Remote work has grown 173 percent since 2005, and has boomed in the past month as more than two-thirds of the country has been ordered to stay at home. But there can be many challenges for remote workers. They may be working remotely for the first time, and struggling with the lack of face-to-face communication. They may be on a different timezone from colleagues they work closely with, and have trouble working asynchronously. They may have a manager who works in an office location, and isn’t accustomed to managing remote reports. 

The right tools can enable your remote workforce to collaborate, stay productive, and feel a bit less isolated. Here are 15 tools you should have on your radar to better manage your remote tram:

1. Asana

Employees rarely work in silos. They need to be able to collaborate with others on their team, or on cross-functional teams, to complete projects. For instance, your sales manager might request tradeshow collateral from the marketing and design teams. While office workers may be able to schedule meetings to discuss project goals, assign tasks, and get updates, remote employees may not. Project management tools like Asana provide a shared view of projects to all stakeholders so everyone understands their role in project completion.

2. Slack

Remote workers can’t simply tap a colleague on the shoulder to ask a question, or run into colleagues in the kitchen to catch up. Slack is an instant messaging tool that enables informal communication through channels and direct messages. For instance, a #remote-work channel can provide a place to discuss remote work best practices and challenges so distributed workers can get extra support. Remote workers can also direct message colleagues during core work hours to have quick conversations around an upcoming deliverable.

3. Google Drive

Effective file sharing is crucial for strong team collaboration. Even if your office has VPN access, employees may save updated work to their local drives and others may then work off outdated files. Google Drive ensures your entire team has access to the most up-to-date files, wherever they are, because it syncs with each employee’s local drive. While this is a must-have for your remote workforce, it’s also very nice for the employees who occasionally work from home.

4. Dropbox

Dropbox is another popular cloud storage tool to create, store, and share files. Just a word to the wise: pick one cloud storage tool and stick with it. It doesn’t do you much good if half of your team is using one storage solution, while the other half of your team is using something else.

5. Zoom

Video chats are a great way to help remote employees feel a stronger sense of connection to their colleagues, and help everyone see visual cues from one another during meetings. Zoom is one of the most popular video conferencing tools because it’s user-friendly, and has many great features that enable stronger communication, productivity, and efficiency.

6. Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is another popular chat and video conferencing tool, especially for G Suite users. It integrates seamlessly with Gmail and Google Calendar so users can do everything in one place. In response to COVID-19, all users will have free access to the advanced capabilities until July 1. These include larger meetings for up to 250 people, live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers, and recording capabilities.

7. Krisp

Remote employees don’t always have access to a quiet place to work. While this may not doesn’t bother them for normal, heads-down work, it can be a nuisance during phone calls. Krisp mutes background noise from all call participants, whether that’s a giggling child or a Starbucks blender. 

8. Compaas

Compensation can influence a candidate’s decision to join your company, or an employee’s decision to leave. But a global workforce may mean each employee’s location requires a different pay range to be competitive. You may even have employees in different countries, who are paid in different currencies. Determining starting compensation or raises for each employee can be challenging. Compaas is a compensation management tool that takes all that into account to help you make more strategic compensation decisions.

9. 15Five

Only 45 percent of employees are completely satisfied with the amount of recognition they receive. If you have a hybrid workforce, chances are that your remote workers receive less feedback than office employees because they are less visible.  15Five is a performance management tool that enables continuous employee feedback so your whole team—office or remote—understands their goals and progress toward them. They’re currently offering free access to teams of up to 50 people until June 15, 2020 to help companies transition to remote work.

10. Impraise

Impraise is a performance management tool that helps companies develop their people through goal setting, real-time feedback, check-ins, and performance reviews. Their Pulse Surveys allow managers to see when morale or collaboration changes, even if they can’t see their reports face-to-face.

11. Small Improvements

Small Improvements performance management platform enables meaningful praise, peer feedback, 1-1 meetings, goal setting, and performance check-ins. Their Slack integration ensures that remote employees can receive a virtual “pat on the back” from their managers and other employees.

12. 7Geese

7Geese is a performance management system that focuses on OKR goal setting, combined with continuous feedback, coaching, performance reviews, and career growth plans.

13. Deputy

Managing time tracking and employee scheduling for your distributed workforce can get tricky and be very time-consuming. This is particularly true as COVID-19 makes its way around the globe, warranting that employees miss work to get better and avoid spreading disease. Deputy is a time tracking tool that allows teams to manage employee scheduling, time tracking, and workplace communication. 

14. Timezone.io

Global workforces can operate through many different timezones, making it challenging to schedule meetings or meet deadlines. Timezone.io is an app that tells you where each person on your global team is, and their local time.

15. Tandem

Your employee may prefer remote work overall, but can sometimes miss the opportunity to work with colleagues in-person. Tandem re-creates the office experience in a virtual environment. Employees can collaborate in an app with a shared cursor, see who else is working at the same time as them, and hold one-on-ones or daily standups. They can also create a virtual co-working space by enabling a minimal voice/video call that feels like they’re working at the same table as colleagues.

16. Sapling

It is so important for geographically-distributed teams to feel connected and share the same employee experience. Sapling is a People Operations platform that manages everything from employee onboarding to offboarding. Built by our distributed team to empower yours, Sapling allows you to build and auto-assign repeatable processes to enable your teams in every location.

Final thoughts on building an HR tech stack to enable your remote workforce

Remote work is becoming more common—and desired. Four in five people want to work from home at least some of the time. Thirty five percent of employees would change jobs for the opportunity to work remotely full time, and 37 percent would do so to work remotely some of the time. COVID-19 has given more employees—and their employers—a taste of what this would look like. But, without the proper policies and tools in place, remote work arrangements can create a lot of problems. Enable your remote workforce to do their best work by setting them up for success. 

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