in motivation levels, and further optimize work processes.
Tettra is a simple tool for your team to organize and share the knowledge they need to get the job done.
Tettra was developed to simplify employee training within the company. It has a user-friendly UI and allows you to easily create an all-in-one knowledge base that can be updated and properly organized as you want it. This is where you can easily edit your own pages and keep your answers to recurring questions. The tool effectively helps your employees stay on track.
Tettra will automatically route various questions to the right experts and allow the askers to show their appreciation by thanking those experts. With this tool, new employees learn faster and in a more efficient way.
And now let's get into psychology for a minute. Test the personality of each employee on your remote team to get to know their characteristics and preferences better. The Crystal personality test is free, and it can help you better know how to cooperate together.
Find out about their preferred communication style, core values, and perfect career example. Let them tell you their own preferred approaches through the test. Once they pass it, you will get a personality profile and learn how to improve communication, decision-making, and build strong relationships with your team.
Crystal is also able to analyze huge amounts of data to identify and predict personalities from LinkedIn profiles or resumes. So, you can invite each member of your team to take a test on the official website. Or otherwise, open their LinkedIn profiles and find out if they're a good match for your company with 80% prediction accuracy. The tool also offers amazing reports.
The Predictive Index can also become a good alternative. This tool can help make it easier to select the best employees, learn their talents, how to inspire them, limit their engagement, and how to put together a strong remote team.
Companies use software tools not only to provide them to their employees but also to develop internal loyalty programs. With Compt, you can effectively and easily reward your employees for certain achievements. So they can get both stipends or cash bonuses, as well as other perks like cab fares, free access to online and offline courses, etc.
This software tool is easy to use and fully customizable to your company's needs. Plus, it’s also 100% IRS-compliant and can also support global teams. You can Compt to replace or enhance your existing company perks, organize them easily, spice up lifestyle benefits, etc. To make a long story short, Compt provides your team with funds to spend on what's meaningful to them.
If you have only used Zoom all this time, this one right here can become a game-changer for you. RemoteHQ enhances video calls with seamless real-time collaboration (e.g. enhanced screen sharing).
RemoteHQ can be your custom virtual office, meeting room, etc. This is where you can do much more than just hold video conferences and share your screens.
This brainstorming tool, allows you to make notes and even create a prototype concept. Unlike Zoom, you can also put a shared notepad in the center of the conversation instead of video screens. That's really convenient.
Additionally, RemoteHQ has the ability to upload files for shared viewing and a moving video chat window. All logs are automatically saved.
If you need to bring information to your team fast, try Loom. It's a new kind of working communication tool that helps you get your message via instant video sharing.
With Loom, you can record video walkthroughs, make presentations, comment, use a webcam, or do everything at once. The remote working software allows you to choose the video/audio source and video quality. While recording, Loom also displays the recording control buttons, as well as a small preview window.
After recording, the program immediately gives you a direct short link to the recorded video, which you can share with others via email, messengers, and social networks. You will also receive a notification if someone views your material. Loom is available for free, but you can subscribe to get extended features.
The free Starter plan includes features like Unlimited Creators, up to 100 videos & screenshots, 5-min videos, Team Library, and Viewer Insights. The Business plan (incl. 14-day trial) costs $8/month and includes a video drawing tool, CTAs, custom branding, and engagement insights.
Automate data flow and optimize business processes. It pulls data from Airtable, Xero, HubSpot, Jira, and other applications into Google Sheets on a preset schedule without the need for coding. We created this product to help entrepreneurs and small businesses automatically pull their data from various applications and upload it to Google Sheets.
You can even export bigquery to Google with no code Jira, HubSpot, Google Sheets, Airtable, and Xero are some of the popular tools that integrate with Coupler.io.
While reading about different ways to manage time, attention, and energy, we discovered quite an interesting fact. It turns out that the background noise of a coffee shop increases your creativity and productivity. So we downloaded Coffitivity, an app that creates a similar atmosphere in your home.
In the app, you will find only three coffee shop background noises, which in our honest opinion are not that different from each other. But that’s noise, after all - it’s all sort of similar. You can try to work in this atmosphere by turning the volume down or up, finding your perfect balance.
Coffitivity also allows you to play your favorite tune from the iTunes library and superimpose it with noise from Coffitivity. That's how you will immerse yourself in a working and creative atmosphere.
The lower buttons of the app help you put the emphasis on either the song you're playing or the coffee shop noise. In our opinion, the second option is more efficient because the melody might sound too loud for some, compared to the noise.
The app is free, so you can try it right now and start increasing your productivity!
Of course, I couldn't go without mentioning Workast. Workast helps remote teams around the world get more done. We use Workast to track tasks, monitor projects, and organize our workflow.
With their multiple extensions and easy UI, it's easy to get your remote team started with Workast. Quickly import your work from your previous platform and choose a plan that works for your team. We help you and your teams manage and control your workday.
Productivity analysis is necessary to know how productive you and your team are and how your work and rest routine is set up. This can be an essential point for those who work a lot, risking getting burned out, or work with no successful results.
Rescue Time is an application that sits in your computer's memory and automatically records how many and what programs you use, creating visual reports. RescueTime is no substitute for timekeeping apps if you need to account for activity without being tied to programs or websites. But if all you need is to know where your time goes, fight your distractions, and get powerful reports, then RescueTime is a perfect solution.
The app shows the user what they're spending their time on and helps beat the worst distractions. In Rescue Time, you can set goals for how you want to use your work time and keep track of how you achieve them with notifications and emails with reports.
Forest is an app for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone that's designed for those who can't put away their smartphone and focus on other things.
Whenever the user needs to focus on something, they can set an in-app timer (30 to 120 minutes). When the smartphone owner sets the timer, the app begins to "grow a tree." At first, the user sees a small sprout, which later transforms into an adult plant.
If the smartphone owner quits the app or switches to some other program, the tree dies. Before quitting, the app asks if the user really wants to "kill this little and cute tree." By the way, Forest does not identify your incoming calls as switching to another app.
If you want, you can grow an entire forest! Both grown and "killed" trees remain in it. The longer you don't touch the phone, the more branches your tree will grow.
For each tree grown, you will receive internal currency, which you can exchange for new types of trees. You can also share your achievements with friends on Facebook and Twitter.
This handy AI-powered noise-canceling app helps remote specialists and teams work more productively by suppressing any background noise, e.g. dog barking, a child screaming, street noise, keyboard clicks, etc.
Krisp allows you to have stress-free online meetings because sometimes a single echo or sound can ruin it all.
With Krisp, during online meetings, you will only hear the clear voices of your colleagues, without any annoying echoes. The tool also synchronizes with Zoom, Skype, Slack, and many others.
Xero is a New Zealand company that develops popular financial tracking and reporting software. It's designed to meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses. Their tool allows real-time monitoring of your cash flow. You also get access to various modules and features to help you monitor your finances.
It doesn't really matter what kind of business you're running because the cash flow module is by far the most useful and impressive area of the Xero system. The online accounting dashboard always comes in handy, and you can create budgets to estimate future income.
You can manage your inventory, track sales and purchases for quick invoicing, mark your customers, set up recurring invoices for them, etc. Invoice reminders are also quite useful since they don't let your customers forget about you.
Xero is a beautifully designed accounting software tool and great QuickBooks alternative that allows you to manage your small business finances anywhere, anytime.
Main Xero features are as follows:
View your cash flow in real-time;
Automated banking, billing, and reporting;
Unlimited users and customer support;
No installation fees, upgrade fees or contracts;
Cloud-based service. Use it wherever you are (as long as you have Internet access);
Takes information directly from your online banking. This eliminates errors when typing in numbers;
Know exactly where you are financially by downloading your banking information daily;
Helps reduce the amount of paperwork in the office;
Helps with debt collection. You can automate the invoicing procedure;
Integrates with hundreds of business development apps, including Octoboard, which offers all-in-one dashboards and reporting for businesses and marketing agencies.
1Password is a management tool that generates passwords in complex and unique variations for each site. It will save your passwords, and you can then easily enter them on your sites with just one click.
This secure app for storing passwords and other important data that you need to keep secret will help you synchronize passwords between devices and focus on your work.
1Password has the following functions:
Password and data storage;
Synchronizes passwords for PC, Mac, iOS, and Android;
Logins, credit cards, and payment information in one place;
One-click login to websites;
AES-256 Advanced Encryption Standard and Encrypt-then-MAC (MtE) protection;
Auto-lock if the device is lost or stolen;
Cross-platform, auto-sync support via Dropbox;
Local storage option for cloud-free data synchronization.
If you buy Premium, you can create new passwords, edit existing items, add favorites for quick access, etc.
HelloSign is a service that allows you to attach electronic signatures to your documents. It also works with Google and Salesforce products, and the company has about 80,000 customers in all.
HelloSign can become the easiest way to sign a document on your iPhone or iPad. It’s a simple and elegant way to scan, edit, and for managing e-signatures for your business documents. Need to sign a document on the go? The HelloSign app saves you the painstaking process of printing, signing, and scanning.
All you have to do is:
1) Import any PDF from your email or make a screenshot of the document you need to sign.
2) Create a realistic signature with your finger, which looks just like a real signature.
3) Email the signed document to the right recipient.
The tool comes in handy for completing important and timely documents such as consulting agreements, non-disclosure agreements, sales contracts, financing agreements, and more.
The free version has the following features:
Finger-sign a document;
Edit any PDF or document photo to add text, a checkmark, or signature;
Upload a document with your camera;
Sign an unlimited number of documents;
Open PDFs directly from your inbox;
Imports signed documents back into your email to make emailing easier;
Always free and easy to use;
Signature requests per month - 3;
Number of senders - 1;
Google Disk integration;
HelloSign free plan allows you to sign three documents a month, a professional account (from $15/month) allows you to sign an unlimited number of documents, checks document correctness and offers 5 templates to choose from. More expensive plans, obviously, offer more advanced features.
ContactMonkey is an internal communications tool that allows you to send beautiful, responsive HTML emails straight from Outlook or Gmail. Its drag-and-drop email template builder allows you to customize employee emails while staying on brand. The software allows you to collaborate with your team using Revision Comments, creating a space to share feedback and collaborate on templates with your team.
ContactMonkey is also great for collecting anonymous feedback from employees as you can insert pulse surveys, emoji reactions, eNPS, comments, and star ratings into your newsletters. That way, your remote workforce can voice their thoughts anonymously and leaders can take action on how to best support employees working from home.
Additionally, the tool allows communicators to measure the effectiveness of their emails with analytics, which helps continuously improve the organization’s internal communication strategy.
One of the few remote work software tools that shows the local time of your colleagues around the world. Timezone.io will help you manage your work and personal life.
Shifting to remote work is happening in companies all over the world. It concerns not only freelancers but also those who have yet to become them. Thus, knowing what tools you have at your disposal can be really helpful.
Our work processes vary, the same goes for task lists and goals. But successful remote workers also have something in common: they all find solutions. And, since completing tasks is directly related to organizing yourself and your business, it's important to find a perfect tool that suits you personally.
Working together online shouldn't be a reason for stress. Especially today, when there are so many helpful tools for organizing remote teamwork. Special work programs make it easy to manage tasks, communicate with colleagues, and track your productivity. Try different tools, experiment, and stay productive!
*This is a guest post from our friend Roy Emerson of Blougin Media Group
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