Just one short week ago, working lives throughout the globe changed dramatically in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
For many business owners and managers, this had meant that the team which once operated from one central hub is now spread to the winds as employees are urged to work from home.
Bridging the gap
For the business owner suddenly dealing with a remote team, this is, in many cases, a difficult time.
Those who are unused to managing their team this way can find themselves experiencing frustration and a sense of disconnect. During this period, it’s important to keep working practices as normal and structured as possible.
As well as reinforcing your usual working guidelines, you may need to introduce new ones to cover what’s expected of your team at the moment. You’ll also need to establish a proper chain of communication to make sure that nothing slips through the cracks.
Don’t worry, in our age of technology there are lots of tools which can help you to manage your team remotely and, the following, is my comprehensive guide to the best ones.
Available worldwide, Zoom is an incredibly popular video software package which will allow you to have face to face meetings and conversations with your team, even when you’re miles apart and in multiple locations. Zoom offers a free basic package and, three paid options priced between £11.99 and £15.99. Almost 200 businesses use Zoom for remote working including 21st Century Fox and Autodesk.
Part of Google Mail, Hangouts is a message and conferencing service which is free to use for 14 days and then has a choice of three packages priced at £4.14, £8.28 and £20 per month. As well as messaging, Hangouts has lots of other tricks up its sleeve to help smooth the transition to a remote team.
Slack’s basic package is free to use and includes unlimited messaging between individuals and groups. If you’re looking for more features, Slack’s business packages are priced at $450 a month and $1250 a month. If you’re quick, you can get an upgrade to a paid plan for three months for free. Some huge businesses using Slack for remote working include Airbnb and Pinterest.
Workplace by Facebook
Facebook was fairly late on parade when it came to adding a workspace to its platform but, this quickly became extremely popular. Offering chatting, messaging and tools for businesses, the premium version is free for the first 12 months for emergency services and government organisations.
A group chat and collaboration tool, Microsoft Teams is surprisingly affordable at £3.80, £7.90 and £9.40 per month – plus, you get the first six months free. As well as the chat features, Microsoft Teams includes all the usual Microsoft goodies including Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Desktop, web and mobile versions available.
Business phones, video conferencing and cloud calling are all up for grabs with Dialpad which is used by some impressive businesses including Hubspot, Uber and Stripe. A free trial is available and price options are revealed once you sign up. Change.org and Crunchbase are among Dialpad’s customers.
Free Talk Pro
Freetalkpro is, as you would imagine, free. Specialising in telephone conferencing, this fairly basic system is great for the smaller team.
A part of Dialpad, Uber Conference Business is a telephone and video conferencing system which allows up to 50 participants. Keeping things simple, Uber Conference Business offers just two packages – the free Basic package for up to 10 participants and, the Business package for £15 per month.
Completely, 100% free to use, Cisco Webex is an American mini-suite of tools including video and online conferencing, webinars, team collaboration and training facilities. Although the basic plan is free for the life of your membership, you can choose a paid plan to get more features and these are priced at £11.25, £14.85 and £22.50 per month. Customers include Terracycle Inc.
A British remote engagement provider, 8×8 offers cloud based business phoning and video conferencing to some huge companies including Regus and McDonalds. Small business plans are priced between £20 and £90 per month with no time restrictions and, prices for enterprise plans are available on request.
Created specifically for health care providers, educators, municipalities and non-profits, GoToMeeting provides ‘any device’ collaboration and conferencing. A free 14 day trial is available, after which prices start from $14 a month with no time restrictions. Fans of GoToMeeting include Schiffharding and Airgas
Easy to set up and starting from $7.99 per month, Ring Central is a robust and reliable communication system incorporating telephone and video conferencing. Available for all devices, remote workers can join in from home or on the go.
A Cloud based IT company, Intermedia is flexible and customisable and includes video conferencing and access to webinars free of charge. Prices are available on request.
Fully integratable cloud video conferencing services and collaborative tools make Starleaf a great choice for businesses who want to keep large remote teams connected. Starleaf’s customers include Argos Ltd and HB Communications.
Priced at $15, $150 and $850 per month, Vidyard is a video platform for business and includes interactive and personalised video experiences along with powerful insights and enterprise integrations. Vidyard is currently free for businesses until the end of June 2020. Well known customers include Argus Media.
Providing 1 click voice and video collaboration, Jamm also allows for casual conversations for a more natural working environment. Jamm offers a free three month trial after which prices are available on request.
For personal and business use, Discord is a voice, text, video and screen sharing chat app which allows you to connect up to nine people for group conversations. Discord provides side by side screen sharing for a completely seamless experience. Discord pricing is available on request.
Currently free for three months (and free forever for educators and students), Yac is an asynchronous communication tool created specifically for remote teams. After the free trial, Yac costs $10 per month.
Offering one on one chat or group conversations, Flock is a video conferencing system which lets you invite team members to a chat and use screen sharing for project management. Prices are available on request and Flock is used by DataShop and CodeCarrot amongst many others.
Created to simplify remote working, Drag is an ‘Everything Inbox’ which allows remote teams to run all of their communications from one central hub. Drag’s normal price is $99 per month but, the service is currently free to use until the 30th of June 2020.
Bot-based Trello helps remote teams to boost productivity with a whole host of organisational tools including rule based triggers, calendar tools and due date commands. Trello is available in packages priced at Free, $9.99 per month and $20.83 per month and is used by Bonobo and Creative Mettle to name just a couple.
One that you’ve no doubt heard of, Dropbox is a hugely popular file storage and sharing system perfect for remote collaboration. Dropbox offers a free version as well as paid versions at £10 and £15 per month. Dropbox is currently free to use for non-profits and NGOs for three months.
Flexible and innovative, Airtable is part spreadsheet, part database to allow remote teams to quickly and easily collaborate on projects. Airtable prices are available on request.
Part spreadsheet, part database, and entirely flexible, Airtable gives you the freedom to arrange your work just the way you like.
Gathering documents, spreadsheets, slides and chat services in one central hub, Quip offers free storage to all users. Pricing is set at $10 and $25 per month and includes an unlimited number of users, making it perfect for the larger teams. Customers include UserCart and New Relic.
Featuring over 40 (count ‘em) applications, Zoho One is an operating system for business which allows remote teams to manage, connect and automate day to day tasks. What’s more, it’s free to use until July 2020.
Perfect for first time remote teams, Wrike is an easy to use integrative tool which allows for seamless collaboration. Used by Google and Fitbit, Wrike allows for full business management remotely and is free for the basic package ($24.80 for a package with a few more features).
Designed to help remote teams plan, track, support and collaborate, Atlassian is compatible with Jira Software, Jira Service Desk, Confluence and Jira Core. Atlassian supports teams of up to 10 people and, prices are available on request.
For teams relying on graphs, flowcharts, mindmaps and network diagrams, Creately offers an easy solution with its real time collaboration features. Teams can create sitemaps and diagrams and share with other team members. Prices are available on request.
Nimbus Note offers a suite of collaboration tools for remote teams for a more organised workplace. Prices are Free, $5.83 per month and $24.99 per month and, clients include Softpedia.
If your business is all about spreadsheets and databases, Stackby provides integrations with best business APIs and the flexibility to create your own set of work tools for up to 10 users. Stackby’s pricing packages are $5 per month, $9 per month and $18 per month with a free three month trial of the Economy plan.
Combining task management, scheduling, time tracking and billing, Paymo offers an all in one management platform for remote teams. Paymo is priced at $8.95 per month and $14.25 per month and is used by clients such as Kunder and Pixel Parlor. During the current crisis, Paymo’s free trial has been extended to 45 days.
A one stop shop for remote teams looking for a user friendly management platform, Kantree is a fast and collaborative database system which costs 7 Euros a month. Kantree is currently offering a three month free trial until the 30th of April.
This clever platform lets teams move their existing projects, tasks and files from Asana, Basecamp, Trello and Jira into one place for easy collaboration. Nifty is used by Coca Cola, Johnson & Johnson and IBM and costs $79 or $119 per month. New users can use the code REMOTE50 to get 50% off any Nifty plan for the next four months.
Created to organise all resources from cloud to round in one access management platform, Okta is available for free for the next six months, after which prices are available on request.
Cloudflare helps businesses to protect and speed up their websites quickly and easily and, is currently offering its enterprise grade features free to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Remote teams can quickly and easily share insights right across the organisation with ThousandEyes business management system. Prices are available on request and free end user monitoring is available as a three month trial.
A digital workplace solution, Igloo combines platform features and integrations in order to provide a full management service for remote teams. A fully bespoke system, Igloo features custom pricing on request and is currently used by Allied Health Media and Blackberry. Igloo features access for up to 5000 people.
ServiceNow provides native mobile apps and virtual agents for remote teams relying on regular communication. Prices are available on request and, ServiceNow is free to use for emergency services.
A cloud identity software solution, Ping provides intelligent access for teams looking to securely connect to cloud, mobile, SaaS, on premise applications and APIs. A great service for preventing security breaches and for managing sensitive data, Ping’s prices are available on request.
Available for $59.99 and $99.99 per month, Support.com offers expert tech support for remote teams through virtual house calls, chats and online step by step guides.
This multi-platform, smart availability software offers disaster recovery for businesses and includes availability groups on Windows and Linux. Pricing is available on request and free membership is available to some new users until the end of August 2020.
This oddly named tool allows remote teams to optimise, scale and maintain control over their multi-cloud environments. SWAZM includes up to $200 per month in infrastructure credit. Prices are Free, $13 dollars per month and $23 per month and, is based in Romania.
Designed to help remote teams protect their data, Rublon’s modern multi-factor authentication is suitable for businesses of all sizes and is used by businesses across the globe. Pricing is either free or just $1 per month.
For easy connection with customers, LiveAgent offers emails, chats, telephone calls and social media. The system allows you to work from a single shared company inbox for all of your communication channels and includes free helpdesk apps. LiveAgent’s pricing is Free, $15 per month, $29 per month and $39 per month.
Created specifically for small businesses, HelpNinja is a simple helpdesk system for small budgets and costs just $29 per month for unlimited users per account.
A simple but effective time management system, Calendly offers free integration with Zoom and GoToMeeting for extra convenience. Calendly is lopen to free membership until the end of June 2020.
Remote teams can use Loom for those all important video meetings for just $4 per month, connecting employees simply and easily. Loom currently offers a one month free trial and is free forever for educators.
As the name suggests, 1Password collects all of your passwords together in one place – which is a lifesaver for remote teams. 1password costs $3.99 and $7.99 per month.
Much more than the ‘bear necessities’, PandaDoc offers a free trial for those looking to improve deal workflow and insights and speed up processes. Used by customers such as ALS Ltd and Hubspot, PandaDoc’s prices are available on request on completion of the free trial.
Focussing on everyday communication, TechSmith features image and video sharing for training, lessons, tutorial and team meetings. Prices are available on request.
Business owners and managers can treat the hungry remote team with Wellness boxes containing delicious and healthy snacks and coffee delivered straight to employee homes. Box prices are $24.95 and $34.90.
For remote teams who rely on telephone communication, CallHippo is a virtual telephony and workflow automation tool for businesses. Pricing is set at Free, $10 per month, $18 per month and $30 per month. CallHippo has recently increased its user limit on its Basic Plan to 50 users.
A clever email creation and sending platform, Mailchimp provides a simple way of creating professional looking emails and sending them to your data lists. Free standard accounts are available to a certain sending limit and then packages are priced at $9.99, $14.99 and $299.99 per month.
One of the most well known systems available, Hootsuite includes a suite of tools for making social media finding, scheduling, managing and reporting easier and more streamlined. Hootsuite’s packages cost £25, £99 and £520 per month and is used by a huge number of businesses including GMMB and Corinthian Events.
For remote marketing teams, SocialBakers gathers together everything from audience research to strategic planning in one go-to platform for easy execution and measurement. Pricing is available on request and includes a free trial.
Cloud based digital management software, Filecamp lets remote teams manage all of their marketing assets from one easy to use cloud spot. Used by businesses such as Skyline and Deluxe Design, Filecamp is available in monthly packages costing $29, $59 and $89 and includes a free six month trial with 10GB storage.
Aircall is the flexible cloud phone solution for remote teams. For new remote teams a one month free trial is available; after which prices are available on request. Use code WFH at the checkout to get the free trial.
Used by over 115,000 businesses worldwide, SocialPilot is a social media management system featuring tools for scheduling, managing and analysing social media posts. SocialPilot costs just $1 a month for small teams.
An email marketing software system, GetResponse gets you started quickly and easily on creating and sending professional business emails. GetResponse is priced at $15, $49 and $99 per month. Discounts are available when buying monthly, yearly and two yearly plans with code InThisTogether.
For businesses using Google Ads, Facebook and Microsoft Adzooma is a free management and optimisation platform. This award winning system is used by some high profile customers including Facebook.
A one stop shop for automating sales, marketing and support on Facebook, Silfer Bots includes a free version and an upgraded version for $9 per month, including unlimited subscribers, broadcasting, tags and custom fields.
Another social media automating platform, SocialBu costs $8, $19 or $59 per month and is currently offering a 50% discount to new users.
Sleeknote allows you to add messages to your website and collect visitor contact info quickly and without fuss. There are five different plans priced at 49, 99, 225, 369 and 545 Euros per month. Sleeknote’s customers include Mashable and Point Digital Finance.
Autokose opens up sales opportunities for businesses with its sales engagement platform and B2B data service. Free until July 1st 2020 (and to any sales professional who has lost a job due to COVID-19), packages then cost $49.99 or $149.95 per month.
A mini Facebook Messenger CRM, Chatsilo is used by tons of companies worldwide and costs $29, $279 or $499 per month with no set up fees. Use code COVID50 at the checkout for a 50% discount.
For remote workers with children at home, Urbansitter is an easy way of finding childcare in your area. Prices vary but the site is offering free parent membership for two months.
A great resource for finding permanent, temporary and contract staff, Workable offers a host of recruitment tools including a free video interview add on (free only for three months from start of membership). Workable costs $99 per job per month and is used by businesses such as G3 Communications.
This business training platform and learning management system offers straightforward training and reporting tools for businesses. Coassemble is currently available at a whopping 90% discount and now costs just $49 per year.
Applicant tracking and human resources is made easy with Breezy. Available to any business currently hiring, Breezy costs $143 or $399 per month (a basic package is available) and includes free video interviews and assessments. Breezy is used by some major players including Nandos and the Dollar Flight Club.
iFlow’s messaging service for business is an all singing all dancing communication tool which can simplify remote working. Prices vary depending on the service and package required.
An expense management system, Expensify is ideal for remote workers needing to keep track of expenses. Prices are available on request.
A one stop shop for financial workflow products, Bill.com keeps all of your purchase orders, invoices and expenses in order in one simple to use place. Pricing is equally simple and is available at $39, $49 and $69 per month. A free three month trial is available to new customers.
The world’s best known creative cloud solution, Adobe is the no fuss system for creating and sharing documents. Pricing varies depending on the services and packages required. Adobe is used by millions of businesses worldwide.
Online agency, Affinity, offers quite literally everything you need to keep your remote team running. Prices vary dependent on services required and, Affinity is currently offering a 50% discount on many of its remote working solutions.
Free to use, Carto offers visualisation and data mapping software for businesses.
Business today is all about the data and, Tableau’s business intelligence software allows remote teams to manage their data wherever they may be. A free trial is available, after which prices are available on request.
With no information about how long the current situation may last, it’s vital that businesses are able to run their remote teams with the same efficiency as they do during normal times.
By harnessing the power of a few of these great tools, you can make sure that your remote team hits the ground running – and keeps working efficiently for as long as it may take.