Remote work setups are nothing new. In fact, there are some companies that are completely composed of distributed teams. And given how internet connectivity is only improving over time, a new trend is emerging. Instead of having employees go to work, more and more work is going to where the professionals are instead.
Because remote employees don’t have to spend hours battling rush-hour traffic, they have more time and energy for their tasks. However, with people being far apart from each other, coordinating with one another and maintaining productivity can prove challenging. Here are some of the best IT tools small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with small budgets can use to address this.
Have your staff use productivity suites that let them collaborate
It would be very difficult to find an office worker who is not familiar with a word processor, a spreadsheet, and a slideshow presentation. These and many more apps abound in the top two cloud-based productivity suites around, namely Microsoft Office 365 and G Suite.
What makes these far superior to their non-cloud predecessors is that their apps allow users to work on the same file at the same time. Instead of having to email everyone a version of a file, seek feedback, and track file versions in inboxes, your staff can just have one file open and let the app keep track of the changes for you. This means less email clutter, less confusion on which file version the team must use, and quicker turnaround times on specific tasks.
Use cloud-based storage to share files
There are many cloud storage apps that are either free to use or are already included in productivity suite packages. Google Drive is an integral part of the G Suite platform, and the same goes for OneDrive for Microsoft Office 365. Popular alternatives include Dropbox and Box. All of these offer terabytes of storage, allow users to share files with one another, and feature integrations that allow for cross-platform interoperability.
Keep in touch via nifty communication apps
Much like how you’d use different types of knives to accomplish various tasks in the kitchen, you’ll want to use different communication tools for your distributed team.
For reaching out to people in a less formal setting and enjoying quick back-and-forths, use chat apps like Slack and Telegram. For formal online communications that feature electronic “paper trails,” email would be the perfect fit. And for live discussions with slide presentations and screen sharing, use a video conferencing app like Google Meet, UberConference, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom.
Manage projects by bringing everyone together on one platform
When it comes to project management apps, there’s practically one for every particular methodology. There’s Trello for organizations that like the simplicity of Kanban boards. For firms that need more sophisticated productivity tracking tools like Gantt and burndown charts, they’ll want Wrike or monday.com. Then there are apps that combine project management and team communication, such as Basecamp and Confluence.
Keep your data secure via cybersecurity tools
Since your remote staff will most likely use unvetted devices and connections to access your company’s network, you’ll want to put cybersecurity measures in place. You’ve probably heard that using complex passwords and changing them often helps make accounts more secure, but these make passwords easier to forget. Recovering passwords is a time-waster you can do without. Instead, use a centralized password manager like 1Password Teams.
1Password Teams generates and stores strong passwords and allows admins to manage user access to shared vaults. To keep your data even more secure, you’ll also want to implement multifactor authentication (MFA). Google and Microsoft already incorporate this in their apps, but for your in-house custom apps, you’ll want to look into using Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator to make your apps more secure.
Take care of your employees remotely via HR and payroll apps
Admin work can be done remotely, too. In fact, SMBs can save themselves a lot of money by outsourcing some of their admin functions. Some apps such as BambooHR and ZOHO People offer HR services ranging from hiring to time tracking to leave management. Additionally, apps like Salarium help with all things payroll, such as salary disbursement, tax deductions, and copays.
So many countless apps exist to help businesses like yours take advantage of remote working. To help you strategize and pick the solutions that fit your business best, turn to Umbrella. Download our eBook now to learn more.