9 Useful Digital Tools and Softwares for Remote Teams

by Jul 6, 2018

9 Useful Digital Tools and Softwares for Remote Teams

by | Jul 6, 2018

In a remote work environment where employees and freelancers can be scattered in a dozen time zones, the tools and software you use to run your business and manage teams are extremely important. Using the right tools can make your team productive and communicative, but use the wrong tools and you could be setting yourself up for a painful headache.

I have spent the last two years managing a team of up to 15 people all of whom work remotely from all over the world, so I decided to put together a list of the tools and software that made that possible.

Slack – Team Communication

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It will be hard for you to find a remote team that doesn’t use Slack, and there is a good reason for that. Slack, in my opinion, is the best app for communication between team members. I often describe it as the passion child of text, email, and file sharing. Something so good that it shouldn’t exist, but lucky for us it does.

Slack basically functions like a text app when chatting with one or more team members. Within the app, you can form groups that can be tailored towards a certain project or department such as customer service or development, where multiple people can communicate on a specific subject.

A big part of Slack’s appeal is its wide range of integrations.

Want to share a Google Doc? No problem. Slack recognizes Google Docs and other similar items and displays them conveniently within the chat.

Code? Slack makes it easy to share code snippets with your fellow team members and allows them to comment on and download several different versions of your code.

Recently Slack has even released a new feature which allows one user to take over another’s person’s computer for even better troubleshooting. It’s like working in the same office and having your coworking looking over your shoulder and helping you troubleshoot something.

Zoom – Team Communication

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Working in a remote environment doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have face to face interaction with team members. In fact, having regular video chats is an important part of working remotely and can help to establish a healthy culture within your company.

Personally, my favorite means of video communication is Zoom. It is an incredibly powerful tool that can be used to not only do one-on-one calls but can also reliably run video calls between multiple people (I’ve been on a call with a total of 25 people and it ran without a problem), and even host webinars.

With Zoom joining a call is extremely easy. Every call or meeting has a unique URL so it’s as easy as pasting the link in your browser and voila! Best of all Zoom has a basic plan that is free forever which works great for most small teams and new companies that are on a budget.

Freedcamp – Project Management

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In my opinion, the hunt continues for the perfect project management tool. There are hundreds of options available and I am yet to find the one that makes all the rest unneeded, that being said the closest I’ve come to finding that is Freedcamp.

In Freedcamp you group tasks based on projects and the main focus within each project is the is its associated task lists.

Every project can also have one of several “widgets” attached to it such as Discussions, Time Tracking, Calendar, or Files. This makes it easy to keep conversations and everything else associated with that project organized.

Unfortunately Freedcamp does have several downfalls and in my opinion, they all circle the area of ease of use. It’s not one of those things you can just open up and intuitively know how to use, it definitely comes with a learning curve.

There are so many different functions and options that it can be tough to find the ones that you actually need. I have also experienced some bugs in certain areas of the software like the recurring tasks which seem a bit too confusing than necessary.

That being said the customer support is one of the best I’ve seen and the team regularly makes updates for commonly expressed issues.

A tool that deserves an honorable mention in this category is Trello. For me, Trello does not have all the bells and whistles needed to keep a large team organized but it’s amazing for things like keeping track of web development projects and blog post ideas and creation.

In fact, even though I use Freedcamp for a 90% of project management, I still use Trello exactly for those things in order to stay organized and on top of everything.

Toggl – Time Tracking

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If you work as a freelancer or on a per hour basis you need an easy way to record how long you spend on a task, and Toggl is by far my favorite time tracking software.

Within the software, you can create different tasks and group them under a specific project, for example, “building a new about page”. The projects can then be grouped together further by client.

This simple yet powerful grouping allows you to track just how much time you are spending on certain projects or clients. The data can then be used to create beautiful reports which you can send to your employer or client.

One of the best features of Toggl is just how many tools it integrates with. The Toggl Chrome Extension allows the software to link with over 100 other tools you are probably already using like WordPress, Trello, Google Suite, Slack, and many more. This means you don’t have to exit the tool you’re using to start tracking your time.

Google Suite – Document Creation & File Sharing

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I don’t know where we would be without Google’s suite of tools like Docs, Sheets, and Drive.

I write all blog posts using Google Docs which allows me to switch back and forth between my laptop and iPad while working on the same post. What makes Google Docs even better for remote teams is the ability to continue working on documents in offline mode.

This is perfect for working on a plane that doesn’t have WiFi. Once you land your Google Drive updates the version of the document held in the cloud to match the one you’ve been working on offline.

Speaking of blog posts, I also maintain a hefty Google Sheet that holds all my blog post ideas, targeted keywords, “competitor” websites and statistics, and tons of other information that I need in order to create high-quality content.

Google Drive also remains the number one way I store information in the cloud. Just about all images go into their own file so I can access them at any time. The same goes for documents, notes, PDFs, and just about everything else. There’s no room for paper when working as a digital nomad.

Meeting Planner by Time and Date

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Running a remote team often means having to plan around time differences which can be extremely annoying, luckily the Meeting Planner App by Time and Date makes this a breeze.

Their handy and easy to use Meeting Planner lets you input as many different cities as needed to encompass your entire team and shows you the time that will work best for all your team members.

The times are also color-coded in either green, orange, or red to highlight work hours and hours of the day when you are probably not available. This may sound like a silly feature but it actually makes finding the right time very visual and easy to spot. The time with the most green boxes wins!

If a web tool isn’t really your style you can also get an app version of the tool that is available for both Apple and Android users. Personally, I prefer the app much more because for a very small payment the interface is a lot nicer and it not only suggests the best meeting time, it also makes it very easy to create a meeting for that time and then share it with the necessary parties.

Udemy – Education

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We are living in a world where everything is constantly changing and improving, and the only way that you can keep up is to never stop learning. One of the things that has made that extremely easy for me is Udemy and their endless supply of courses on all sorts of topics.

Sure, you can spend dozens of hours on YouTube searching for free videos to teach you what you need to know, and for some topics that’s an OK way to go.

However, there things out there that I want to be sure I am learning about from experts and I want to get to learning it quickly without wasting time doing hours of research.

That’s why I love Udemy.

Many of their courses are available for less than the price of dinner at a restaurant in the US and by the end of the course, you will have learned a useful skill that you can leverage in your business.

For example, I am currently going through a web development course by a highly accomplished teacher who runs a $15,000+ in-person development boot camp in San Francisco, and I paid $10 for it. That’s a skill that you can easily charge $50 an hour for!

Another great use for Udemy isn’t just to sharpen your skills but to improve the skills of your team. You can purchase a course on customer service and share it with all new customer service hires, for example, to make sure that everyone is doing things the right way.

Overcast – Podcast Player

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I absolutely LOVE podcasts and I take every opportunity I can to listen to my favorites, specifically ones discussing business topics. Podcasts are a great way to learn new techniques and stay up to date on what’s going on in your industry.

Basically, they are a great education tool that will help you sharpen your expertise.

After years of using the Podcasts app that came standard with my iPhone, I decided to see if there was another that was better designed and easier to use. After reading some reviews I found Overcast and after just a few hours of using it, I was sold.

Overcast has a great user interface that makes keeping track of all your podcasts a breeze. You also have greater control over the speed at which you listen to your chosen podcasts. To my girlfriend’s horror, I like to go with the 1.75x speed in Overcast which drives her crazy after about 5 minutes ;).

My favorite thing about Overcast though is the greater control it gives me over downloads.

With the Apple Podcasts app, every new episode was downloaded and kept until I deleted it manually which after a few months can really take a toll on your phone’s free space. In Overcast, you can set limits to this and also create rules about when the app can automatically “erase” an episode off your phone.

Spotify – Music

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As you can see I am a big fan of podcasts, but when it comes to listening to something while I am working I simply can’t create great work when my brain is trying to digest the contents of the podcast.

That’s why whenever I am working I have Spotify playing in the background.

Spotify allows you to pay a little bit of money every month and in exchange, you get unlimited amounts of music from what feels like every artist in the world.

You can also create playlists that include your favorite jams, or discover playlists made by other people on the platform, or the people at Spotify themselves.

You can also find other interesting content in audio format like Poetry, Language Learning, Short Stories, and yes, they even have some of your favorite podcasts.

To help you get started, my absolute favorite playlist to listen to while I’m working is Lush Lofi, which is a collection of modern, mellow, electronic-ish beats with little to no singing.

As far as my favorite playlist for when I am not working, Surf Rock Sunshine has been playing on repeat for the last few months.

Thank you for reading I hope this has been helpful in Your Remote Life.

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