The remote work revolution is officially in full swing. Gallup reports that a whopping 45% of full-time employees are at least partially working from home. Unfortunately, an even higher percentage of employees soon discovered that their current suite of communications and productivity tools wasn’t up to snuff.
Working remotely requires proper planning and infrastructure, which seems daunting at first. But fortunately for all involved, there is a bounty of software and services available to make the transition easier than you’d think.
Let’s dig into which remote work tools are essential for your team to be productive at home.
1. Cloud-Hosted Phone System
Cloud-hosted phone systems (otherwise known as VoIP systems) are perfect for making sales and supporting customers remotely. Since your whole system is hosted online, there’s no physical infrastructure to maintain and very little setup. In fact, as long as your business uses phones built this decade, you likely won’t even need to buy new ones. Just get everyone an ethernet cable and watch the magic happen!
On top of that, cloud-hosted phone systems allow you to remotely enjoy all the features you’re used to at the office – voicemail, extention transfers, call groups, auto-attendants – plus many others you may not have on your current system.
The biggest concern for most companies with remote employees is how they’ll be able to track performance and maintain productivity standards. As you might expect by now, cloud-hosted phone systems also make remote management a breeze. Managers can view call metrics for both teams and individuals, generate regular reports, and even jump in on live calls that require extra assistance.
2. Video Conferencing Software
Recent studies have shown that remote teams participate in 25% more meetings than they did at the office. For some, this has provided more opportunities to collaborate and ask key questions. For others, this increase in meetings has tied up an ever-increasing portion of their schedule and cut into dedicated work time.
Regardless, meetings are an important part of remote work. So to help those meetings feel more personal and insightful, we recommend investing in video conferencing software. This will allow employees to get to know each other as more than just disembodied voices, building camaraderie and encouraging more engagement.
There are numerous suites of video conferencing software to choose from, so dedicate some time to learning a few before deciding which is the best long-term fit for your business.
3. Team Communication Tools
Team communication tools provide your business with instant messaging and other functionality so remote employees can chat or ask questions just as quickly as they could around the water cooler or at each other’s desks. They also provide a way to immediately ask for or provide feedback.
An undersung aspect of team communication tools is how customizable they are and how much they can enhance your company culture. For instance, we at FluentStream have dozens of custom emojis based on inside jokes and employee personalities that we use on a daily basis. We also have a number of “just for fun” channels such as cute pets, weekend adventures, and UFOs/cryptids news.
A more… objectively useful feature of team communication tools, however, is the ability to conduct company polls or votes, giving everyone a voice no matter how far away they work.
Slack is obviously the most popular team communication tool on the market, and the one we can most easily recommend, but look at a few others just to make sure you aren’t missing out on features important to your team.
4. Performance Management Software
An obvious downside of remote work is that it’s much harder for managers to stay on top of who is excelling, and who may need more help or additional training.
At its core, performance management software solves this remote work problem by providing in-depth data on employees both live and over time. Data such as hours clocked in, total calls, average call lengths, progress towards team goals – it's all compiled into customizable reports for easy review. Having all that data at your fingertips makes it much easier to plan future budget and staffing decisions.
Used correctly, performance management software can actually give businesses more insight into employee performance than they had at the office. Plus, if you’re a hybrid workforce or plan on returning to the office someday, all your data and reporting will work just as well.
5. Project Management Software
Chances are, if your company is large enough to need a telecommuting strategy, you likely already have some sort of project management software.
However, is it specifically built to empower remote workers? Is it packed with features that keep everyone on the same page no matter the distances and time zones between them? If not, you’ll need project management software that allows you to assign long-term tasks to team members, make comments, and enforce deadlines.
Remember, your goal shouldn’t be to pick a project management software that looks impressive and adapt to how it functions. Your goal should be to analyze what keeps your teams running smoothly and pick the best software to match.
6. Cloud Storage
As you’d expect for a business connected through the internet, reliable cloud storage is a must-have for remote and hybrid businesses.
Cloud storage allows employees to easily create, edit, and share projects from anywhere, making it easy to collaborate on presentations or submit documents for approval. Dropbox and Google Drive are the frontrunners of the cloud storage industry, so give due consideration to each.
As for your communications storage needs, FluentStream offers robust call recording storage to make sure nothing gets lost in the cloud.
Have more questions about how to put together the perfect remote work toolkit? Want to see how much FluentStream can improve your productivity while saving you money every month? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 303-GO-CLOUD and selecting Option 1.