Remote working has become one of the key tools of companies during the pandemic.
However, working remotely brings new challenges, and managing remote employees can be tough if you've never managed a remote team before.
The good news is that remote work software tools can really help you get the best out of distributed teams and ensure you maintain your own work-life balance as you do so.
Let's take a look at some of the best options for remote managers looking to support the company culture and effectively manage team members without too much effort.
Best Project Management Software For Remote Work
Trello is a simple project management tool that lets you manage projects with the minimum of fuss.
It's one of the easiest task management tools to learn to use and project managers tend to find that they can get started with it super quickly.
- Drag and drop mechanism that lets you assign tasks for remote work in a completely intuitive way
- Simple comments and activity tracking, it's not a replacement for online meetings but it does let team managers get information out without spending hours in video calls
- Remote team management tools that allow for the quick addition and removal of people from different boards so there's no delay in getting team members working together
Basecamp is remote team management software for projects and it's one of the best-known utilities in the remote work world.
It also has some serious communication tools built in which can help keep the remote workforce talking as they work.
There is a free trial available for 30 days which is good though it's not expensive if you use it to its fullest extent and software teams, in particular, seem to love working on Basecamp.
- Tools for remote work including message boards that allow you to group data around a particular idea or project
- You can hold quick check-in sessions rather than video meetings which help to keep track of where everyone is without interrupting workflow, it's our kind of team collaboration tool
- Reporting – project reports that bring together all the remote work into something meaningful for your project
This is two pieces of software in one offering – teamwork desk and teamwork project.
The project side of things supports, as you might expect, remote projects working with time, file, report, etc. management and it's very easy to learn to use.
The desk, on the other hand, is a decent communication suite for a remote helpdesk that allows easy management of both communication within the business and the receipt and management of tickets.
We love the fact that it offers email integration and we found that to be a very practical way to work with our existing systems.
- Project portfolio tracking – this is a great high-level management tool that shows you where each project you manage stands and any roadblocks that they might be facing so you can deal with them as needed
- Timesheet management – this is really useful for projects when you need to present the client with time breakdowns for billing purposes, you can get all the information you need without having to hassle your team members individually
- Contact management – this is a really useful set of communication features that let you keep not just the team working on a project in the loop but also all the various internal and external stakeholders and provides the ability to screen certain communications for in house use
Best Tools For Managing Remote Teams
The ultimate in remote workforce management software is, of course, an HR package.
Everything from recruitment to employee onboarding becomes easier with this software, it can even help you monitor employee engagement.
Key features include:
- A centralized employee database means you're always working from the same page as your team member – whenever a change is made, it's quickly reflected on every board
- Remote workers get a full self-service panel that allows them to collect tax records, book vacations, access employee info, etc.
- Time management – it also gives full attendance tracking and time tracking functionality and collates timesheets for approval and edits anywhere in the remote environment
Eddy is another cloud-based HR tool that is ideal for working with a distributed team.
One nice feature here is that you can get a free trial to test it out before you begin.
It can help with everything from hiring remote workers to getting them paid and ensuring remote teams are kept in the loop about relevant changes in the company.
- Employee directory functionality is handy for keeping remote team members in contact with each other even on their mobile devices.
- Notes which allow you to build performance reviews, to-do lists, progress reports, etc.
- Time tracking, something that can be challenging within remote teams where managers tend to focus more on task management than time clocks
If you want to blend HR tools with project management for remote workers then you might want to consider Ulti Pro.
- World-class global human capital management functionality – it holds a ton of useful data on remote employees
- All the features needed to manage remote workers and their time on the project – this includes scheduling for complex shift systems
- The right tools to make it easy to clock in and out while working remotely
Unfortunately, there's no free trial of this software and you need to commit right out of the gate.
Management Tools That Remote Employees Love
Slack is one of almost everyone's favorite remote work tools it makes simple tasks like screen sharing or file sharing between people super easy.
It has a very user-friendly interface and is probably the ultimate employee app and productivity tool.
- Video conferencing and voice call facilities – there are other mobile apps that do this better but they're not inside Slack
- Connected applications – Slack integrates with everything from Google Drive to Microsoft Teams
- Conversation management – every discussion is in one place and it's so easy to create a channel for a new project or new team or for resource management purposes
Skype is probably on most employees' lists of great tools because it's the first tool many people used to conduct online meetings.
It's one of those online collaboration tools that nearly everyone is familiar with and that means – no learning curve unlike with most remote tools.
- Group chat facility where a huge team working across multiple time zones can quickly be updated
- Skype Numbers (and forwarding) for those that want their number to follow them as they move around the world
- Call recording – so that it's super easy to keep a record of what's been done and said
Google Drive is another facility that most people are familiar with already and don't need much if any, training to learn to use.
It's a hugely cost-effective cloud storage solution that allows the team to access files whenever necessary and which supplies a neat log of all transactions on each file too.
- Google search for all your documents too – you'll never lose one again.
- Google apps integration is very handy.
- Document scanning – you can use your mobile handset to scan written material and translate it into PDFs.
One of the best remote working tools for team meetings is GoToMeeting and it's also great for replacing one on one meetings with their virtual equivalents.
It's easy to set up and manage a meeting room and invite attendees and the fixed-priced tag makes this an appealing workforce management tool when compared to its competitors.
- The almost one-click meeting setup lets people join from whatever device they are on without any fuss
- The cloud recording facility means you can tape the meeting and people can focus on each other rather than note-taking
- Security policy mirroring you can create custom workflows that allow you to run secure online conferences based on your own security standards
Final Thoughts On Remote Team Management
Working with teams over even the largest distances doesn't have to be a nightmare. You just need the right software to help you bring people together, get them focused and support them in working together.
The packages above are all deployed in thousands of similar situations to your own and the real trick is to choose tools that your employees like to work with and that deliver enough data for you to make the big decisions when you need to.
You won't need all of these tools but a carefully chosen few will make all the difference between a happy team that brings in the bacon and an unhappy one that never seems to fulfill the potential it has on paper.