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The Best Remote Work Tools for Small and Medium Business You Should Know About
With trendsetting companies from Adobe to Zillow shifting to remote-first work, it is starting to make more and more sense for small and medium-sized businesses to follow suit. Earlier this year, the International Workplace Group reported this year that 80% of U.S. workers would turn down a job if it didn’t offer flexible work. Just think about it: not only remote work is highly attractive to current and future employees, but it would also help trim budgets by eliminating the need to invest in and maintain permanent office space and IT infrastructure.
With all the benefits of remote work, which include increased productivity, loyalty, and satisfaction, one question remains: how do you maintain the same level of efficiency, connection, and collaboration among your staff when their face-to-face time is limited? With most of the questions being answered and creative solutions being born out of real-time collaboration, you might need to up your software stack game to empower your remote employees to perform their best.
Below, we have put together the “starter pack” of remote work tools to enable thriving collaboration and help your team feel like a team — wherever they are.
Back in the times when your staff actually went to work (and not just moved to the next room), the first thing they did before turning on their computers was entering the office. For some, it meant checking in, for others it meant accessing the secure infrastructure designed for your company’s business processes and data needs.
Now that kitchen counters or spare bedrooms replace offices for most of us, we tend to access our work directly without the extra layer of security and the “definition” that a physical office provides. Virtual office solutions like the popular 3seat by 3nom are here to solve that.
You can think of a virtual office as an actual office that lives in a cloud, including all the hardware and infrastructure, managed firewalls, spam filters, and backups, and IT support. When your remote employees start their day by logging into 3seat or another virtual office solution, you can be certain that their work and collaboration happen in a secure, optimized virtual space.
Another thing worth noting is that a virtual office can eliminate, or at least reduce, the main concern of remote workers — their ability to disconnect from work at the end of the day. With a virtual office, all they need to do to put a “period” at the end of their workday is to log out.
You are probably using Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, or any combination of chat and video-conferencing software. Remote communication tools have exploded and improved dramatically since pandemic changed the way we work, and the race is still on.
With remote work, overcommunication is the name of the game — it is vital for everyone involved to clarify all assumptions, ask questions, provide answers, and acknowledge each other. Instant messaging tools add dynamism and informal touch to the standard email and increase searchability while video conferencing software allows teams from two to dozens of people to see “eye to eye.” Pick one from each category and enjoy the newfound feeling of closeness.
Project Management Tools
Once you got the communication down, it is time to get everyone on the same page with the state of different projects happening in your organization. Since paper is no longer a viable option and Google Docs are clunky and not secure enough, project management solutions such as Jira or Trello by Atlassian, Asana, Monday.com, and ClickUp come to the rescue.
The main benefit of these tools is the real-time snapshot of all open and pending projects and tasks. The team can collaborate on projects, make decisions, and keep the pipeline moving. Most of these tools offer a mix and match approach so you can set up your projects or any other processes in a way that suits your business, on a budget, and integrate them with your existing Customer Relationship Management solution and communication tools.
Knowledge Management Tools
Working from home makes it harder to pop by a colleague to ask for information, and if you are the one with the knowledge, you might not want to be distracted by multiple messages a day asking for the same thing. Knowledge management systems become essential in today’s working environment.
Atlassian has a popular tool Confluence with alternatives to document and knowledge management offered by Notion and a newcomer Nifty. The latter two offer an all-in-one approach, allowing you to manage projects, knowledge, and collaborate all in the same software.
Document Management Tools
The ability to collaborate on documents from different locations without the need to send them back and forth ensures version control and drastically increases the speed and efficiency of collaboration. Google Docs is the standard for co-editing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, but many of the solutions above offer this as part of their functionality.
Whiteboards are the favorite tool of dynamic teams. It is a space for visual explanation, brainstorming, graphs, doodles, and all creative expressions as they apply to the business environment. Fortunately, you don’t have to forgo whiteboards, even with remote teams.
Tools like Google’s Jamboard, Miro, or a variety of other virtual whiteboard solutions that popped up in 2020 offer the same engaging interactive experience allowing every team member to feel heard and creativity to thrive. Combine a virtual whiteboard session with a video call, and you have yourself the best of both worlds (pro tip: start the session with an ice-breaker!)
Sometimes (often), it is easier to show than to tell. Remember the bit above on over-communicating? A short video speaks louder than words when it comes to explaining processes, demonstrating bugs, or removing any assumptions and uncertainty about any aspect of individual work experience. Fire up Loom. This intuitive video messaging software allows you to record shareable videos with full-on presentations or quick demos, increasing transparency, visibility, and understanding.
Many enterprise SaaS solutions cater to large companies, but as you see, you don’t need to be big to hit the home run with remote work. Build your software stack and see your employees happier and more productive than ever, and if you need a trusted managed service provider to keep your virtual office and software stack running, send 3nom a message today!