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5 More Essential Software Tools for Your Remote Team

Last month we brought you a list of 10 Essential Software Tools for Your Remote Team where we outlined our top software picks for remote companies. Now, we’re back with five more to add to your list and ensure you’re implementing the best remote work policies and workflows possible so you can function at your peak. 

Task Management Software

When your teams live across time zones and have conflicting working hours, you need somewhere centralized to guide workflow asynchronously. Of course, the specifics of your team and task loads will determine the style of software that will work best for you. Do you need a centralized place to keep notes? A visible to-do list? Or, perhaps, a Kanban-style task manager? Whatever solution fits best to your needs, there are hundreds of software options for task management out there. It may take some trial and error to find the one that fits best for you, but most software offers free trials for this exact reason. 

Trello

Our marketing team uses Trello to organize our content schedules. We plan all our content at least a month ahead — often longer — and we’re always juggling multiple projects at once. 

On Trello, all upcoming projects are listed as boards, with more detailed to-do lists and briefs attached. As each task is ticked off, the board moves through the production line, where other team members take over, complete their tasks and once again move the board along until it’s ultimately completed.

This is an extremely helpful system for our team as we have a few different writers, an illustrator, and of course, our Content Marketing Manager, Angela Moon, who oversees the entire production. Trello helps us take ownership of our own tasks while giving a big picture overview of the project. 

“Trello allows me to visually organize Shield’s content plan,” Angela says. “I manage our upcoming articles, illustrations, web development, and social media posts all through Trello. It’s also helpful to set due dates, communicate with our freelancers, and upload documents or briefs.”

She says she loves having everything in one place where she can easily see what each person is working on and what tasks are upcoming. 

Alternatives 

Human Resources Software 

Human resources software is extremely beneficial for any company, whether they are remote or not. Centralizing information and having it accessible to your entire team means they won’t be bugging you to send over their contract every time they apply for a new rental or need to update their home address. However, it can be especially useful for managing global teams who will have differing PTO days, leave requirements, and even in some cases, different employee benefits. With everything centralized you won’t have to keep all the public holiday dates of every country your employees live in on the top of your mind — it will all be in one place, that each team member can access. 

BambooHR

We use BambooHR to store and share employee information, track vacation days, and to assist with our recruitment process. 

By using software, we have automated several administrative tasks as well as centralized the employee data from our global team.

Each Shield employee has access to a personalized BambooHR dashboard where they can view team information like contact details, birthdays, and upcoming time off. It also displays the users remaining annual leave and sick leave, and this is where we make new leave requests. Employees can use their accounts to access their own employment documents, such as contracts. This means sensitive information doesn’t have to be sent back and forth whenever an employee needs access to it, and there aren’t any bottlenecks with our HR department. 

We also ask new employees some introductory questions which are shared on every team member’s dashboard, which helps them get to know new colleagues.

BambooHR’s software also includes an applicant tracking system that catalogs available job listings and as well as information like the hiring manager, how many people have applied, and how long it has been posted.  

Alternatives

CRM 

Once again, having a supportive online solution for managing customer relationships is essential for any service company, regardless of whether you’re remote or colocated. However, when your teams are widespread, live in different time zones, and work during different hours you can’t rely on confirming information with a colleague sitting next to you or asking your manager to fix something in person. Having somewhere to centralize information, automate processes like follow-ups or regular requests like invoices means business runs as usual whether one team member is active or not. We know that, of course, communication is really the key element to seamless asynchronous teamwork, but software can certainly ease this burden. 

Salesforce 

We use Salesforce for the bulk of our day-to-day tasks across multiple teams. This is where we open cases, or client requests/issues, store information that all teams need access to, and assign cross-team tasks. It’s where we have a large scale overview of our clients from a centralized location. 

“It’s helpful because all of us have access to the same information and we all live under the motto that if it’s not in Salesforce it doesn’t exist, hence everyone makes an effort to document everything in SF and tag other teams to keep them aligned,” our Client Services Director Brenda Limon says. 

“For Client Facing teams and Finance, Salesforce is our ‘lifeline.’”

It would be impossible to manage these tasks without a platform like Salesforce. Through automation, information storage, and customization, we’re able to support our clients to the best of our abilities and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. 

Alternatives

Collaboration and Training Software

We’re firm believers that collaboration can and does happen effectively while teams are distributed globally. It does, however, take some planning, trial and error, and in some cases, new tools. While Zoom and Google Docs have their place and often make up the bulk of your collaboration toolkit, there are some extras you might like to try next time you’re brainstorming a concept, planning out a project, or training someone on a new process. 

Loom

Loom is a video recording software that helps you communicate visually and asynchronously. Users can record themselves through their webcam, their screen, or both, depending on the message they’re trying to convey, and easily send their message (via hyperlink) to their recipient. 

It makes training easy as you can guide your team member through specific processes while screen capturing the onscreen details. However, it’s equally useful for sharing quick information between teams as it’s often more efficient than writing out an email. 

We’re trialing a new version of our monthly all-hands meetings at Shield, where team leads record a video of their team’s monthly updates. We’re hoping this shifts the meeting toward connection rather than information sharing. Previously we would record these updates through Zoom, but a few team members have switched to Loom and found it a more enjoyable and efficient experience.

Alternatives

Miro 

Without access to conference room tables where you can spread out, or whiteboards where you can visually annotate ideas, brainstorming can become somewhat difficult — particularly when you’re developing multi-stage projects with various team members. 

Miro helps bring those visual tools you may be used to in an office environment online with virtual collaboration templates. They have a bunch of variations catering to the different stages of project development from strategy and planning all the way through to metrics and measurement. 

We’ve used Miro to help with project planning, concept development, and to visually sort tasks into various team priorities and objectives. The tactile experience of dragging ‘sticky notes’ around the virtual whiteboard brought a sense of ‘presence’ to an otherwise virtual process and having multiple team members work simultaneously on the same board made the experience extremely similar (if not better) than in person.

Alternatives

Conclusion 

Software has the power to simplify and automate previously time-consuming processes but also bring life and familiarity to a virtual world. As remote workers, it can be the difference between a project or teams’ success or failure. As with all lists, this is just a jumping-off point and is by no means meant to be definitive. We’ll always encourage trial and error to discover what works best for your team’s specific needs.

 

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