Over the last few years, remote tools have become an integral part of the working world. Many teams now operate fully remotely, many more have adopted various hybrid forms of work. And even those businesses that transitioned back to office-based work often keep these tools integrated into their internal and external work flows.
If your team is looking for solutions to improve your daily communications, either through meetings and collaborations, these are the best remote tools for the job.
Remote Tools for Daily Communication
Connecting your whole team to start the day is still an important part of productivity. There are times when you need to fire off a quick message and receive a response without clogging up your email. Here are some of the most popular remote tools for this daily communication.
To start with, Slack is an incredibly popular chat room system. It is often used even when people are all together in an open-plan office. Instead of searching through your inbox for conversations, topics can be organized into “channels.”
For example, there’s usually a general channel for the whole staff, then smaller ones for individual teams, or even one-on-one conversations. Channels can be set to public or private, and people in your Slack can join or leave those channels as necessary. It’s a great tool for organizing who needs to be discussing what.
Next up, Discord is a free messaging option that started out as being very popular in the gaming world. With the remote shift, it rapidly spread into the wider public. It’s easy to create a “Room” for your team, which can comprise different messaging channels. Plus, you can also have voice and video calls.
Since it’s so popular, Discord has a great support team and is a tried and tested remote tool for communication.
Remote Tools for Virtual Meetings
For brainstorm sessions, check-ins, and in-depth discussion, you will likely want to connect to team members face-to-face. Or as face-to-face as you can get via video chat. There are a number of options for small or large groups to see one another and commune on a deeper level than a chatroom can provide.
Some of the other tools we recommend in this article also have conferencing features, and some of the remote tools in this section also have chat bars. But they have been grouped by where their strengths lie.
Zoom has become a staple for virtual meetings, in part because you can stream much higher quality video than other in video conferencing apps. There are also handy features such as breakout rooms, live transcripts, and background filters. You can record your meeting as well, which can be useful for remembering details later.
Another tried and tested solution is Microsoft Teams. This platform is a part of Office 365, which your business may already have. If not, anyone can sign up for a free version using a personal email address. If you buy the business version, Teams will allow people to share files as big as 1 TB and it is set up to facilitate training sessions and online webinars.
GoTo Meeting is a great option for smaller businesses with a skinny budget. It allows for up to three people to conduct audio-only meetings with high-quality screen sharing for free. The lower-level membership tiers run from $12 to $16 a month for the host. If these check-ins aren’t a huge part of your workflow, this might be the right fit for occasions when things just need to be seen to be communicated.
Remote Tools for Collaborative Note-Taking
Individuals might have their own systems for tracking what they need to remember to stay on task. But for teams, a unified note-taking system that’s easily accessible and organized is imperative. The platforms below all enable collaborative use. People can access and record important information regarding projects in the works, so everyone can get on the same page.
This note-taking system is probably amongst the most popular out there, and not just for business. Evernote is nothing if not versatile. After spending a little time learning the interface, you can tag and file all the many types of notes you need to make them readily searchable, then separate them into folders. Premium subscribers can scan or photograph paper notes to Evernote, and store them in the cloud. It can even read and transcribe some writing.
Box Notes is visually simpler than Evernote, and easily shareable for group editing. You can tag specific people in Box Notes, and add annotations for everyone’s general knowledge. Inline comments make it possible for people to discuss notes as well, in case a specific point needs more focus.
Simplenote lives up to the name. It’s one of the most visually basic note-taking apps, but totally searchable and shareable. And it’s free! This is a great option for smaller teams with only a few topics to keep mutual track of.
Sharing and Editing Files
If your business doesn’t have its own servers, you will need platforms for sharing and saving important files. Some of these solutions allow for team members to co-edit as they go, streamlining collaboration. You can skip a lot of back and forth if you’re able to watch edits happen in real time.
Google Drive is one of the most popular choices for sharing and editing documents. A Google Document or Sheet allows for multiple people to work on it at once, to tag editors, and leave comments that can be responded to or resolved. Plus, it’s free up to a fairly high level of storage.
Dropbox is a more sophisticated system similar to Google Drive, but with more file security. Dropbox’s Professional and Business plans add a ton of features, including remote account wiping and synced desktop folders.
Remote Tools for Project Management
You might not need every single one of these tools to stay connected and work together. But if you do, having so many different options (and logins) can become overwhelming.
In that case, there are remote tools that provide all-in-one solutions. They allow people to communicate internally, share files, and track projects and notes. While they can look a little more complicated and take some time to learn, they allow you to handle most of your work in the same place. When you’re struggling with a million different tasks, this can be a huge relief.
Trello is like having a cork board with index cards, but married to a calendar and a timer – on your computer. The interface helps block out time and tasks, and see which are completed, which are in-process, and which haven’t started. Instead of having to check with each team member individually or scroll back through chats, you can glance at Trello and see what people are working on. It offers a number of integrations with other apps, like Slack and Dropbox, making it even more versatile for communication and file sharing.
This platform literally advertises itself as the “all-in-one toolkit for working remotely” and they’re not lying: Basecamp has a chat feature, a to-do list, a message board, allows file sharing, and tracks project activity and progress. The main issue with Basecamp is figuring out how to use all the features in the most efficient way. Not everyone needs all of these tools to run a business remotely. Start small, then build your way up to what actually supports your team.