By now, most of us are quite familiar with working from home, even if we had no prior experience. The effects of the global coronavirus pandemic have drastically shifted work culture, forcing us to find new ways of doing the jobs we normally would have performed in the office surrounded by our peers.
Though a whopping 88% of organizations worldwide made it mandatory or encouraged their employees to work from home during COVID-19, many businesses have released new policies about returning to the office, following a hybrid model, or working from home full time. And new research shows 54% of employees want to continue working from home.
But modern business is complex, and even though digital tools have made the transition easier, there’s still a learning curve in balancing work with a new environment and chaotic home life. Need recommendations for the latest and greatest work-from-home tools? Here are a few we believe deserve a closer look.
#1 Daily Stand-Ups: Jell
Jell is the perfect status and goal-setting tool for technical teams. In fact, it was actually made to improve remote work. Agile teams can conduct daily stand-ups, check-ins, or OKRS from the tools they’re already working in, including Slack, Microsoft Teams, Jira, GitHub, Trello, and many other integrations. Jell makes it easy to know what everyone’s working on through progress and accountability dashboards, real-time and historic views, and multi-department visibility. Plus, you can set and track quarterly goals at the company, department, or individual level. Jell proves you don’t have to be physically standing together to keep in-tune with the team’s workload.
#2 Communication: Slack
Perhaps the most popular workplace communication app today, Slack replaces the quick, over-the-cubicle shout with quick, one-on-one, group, and company-level chats organized by topics or “channels.” The app has long touted its desire to “kill email”—and it might just be on to something. Slack Connect even lets teams communicate with outside parties like partners or customers to make approval processes easier and keep everyone in-the-know. Add emojis, react to what colleagues have said, share documents, and even conduct live video chat in-channel. Looking to do even more with Slack? Here’s a guide to all the hacks you didn’t know you could do.
#3 Asset Management: Google Drive
Google Workspace didn’t need a pandemic and shift to remote work to show its value. Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drive have long been an easier way for teams to collaborate in the assets they create without making duplicate copies and attaching them to emails. But now, as signing on remotely to VPNs, databases, and shared drives has become even more cumbersome, Google Drive has yet again shown us how easy it is to share important documents with the entire team—securely and at low cost. The best part? It’s all in real time. If you’re still relying on legacy tools to share documents back and forth, it’s time for an upgrade.
#4 Project Management: Monday.com
No “case of the Mondays” here. Monday.com is project management for your entire team in one simplified workspace. Built to make remote work more flexible, Monday.com allows teams to collaborate anywhere by managing projects in real time and even using video calls to take action on key projects. Here at Formstack, we use Monday.com for its clean user interface, ability to integrate with our most-used apps, and visualization of multiple dashboards like calendars, timelines, or kanbans. What’s especially useful is the ability to set schedules and see when other team members’ work hours are across the world. Monday.com makes it clear in this quick two-minute demonstration.
#5 Scheduling: 10to8
10to8 is appointment scheduling software for remote businesses. Teams can organize virtual staff meetings and client appointments using the native Zoom integration to quickly add in video calls straight from the calendar. Truly made for remote teams, 10to8 easily accounts for multiple time zones and syncs with most calendars to eliminate double bookings. Plus, automated reminders ensure team members show up on time. 10to8 is also committed to maintaining the highest level of security, boasting compliance with regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and CCPA.
#6 Note Taking: Evernote
Do you really need a note-taking app when you can open a Word document or even resort to good old pen and paper? A million times yes—especially in a remote work environment. Evernote makes your notes living, breathing documents that can be easily searched, shared, and acted on to drive productivity. And it’s more than plain text, too. Make your notes rich with images, links, and recordings, even when you’re offline. The best part is that they sync across all of your devices. Use Evernote as a note taker, PDA, to-do list, or pocket notebook and get stuff done. It’s even free for up to two devices.
#7 Time Tracking: Time Doctor
If the nature of your work requires time tracking for client billing or productivity purposes, Time Doctor makes it easy to start and stop the clock with the click of a button. Plus, easily add freelancers so you have a full account of the project’s entirety. Once you’ve started tracking, Time Doctor goes to work, showing intuitive reports of how many hours your colleagues have put in throughout the day and which projects they’ve spent the most time on. There’s even an “off track reminder” to nudge your team when they’re not being productive. Once employee time is accounted for, use it to process payroll and billing automatically.
#8 Employee Engagement/Feedback: Chimp or Champ
One of the most difficult parts of managing a remote team is keeping them connected and engaged. Without in-person events and meet-ups, isolation sets in, and it's hard to keep everyone motivated. Chimp or Champ is a quick way to collect employee feedback and gauge team happiness. Each week, the tool anonymously collects responses using an employee happiness meter so you have the raw data in hand to address challenges and make changes if needed. Because when they’re happy, Chimp or Champ says employees are 87% less likely to leave.
Read More: Improve Productivity With These Genius Tips
Invest in Tools for Long-Term Success
There’s no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to working remotely. That’s why it’s not only best to shop around for the solutions that fit your team, but to approach remote and hybrid work models with a greater strategy. When your team is remote, onboarding is different, daily management is different, and keeping your staff motivated is different than if you were physically present in an office. As you navigate remote work for your team in a post-COVID world, invest in the tools that will keep them unified, productive, and engaged for long-term success—no matter where they are.