There’s no denying that the Coronavirus pandemic changed the way we work. For many businesses, the need to have teams work from home kickstarted a long-overdue digital transformation. But, especially for new or small businesses, the world of remote work tools may be very difficult to navigate. What tools do we need? What do we need them for?
Trying several tools to see which one fits best would be a costly and time-consuming process. It’d also require constant training and retaining, since not everyone is a digital native, and not every interface is easy to interact with.
In this post, we’ll take a look at four types of tools that should be in your company’s remote work stack. Each type of tool or platform represents an aspect of your business’ everyday activities. After analyzing our options, we’ll explain what we should have in mind to make the right choices.
A Quality Communication Solution
It’s vital for us to rely on the right communication platform. Aside from Zoom, Whereby, Skype, Jitsi, or any other platform we might use for meetings, we should have a channel to stay in contact with our coworkers and collaborate in a time-efficient and comfortable way. This platform may or may not be convenient for virtual meetings as well.
Slack is the go-to option for many businesses because it allows them to organize teams and topics in different channels and subchannels. Slack also integrates with tools like Mailchimp, Google Docs, and hundreds of others, with bots giving you updates on everything from newsletter signups to your website’s downtime.
Other popular options are Microsoft Teams and Cisco Spark. When it comes to Microsoft Teams, many businesses use it because it’s included in their Office 365 subscription. But reviews are mixed. Experts at Xylo note a UI that’s unpolished and hard to navigate. A PCMag reviewer points out the biggest downsides as follows:
“[It’s] only convenient to use in a Microsoft-centric environment (…) Compartmentalized design gives an air of formality and rule-following that may inhibit open dialogue”
Meanwhile, Cisco Spark users usually highlight how the platform offers a far more polished and dynamic video calling experience than Slack’s.
A Great Project Management Platform
A tool for task management and progress tracking is vital to make sure your team’s on the same page, that everyone is staying productive, and that projects are progressing as needed. When picking this kind of tool, decision paralysis is the name of the game. There are probably hundreds of available options. Basecamp, Trello, Asana, Atlassian, GoodDay, Avaza, Quire, Monday, and the list goes on.
The key is to analyze which features really make a difference, what your team really needs, and understand which one can deliver at the best price. For instance, Atlassian’s Jira is probably the most widely used tool for development teams because it’s designed for a development workflow and it integrates with relevant tools, such as Github.
An Effective Time-Tracking Tool
Time-tracking tools guarantee everyone is working at the intended time, and making the most out of their day. As with your project management tool, you’ll need to consider your business’ and your team’s needs and whether the product has features to address them.
For instance, Statushero integrates with project management and messaging tools, to provide cross-platform statistics about each team member’s accomplishments, participation, mood, and challenges. On the other hand, Toggl has a billing functionality that allows users to assign a monetary value to their time to make sure they’re compensated fairly for their hours of work.
A Real-Time Phone Interpreting Solution
For companies working with international clients and partners, being unable to have face-to-face meetings with foreign stakeholders can be a great obstacle. But you can keep in touch with your foreign partners with the help of an interpreter.
A real-time interpreting solution, such as Day Interpreting, can facilitate your virtual international meetings in a professional and cost-efficient way.
When picking a virtual interpreting solution, there are three factors you need to have in mind,
- Payment and billing methods: How will you be charged? Is this platform a good option for the volume you’ll need?
- Language and interpreter availability: Do they work with the languages you need? How big is their staff? Consequently, should you schedule in advance, or can you just log in and get an interpreter at any time?
- Company reputation: Has this company been in business for a long time? Do they know interpreting? Do they have reputable clients?
The Importance of the Right Stack
It’s easy to get overwhelmed or try to solve any problem through a new tool. The best way to make sure you pick the right tools is to discuss them with your team. What do they need and what would a satisfactory solution look like for them?
Aside from the platform’s features, another important factor to take into consideration is pricing. Not only the fees you’ll have to pay upfront, but how fees could increase as your company grows. Does the platform you’re choosing charge per team (like Bandcamp) or per user (like Asana)?
On the other hand, consider how long the product has been out. You don’t want to be forced to change your tools because your current options have shut down.
The best toolkit will be the one that will facilitate your work and that you won’t have to think about. If you’re spending too much time introducing new tools and training your team, chasing the promise of a more dynamic workflow, there’s something you’re not doing right.
Don’t forget that, if needed, almost every employee will have their own personal stack to ensure their productivity. For instance, some workers might gravitate towards apps like Focus, Feedless, Cold Turkey or Serene to stay focused by blocking distracting websites and notifications.