The number of people who work from home tripled between 2019 and 2021, according to a US Census survey. Working remotely has become so popular in recent years, that technology has had to make it easier for workers to stay connected online. As well, companies of all sizes are realizing that remote work can be more efficient than in-person work. But working remotely can also be isolating, and it can be difficult to collaborate with teammates who are not in the same physical space. There are a number of tools that remote workers can use to collaborate online, from video conferencing to project management software.
There are a variety of communication tools available to remote workers that can help facilitate and collaborate online. Some common options for remote, real-time communications include:
- Voice and video conferencing: Platforms like Skype, Zoom, and Google Meet allow users to connect with one another via voice and video calling, making it easy to have face-to-face conversations even when you’re not in the same room. All three can be used on any connected device: laptops, desktops, mobile phones, and tablets.
- Instant messaging: Services like Slack, Google Workspace, Microsoft Teams, and Jabber provide instant messaging capabilities that make it easy to have quick back-and-forth conversations with colleagues.
- Project management software: Asana, Trello, and Basecamp can help teams keep track of tasks, deadlines, and progress on projects. They also typically include features like file sharing and real-time discussion forums that make collaboration easier.
Each of these tools has its own strengths and weaknesses. So it’s important to choose the right platform for your needs. Most of them offer free trial periods. This way you can test them out with your whole team before purchasing subscriptions or license fees.
Tracking Projects and Tasks
There are a few different ways to keep track of projects and tasks when working remotely. The most important thing is to find a system that works for you and your team.
One popular method is using a project management tool like Asana or Trello, both of which work very well to support small business teams. These tools allow you to create projects and tasks, assign them to team members, set due dates, and add notes and attachments. They also have features like calendars and Gantt charts to help you visualize your project timeline.
Best of all, if you use one of the communication tools recommended above, in particular Slack, you can integrate them. So, your team can update tasks right from Slack and vice versa.
Whichever method you choose, the important thing is to find something that works for you and your team. So that everyone is on the same page about what needs to be done and when it’s due.
Assuming your team is already using a calendar tool like Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, or Apple Calendar, you can take advantage of some features to help manage everyone’s schedules.
For example, if you need to schedule a meeting with people in different time zones, you can use the “world clock” feature in Google Calendar to see what time it would be in each person’s location to better collaborate online. You can also set up calendar sharing so that everyone on your team can see each other’s schedules and know when someone is available or busy.
If you have recurring meetings or events, you can use the “repeat” function in most calendaring tools to save yourself some time. And finally, if there are certain days or times when no one on your team is available, you can block off those times on your calendar so that people won’t try to schedule something during that time.
Calendly is a scheduling tool that integrates with your calendars, so you can share your calendar with people outside your organization so they can set meetings with you. They offer a free version, so you can try it before you buy. The paid subscriptions allow more users for your company, as well as more functions.
Sharing and Storing Files
There are a variety of ways that remote workers can share and store files online (in the cloud). File-sharing services like Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive are three of the most popular cloud-based file management systems. These services allow users to upload files and share them with others. Another way to share files is to use a collaboration tool like Slack. This tool allows users to share files and communicate with each other in real-time.
If you need to proofread, markup, or sign (non-legal) PDF documents, PDF.Live has an easy-to-use tool to sign PDFs online, or you can edit and convert documents, and then share them via email, chat platform, or through your cloud drive.
In fact, even if you’re not a remote-working small business, getting your documents into the cloud and off hard copies and hard drives is highly recommended. Today’s cloud-based systems are safer than ever, as long as you train your employees to follow best practices for cybersecurity.
If you work remotely, it’s important to have a good set of tools that you can use. This way you can better collaborate online with your team. In this article, we’ve shared some of our favorite tools for remote workers, including Slack, Google Drive, and Zoom. We hope you’ll find these tools helpful in staying connected with your team and getting your work done.