I am going to break down my favorite tools and software for communication, data storage, and project management.
Now that most people are working at home in some capacity, Zoom has been the featured star for communication. Zoom allows team meetings to take place via a phone, tablet, or computer. Meetings can easily be recorded, and it provides a great blend of visualization through screen share, live video, and audio.
Long before Zoom, Skype had all those capabilities above. I initially used Skype for communication. It is also my instant messaging (IM) tool individual and for group chats as well.
Skype has the added benefit of a local number that can be purchased, so it allows my Philippine workers to receive calls and text messages. Before we had a VOIP system, this was how it was seamless to my clients.
I still use this feature today. The only negative is that Skype eliminated their personal voicemail feature. If you want a personalized voicemail, you need to forward calls that are missed to another device.
This software has a lot of fans, and I personally am not one. The benefit for larger teams is that the channel-based messaging platform allows those who are in the channel to know what is going on. If you are not on the channel, you aren’t bothered by the messages. It also has a direct messaging feature for more one to one communication. Slack is also searchable, and you can find threads and references reasonably easily.
Remember the old walkie talkies? This is the “updated” version. Voxer allows you to speak your message, and if the recipient is “live,” they can hear it in real-time. Otherwise, it leaves it as a recording. This allows for intonation and verbal reflection. It doesn’t disturb the recipient like a ringing phone. It can also be used as a texting platform.
Dropbox allows for all the files to be shared with various levels of permission, but with easy access. The best part about Dropbox is its familiar and easy file structure, like windows explorer. In addition, the user can determine what files to sync to their desktop versus what to leave in the cloud. It also allows for easy sharing outside of the organization with links that can be password protected.
If you like the G-Suite of products, then google drive is for you. I prefer Microsoft, so my pick is Dropbox, but Google Drive can do similar things. My biggest challenge is the formatting when you download. It is hardly ever like the original.
When working on projects with a remote team, Basecamp is a clear winner. From message boards, To-Do lists, Chat features, scheduling, and documents all in a central location, this is a complete solution. Because the pricing is not user-specific, it can replace a lot of other software applications at a fraction of the price.
The online version of a bulletin board, this visual representation of tasks also known as cards, can be categorized and dated. You can set reminders, categorize the cards, and tag people to cards.
While an expensive version of an online checklist, this software allows for conditional logic to help with decision making and ensures standardization of repetitive tasks. It provides for a process to be broken down into various workflows and can be used in many different industries.
While there are a lot of tools to use, I recommend picking one or two, get proficient with them, and integrate them into your company culture. Once you have the tools and you have integrated them into your workflow, you will find managing your team, whether in-house or remote, becomes much easier.
Anne Lackey is the Co-Founder of HireSmart Virtual Employees. She helps business owners improve their bottom line by reducing overwhelm and staff turnover. She helps businesses raise their customers' satisfaction by strategic staffing with virtual employees. Three-time best-selling author, national speaker, and featured expert on hiring, team building, managing remote employees, and business growth.