COVID-19 disrupted work as we knew it, forcing traditionally in-office jobs to go remote. But the pandemic is not the only thing that has spurred remote working — in fact, many people already enjoyed some sort of regular remote arrangements. According to a recent Gallup poll, 43% of employed Americans logged at least some out-of-office, on-the-clock time before the virus even hit America. And, a full 31% of those who worked remotely at least some of the time were out of the office four or five days a week.
The point is that companies have long recognized the benefits of remote work, even while the argument against it lives on. From a larger potential labor pool, to more productive employees, to a less stressed workforce that's given time back in their day without a morning commute — many companies, especially those in tech, have found that offering a remote-friendly workplace puts them in a better position for success. And now, with safety and health at the forefront of employees' concerns, indefinite remote work could continue to be the new norm.
Of course, remote work's success is largely attributed to technology. One of the most common longstanding arguments against remote work was that there were too many barriers to having a distributed workforce that could not convene in an office together. Tech tools developed in the last decade have toppled those barriers, making remote work a lot more feasible. Below, we've compiled a list of all of the best tools that companies can use to equip their remote team and empower them to collaborate productively and seamlessly.
FAQs about Remote Work and Software
What is remote work software? Remote work software is technology that remote teams can implement to make remote working easier and more organized.
Do I need more than one remote work software? Probably. Most companies will use multiple softwares in conjuction with one another to meet all of their needs.
What makes a good remote work software in 2020? That depends on what your specific needs are. Ultimately, you want to look for softwares that are well-vetted and will help your team defy distance as they collaborate, communicate and build remote work culture.
What kinds of remote work softwares are available? There are many types of work softwares on the market in 2020. The big categories include communication/collaboration software, onboarding/hiring software, video conferencing, culture building software, project management software, and time management software.
How much does remote work software cost? That will depend on the size of your company and teams. Some of the ones we've listed have free options, while others are subscription or charged on a per-seat basis.
Tools for Remote Communication and Collaboration
Remote Desktop — Allows employees to access information from their office computer remotely. Options include TeamViewer, Splashtop, Microsoft Remote Desktop, Apple Remote Desktop.
Slack — Whether you're down the hall or halfway around the world, Slack is the clear frontrunner in real-time team chat. It helps reduce the number of emails employees send back and forth and streamlines communications around departments, projects and individual employees.
Mattermost — An alternative to Slack, Mattermost, is an open-source, private cloud option that includes a lot of the same functionality.
Microsoft Teams — A full service collaboration and communication suite for Windows users. You can make video and VOIP calls within Teams, direct and group message other users, and share work from other 365 apps, such as PowerPoint and Excel.
Google Docs — Allows multiple people to work on a document at once. Google Docs ensures that there's no document collision by updating in real time as people work. It also has a comment feature that can be used to collaborate and communicate in the document itself.
Evernote — Evernote allows teams to visually share thoughts and ideas. The platform builds out collaborative spaces to make sure everyone is in sync on current ideas and notes — without a ton of emails and messages.
Mural — Mural allows teams to brainstorm together, visually. The platform features a digital whiteboard teammates can view and update from any location, making remote brainstorms just as creative and collaborative as in-person ones.
Tools for Remote Conferencing
Zoom — If you have big team meetings that include lots of remote workers, consider adding Zoom to your suite of company tools. Zoom is a video chat application that dozens of participants.
Google Hangouts — As a free alternative to Zoom, Google Hangouts is good for smaller workforces with an upper participation limit of 25 people per meeting.
Skype for Business — Microsoft's answer to Zoom and pairs well with Microsoft Teams. Currently, both Teams and Skype are available as part of the Office 365 Premium bundle, which costs $12.50 a month per user.
Join.me — With no plugins and no apps, Join.me is web-based and sells itself on simplicity. It includes a feature called whiteboarding which allows teams to write up ideas on a shared document during chats — which can be helpful when brainstorming or trying to stick to an agenda.
Tools for Remote Project Management
Basecamp — Basecamp is a web-based project management platform. Its core functions include task management, messaging & collaboration, file sharing, scheduling, reporting, and a universal search function that makes everything easily and quickly retrievable.
Monday.com — Monday is an alternative to Basecamp that is Kanban-based with a nice visual interface. It's a cloud software aimed at small and mid-sized teams, and it uses labels to clearly identify who is working on what and when. Teams report that it can be a pricier option, but it could be worth exploring if your company is willing to spend some extra money to equip remote workers with the best tech tools.
Asana — Asana allows teams to manage workflows and tasks. With an extremely easy setup, managers can ensure their teams are using Asana however they'd like to track projects and assign tasks and sub-tasks.
Trello — Trello is a simpler option for project management, built around the notion of bulletin boards. Within each board, teams create lists, which they then populate with cards. The cards can be assigned to specific team members, labeled, stamped with a deadline, and crammed with comments or attachments. The hierarchical nature of the system makes it a flexible option, while the simple layout means user-friendliness for your entire remote workforce.
JIRA — Primarily designed for software development, JIRA has been adapted to fit all types of teams. It's optimized for agile project management, and allows teams to easily plan and track their workflows on product issues.
Tools for Remote Time Management
Timely — If your team usually uses their office calendar to carve out chunks of time to work on dedicated projects, Timely is a great digital solution. Unlike some time tracking systems, which only track time while you work, Timely allows you to schedule tasks and track the time spent on projects in real time. It works with a calendar interface and it also tracks earnings for hourly employees.
Toggl — Toggl is a free time tracker that allows you to see how you've spent your entire day to understand which tasks are taking longer than others. It's a great tool for personal productivity measuring, but is tough to leverage across an entire team.
Everhour — As a productivity app, Everhour does a great job tracking which team members are available at any given time. It allows some lightweight scheduling functionality and has a timer function, which allows contractors to track billable hours or teams to keep track of how much time different projects and tasks are taking.
Tools for Remote Hiring and Onboarding
Greenhouse — Greenhouse helps companies better source and track applicants through to the interview process.
Bamboo —Mainly used for onboarding, Bamboo offers a better employee experience from the minute they begin working with a company. It allows employees to easily access important resources, see company updates, and track their time off and benefits.
Brilliant Hire — (sorry, we had to) As an industry disruptor in the inclusive hiring space, Brilliant Hire has reimagined the entire candidate experience. It's a comprehensive remote hiring software that allows HR teams to screen, assess, interview, and onboard employees while cutting down on hiring time, removing bias and ensuring a better candidate experience. We call ourselves AI-powered, but human-assured — which means we employ both AI technology and a network of human experts to ensure candidates are assessed on their skills alone.
HireVue — HireVue lets candidates self-schedule interviews which can be useful when candidates are dealing with big time zone differences and busy work schedules.
Saberr — Saberr uses data-driven technology to predict how well a candidate will fit into the role, team and organization.
Spark Hire — Spark Hire helps recruiters and managers reach better hiring decisions, as they can view recorded interviews and compare candidates’ answers at any stage of the hiring process.
ThriveMap — ThriveMap identifies how people like to work ahead of hiring, so that your HR team can make better decisions as they work to create more productive teams.
Tools for Remote Company Culture Building
Motivosity — As a virtual team building platform, Motivosity connects companies with professional culture consulting. That way, teams get the insights that they need to strengthen their remote culture while tracking individual success.
Lattice — Lattice makes employee engagement easier with structured weekly one-on-one meetings, goal-setting, and the ability to leave manger feedback. It holds teammates accountable to their work while encouraging engagement.
Weekdone — As a goal tracking platform, Weekdone helps build a culture of high performance. And, the platform comes with settings that allow remote employees and managers offer praise and recognition.
Bonusly — A strong remote culture starts with employee recognition that is both organic and fun. Bonusly's virtual platform encourages employees to recognize one another, and it also provides analytics that help company leadership track culture progress and success in real time.
Assembly — Assembly provides an easy-to-use interface for teams to create a thriving work culture via recognition and rewards. It allows teammates to recognize eachother, while managers can reward via various “culture rewards” to boost motivation and recognize top performers.