Remote work is the new standard around the world. Some companies transitioned to remote offices as a result of safety precautions due to COVID-19. Other businesses offer telecommuting as an attractive benefit for employees wanting more flexibility. Either way, remote work is gaining popularity, and in the United States alone, the number of remote employees increased by 159% between 2005 and 2017.
While remote work has many benefits, it brings a unique set of communication and organization challenges for companies, especially those making the transition for the first time. Velocity Global employs over 200 workers on five different continents, and we use many different tools that make us successful every day.
This guide explores some of our company’s favorite technology tools and resources that enables our team to work more smoothly at home. We think they will work for your global teams, too.
The Best Communication Tools for Remote Teams
Effective communication is critical for teams that cannot be in the same office together. However, communicating remotely isn’t easy, whether you’re across town or across time zones. Fortunately, there are technology tools that make chatting and connecting with coworkers much easier.
Some helpful tools Velocity Global uses to facilitate communication on cross-border remote teams include:
- When you’re working remotely, you typically can’t get up from your workspace to ask a coworker a question or talk about how your day is going. Global businesses must invest in a universal instant messaging platform, such as Slack, to allow colleagues to connect quickly and easily. Slack enables coworkers to communicate instantly, keeping communication consistent and clear between employees and making sure crucial questions never go unanswered.
- Slack allows users to create different groups or channels so teams can chat with larger groups or just a small one working on a project. Microsoft, Skype, Facebook, Cisco, and many other companies offer similar instant messaging services, so research your options before deciding which tool fits your unique needs.
Zoom Video Communications
- Sending a quick message to coworkers is helpful, but sometimes it’s easier to meet as a group and discuss larger projects. Meeting face-to-face also helps global team members feel connected to their coworkers and like they’re a part of the team. If you’re not able to gather in a physical office for meetings, using a virtual meeting tool like Zoom brings people together and adds another layer of connection for remote colleagues.
- Skype is another video conferencing tool for businesses that facilitates face-to-face communication when you are unable to meet with a co-worker in person.
The Best Organization Tools for Remote Teams
Organization is a challenge for any team but keeping a team with an international workforce organized adds additional challenges. Leaders must ensure that their employees are up to date on current projects and that everyone has access to documents or information when they need it.
There are many different project management tools available today. The tools you choose for your team depend on a variety of factors, such as your team size, the industry you work in, and how your team operates most efficiently. You may need to try more than one tool before you find what works best for you. Some organization tools Velocity Global employees find most helpful include:
- Asana is a project management platform that helps keep everyone on a team informed about what tasks they need to do to complete a project and the status of each task. You can store documents, communicate with your team members, and plan for future projects all in one tool.
- Again, there are many different project management tools available, all with a wide variety of features and price points. Give your team time to test different tools to decide which one works best for their needs. Your company might need to use more than one project management platform because the marketing team might have different needs than the finance team or other internal departments.
- Trello is a Kanban-style, list-making application that allows teams to manage and organize tasks and upcoming projects. You can add attachments, briefs, and to-do lists so that all team members can find necessary documents and keep track of the project’s progress.
- Sharing files between different teams and team members is challenging, and an important aspect of remote work is ensuring everyone has easy access to what they need, when they need it. Keeping files saved in one place is crucial, so your business should invest in a cloud storage solution like Google Drive or Dropbox. These solutions (and an established policy for saving and organizing documents) helps prevent critical files being saved on only one computer in the case of a system failure.
- Notion is a centralized hub for internal training docs, company-wide information, weekly meeting agendas, and calendars to keep teams on track. This workspace is adaptable to individual team needs while providing a centralized spot for information-sharing.
Teams use Dropbox to store sensitive information, share files, and collaborate on projects all in one secure location. This tool can accommodate files of any size safely and securely, which is a huge bonus for remote teams.
The Best Collaboration and Training Tools for Remote Teams
One of the biggest hurdles for remote teams is real-time collaboration and training. Training team members on a new software while trying to schedule meetings in different time zones presents its challenges. Furthermore, collaborating during an in-person meeting is difficult to replicate in a virtual setting.
To combat some of these obstacles, remote teams use various software and tools that streamline virtual training and collaboration. Some effective tools Velocity Global use include:
- Loom is a video recording software that helps teams communicate visually and asynchronously. Users can record themselves through their webcam, their screen, or both, depending on the message they’re trying to convey, and easily send their message (via hyperlink) to their recipient.
- It makes training easy as you can guide your team member through specific processes while capturing onscreen details. It’s equally useful for sharing quick information as it’s often more efficient than writing out an email.
- Miro helps bring visual tools you may be used to in an office environment online with virtual collaboration templates. They have numerous variations catering to the different stages of project development, from strategy and planning, all the way to metrics and measurement.
- Miro also offers a tactile experience of dragging ‘sticky notes’ around a virtual whiteboard, recreating an in-person brainstorm meeting, and allowing team members to share ideas simultaneously.
The Best Connection and Culture-Building Tools for Remote Teams
When you have a distributed team, developing a healthy company culture is a little different from in-office teams but no less critical. As well as video calls and Slack channels, there are a couple of other software tools to encourage connection within a team.
Know Your Team (KYT)
- KYT is a support tool for managers to build trust and rapport with their remote team. It helps teams get to know each other with the icebreaker questions, encourages positive affirmation through the shoutout function, supports healthy one-on-one meetings, and builds relationships by asking periodic questions.
- There’s also community support for managers with the full version of KYT, which grants access to resources, discussion, and advice on everything to do with remote management.
- Donut is another Slack integrated app that helps foster relationships within the team. It randomly generates different pairings each month and connects the two via a Slack DM. The idea is to organize a video call with someone new each month to get to know them and chat about something other than work.
- Donut makes reminders halfway through the month and asks if you had a chance to meet by the end of the mo
Hire Your Global Remote Team Today
Thanks to the different technology tools available, managing a remote global team has never been easier. Our experts know what it takes to keep employees all over the world productive, engaged, and connected, and we can help you do the same for your teams. If you’d like more information about remote work, read our complete guide to managing a global remote team.
When you’re ready to hire a remote global team, our International PEO (Professional Employer Organization) solution streamlines the process and puts less burden on you and your teams. Our experts handle onboarding, payroll, and benefits administration, as well as compliance and risk mitigation.
We’re always here to help you onboard global workers compliantly and help them feel connected and supported—no matter where they live and work. If you’d like to learn more about working remotely creates a great opportunity for international growth, reach out to us today.