Effective Remote Team Tools in a Changing Work Landscape
With a huge portion of the country’s workforce shifting to working from home, most for the first time, it is critical to identify efficient and effective tools and resources to keep your remote teams productive and connected. In our experience, when remote teams have tools that allow seamless communication, promote document sharing, and facilitate their work tasks their level of frustration drops significantly, and they feel empowered and more comfortable working in their new, independent environment.
At Novelle, our favorite solution is one that you may already have in your toolbox. If you have an active Microsoft 365 subscription or if you or your organization have a Microsoft 365 Business Premium (starting at $12.50 user/month) or Microsoft 365 Business Essentials (starting at $5.00 user/month) subscription, then you may already have all the tools you need to support your remote team. Both these subscriptions come with access to Microsoft Teams for communicating and organizing your efforts.
This is our favorite solution, because it gives you the ability to communicate, collaborate, and share information in one cohesive system while taking advantage of the robust library of Microsoft 365 applications.
Microsoft Teams is a powerful collaboration tool that can be accessed via web browser, desktop, or by mobile app. Teams facilitates communication with their chat and video features which can be used one-on-one, with a team, or even used to host up to 250 people on online and video calls. Teams allows you to access other Microsoft office applications from an integrated desktop platform. You can also create channels with specific team members to facilitate collaboration, while ensuring privacy and security. Team channels not only allow team members to communicate through chat, but also share files, collaborate in real time, and develop task lists and schedules.
At Novelle we have been able to centralize our efforts to Teams. Eliminating lost information in an abundance of emails and messy file structures, and allowing us to improve communication, ensure version control, and customization to meet our specific needs.
Another fully integrated option, is G-Suite. While you can use most of Google’s functions for free, G-Suites does have some additional features which start at $6 user/month. These additional features include a custom business email, email and phone support, larger cloud storage on Google Drive and Gmail. Suite is comprised of Gmail, Hangouts, Calendar, video and voice calling for up to 100 participants, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms.
Additional Free Resources
The “stay at home” order has caused financial uncertainty and hardship for many small businesses. We have included some additional free options for keeping your team members connected and working efficiently.
Free Communication Tools
One of the biggest complaints from workers that have recently transitioned to the remote workforce is feeling “disconnected” and a lack of leader and team member consistent communication. Some offices have been using email and texting via phone, but these methods are not conducive to work tasks, and many have issues with connectivity and responsiveness. There are several free tools specifically designed to keep remote teams connected and collaborating. Here are some of the most capable and popular options:
Video calling and chat. Skype to skype calling is free
Chat, brainstorm, share files. Free version only allows one-to-one calling and no screen sharing.
Online meeting tool. Free version with unlimited calls one-to-one. Calls 3-100 participants are limited to 40 minutes.
Free Collaboration Tools
Remote teams need the ability to share schedules, priorities, task assignments, and more. Organizational tools are essential to helping project managers and team leaders prioritize work, make assignments, share due dates and keep their team on track to meet goals and successfully complete projects on time. Some of our favorite options:
Free up to 15 users. Tool to manage tasks, progress, and to do lists.
Chat, brainstorm, share files. 5 GB file storage.
Track specific tasks and goals. Great for use across all devices.
Free Cloud Storage
The inability to easily share documents, maintain version control, have quick access, and simultaneous edit is a huge frustration among remote teams. Cloud storage is the best answer to alleviate these frustrations. There are many options, but the list below contains some of the best options to keep your team connected and sharing while staying at home.
Sync.com offers 5Gb of free storage, and up to 20GB for additional storage from referrals. Sync.com main feature is a zero-knowledge encryption.
Part of the Microsoft 365 Suite, but you can get a free account that comes with 5GB of storage.
pCloud offers 10GB of free storage that can be access via browser, or their mobile or desktop application to integrate into your workflow. pCloud also allows easy file share, even if users don’t have a pCloud account. This a particularly great solution if you have a lot of video or audio files.
MediaFire offers 10 GB of free storage, but you can earn up to 40GB of additional storage by referring friends and completing other tasks. While it does offer a mobile application, there is currently no desktop application. Additionally, the free version does carry a number of advertisements.
All these tools sound great, so what is the downside? For some employees there will be a learning curve and thus planning for a grace period will help. Online videos and media tutorial are bountiful, but if you need additional support, there are companies, like Novelle, that are here to support you during this transition to remote work. Our world will be forever changed, but don’t forget, we are in this together We are giving free consultations and free advice during this transition period.
Rita Simmons is the founder and lead consultant of Novelle, where she provides business and research consulting to companies across a variety of industries. Dr. Simmons leverages her drive for innovation and excellence along with her extensive executive and military experience to help business owners grow their business, drive revenue, and achieve strategic goals. When you’re ready to take your business to the next level, contact Dr. Simmons at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.