Not many people are aware that the concept of remote work spans back to 1973 when Jack Nilles, a NASA engineer, pitched his idea of “telecommuting” to IBM. His solution enabled certain employees to work remotely from satellite offices that were closer to their homes. Although Nilles was able to scale his experiment from five remote workers to more than 2,000 over the next 10 years, he was unable to generate enough buy-in from other industries for the idea to take off.
Fast forward to 2022, with the pandemic turning the conventional workspace on its head, and Nilles is finally getting the credit he deserves. Remote work has quickly become our new norm. And with more and more teams now permanently remote, hybrid, or working across multiple hubs, it’s imperative that employers audit their current technology stack—and look to solutions that can successfully accommodate these new workplace dynamics for years to come.
So, what tools are most useful to remote employees? Those that support collaboration and communication—seamlessly, accurately, and instantaneously. This will inevitably require you to look beyond the no-brainer, foundational tools, like Google Docs, Zoom, Slack, and a task management system. However, finding the right solutions for you and your team will be the difference between flourishing and failing in this remote—and increasingly tech-driven—world. That’s why we’ve pulled together a list of the best tools for remote work.
1. Visual Collaboration Tools for Remote Work
For those who miss getting their hands on a fresh dry-erase marker and scribbling their ideas across a whiteboard, visual collaboration tools are a must. These platforms enable you to start a virtual whiteboard that you can invite your team to use with you. With facilitation features, pre-built templates, and a bevy of available integrations, visual collaboration tools make sure that virtual teams don’t skip a beat when it comes to brainstorming and iterating on ideas.
2. Screen Recording Software for Remote Work
Sometimes an email or Slack message won’t cut it. You need to explain something verbally, and you need to show your screen, too. But remote teams thrive on asynchronous communication. After all, back-to-back Zoom meetings don’t leave much time for actual work. That’s where screen recording software comes into play. Once recorded, simply copy and share the link with your colleague and boom—no muss, no fuss, no extraneous Zoom call.
One of our favorites is Loom. Five-minute videos are free, but they offer paid team versions with many helpful features, like transcriptions, annotations, and company branding.
3. Video Conferencing Add-Ons for Remote Work
Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams— form the bedrock of video conferencing tools widely used among remote teams. While useful in their own right, there are quite a few extensions you can plug into these platforms to fuel even great collaboration, focus, and productivity across remote teams.
For Zoom Users
- Fathom: This app automatically records and transcribes your Zoom calls while simultaneously providing users with a customizable control panel to highlight important moments of the call and take notes where needed. Once the call concludes, you can send these notes directly to your CRM.
- Grain: Similarly, Grain enables Zoom users to record, transcribe, and share videos in real time. It also enables users to cut and splice recordings into video summaries, helping compress hours-long meetings into just a few minutes.
For Microsoft Teams and Google Meet Users
- Hypercontext and Fellow: These tools apply customizable agendas to video conferencing platforms so that users can easily collaborate, record notes, assign tasks, and hold each other accountable in a centralized place. Hypercontext works with both Microsoft Teams and Google Meet users, whereas Fellow is just for those on Google Meet.
As a bonus, check out Krisp—a noise-cancelling software that reduces background noises and echoes on your video calls. The Mosaic team has used it at even the most noisy coffee shops and has been very pleased with the results. Plus, it works with 800-plus communication apps, including the big three mentioned here.
4. Best Resource Management Software for Remote Work
Leaders have historically struggled to gain visibility into their team’s workload—a problem that has been exacerbated by the shift to remote work. This incomplete picture can inhibit leadership’s decision-making skills, causing them to assign work to people who are already over-extended. In turn, this lack of visibility can trigger burnout across teams—particularly among an organization’s top performers. The right resource management software, however, can solve this problem.
With the capability to integrate with the tech stack you already use, resource management software increases visibility across teams by automatically gathering internal data to help you:
- See who is working on what and when
- Monitor budget and resource capacity as projects progress
- Significantly improve utilization
- Get out-of-the-box reporting that’s easy to understand
Plus, if this platform is AI-driven (like Mosaic’s), you’ll be able to use its data to optimize and forecast workload, accurately plan headcount, and map employees’ skills to projects. How’s that for better-managing teams from afar?
5. Employee Engagement Software for Remote Work
Cultivating a close-knit workplace culture is a hard thing to do on its own, let alone when your team is scattered about the country or globe. Yet, it’s imperative to know what your employees’ wants and needs are to ensure they feel valued. So, to take the guesswork out of how to achieve this, consider products that will provide you with the environment needed to have these honest conversations with your team—and tighten your relationships with them over time.
Officevibe and 15Five are great platforms to bring out the best in your teams—especially those that are remote. With the ability to send out regular, anonymous surveys to your team, these platforms create a safe space in which your employees can be honest about things that may be directly affecting their engagement. Managers can use this feedback to take meaningful action to improve employee performance.
Employee recognition is also key to an engaged workforce, which is why Kudos is so awesome. This platform enables peer-to-peer recognition to drive employee appreciation and performance. Plus, it integrates with a number of tools you likely already use, making implementation a breeze.
6. Writing Assistants for Remote Work
AI-powered writing assistants are a growing trend—and for good reason. These tools can help small and large companies ensure that each of their employees is using the correct, brand-approved language when communicating both internally and externally. Not only can these apps ensure consistency company-wide, but they can also instill confidence and autonomy among staff. A win-win all around!
A favorite writing assistant of ours is Writer (go figure). In addition to driving brand standards across remote teams, it can also help automate content strategy, which could be a huge boon for marketing teams. Another excellent choice is Grammarly, which offers a premium plan for businesses.
7. Time Zone Coordination for Remote Work
For anyone who has to juggle multiple time zones when scheduling meetings for remote teams, the Every Time Zone website is a literal godsend. It can help you pinpoint and schedule available meeting times for all of your remote team members—regardless of how spread out they are. Plus, it’s free.