What’s even more challenging than managing a team in person? Managing a team remotely. After all, remote leaders often lack the visibility and close-knit bonds formed by in-person leadership. And since this is a relatively new way of working, there’s no set playbook for it.
But considering that 52% of workers around the world work from home at least once a week and that it’s predicted that 73% of all departments will have remote workers by 2028, virtual leadership looks to be the way of the future.
Luckily, managing a team remotely doesn’t have to be hard. It’s just a matter of getting equipped with the right tools to make your job easier—and there are a ton of great ones out there.
19 Essential Tools for Managing Remote Teams
For every aspect of leadership, there’s a virtual tool to help make it more efficient and effective.
Here are our favorites.
6 Tools for Virtual Communication
For remote teams, communications tools lay the foundation for success in every other aspect of their work together. That’s why these tools are a vital first step in getting ready to lead your team virtually.
You might like:
- Calendly: Eliminate the back-and-forth of trying to coordinate meeting times with this app that integrates with your calendar and lets your colleagues find and book appointments during free blocks in your day.
- Slack: Email is great for many things, but sometimes it’s more efficient and effective to be able to connect in real-time. Slack is the perfect tool for direct, instant messaging, either one-to-one or in groups.
- Zoom: Arguably the most popular of all video conferencing platforms, Zoom has become a standard operating tool for remote teams across the globe. It offers a freemium model and includes features like screen sharing, chat, and the ability to record meetings. It also has some fun features, like the ability to change your background for video calls. For more ways to add some fun to Zoom meetings, you can read through the article we wrote on the topic.
- Microsoft Teams: This platform is optimal for Microsoft users, offering standard video conferencing tools like screen sharing, the ability to record meetings, and a chat feature.
- Whereby: Whereby is all about ease-of-use. For instance, whereas many platforms force you to create an account and download and install software, Whereby is entirely web-based and doesn’t require an account. That makes it more universally usable, especially for team members who are unfamiliar with this type of software. If you’d like to learn more about Whereby, check out this article we wrote about our take on whether it’s the new Zoom alternative.
- Loom: Sometimes the easiest way to explain or communicate something to your team is to simply record it rather than trying to write it all down via email or messaging app. Loom lets you easily record, store, and share videos with your colleagues. This platform also lets you toggle back and forth from recording with your camera to recording what’s on your screen.
3 Tools for Remote Time Management
Whether you’re trying to manage your team members’ time or your own, there are a ton of tools out there to support your efforts.
- Hubstaff: This tool integrates into your team members’ computers and provides you with time tracking, productivity monitoring, and online timesheets. You can set it up to varying degrees of visibility, including using it to create accountability by taking periodic screenshots of what your team is working on as well as tracking URL visits, among other things.
- Todoist: If you need a simple, intuitive, and helpful to-do list, Todoist is a great bet. It features a streamlined interface that allows you to track tasks and subtasks, add notes, upload files, set reminders, and schedule to-do items.
- Time Doctor: Similar to Hubstaff, Time Doctor offers time tracking and detailed reports and timesheets of employee productivity as well as web and app usage. It also offers the ability to track projects by client, making it a great tool for agencies that work with external clients. One of the big benefits of Time Doctor is that it includes everything from a desktop software to a mobile version and even a Chrome app.
Pro tip: While there are tools that let you track your team’s time, one of the best parts of working remotely is having the ability to work flexible hours. So, our personal recommendation would be to use time tracking software to build trust if need be but to ultimately strive for having trusting bonds with your team members. This will make the remote working experience more enjoyable and productive for everyone.
6 Tools for Project Management
Keeping track of every team member, deliverable, and due date is tough enough when you’re working in the same physical space. The challenge is amplified when you’re working remotely. That’s why these tools are life-savers when it comes to keeping everyone organized.
- Google Drive: The ultimate file management system, Google Drive lets you store, share, and collaborate on files and folders with your team members. From Word docs to Excel sheets, PowerPoint presentations, photos, videos, and more, Google Drive lets multiple teammates collaborate on a single document simultaneously, track changes, leave comments and suggestions, and more.
- Asana: Believe it or not, Asana is used by organizations like Uber, AirBnB, and Pinterest. That’s because it allows teams to improve their collaboration and workflows by managing all of their projects and tasks in one tool, assign work to teammates, specify deadlines, and communicate about deliverables, all in the same place.
- Trello: Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards (think Pinterest for business). In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process. Imagine a whiteboard, filled with lists of sticky notes, with each note as a task for you and your team. You can also use Trello to prioritize items so that nobody misses a deadline.
- Basecamp: Basecamp is a real-time communication tool that helps teams stay on the same page. It’s geared less for traditional project management tasks like resource planning and long-term scheduling and more tailored to tracking immediate projects and action items using to-do-lists, calendaring, due dates, and file-sharing.
- Evernote: Need to keep track of what’s discussed in meetings? Looking for a place to take down ideas and inspiration as they happen? Whatever your note-taking needs, Evernote is a great go-to tool for the job. It syncs up to all your devices, lets you include images, audio, scans, and PDFs with your notes, allows you to customize your formatting, and includes a search feature to help you quickly find the notes you need.
- Command E: With all of these tools available to you, it might seem like it would be hard to find things on the fly. Luckily, there’s Command E, an extension that integrates with a ton of different apps and tools so that you can search them all in one place. No need to go into individual tools and apps to find what you’re looking for. Just use Command E to search them all for you.
3 Tools for Rewarding Your Remote Team
We’ve talked a lot about tools for helping you manage your remote team’s work, but there’s another critical component of management that becomes more challenging in a virtual environment: giving praise and rewarding team members.
These tools can help with that:
- Bonusly: Bonusly is an online platform for rewarding, recognizing, and generally celebrating employees and their great work. It enables everyone to recognize anyone. Peers can recognize each other, managers can recognize direct reports, team members can recognize managers. It’s all about helping people let each other know they’re appreciated.
- Assembly: This tool focuses on peer-to-peer recognition and can help create a culture of support and positive reinforcement. You or your teammates can recognize a colleague with a custom badge or culture reward. And best of all, it’s free to use for unlimited users.
- Giftogram: If you’re looking to reward your team members with monetary gifts, this platform allows you to send them gift cards from a ton of different brands, and this can be done both virtually or with a personalized physical package.
One last thing: if you work with remote team members in different timezones, check out Timezone.io to easily keep track of what time it is for all of your distributed colleagues.
If you have the right tools in your toolbox, managing a remote team can be a breeze. And most importantly, it can be an enjoyable experience for you and your team members.