Remote working is a major draw for talent at the minute – 89% of employees said they’d prefer it to a pay rise as an incentive to boost productivity.
You might be keen to implement the practice, but worried about the challenges. It’s unsurprising. How can you keep everyone in contact and on track when the team is spread all over the city? Maybe even all over the world. Luckily, the tech industry has been dreaming up useful products for just this sort of arrangement.
This week we’ll be talking you through some of the best software to get your virtual office up and running:
First thing first: if your remote working team is spread all over the place, how do you ensure you’re all able to keep in contact? Even more problematic: how do you hold a meeting when Jeff is a #DigitalNomad swanning off around the world?
Zoom’s communication tech combines video conferencing, online meeting rooms, chat, and mobile collaboration, letting your team get face to face no matter how remote you all are.
There are a variety of subscription levels available. It starts off free for a more restricted product but, importantly, the video quality remains the same across all tiers. You never feel you’re being strong-armed into paying more with throttled meetings and dodgy connections.
The paid options feature excellent pricing when compared to competitors. For £11.99 a month, the first tier (Zoom Pro) ups your limit on multi-person meetings and adds in some useful administrator controls to allow a more granular, custom experience.
We’d say Zoom is a great product that happily scales to your business needs but don’t just take our word for it. The platform is used by massive companies like Pandora, Box, GoDaddy, Slack and Uber:that’s a glowing endorsement if we’ve ever seen one!
Slack, an acronym for Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge, is effectively a slicker and more user friendly version of the IRC channels. (And for those of our readers who aren’t massive nerds, IRC is a group messaging system).
Slack, like most products on this list, starts off free. Even better, the free tier is perfectly serviceable for most SME. If you’re looking for effective communications for a remote working team this is a great place to start!
You can freely create, search and archive channels. Great for keeping track of conversations and keeping them on topic. It can also integrate 3rd party tools like Google Drive, Trello, Zendesk, and Asana, keeping all your business activity in one place and avoiding constantly flicking through various apps to keep updated.
The fun and upbeat design of its interface and features is great for bringing some levity to the work atmosphere. Avoiding the Office Space feel is always a bonus for morale!
This handy bit of kit is a web and mobile application designed to help teams organise, track, and manage their work. Even with the free tier you have access to projects, assignees and due dates, a calendar view and status updates. This may well be enough to keep your remote working team chugging along on time and on target.
As for the subscription? It can be great for those who want to segment their teams; you gain the ability to create private projects within teams and private teams within an organisation. You can also invite an unlimited number of guests to join your account, which is a godsend for those who work with a lot of temporary clients and contractors
In effect Asana lets you track how all the pieces of a project fit together and update that as the project advances. It’s not surprising that it is some of the most popular project management software currently available!
Google G Suite
This is the umbrella term for the multitude of useful business tools Google creates bundled together as a subscription service. Some of the free stuff you’re probably already using:
- Communication software like Gmail, Hangouts and Calendar to help keep everyone in touch and on track.
- Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and Sites allow for easy collaboration on all sorts of work while Drive lets you store it all safely online
And when we say safe we mean it. Google backs your files up in two separate data centres at once. Even if one spontaneously combusts, your business won’t be affected in the slightest!
Now, you might wonder why you would pay for services the rest of us are getting for free. Well, it’s ad-free for a start. You also get significantly more storage space and, particularly pertinent for businesses: your information isn’t being harvested for advertising purposes.
You can also pick up some ace extra features based on the plan you go for:
- An Admin panel and Vault to manage your users and services.
- A custom email domain (ie. @mycompany.com). It looks far more professional!
- The option to pick up unlimited cloud storage.
- Top rate 24/7 phone, email and online support
Maximise productivity, efficiency and collaboration in the workplace with our hands-on Google G suite training workshop.