Remote work is here to stay in 2021 and likely well into the future. A great many employees who spent the pandemic working from home are demanding that the arrangement be allowed to stand indefinitely and employers, wanting to appease their top performers, and also hesitant to rush back into confined spaces as the post-pandemic world begins to slowly open up, are bracing and preparing for an irreversibly changed workplace.
There are pitfalls and opportunities associated with this new remote work paradigm and to avoid and take advantage of them, respectively, the are some tools and software that every remote business should already have or be seriously looking into.
Communication, Conferencing and Event Software
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Communication, conferencing and virtual event hosting platforms are those which allow a remote company to share ideas and stay in touch with coworkers and clients. They provide invaluable digital space for your team to meet and hash out ideas and create, regardless of where in the world they are located. Zoom, Whereby, Google Hangouts, Tandem, Tuple, Prezi, Twist, Flock and Signal are just some of the dozens of communication and conferencing tools that have become widely used over the last several years, and certainly over the course of the pandemic.
Collaboration is difficult when people are not in the same room. You need to ensure that whatever remote working tools you choose for collaboration purposes they feature, at the very least, instant messaging, the ability to share documents and projects, and web conferencing to facilitate the successful planning and completion of projects–particularly if there are coworkers in a hybrid workplace.
Popular collaboration tools include ones like ProofHub, Trello, Todoist, Zoom, Monday, Nextivia and many others. Individually and combined they are a necessary part of running a remote business and connecting coworkers who are not able or perhaps don’t even want or aren’t ready to be in the same space as each other.
Task management is an essential part of any business, in-office or remote, because it delineates which assignments or parts of a workflow an individual is responsible for while keeping people and projects on the right track. They allow managers and business owners to assign tasks to people and stay up to date on progress and potential bottlenecks.
Many of the most popular task management tools allow remote employees to leave comments on their tasks to avoid confusion and miscommunication with other team members and make sure that remote coworkers collaborating on the same workflow aren’t accidentally doubling up on the work. Some of the most widely used task management tools include Clubhouse, Timely, Productboard, Airtable, Basecamp and many others.
Meetings can become disorganized, go off track, and fail to properly fulfi their intended purpose even when they aren’t done virtually, so the digital aspect certainly adds additional elements of difficulty to meeting remotely. Meeting management software is a crucial part of setting meeting times and reminders, creating an agenda and minutes that can instantly be shared with all team members, and they usually come with a recording feature that allows you to distribute copies of the meeting to people (very important for people who may not have been able to attend).
Most good meeting management software integrates with calendars and other commonly used remote work software to make sure meetings integrate seamlessly into operations. Popular meeting management software includes Slack, Instagantt, Troop Messenger, Dropbox, Google Drive and many others.
Project management tools are an essential part of ensuring and increasing team productivity while working remotely. Project management software lets employees know what their weekly and monthly tasks and targets are and connects them with their coworkers to ensure good communication and collaboration. Many come with built-in calendars to make it easier to track and stay up to date on upcoming deadlines.
Popular project management software for remote businesses include Teamwork, Smartsheet, Mavenlink, Wrike, Celoxis and a wide range of others.
Because of the flexibility associated with remote work and the lack of oversight, many remote businesses, and especially those that bill clients by the hour, need to know how people are spending their time. This is necessary information if you are to avoid and fix bottlenecks or racking up a bunch of non-billable hours that eat into your bottom line. Whatever time management program you settle on, it is important to make sure that employees do not feel micromanaged or surveilled while using or running it.
Benefits Administration Software
Benefits administration software is that which helps remote businesses design and administer employee benefits packages while also ensuring the business is in line with any government rules and regulations. Benefits administration software allow remote companies to find the benefits programs and packages that will deliver the most value to employees while keeping costs down.
Popular benefits administration software include ADP Workforce Now, Rippling, Paylocity, and Workday HCM.
It is admittedly much more difficult to create a coherent and universal organizational culture for remote businesses because the social space between people while working digitally is hard to overcome. A great way to help build a culture of rewards and recognition–which is closely linked to employee job satisfaction and engagement–is to use tools that make it easy for people to reward, praise and congratulate one another. Popular peer recognition software includes Assembly, Nectar, Blueboard and Bonusly.
Conducting business remotely involves many of the same considerations that are there when running a physical business with employees that are present in the office, with some very obvious differences. The fact that people are not able to see and work with each other face to face, discuss projects, their roles, responsibilities, keep in touch with leadership, ask questions, voice concerns and see and interact with one another in the same shared space complicates things immensely.
There are, however, ways to mitigate the downsides and ensure business flows smoothly even while operating remotely. If you keep the above remote work digital tools and software in mind throughout 2021 and beyond and the effects of the remote work revolution should be negligible.
Felix is the founder of Society of Speed, an automotive journal covering the unique lifestyle of supercar owners. Alongside automotive journalism, Felix recently graduated from university with a finance degree and enjoys helping students and other young founders grow their projects.