In a shifting landscape that demands employee autonomy and flexibility, many companies are increasingly embracing work-from-home policies. Research shows that 45% of U.S. employers offer remote work, while the number of employees working remotely has skyrocketed by 173% over the past 14 years. For this reason, investing in robust tools is paramount to facilitate remote collaboration and communication, manage complex processes, and tighten up efficiency.
With the increasing software sprawl, companies need to be more selective. Choosing the right tools ensures you reap all the benefits of remote collaboration while reducing the risk of creating information silos and effort duplications. We've taken time to research and list 10 of the best tools that will enable seamless collaboration and increase the productivity of your remote employees.
What Is Remote Collaboration?
Remote collaboration refers to a process where a dispersed team of employees works together to achieve common organizational goals regardless of their geographic location. It is powered by the use of digital collaboration tools to enable sharing of ideas, work files, and effective communication in real time. Here are some of the top benefits of remote collaboration.
- Ability to attract and retain top talent from all over the world
- Reduced need for expensive office space
- Elimination of commuting time
- Ability to accommodate different types of working schedules and styles
- Increased communication skills of team leaders and colleagues
- Increased workforce productivity
- More flexibility and freedom for team members
While it's common for global or multi-national teams to work remotely, you don't need thousands of miles between workmates to take advantage of remote collaboration. Your teammates could be in the same city or just several blocks apart and still secure the benefits of remote working.
How to Make Remote Team Collaboration Work
There are a few tactics that you can use to build effective remote collaboration. By setting clear goals, maintaining transparency and good communication, and equipping your team with the right tools, you can create a streamlined and productive team dynamic. Let's look at these tips in detail.
Set clear goals and objectives
Remote team accountability is not based on the time employees spend in front of a screen. It's all about KPIs and metrics. Team leaders must set clear individual and team goals to boost productivity and individual success.
Creating short-term and long-term goals is a perfect approach so that your team knows what they're working towards and what you expect. It's also essential to conduct regular virtual team meetings for members to give updates on the progress and keep everyone on the same page.
Lack of transparency is among the primary reasons behind the lack of trust and low employee enthusiasm and morale. A company can only reach its peak by building a culture of trust and sharing internal and external information with its employees.
While most managers and team leaders find it challenging to maintain transparency when working from home, it is entirely possible. You can send emails to all the team members or conduct short regular video chat sessions to pass significant updates.
Enhance effective communication
Effective communication is the secret to building solid remote team collaboration. Since in-person communication and collaboration aren't viable in remote work environments, finding the right communication balance is vital.
To be efficient, decide as a team on common communication channels that will keep everyone well connected, and post the necessary guidelines in an easy-to-find place. Set standards for video calls to ensure team members show up for the conversation. This will help you and your team interpret emotions and build rapport, adding up to more trust.
Create opportunities for social connection
Social connection is the glue that keeps workmates together. But since remote workers can't grab lunch together or socialize in the company break room, managers should design social interactions intentionally.
You can schedule opportunities in the form of zoom trivia games, book clubs, 15-minute morning coffee chats, and more for your team to connect. While this may sound like an afterthought, it's crucial for better remote collaboration and productivity.
Equip your team with the right collaboration tools
Your team needs proper online collaboration tools for real-time communication, face-to-face video calls, file sharing, and team meetings. The right collaboration software choice simplifies workforce processes while keeping employees engaged and more productive. It also results in cost savings for the company.
Besides providing the best tools, companies must be ready to train their remote team on how to use them efficiently. Proper education helps build a robust digital workplace while enhancing employee retention.
10 Great Tools for Remote Collaboration
Here is a selection of 10 indispensable tools that will streamline collaboration and boost the productivity of your remote employees.
One of the biggest drags on a company's productivity is switching between tools to accomplish different tasks. Luckily, with an all-in-one collaboration tool like Almanac, you don't have to do this. This easy-to-use software combines all your documents, projects, and creatives, enabling you to manage all your work in one place.
At its core, Almanac helps organizations build effective collaboration by supporting distributed teams to work together with clarity, power, and speed. It automates processes such as requesting approval, getting feedback, and spreading knowledge.
Instead of meetings, the tool features a document editor with mentions and version control that allow real-time addition of comments, edits, and revisions. Remote teams from any location or time zone can access files, complete tasks, and generate solutions in real time. This software also allows managers to document their decisions so that the right people, including team leaders, members, and external partners, can find them on time.
Remote work makes it necessary to have a powerful communication tool to effectively pass information. Slack is a popular remote tool that streamlines team communication and interaction. It provides a perfect digital communal space for your remote team to chat, share ideas, and comment on upcoming matters in real time, enhancing efficient collaboration.
Slack also makes it easy to set reminders, send files or images, and keep all communications centralized. You can create different channels for different matters or subjects, which keeps all your conversations cataloged and easy to find.
If you need a private conversation with your employee, you can easily do that through instant messaging. Slack boasts dedicated mobile apps for Android and iOS devices, which offer a more integrated service.
Remote workers need strong self-management skills to be efficient and proactive. Airtable is a leading project management tool that enables employees to personalize their work. It offers user-friendly templates that allow team members to effectively build their workflows and structure corresponding vital information.
Airtable encourages customizing calendars and task layouts for easy-to-follow workflows for each user. It utilizes desktop and mobile apps that allow team members to reorganize, comment on, and edit their data or tasks from any location.
Since the changes made are instantly synced across all devices, organization, storage, and remote collaboration has never been easier. Its powerful database features, combined with the versatility of its organizational views, help companies keep things agile and stay on top of their work.
4. Google Docs
Google Docs is probably the rock-solid file storage solution for all remote teams. It's a free tool that makes it incredibly easy to edit, publish, share documents, and knock up spreadsheets and presentations.
Google Docs is especially useful when many employees simultaneously work on the same file since it allows users to mark their edits and suggestions. That means there is no worrying about people overwriting each other or losing edits.
Even better, the file owner can easily see all the edits suggested by users and choose which ones to accept. The fact that you don't need an internet connection to use this tool is a plus because you can work on the move and successfully save your work.
No tool can beat Figma when it comes to design work. It enables team members to collaboratively design and edit work from one place in real time. Figma's capabilities are second to none with regard to staying updated on how projects and running and what different contributors are up to.
This unique tool allows you to give the design team all the visibility they require and get everyone on the same page, enabling your team to work faster and smarter. You can use Figma on multiple devices because it is built for browsers.
Video conferencing software like Zoom helps you to record your video calls and share your screen during calls, thus streamlining your meetings. With this tool, you can easily send recorded videos to team members working in different time zones, even when they aren't able to speak at the moment.
Zoom is a fairly priced software with unique features that most screen recording and sharing tools neglect, such as live chat, trimming your recording, pausing, and resuming. These options come in handy when you mess up a take and can save you time.
All users get access to unlimited storage, which is vital for companies with many employees or numerous screen recordings to make. Administrators can create passwords to protect videos with sensitive content and only share them with relevant people.
Project management becomes easier when you use friendly, fun, and powerful tools. If you are seeking such, Trello is precisely what you need. The tool makes it easy for managers and team members to keep track of completed projects and those that are still in progress.
It is essential to a company's success because it allows your team to understand what tasks need to be finished before others and the timeline they need to follow. Indeed, Trello makes organizing projects more manageable than ever. The best part about this tool is that its free features are enough to start your project management both at the macro-level and micro-level.
With remote collaboration, you and your employees need access to the same tools and login information. A password management tool like 1Password keeps all your passwords safe while making it easy and quick for your team to log in to the necessary tools.
The software gives you complete control over who accesses your company's private data. You can revoke or grant access when some employees have left the organization or when you have new hires. Recovering access to any accounts that may have formerly locked you out is also possible.
9. Dropbox Business
Seamless file and knowledge sharing is essential to remote teams, and Dropbox Business will come in handy if you seek to simplify how your teams work. It is a single platform for secure workflow, content management, and collaboration. By using it, you can reap the benefits of a protected workplace where your teams securely assign work, share files, edit, and comment.
Dropbox Business quashes all security risks associated with accessing content from different places. It effectively keeps everyone on the same page, making it easy to swap ideas and thoughts and see developments as they occur in real-time.
Automating workflows is a game changer for collaborative remote teams. Many companies will agree that they have saved valuable time by automating manual tasks with Zapier. You can use it for pretty much everything, including generating Google Calendar events, automating Slack messages, and sending emails.
This tool helps you eliminate the tedious busywork of carrying data in different apps by combining them all in one place. What is even better, the software works seamlessly with Process Street, making it easier to manage all your internal processes.
Remote Collaboration Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of remote collaboration?
Remote collaboration allows for increased flexibility, as employees can work from anywhere with an internet connection. It can also lead to cost savings, as there is no need for a physical office space. Additionally, remote collaboration can lead to a more diverse and global team, as individuals from all over the world can work together.
What are some challenges of remote collaboration?
Some common challenges of remote collaboration include communication difficulties, lack of face-to-face interaction, and difficulty in maintaining a work-life balance. It can also be challenging to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
How can remote collaboration be made more effective?
To make remote collaboration more effective, it is important to establish clear communication channels and set guidelines for when and how team members should be available. It is also helpful to establish a sense of trust and accountability among team members. Regular check-ins and team-building activities can also help to improve communication and collaboration.
What technology tools are best for remote collaboration?
There are many different technology tools that can be used for remote collaboration, including video conferencing software (e.g. Zoom), project management software (e.g. Asana), and instant messaging platforms (e.g. Slack). The best tool for a particular team will depend on their specific needs and goals.
How can remote teams maintain a sense of team culture and community?
To maintain a sense of team culture and community, remote teams can participate in virtual team-building activities, regular check-ins, and celebrate successes together. It can also be helpful to set aside time for virtual coffee breaks or social activities. Additionally, remote teams can establish shared values and goals to help build a strong sense of community.
Final Thoughts on the Best Tools for Effective Remote Collaboration
Managing geographically distributed teams can be daunting, but nothing is unachievable with the right set of online collaboration tools. Ultimately, the best choice of software will come down to your company's needs. Our list of the leading remote tools will help you make an informed decision and streamline collaboration between your employees.
If you'd like to embrace an all-in-one tool that will help you streamline projects and automate manual tasks, get Almanac today. Its efficiency and variety of deployment options make it ideal for companies, regardless of industry and size. With a determined workforce, our tool will take your remote team’s productivity a notch higher, making it reach and surpass in-office work.