Whether you are working from home, a roadside café, or even a hotel, the joys of both being in your comfort zone and having more flexibility in your work schedule take remote work to a whole new level.
Despite the sometimes distracting atmosphere that may result from working from home, one study found that working from home just one day a week increases productivity by 13%.
Remote work has become more popular and is here to stay. That means that virtual teams must learn to connect, collaborate, and communicate efficiently without sharing the same office or even time zone. Luckily, there are already several pieces of remote working software on the market that help teams collaborate, complete tasks and exchange files, documents, and information flawlessly.
This article will highlight the different challenges facing remote teams today, the benefits of remote working and the best remote work software tools for your team in 2021.
Table of Contents
Challenges remote teams have to face
Remote workers have certain challenges; however, their challenges can be quite different from those faced by in-person office teams. In a 2018 virtual team survey by CultureWizard, 88% of respondents agreed that time zone differences are the primary challenge faced by remote workers.
In the same study, 86% of respondents described communication challenges as a primary problem with remote workers. Additionally, another study revealed that 84% of remote workers feel that virtual communication is more difficult than face-to-face as teams can face multiple barriers related to language alone, including accents, local slang, and dialects.
Lack of physical interaction with colleagues
One of the benefits of working in a regular office is the ability to meet and get to know your colleagues. Regular personal contact allows you to build strong relationships. This is absent with remote work teams located in different areas and time zones. A lack of physical interaction can create communication gaps, trust issues, disunity among team members, and even added pressure on some members. CultureWizard describes the lack of engagement and physical interaction as the crux of the different challenges facing remote teams right now.
Inability to disconnect from work
A study on the state of remote work showed that about 44% of remote workers found it difficult to disconnect from work and ended up working more than 40 hours every week.
Another survey, statistic below, shows that 47% of surveyed remote workers find it difficult to manage at-home distractions. Another challenge that 35% of participants claimed is isolation and loneliness that can affect motivation. 28% state that they have difficulty disconnecting from work and/or taking adequate time away from work. This inability to relax after work can cause employees to burn out, thus affecting an organization’s overall productivity.
Advantages of remote teams
Remote work has existed in business settings for a while, with many companies regularly hiring talent located in different parts of the world on both freelance and contract basis. However, it has gained much more traction globally due to the continuing pandemic and has fast become the norm in many industries. A survey from Statista claims that there are countless benefits of remote work, as seen in the below image.
Flexibility is the biggest benefit of remote work according to statistics. Employees enjoy the liberty of working on their own time and not being tied to a 9-to-5 daily requirement. According to a 2019 survey by Staples, 90% of employees say flexible work schedules increase their morale and productivity.
Additionally, a 2018 CultureWizard survey states that 88% of remote teams are more productive than regular office workers. The report attributes this to fewer distractions, according to 75% of remote workers in a study undertaken by Boston Consulting Group.
Earn more, save more
According to another survey released by FlexJobs and TECLA, remote workers can save about $4,000 yearly by avoiding the cost of commuting, eating out, and even purchasing work clothes. These savings are possible because remote employees can cook at home instead of buying food, and typical transportation costs can be channeled into other areas.
It is a tiring circumstance to repeat the daily routine of running to the office. In fact, stress is the biggest killer in the world today. Hence, workers are constantly searching for better strategies to complete tasks. Since the pandemic, 86% of workers acknowledge that remote working reduces stress, and a massive 77% say that remote work enhances overall wellbeing, giving room for self-care.
What is remote work software?
Remote work software allows remote teams to stay connected and boosts effective communication and collaboration, thus increasing the likelihood of successful results. There are a wide variety of remote work tools tailored for different-sized organizations and their specific needs.
Options include project management tools that help companies manage the workflow of complex and simple projects with ease. These tools help remote teams track, allocate, monitor, and manage tasks in an efficient and seamless manner. This reduces miscommunication or missed projects as all tasks are managed on one platform.
There are also communication tools like Slack that enable all team members to communicate and share ideas in real-time on one centralized platform. This way, team members never miss vital information and are kept in the loop of all decisions and updates.
Collaboration tools like Filestage make file sharing and feedback exchanges much easier thanks to a cloud-based platform that offers security and accessibility from anywhere. This tool enables team members to leave and discuss feedback directly on files or give approvals in a few minutes.
Software packages such as Zoom facilitate video calls and video conferencing for remote teams, enabling workers to share their screens, see each other and create interpersonal relationships even while apart.
Furthermore, time tracking tools like Time doctor help teams allocate, monitor, and manage the amount of time spent on specific projects. This helps projects run seamlessly until completion.
Let’s have a look at more tools from each category in the next section.
Remote work software for team collaboration
Teams that collaborate effectively can tackle mistakes, hiccups, and failures and transform their process into a flawless workflow and success. Collaboration is needed to improve the way team members interact with one another, a requirement necessary for remote workers.
Below are remote software tools that boost team collaboration.
Filestage for content review and approval
Filestage simplifies collaboration and feedback exchange for teams of all sizes and industries. On its centralized platform, users can organize and share files with team members, clients or external partners to receive clear feedback and approvals.
Invited reviewers can leave comments and annotations directly on images, videos or documents and even discuss changes with each other in real-time. This way, remote teams can reduce misunderstandings, improve content quality and streamline collaboration and communication.
Filestage has a free trial available – start here.
- Share, review, and approve different file types
- Leave time-stamped comments on videos
- Add annotations to images
- Track progress of each file on a centralized dashboard
- Set deadlines for reviewers
- Automate manual tasks
Google Drive for storage
The success of any remote team relies on access to data and information at the appropriate time. With Google Drive’s storage system, all files are saved on a central location which team members can access from any device and location.
Apart from the storage space of 15 GB to 5 TB, Google Drive provides some unique features that allow teams to collaborate effortlessly and deliver sterling results.
- Create, edit, share, and store files over the cloud
- Store files and documents in different formats
- Sync files across various devices
- Work on files simultaneously
- Information on the cloud can be accessed and updated from any location.
Figma for design collaboration
Figma is a cloud-based design platform that allows design teams to work together from anywhere in the world. This software offers a broad graphic interface where a team can efficiently collaborate on a design project without the need to meet physically. Figma makes wireframing websites, rapid prototypes, crafting, mobile designs, and everything in between come together flawlessly. Overall, if your design team needs to nail that project, nothing beats Figma.
- Create designs, graphics or mockups
- Work simultaneously with your team on a project
- Simple, uncluttered, and easy-to-use interface
Miro for idea sharing
Miro is the ultimate digital office where remote teams can brainstorm, analyze and share ideas using sticky notes when working on a project. It is so effective that remote workers can collaborate with team members in multiple time zones.
- Create, share, collaborate, and save ideas in one place
- Benefit from seamless integration with other apps
- Exchange ideas with remote team members in real-time
Smartsheet for work flexibility and security
Smartsheet is a cloud-based remote collaboration tool that helps organization members stay in touch and focus on project completion. This tool helps teams automate workflows, streamline operations and align creative campaigns for remote working. Smartsheet is particularly useful in reducing repetitive tasks and enabling flexibility and security.
- High automation capabilities that eliminate repetitive tasks
- A centralized portal where all team members can connect with one another
- A flexible and secure cloud-based tool
Remote working tools for project management
Email and messenger tools can be great ways for remote team members to communicate and manage themselves during a project, but these methods are less effective when managing projects as information could easily get lost and is hard to track. However, project management software eliminates these problems by helping remote teams stay organized, assign tasks and track progress without stress.
Now, remote teams can enjoy the best task management tool to increase productivity across all time zones. Monday offers a clear overview of the tasks and projects on your team’s plate. It also boasts a wide spreadsheet collection where team members can log information and tag others. Additionally, Monday has highly customizable templates, giving team members a wide variety of choices.
- Countless options for pre-designed project management templates
- Intuitive user interface
- Reports and analytics are available
- Workflow automation and seamless integration with other apps
Asana is a flexible piece of software that focuses on collaboration amongst remote workers. With Asana, teams build a task management system that deals with priority tasks first before delving into other tasks, allowing workers to stay organized to ensure projects are completed before the deadlines.
- Real-time task editing and commenting
- App integrations like Google Drive, Dropbox for file creation and sharing
- Task boards allow each team member to stay abreast of the current project and its progress.
- Automated work routines
ClickUp is a project management tool for remote teams of different sizes to stay organized, communicate, collaborate, and deliver results. It brings business processes and applications together while making it easy for users to monitor and track projects in real-time.
- Highly customizable with different templates
- User interface is interactive and user-friendly
- Compatible with other management apps, enabling you to work seamlessly
- Customize boards to monitor tasks and progress
When dealing with remote workers, considering factors like funding, budget, deadlines, and commitment is an important part of project management. Teamwork is one tool that will help you maintain an eagle’s eye overview on everything without overstepping your budget or boundaries.
- Dashboard for project monitoring
- Built custom pages for each client
- Time, expense and issue tracking
- Scheduling available for resource management
MeisterTask offers unlimited workflow and seamless integration as an effective task management tool built for remote workers. This tool enables leaders to bring their team members onto the same page, keeping everyone focused and in tune with project goals for faster delivery and results.
- Create customizable pages
- Track and monitor task progress as you work.
- Drag-and-drop and mass update features for task creation
Best communication tools for remote work
Teams that do not communicate do not get anything done. The following are some of the best remote communication tools to ensure flawless communication and results among team members.
Slack is a communication hub that allows remote teams to chat with team members as if they were in a real office. Accordingly, Slack is a solution to the remote communication challenges facing remote teams.
With this app, teams can have real-time conversations, remember and celebrate birthdays of team members via the integration of other tools like a birthday bot, and create specific channels according to their project in order to forge ahead seamlessly.
- 1-to-1 and group communication
- Share files, audio or video messages
- Integrate this app into others to enhance communication across teams
- Create channels to discuss specific topics
Whether planning a project, hosting a meeting, or anything in-between, Microsoft Teams will take your communication to another level. This app enhances collaboration, communication, and alignment among teams. Teams enables video calls, video conferencing, content or file sharing, and more.
- File sharing and notifications for instant messaging
- Audio and video conferencing
- Screen sharing and live chat
- Recording and scheduling
Front is the ultimate customer communication tool. Most of the time, project leaders, managers, and teams are so busy that nobody has time to properly respond to emails, especially from customers. Front allows teams to design custom communication services that blend CRM with your email inbox.
- Instant messaging to communicate with one another across several channels on one platform
- Email tracking for analytics
- Desktop and mobile applications
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, with Loom, you can record a video, add a voice note, and then send the package to your team to better explain a concept. The Loom app is handy for hybrid workers and asynchronous meetings, and it reduces stress that can be caused by lousy communication.
Now, teams can see, hear and know what to do with a task. Overall, this affordable app will keep your team aligned and solve communication hiccups, whether due to internet disruption or other factors.
- Create, edit and share links to short video recordings of your screen/camera with a voice overlay
- Teams can access the video message anytime, irrespective of time zones.
- Viewers can react to videos with emojis.
- File sharing and text extraction
TalkSpirit makes team collaboration and communication effortless. The software is one of the best remote software tools to create a secure and flawless workspace for teams across the globe. It allows your team to discuss items, share files, and collaborate on tasks, increasing productivity and delivering exceptional results.
- Central organization system for easy communication
- Ability to video call or conference any time of the day
- It has a chatbot that solves repeated tasks and saves time.
- Massive storage system for all your work
Remote working software for video calls and video conferencing
In addition to text-based tools like messengers and email, remote teams need the ability to make video calls and host video conferences in order to simulate the feeling of working in a physical office. The following are software tools that allow you to communicate on live video calls with your team members anywhere in the world.
Zoom became the go-to video call and video conferencing app as the pandemic started. Not only does it allow users to communicate with their loved ones, but it also bridged the communication gap between colleagues. For remote workers, Zoom offers a platform for secure communication with high-quality output, as it is a handy call and conferencing tool that is easy to use.
- High-quality audio and video conferencing for easier communication
- In-app messaging and screen sharing
- Scheduling and recording
Designed to replace another of Google’s apps Google Hangout – Google Meet is a quicker, faster, and safer way to organize meetings, webinars, and conferences securely among remote teams. If most of your team members are on Google or have a Gmail address, Google Meet is a simpler way to communicate and sync with other Google apps.
- Have multiple screen layouts to see your teammates
- Real-time communicating and screen sharing options
- Video calls and video conferences for up to 100 members or more, depending on the chosen plan
- Noise-cancelling features allow you to reduce noises in your environments.
GoToConnect by Jive
If your office prefers a more traditional system of communicating then you will love GoToConnect by Jive. This easy-to-use app elevates the usual phone network within the office to something digital and flawless.
With GoToConnect, teams connect to a cloud-based system making video calls, video conferencing, and other internet tools operate effectively.
- Ability to distribute calls, record or conference calls across a broad range
- Seamless integration with VoIP and other devices in this category
- Share screen(s) with your colleagues, ensuring everyone is on board and focused
- Stay connected using your old phone number
Are you looking for a secure online collaboration and communication software solution for your remote team? We introduce you to Zoho Meeting, the efficient and highly secure video call and conferencing app that ensures smooth and affordable connections. Whether a small gathering or a large one, Zoho Meeting proves that communication can be reliable without breaking the bank. Overall, this tool is transforming the way remote workers relate to one another online.
- Conduct meetings and host real-time events using a single tool
- Engage by audio, video, or screen sharing with other team members
- Deliver online presentations, webinars, and meetings effortlessly
Video conferencing and video calls are a prominent part of today’s business atmosphere, especially with remote workers. Hubilo is a tool to announce your brand and drive engagement among members for enhanced productivity. Whether you are holding a meeting or hosting an event, Hubilo has immense integration capability to execute all projects on time.
- Event configuration and advanced reporting for administrative purposes
- An effective social app that enables team members to interact in the event field and other customizable options
- Virtual lobby for a specific task so that members can work together or independently
Best tools for time tracking and management
Time tracking and management is vital for the success of any project and organization. Not only does it help your team stay organized and build an efficient task management mentality, but it also allows employees to get things done on time and meet deadlines without delay. So, if you want your team to stay on schedule, you must beat the time challenge using a time-tracking remote software tool.
Time Doctor is perhaps one of the most powerful time-tracking software tools for remote and regular businesses in 2021. The Time Doctor app keeps your team on track and monitors their efficiency, regardless of location.
- It allows the team to allocate time to a task and ensures they finish within the time frame.
- Keep tabs on how much time your employees spend doing their work or wasting online
- Know when teams login and out for a task
- It allows team leaders to assign tasks to teams based on their productivity level.
Rather than tracking what employees are doing with their time, track how long they spend on each task to ensure projects are completed on time. Hubstaff is an easy-to-use time tracking software with all the necessary tools and features to enhance your task management abilities with your team.
Now you can follow how many hours are spent on a task or project and plan your next task accordingly.
- Online timesheet and mobile time tracking feature
- Project and employee monitoring
- Geofencing and GPS tracking
- Automated reminders for administration purposes
Forest is more of a personal time-tracking software tool. It allows each member of a team to delegate work time to themselves without distractions. We know that there is a tendency to overwork when remote working. Now, there is an app to ensure you are focused and performing at your best level every day.
The Forest app includes a loyalty program that donates real money to organizations that plant trees around the globe to save our planet. As users click on the app and assign a time frame to a project, the image of a tree starts to grow. If you get distracted, the tree dies, and no money is donated.
- Tags for plants for easy time tracking
- Team members can decide what time they function the best and work as a team.
- Achievements allows users to track performance.
Flow is a simple time-tracking tool that helps you optimize your time and get work done without any distractions. It allows users to block certain websites and apps while working, helping them focus on their tasks for a set period.
- Set timer for work and pause times
- URL blocking for maximum concentration
- Timesheets available
- Advanced session controls (skip and reset sessions as needed)
There is not a time management tool that tackles micro-managed projects as efficiently as Toggl. Moreover, this remote team tool also helps teams manage time better, making collaboration easy and task management seamless.
- Timesheets for time tracking
- Set and track projects within the planned timeline
- Automated reminders
What do you need to work remotely?
Remote working gives workers and teams the ability to utilize their time and space wisely to increase productivity. As freeing as remote work can be, there are some guidelines that remote teams must adhere to if success is the goal.
While everyone wants to work from the comfort of their homes or outdoor space, there are tools and tips that can make remote work a success. Apart from the must-have electronic gadgets, remote teams will only remain productive with the following tips.
Trust is the basis for good teamwork. It is easy to analyze your colleagues at the office because you see them every day, but this can feel impossible with remote teams. For work to be efficient, remote teams must learn to build trust among each other if they want to succeed.
For remote teams, it is important to have a clear and concise work process because it helps everyone complete tasks and achieve goals more efficiently. Some remote working tools help automate certain work processes, like inventory and scheduling, so that workers always have access to updated information. Additionally, when all processes are clearly defined and outlined, tasks can be completed faster and colleagues can easily jump in and assist when needed.
Open communication culture
The success of any remote process depends on open and clear communication. Team members must learn to use the appropriate channels and words to express their opinions without causing confusion or misunderstanding. Remember, it is better to over-communicate than to assume that every colleague understands what you mean.
As remote working gradually becomes more common in business, it is paramount that teams have the best remote work software at hand to tackle the challenges they will face. In this article, we have categorized the various software tools available today to help you find the best match for your team’s needs.
As more companies and businesses transition to remote work due to the pandemic, we expect to see even more software tools utilized to enhance team communication, collaboration, and engagement.
Finally, if you need a software tool to share files and feedback as well as collaborate with your team, we recommend trying Filestage.