By the end of 2020, it was projected that half the American workforce would be remote — and that was before the coronavirus pandemic changed the world. Pandemic aside, there are clear reasons companies are embracing telework: remote workers are more productive and cheaper than a fully in-house staff.
As the founder and CEO of a completely remote, award-winning team, I know it’s entirely possibly to build a remote culture that is as engaged and high-performing as any in-person organization. However, remote organizations need to take special care to build trust, communication and social connection into their teams—those things don’t always come easily.
Fortunately, there are more tools than ever to help overcome these hurdles when managing a remote organization. Here are six tools you may not have that will help you get the most out of your employees when everybody is working from home.
Scheduling meetings virtually can lead to an endless email chain of date and time suggestions. To save you the time, Calendar is a virtual scheduling tool that skips all the back and forth. All you need to do is share your calendar via email or a link—from there, the recipient can just select a time and date, and a meeting invitation is generated automatically.
Calendar also provides analytics about how you’re spending your time. Its functionality will automatically help your team find a time that works for everyone while scheduling a group meeting and make recommendations for future meeting times and locations based on your meeting history.
To ensure nothing gets lost in virtual communications and collaboration, it’s essential to have a centralized platform for colleagues to share ideas and manage projects. Trello serves as a virtual bulletin board where teams can post resources about projects they need feedback on, and allows teams to seamlessly work together to complete tasks.
Trello is also an important accountability tool. When used as a shared space for employees to update each other on project progress, it allows managers to see how employees are managing their workloads and where they may need support—without micro-managing.
Email is the cornerstone of virtual communications, but composing an email every time you need to speak to a colleague can get exhausting. Slack has become one of the world’s most popular workplace tools because it provides a much needed channel for informal conversations, group messaging and company-wide information sharing.
Slack also can provide a social component to your virtual workplace. For example, our company has a Slack channel called “What Made Your Week,” where employees share photos and stories about things that brought particular happiness or value to their week.
4. I Done This
Want to know what work has been completed, and by whom? This simple tool allows your team to share their accomplishments and easily keep track of who is doing what throughout the organization.
I Done This enables your team share daily updates, either directly on the platform or in an end-of-day email. Then, managers can use I Done This to create a progress report each morning, allowing them to determine which team members are excelling and which may need additional help.
The best way to monitor performance in a virtual environment is to track employees’ outcomes, and I Done This is an easy way to do it.
5. Adobe Sign
Outside a traditional office, key fiduciary tasks such as signing documents can be onerous. To save your employees from needing to print, sign and scan documents such as contracts or tax forms, Adobe Sign is a program that securely handles the signing process virtually.
Even if you don’t have an Adobe account, you and your team can still use Adobe Sign to sign documents. This program saves time, paper and printer money, while still ensuring important documents are authorized properly.
Giving your team a suite of virtual tools will make their work lives easier. But you can go even further by giving them a tool to help them manage all those accounts in a secure way.
LastPass is a popular password management program that allows your team to have secure login credentials for several platforms, enabled by one centralized password. It also allows employees to share login access with others, without actually divulging the password to their team members. Data security is crucial to any organization, and LastPass helps secure it.
Most companies have embraced remote work at this point, either by choice or necessity. To make this remote environment as effective and seamless as possible for you team, it helps to invest in technological tools that make life better for your employees. These software platforms can help any team work as a connected unit—even when working from home.
Robert is the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners. Join 100,000+ global leaders who follow his inspirational weekly newsletter Friday Forward or invite him to speak. Robert is also a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author. His new book, Friday Forward: Inspiration and Motivation to End Your Week Stronger Than It Started, releases September 1, 2020.