In this 5-minute read:
- Communication tools to support your remote workforce
- File sharing apps
- Project management solutions
- Tools for time-tracking
- VPN/security tools
Navigating the world of remote workers can be a challenge, especially if it’s one that you never thought you’d have to face. As you get started or continue into a long-term remote situation, it’s important to have the right tools in your belt to stay productive and keep business operations running smoothly.
Even if you only have a few remote employees or meet remotely with your customers, these tools that we’ve outlined below will prove to be immensely helpful on your journey.
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Tools for communication
The very first thing you want to do is make sure that you can easily communicate with your employees and customers. Not everyone can take their phone systems home to conference into calls or easily call a co-worker with the press of one button. So the next best thing is to get a video conferencing app.
There are tons of options out there. Here are a few that we like:
Anyone with a free Google accounts can use Google Hangouts to set up a video call with anyone else. You just need to go to hangouts.google.com, click “Video Call” and then invite people to join the call. (Google will provide a link to this).
If your office uses G-Suite, you can take advantage of the capabilities that Google Meet offers, like calendar integrations and scheduling. Through your calendar, you can set up meetings with Google Meet links that everyone on the calendar event will receive. You can also send your Google Meet links out to customers and employees to give them access to specific video meetings.
Zoom is a big one that many companies are using to communicate with one another. It’s another video conferencing solution. With the free plan, your team can have up to 100 people in a meeting, hold 40-minute long group meetings (after 40 minutes you’ll have to start a new meeting), and hold unlimited 1:1 meetings.
If you need more advanced capabilities, like holding longer meetings and recording capabilities, Zoom has premium plans available for purchase ranging from $149.90-199.90 per year.
File sharing and organization tools
File sharing is a big one that you’ll need assistance with since you won’t all be on the same network drives anymore. There are tons of options out there, but some of the most frequently used options are the following:
Google Drive is a free solution that anyone with a Google account can use. Whether your company is using G-Suite or you create work-specific free Gmail accounts, you can take advantage of the file-sharing capabilities with Google Drive.
One big advantage of this solution is that if you create your files in Google Drive, like spreadsheets or text documents, your team can edit these in real-time to easily collaborate on various projects. Each individual account can have up to 15GB of free storage, and if you need more, that’s where G-Suite comes in.
OneDrive is another solution to upload files and access them from anywhere. OneDrive backs up your files and gives you the ability to edit certain types of files across all devices.
For small teams, you might be able to get away with using individual OneDrive accounts for free. But these only have 5 GB of storage.
OneDrive has several business plans to choose from as well ranging from $5/user per month to $12.50/user per month (all have annual commitments). These plans each provide at least 1 TB of storage per user and up to 15GB for the file size.
If you need advanced security to protect your files, then the more advanced OneDrive plans could be great for you.
Another great solution for sharing all types of files, Dropbox has a range of plans from free to enterprise. The free version only allows up to 2GB of storage, so unless you rarely need to share files, we recommend starting with one of their business plans.
If you want everyone using the same account, you can get the Professional plan for $19.99/month. This includes 3 TB of storage space, mobile offline folders, and more.
Or, if you prefer each team member to have their own account (or each department to have their own account), then try their Standard or Advance plans, starting at $15/user per month and $25/user per month respectively.
Project management apps
Some kind of project management tool is a must for a remote workforce. A project management solution will help your team make and keep assignments, set due dates for tasks, and keep your tasks organized.
There are several project management solutions out there, which is why we took the time to write a separate guide for just this topic: 5 best project management solutions for small businesses
Some great solutions to start with:
You’re going to want a way to keep track of your employees’ time. Maybe you already have an internal system that your employees can access remotely, and if that’s the case, keep using it. But if you need a remote time tracking tool, you have options.
Many project management tools offer time tracking capabilities, so if you are using a project management app and need time tracking too, try to find an app that does both. Proofhub is a good one for this.
Other time-tracking tools that you can try:
A virtual private network (VPN) enables team members to send and receive data across a shared network, as if they were connected to a public network onsite. Great VPN options will have advanced security measures to ensure your information is protected and doesn’t leave your VPN.
Some solutions that you can try:
- Microsoft Azure VPN
Tools that your remote team can use for marketing
Once your team hits the ground running with your virtual tools to keep business operations going smoothly, it’s a good idea to include a few marketing resources in your toolbelt.
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