This guest post comes to us from Vaishali Badgujar. She is a digital marketer at Time Doctor, a SaaS time tracking and productivity tool for companies and freelancers. Vaishali is an inbound marketing expert and specializes in SEO.
The number of employees working remotely has been steadily increasing each year. Employees prefer to work remotely to improve work/life balance, among many other reasons. They can work from the place of their choice, avoiding the daily office commute and using that time for more fulfilling things.
Many employers also prefer to invest in technology, rather than expensive offices. Having a remote team means they can hire talented people from any location around the world. Bringing on remote employees also enables them to save on physical workspace and office administration expenses. For many businesses, offering remote work is a win-win for both employees as well as employers.
Still, for some businesses, building and managing a remote team can be disastrous. Remote work won’t be successful if you think you can just hire the best talent but fail to set up your team for success. There are many challenges to working remotely. Distractions at home, feelings of loneliness, communication gaps, internet and power connection issues, and cultural differences are a few among the hurdles remote teams may encounter. The good news is that there are countless processes and tools to help remote employees overcome these hurdles.
On the process side, we recommend document all aspects of bringing on new employees: how you plan to onboard them, assess them, evaluate performance, foster learning, and run team meetings. You should also clearly articulate your policies around working hours, leave policy, as well as unspoken details like how people tend to communicate their time out of office.
Tettra is a great place to document everything about how your team operates. It also lets the whole team get involved in sharing knowledge. This documentation, backed-up with great collaboration tools will make remote team management easier.
There are some essential tools which help keep the team focused, connected and productive when they are working remotely. A small investment in these tools will help you streamline your team and get more mileage out of it.
Here’s a list of most popular tools to help you with each facet of remote team management, along with a rough idea of the investment you’ll have to make in each of those.
Skype is a good old communication tool for remote teams. Some of the most used features of Skype are instant messaging, as well as group audio, video, and text chats. It has a simple pricing structure. Plus. the free version allows for group chats among fewer than 10 members. In the paid version, a maximum of 250 members can take part in group meetings.
Basic Plan: Free
Online Plan 2 (Skype for Business online meetings): $5.50 user/month
Office 365 Business Essentials: $5.00 user/month
Office 365 Business Premium: $12.50 user/month
Slack is one of the fastest growing communication tools among co-located and remote workers. Although it is on the higher side when it comes to cost, its amazing features make instant communication more effective. Apart from one-on-one and group messaging, Slack also provides some cool collaboration features like channels, hashtags, mentions, pins, reminders etc.
It can also integrate with other collaboration apps for better project management. Tettra has a tight Slack integration, allowing teams to query their Tettra pages from within Slack and share pages with teammates. Another beloved feature is the Google Drive integration, which makes file sharing possible during calls.
Cloud-hosted: Free with limited functionality
Standard: $6.67 per user/month billed annually ($8 billed monthly)
Plus: $12.50 per user/month billed annually ($15 billed monthly)
Zoom is a simple video conferencing software for remote teams. It promotes collaboration through an integrated system of web conferences, online meetings and group messaging. One can share files and send instant messages to colleagues. The HD video conference rooms can host as many as 100 participants, allowing them to share screens and send messages. Zoom also offers webinars with up to 25 presenters and as many as 1,000 attendees.
Free basic plan
Pro Plan: For small teams: $14.99/month/host
Business & enterprise Plan: For small, medium businesses & enterprise: $19.99/month/host
Productivity and being on track is a primary concern when working remotely. Evernote is a note-taking app that makes this easier. The basic version is free and the business version costs $14.99/user/month. The business version enables better project management, idea capture, and coordinating with remote teams.
Plus: $3.99/month or $34.99/year
Premium: $7.99/month or $69.99/year
Time Doctor is a time tracking and productivity app for remote teams. It has some amazing features like time tracking for each task, screenshots capturing and detailed timesheet reports. It helps keep remote teams focused and on track. It also gives the user a gentle nudge when engaging in unproductive activities like visiting social media sites. It detects if the user is idle for a long time and puts him or her on break. Thus, it helps maximize productivity on any given project. It can also integrate with other top cloud apps to provide better project management. Time Doctor is popular among remote companies as well as remote employees because it helps them to justify their work.
Free trial for 14 days
Solo plan: $5/month
For teams: $9.99/user/month with discounts for companies with more than 10 users.
Trello is a simple, web-based project management tool that makes collaboration easy. It is easy to manage yet flexible. One can create boards to organize any task and the status of each. Each project can be shared across the team, and cards can be assigned to team members.
Free basic plan
Business plan: $9.99 per user/month (when paid annually)
Enterprise plan: $20.83 or less per user/month (when paid annually)
Basecamp is a cloud-based online project management tool. It is a dedicated place for everything that’s happening in the company, on the team, and within projects. It helps keep everything organized and understandable. Each employee can easily find the document or letter they need. The message board helps to broadcast information across the team and also across the company. The To-Do list helps every remote team member to stay on track by sending a notification.
Free trial for 30 days
Flat Fee: $99
Google Drive is one of the best collaboration tools for remote teams. It helps you create, store, share and collaborate on files of all types like documents, spreadsheets, presentations, audio and video files and much more. G suite is free and comes with 15 GB of storage for each registered Google account. It also provides various sharing options like edit access, view etc.
Up to 15 GB: Free
Up to 100 GB: $89/month
Up to 1 TB: $479/month
Up to 10 TB: $4,799/month
GitHub is an all-in-one platform for collaborative development. It is a web-based hosting service for version control using git. When a development team is working from different parts of the world, a version control system helps the team align. GitHub is the central point of collaboration for millions of developers and projects. With GitHub, one can share code and build amazing things with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers.
For open source and public projects: Free
Developer Plan: $7/month
Organization plan: starting at $25/month/first 5 users
Business Plan on GitHub.com: $21/user/month
Business Plan on GitHub Enterprise: $21*/user/month
Remote teams use JIRA for bug tracking, issue tracking, and project management. It helps them plan and organize issues, workflows, and reports for the team. Its simple, intuitive interface enables collaboration within remote teams and allows them to get their job done in an effective manner.
Cloud: free trial for 7 days, Up to 10 users: $10 monthly flat fee, 11 to 100 users: $7 per user/month
Self-hosted: free trial for 30 days, Server: $10 one-time payment for 10 users, Data Center: $12,000 per year for 500 users
With the right mix of these tools and processes, you will not only be able to skyrocket your remote team performance but also make your employees feel organized and motivated.