There has been a steady rise in companies allowing their employees to work from home or other locations. Here is a no-frills guide to the best online tools in 2020 for teams working remotely. No matter where your employees are based, these apps will help them become more productive even outside the office.
Whether you need to meet your team members on a regular basis or do an online webinar, you will need a web conferencing software. GoToMeeting is a very popular audio/video meetings organizer. After you schedule a meeting, all the attendees can dial in using their office phones or connect from their laptops and Android/iOS apps.
From sharing screen space to muting attendees and drawing over presentation slides, a virtual meeting room in GoToMeeting does feel very close to an in-office meeting. You can transcribe the minutes of meetings in the cloud. A related feature, GoToWebinar, helps you design webinars for prospects.
Alternatives: Apart from GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex and Zoom are both good and popular alternatives for web conferencing. Both Cisco Webex and Zoom offer free plans for 100 participants under 40 minutes. Feature-wise, they offer similar value as GoToMeeting.
A good remote access tool is essential for monitoring onsite teams and providing secure support. TeamViewer is one of the good examples. From servicing your company laptop to fixing software issues. the support team members can easily troubleshoot the issues from anywhere.
TeamViewer also has a superb augmented reality feature called “pilot,” which is great for onsite teams who want to collaborate with a remote expert. Using a partner ID, the remote expert gets a better visualization of onsite problems.
If your employees are all over the world and you have to deal with different timezones, you will need an efficient team chat tool to manage all their interactions. Slack, the number one team chat app, is a very popular choice. It is also very convenient for freelance workers who are juggling multiple remote jobs, as they can join different Slack workplaces and keep them separate.
Slack integrates with Google Drive, Dropbox, GitHub, Trello, and many other tools. Almost no learning is involved, as a newbie only has to join a workspace created by a team admin. Slack remains free for up to 10,000 of the latest messages.
Alternatives: Mattermost and Rocketchat are some of the best self-hosted Slack alternatives. They are both open source and can be scaled to accommodate a growing number of users in your team. Other apps which are becoming popular as team chat tools include Microsoft Teams, Discord and Wire.
Do you have multiple overlapping projects and cross-functional teams? Then you need a project management tool such as Basecamp to unify them. As a remote admin, all you have to do is invite everyone to connect to your company Basecamp page and assign them to one or more projects and teams. That’s it!
Each project and each team has its own message board, campfire for casual chat, documents exchange, to-do lists, and automatic check-ins for attendance.
Alternatives: With strong enterprise clients such as Google and NASA, Asana offers a more advanced project management solution compared to the simplicity of Basecamp. Here, you can work with Gantt charts, Kanban diagrams, forms, and integrate with more apps. Trello is another decent alternative to Basecamp and is often used by market research teams and creative organizations that want to work with elegant templates.
Document Collaboration Apps
5. Dropbox Business
Does your team collaborate often over the exchange of documents? Then you need a proper document-sharing and editing tool such as Dropbox Business that can help you keep track of version changes remotely. It allows you to make edits jointly with other team members.
Dropbox’s premium plans come with 5 TB of cloud space which is great for businesses of all sizes. It has a very simple, bare-bones approach that is ideal for heavy-duty editing.
Alternatives: If you prefer Google products, you might be more comfortable collaborating on Google’s GSuite with Google Drive, Hangouts, Forms, Docs, and more. For teams that rely more on Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc., there is Office 365 for Business, Microsoft’s collaboration suite. The self-hosted Nextcloud solution is also an alternative for you to collaborate with your team.
Managing Remote Developers
Does your team have many programmers and developers? In that case, they can collaborate freely on GitHub. It allows teams to work on their codes independently, add screenshots and snippets, and merge them together upstream. You can find detailed steps here. GitHub is free to use for open-source projects, but there are professional and enterprise plans.
Alternatives: Check out our list of self-hosted alternatives for GitHub.
Other Tools for Remote Collaboration
Do you prefer engaging with teams over email? Then you might want to try Groove, a collaboration tool somewhat resembling the familiar Outlook desktop. Twiddla is an online whiteboard tool that doesn’t even require an account to start your work.
Life is not all about work. You can also watch videos together with friends online, watch friends playing steam games, or even play your local multiplayer games online with friends. You will never feel bored staying at home.
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