Whether you are going permanent remote or following a hybrid schedule, what are 10 digital tools for remote work you should invest in? Read on and find out.
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed millions of employees into their homes, opening the door for a remote work boom. More than a year after the first lockdowns, many companies have announced permanent remote and hybrid models. The team at Build Remote even keeps an updated list of the companies (from Capital One to Twitter) that announce permanent remote work options.
For those organizations and leaders implementing permanent remote or hybrid work policies, the right tech stack is essential. While every organization and department has its own workflow, these ten types of digital tools for remote work will make your team more productive and effective when working from home.
1. Online Training Tools
Now that your employees are permanently remote, you can take steps to train them on new skills and advance their career development. This means you may need to look at your existing training materials to ensure they are up-to-date with the latest tech. You can no longer fall back on in-person learning and development programs.
Refer to Elucidat’s list of online training tools to understand the available options. The key is to look for training modules that cater to multiple learning systems (i.e., audio, visual, or kinesthetic learners) and offer quizzes so you can test employee knowledge. This ensures your investment spent on team training won’t go to waste.
2. VoIP Systems
VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) allows users to make calls over an internet or WiFi connection instead of through landlines and cellular antennas. As a result, these systems are more reliable and provide better service than traditional phone systems, especially with distributed teams. With this digital tool for remote work, you won’t have to worry about bulky hardware and hard-wired phone systems that your remote workers need to set up.
As the experts at 4psa explain, another advantage of VoIP is that “regardless of the actual location of the machine making the call, you can assign a local area code. This allows companies with an international presence to use local phone numbers, increasing their customers’ trust.”
Your existing telephone or internet service providers may offer a VoIP option or find a new service to try out.
3. Screen Recorders
Screen recorders area a must-have digital tool for remote work. They allow for team leads to easily create training sessions or instructive videos that show real-time digital interactions. When in-office sessions are limited, you miss the ability to lean over someone’s shoulder to offer assistance.
Additionally, employees can record screens if they’ve encountered a roadblock or issue. They can send this to their manager, who can then address it within their schedule, reducing the need for excessive meetings. (Studies show too many meetings can hinder remote work productivity and cause burnout).
Check out Tech Radar’s list of screen recorders that can do everything from tracking your mouse to annotations to voice recordings that narrate comments and instructions.
4. Digital HR Platforms
Remote and hybrid work means offsite recruiting and onboarding—tasks that traditionally depending on in-person interactions. To manage both hiring and training new remote staff, you’ll need a hiring platform or applicant tracking software. These tools offer online interview functionality, predictive analytics to make better hiring decisions, and onboarding workflows to help new employees transition.
AIHR broke down top options for digital recruiting and hiring. If you want to make your life easier, look for solutions that can handle multiple facets of the HR process, i.e., recruiting, applicant sorting, and onboarding.
5. Remote Scheduling Software
Remote employees—and especially hybrid teams—require more complex scheduling tools. When WFH, managers may need to factor in different time zones and working hours. With hybrid models, you’ll have to balance a mix of employees coming into the office vs. staying home.
Enter: scheduling software. Step away from the manual spreadsheets and let innovative platforms handle the administrative burden of scheduling. With the latest options, you can schedule dynamic employee shifts, keep track of individual contributor’s calendars, and even ensure that people are in-office for days you need to host meetings or events. This will not only save you the headache of coordination but increase the effectiveness of your remote/hybrid team—getting everyone on the same (digital) page.
Investopedia broke down the pros and cons of the top employee scheduling software; take a look to find the best option for your team.
6. Project Management and Tracking Tools
No matter the team, collaborative work requires project management and complete transparency. When you can’t rely on a physical whiteboard, you need a project management system. The good news is the best platforms also include task tracking capabilities. This allows your remote workers to offer status updates on their own time and reduces unnecessary check-in meetings or daily stand-ups.
What’s more, many project management platforms offer sophisticated reporting so you can understand where your employee spends their time, the ROI of specific projects, as well integrations within finance and operations departments.
There are many platforms and software types available, so make sure to spend time researching the top options for your specific needs.
7. Time Tracking System
With in-person work, it’s easy to see who is in the office and who’s not. However, with remote or hybrid models, employees can clock in wherever they are—even if that’s nowhere near a valid workstation.
Consider investing in time tracking software and asking employees to clock in and clock out. Even with salaried employees, this allows you to get a sense of their day-to-day workflow, billable hours, project demands, and more. Depending on the specific roles for your team, you can even set a geofence for work that’s location-specific.
Additionally, a perk of remote and hybrid work is flex hours (meaning employees can leave early for a family obligation one day and make up hours the next). With time tracking, employees can feel confident that they’re dedicating the proper amount of hours to their role.
Business News Daily listed the best time and attendance systems for different types of companies—find an option for your organization.
8. Employee Recognition
Virtual employees still need a pat on the back—even more so when they feel isolated from the rest of the team. According to Gartner, during periods of disruption (like a remote or hybrid work transition), employees’ desire for recognition increases by 30 percent. Just think about it, if you’re unsure of a new workflow or process, you want reinforcement to confirm you’re handling it right.
Incorporate digital tools that allow you to celebrate your employees. This should involve more than just a Slack channel or accolades thread. Instead, look for an employee recognition system dedicated to helping team members build each other up and letting you sing the praises of small and big wins alike.
9. Remote Wiping Software
In the event that you need to fire or lay off one of your employees, you’ll need to take steps to protect your business. A remote wipe system like DriveStrike can help you locate company-owned devices and remove sensitive information and employee access. This prevents potential information theft from upset or disgruntled workers.
10. Focus Assistants
When working remotely, your team will fight against countless distractions. While managers can’t keep employees from playing with their pets for a few minutes or doing laundry, they can recommend apps that help them focus on their work.
In particular, look for tools like AppBlock, which silence notifications and prevent you from accessing social media and other distracting web channels. Note that each person and their working style is different, so focus assistants might be better used on a case-by-case basis. You can share these tools with your employees and recommend them as resources to help them stay focused to meet their deadlines.
Explore and Incorporate the Right Digital Tools for Remote Work
Every company needs its own tech stack to thrive. Review the above list of digital tools and software to find the right mix for your unique environment.
Remember that you want to opt for solutions that address your current or potential operational problems and streamline remote and hybrid work. With the right systems in place, your team members will thrive within these “new normal” roles.