Managing remote teams is often challenging. Thankfully, there are methods that help managers handle specific difficulties of remote team management.
While the coronavirus epidemic is raging across Mainland China and the number of COVID-19 cases in other countries continues to rise, more and more companies encourage employees to do their jobs from home. According to Business Insider, Chevron, Shiseido and Microsoft are among those large international organizations that have already adopted the remote work model in some of their offices as a means to protect subordinates from exposure to the virus and, at the same time, maintain productivity.
Such a decision is surely a reasonable one.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that one of the best ways to prevent infection with COVID-19 as an airborne disease is to avoid contact with already infected individuals. Therefore, in the face of a high risk of the virus spread, collective interactions, including those at the workplace, are not an option.
Obviously, for many companies, to shut down their facilities and permit employees to stay at home means losing income. However, remote work can become a great solution for avoiding loss and sustaining operational efficiency in this situation.
If you are one of the concerned managers who want to contribute to the containment of coronavirus while showing excellent organizational performance, we have great news for you. Nowadays, hundreds of web-based and mobile applications for supervising remote teams are available in the market, and they can serve you well as you are learning to lead your own team in the digital space. In this list, we have reviewed the best apps you can find out there today to help you choose the one that suits the needs of your business most.
So, let’s get started.
Time Management Tools
Time audit, task-related time estimation, and use of visual calendars are some of the main time management techniques. Apps selected for this category incorporate features that will aid you in their performance and will promote better utilization of the most essential resource – time – within your team. The time tracking functionality of these instruments is all that you need to monitor work progress, whereas a straightforward representation of current operations and tasks in digital timesheets will let you coordinate workload more efficiently.
actiTIME is a powerful time tracking software that allows users to record hours spent on various job activities and compare actual performance time with the estimated one. Among the main benefits of using actiTIME for managers is the ability to review who is engaged in which project / task and evaluate if delegated work is on the right way towards completion – just a quick look at remote employees’ timesheets will exempt you from worries whether they do anything job-related when at home. Moreover, the tool provides an opportunity to run reports on financial and performance indicators based on the submitted time track data. It means that with actiTIME, you will be able to organize team workload more effectively, while richly informing your managerial decision making.
It’s an amazing product, and despite the fact that there is no cost associated with free edition it is extremely well-polished and a good deal better than other apps which have license fees. At this point actiTIME more than meets the needs of my company. Thanks for developing such a wonderful app and keeping it free!
This instrument enables users to track time automatically, which sometimes may work better for remote teams since, in their case, automation fosters a greater degree of supervision. TimeDoctor takes account of websites and applications that employees visit and creates reports on how work time is used. Besides, the app optionally takes screenshots of employees’ workstations. Thus, by using TimeDoctor, managers can review daily task performance of every team member and then develop strategies for its improvement based on hard evidence.
HiveDesk also has an automatic time track functionality and records information regarding apps utilized and websites visited. Like TimeDoctor, it takes screenshots and enables managers to run reports visualizing productivity trends. But in addition to all this, the instrument has the check-in and check-out feature (and registers check-outs automatically after a certain period of inactivity). Thereby, HiveDesk supplies managers with important data on how time is spent on different project tasks and helps them see whether the work process requires some refinement.
Project Management Tools
To make sure that a project is completed on time, managers must create detailed breakdowns of project-related operations, optimize resource allocation and monitor progress on an ongoing basis. Project management software allows doing just that. The ultimate purpose of apps presented in this category is to facilitate the management of workloads and various business activities while providing a chance to evaluate progression in employee performance without extra efforts.
One of the most popular project management tools, Trello provides a visually appealing and clear space for uncomplicated project management. Trello employs the Kanban board concept that simplifies project management and makes progress monitoring exceptionally convenient. This feature ensures operational and team transparency as it encourages the sharing of crucial information among all relevant parties. Furthermore, the app can be accessed either through web browsers or Android / iOS mobile devices to let you manage projects efficiently from home and any other place around the globe.
Since the organization of a team can be challenging even in the office environment, what could be said about the process of organizing remote collaboration? However, with Airtable, you will tackle this challenge in no time. By using this piece of software, you can arrange your subordinates’ work processes in an optimal way, review tasks, schedule activities and see whether and how the allocated duties are performed. In other words, this tool equips you with everything you may wish for to manage your team and projects effectively.
6. I Done This
In project management, it is vital to have relevant information regarding the status of work on tasks in order to detect any barriers to progress promptly. Normally, such an objective is hard to achieve when working from home, yet I Done This assists managers in keeping their remote teams’ activities synchronized. The app facilitates project supervision and clarifies the understanding of progress dynamics through the analysis of generated reports. Simple and robust, I Done This is a valuable tool for staying updated on project advancement even when all of your colleagues work from different locations.
Communication and Collaboration Tools
To complete any business endeavor on time, avoid excess costs and quality issues, it is highly important to engage in regular discussions with every key stakeholder. Thus, communication and collaboration apps are designed to make the exchange of essential information troubleproof regardless of possible distances. They help all team members be heard and cooperate comfortably towards the accomplishment of common business goals.
This highly effective piece of software is developed to support you in the coordination of human resources. The main features of the tool are the creation and the approval of employee leave requests that everyone in your team may overview on the collective leave calendar. Additionally, by using the comment feature, employees may share important notes regarding their time off requests and schedules. Therefore, with actiPLANS, it is easy not only to see which of your staff members are on duty and which are having time off but also to communicate with them on various work-related issues. Notably, with the user-friendly actiPLANS mobile app, the review of employees’ absence / presence at their remote workplaces becomes even simpler. Aside from that, the instrument can be integrated with actiTIME to combine resource coordination with time tracking functionality for even more effective management of your team.
Jell is meant to structure communication within remote teams and offers a variety of functions to make collaboration effortless. Daily online stand-up meetings carried out by implementing this app will keep you aware of everything that your employees do. The Check-Ins feature makes manager-subordinate communication smoother by providing a chance to arrange one-on-one meetings in the most convenient way of choice. As a business owner or a leader, you will appreciate Jell’s Goal Tracking feature as well for it allows sharing long-term strategic goals and the overall project picture with other users. Considering all the above, this tool will assist you in reducing misunderstanding and promoting knowledge of project details among colleagues.
One of the major problems that a manager may encounter when organizing remote team communication is employees’ resistance to adopt a new instrument. Some individuals inherently lack the motivation to explore previously unknown software and don’t want to “waste time” before eventually getting accustomed to unfamiliar features and interfaces. That’s why Facebook’s app for online communication can become a great fit for them. The tool has a very familiar functionality, as well as excellent communication and data security features, which will open doors to connecting with even the most reluctant workers and coordinating efforts on the project with them.
Time Zone Management Tools
Time zone management is highly important when working with people across states and continents, and apps belonging to this category store information regarding local time per each member of your remote team in one place so you won’t need to search for it yourself. Thereby, these tools not only increase efficiency but also assist in managing trans-national online meetings.
10. Figure It Out
Figure It Out is dedicated to those who work and communicate with individuals dwelling in disparate time zones. It automatically detects your locations and shows time in places around the world in either the 24-hour or the AM / PM format. Moreover, it displays national holidays in different countries and can group up to three locations by time zones. These features will do a great service when you need to quickly understand who currently works and who has time off and, thus, will simplify the coordination of various business-related activities.
11. World Time Buddy
Managing teams situated across nations can easily turn into a nightmare: checking local time and team members’ availability may take hours and distract from important tasks. An automated scheduling tool, World Time Buddy is of significant benefit in this situation. It features a world clock that allows for comparing current time in selected locations and finding an optimal period for video and audio calls. The app reduces the amount of effort needed for planning online meetings and conferences. Therefore, it may simplify the transition of your business to the remote work model substantially.
This tool features a world map that incorporates local time by countries. It has a straightforward layout, which supports you in finding the necessary information regarding time zones in an instant. To facilitate the process even more, you may type the name of the required city in the search bar on the Timefinder page. After that, everything you need to know about the selected place becomes available in a separate window. As simple and basic as it is, this tool is a valuable source of knowledge on time zones for managers of international remote teams.
Remote Access Software
A quick transition towards remote work may be very difficult when all the important project- and job-related data is stored in office-based computers. Nevertheless, with apps listed in this category, you will overcome this challenge without a hitch since they foster remote connections among various devices. By using them, you will not need to waste time and compromise business security when manually copying and transferring large volumes of data from one computer to another.
13. Zoho Assist
This cloud-based tool suits well to the needs of companies or business units that specialize in the provision of customer service. It enables file and data sharing between connected devices and lets you chat with other users. Zoho Assists can be installed on any type of system and device and is very easy to set up and use, whereas your customers will not even have to go through the installation process – all you need to do to integrate your device with theirs is just send a unique session URL. This attribute of the app will back you up in the efforts to bring customer interaction to another level.
Splashtop offers seamless integration across platforms and devices. It is an excellent solution for those who are interested in remote desktop connections, as well as for those who want to render customer support from any place in the world. Splashtop’s prices are among the most competitive in the market. Besides, it now offers 60-day free access for companies situated in the countries affected by coronavirus most. Therefore, if you are a resident of China, Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan and are looking for an opportunity to conduct business from home while connecting to your workplace-based computers, Splashtop is more than ideal for you.
This app is the best for managers and employees who want uncomplicated remote integration between computers, without any confusing extra functionality and attributes. AeroAdmin does not require installation or any router changes, which makes it perfect for the impromptu use. On top of that, the tool allows for parallel sessions, unattended access, connection to an unlimited number of remote devices and an easy transfer of files. All these features make AeroAdmin not only appropriate for work from home but also excellent for the supervision of remote teams.
Video Conferencing and Meeting Tools
Meetings and conferences constitute an integral part of the business process and, as firms go global and shift towards remote work models, the demand for web-based video and audio conferencing solutions increases. Pieces of software reviewed in this section enable individuals and teams from disparate locations to interact through video and audio chats. They foster free information sharing that aids managers in running projects smoothly.
The recent rise in the COVID-19 cases has caused a sharp decline in stock prices, but Zoom was among a few companies that benefited from the acceleration of the work-from-home trend and whose stocks have been on the rise during the virus outbreak. However, coronavirus is not the only reason behind Zoom’s popularity as the tool delivers on quality and efficiency. The app can be utilized for multiple purposes: business meetings, tech support sessions, webinars and so forth. Zoom processes HD video and audio and can afford up to 1000 conference participants (with 49 videos on screen). It provides an opportunity to record videos and store them either on local devices or clouds. Also, you may integrate Zoom with such instruments as Outlook, Gmail and other calendar tools that could be employed to schedule diverse events. Needless to say, data transfer through Zoom is highly secure. By implementing this app, you will be able to share information among remote team members both effectively and safely.
Arranging meetings in a remote team (especially if it is large enough) can be quite a burdensome task as you may need to invite each of its members to join the discussion individually and work hard to guarantee that everyone is available at the set time. Thanks to Doodle, the coordination of online meetings is now a cakewalk. With this tool, you can run a poll aimed to check when every team member is available and then set up a meeting in a matter of minutes. Besides, Doodle records all the information about your recent polls and upcoming events so you won’t have a chance to forget about an important meeting.
18. High Five
High Five is a cloud video conferencing app that facilitates the organization of team meetings. Before starting to utilize it, you don’t need to go through a complex process of downloading, installing and configuring since High Five is all about user-friendliness and convenience. The tool will allow you to customize meeting URLs without requiring any PIN codes or passwords for joining the arranged events. Additionally, it makes screen sharing as simple as ever and grants access from any device and platform. Finally, High Five is available through both the desktop and the mobile app to let you talk with your remote employees either from your home-based office or on the go.
Remote work has multiple advantages as it promotes savings and employee satisfaction. Today, work from home may provide another important benefit in terms of public health.
Will the tools for the management of remote teams play a role in the containment of coronavirus?
The time will show.
Yet one thing is certain: by using apps reviewed in this list, you will be able to keep your business sustainable and your remote team productive throughout any epidemic.
Are you using other tools for remote teams? Share them with us at email@example.com!