Remote work has been on the upswing, and it's likely to become new normal. Companies are rapidly re-tooling their software and services to empower remote workers to stay productive.
As you move your tech stack to the cloud, we've rounded up the best tools to make remote work possible. Advances in cloud phone systems make it possible for every employee to stay connected regardless of where they are located.
Remote work isn't all that groundbreaking. Until recently, five million employees in the US — or 3.6% of the workforce — already work from home at least half of the time, according to Global Workplace Analytics.
Employers are listening. Four out of ten American businesses already offer remote work arrangements, with nearly 80% of them believing that such arrangements lead to lower operating costs.
If remote work hasn't yet redefined businesses and careers, it will soon.
The Top 50 Tools to Work Remotely
We scoured the web for the best tools and technologies to empower your team to work anywhere. We’ve organized the list into five categories, so you browse them quickly.
Working at home sounds easy and convenient, but it has its own set of challenges. Yes, you can control your workflow, set your schedule, or work in any room. Remote working isn’t all about flexibility and freedom — it is also about discipline, focus, and productivity.
Remote workers are tempted with many distractions, from video games and Netflix to junk food and pets. Internet connectivity might be less than ideal compared to the one at the office while keeping in touch with your team members might not be as easy as being near them in person.
Thankfully, many different technologies that make telecommuting a reality for those away from the office. Given the growing popularity of remote work, these tools are evolving rapidly to improve virtual communication, team collaboration, and individual productivity. Some tools even strengthen security, while others enable remote teams to manage projects better.
Depending on your business or team structure, here are our top picks for tools to supercharge your work-at-home performance.
This cloud-based suite of apps from Google is the Swiss Army Knife of modern computing. For a bargain price, Google loads nearly everything you need in a nifty package. With more than 60 apps in the bundle, the suite includes Google Drive, Gmail, Hangouts, Calendar, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
As a leader of the office productivity place, Office 365 represents the latest iteration of Microsoft’s venerable productivity suite. Like its rival product from Google, this suite is packed with powerful tools for communication, document creation, and team collaboration. Among the tools included in the suite are Outlook, Teams, Yammer, SharePoint, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Ranked as the Best Business Phone System in 2020, Nextiva offers VoIP services and a wide array of cloud communication tools, customer service, and sales pipeline management tools. The company’s solutions equip companies of any size with a unified omnichannel platform for managing all conversations. The company's virtual phone system combines it all: business phone calls, team communication, conference calling, and HD video chat.
Among the more popular platforms for corporate online meetings and video conferencing, Zoom brought its parent company to unicorn status in 2017. Used exclusively for video meetings, Zoom is also a popular tool for creating and delivering webinars.
Skype lets you use instant messaging, voice calls, and video calls on virtually any device. While Skype also offers a commercial product offering paid bundles for enterprises, it's intended for personal use. It's a good backup video app to have on standby.
Engagement and experience are crucial to your business. So if real-time chat with colleagues doesn’t work for you, then impress everyone with crisp, compelling, and on-point video. Vidyard is a video platform that allows team members to easily create and share short videos for a narrow audience.
A picture paints a thousand words. So why send an email when you can send a video message? Offering a basic version for free, Loom is an efficient tool for creating and editing quick video messages. It works on any device so you can use your smartphone to compose and transmit urgent, important, funny, or otherwise trivial video messages.
Email is a powerful business tool, but it can diminish your productivity. For most inboxes reading and responding to important messages can be a time-consuming process. Touted as the inbox for teams, Front streamlines your workflow if you're dependent on email.
Sprout Social is a social media platform that allows you to reach, understand, and engage your customers of social media. This app lets your remote team interact with leads and customers over social platforms without stepping on each other's toes.
This tool describes itself as the world’s first and only conversational marketing platform. You can use Drift to personalize sales conversations with the aim of converting prospects into customers. Better yet, you can also use it to build intuitive chatbots who can take website visitors into a guided journey of discovery about your brand, products, and services.
Cloud-based. Easy to use. 99.999% Uptime.
Originally built as an instant messaging platform, Slack evolved into a powerful collaboration tool favored by professionals, startups, and enterprises. Slack’s main draw is arguably its integrability with a host of third-party apps and services.
Dropbox started out as a simple file hosting service. Over the years, it has become a popular cloud-based solution for backing up files. Use Dropbox to ensure that all your documents that are stored in different devices are always up-to-date.
Collaborate App (Crystal)
This platform supercharges virtual meetings and events by enabling every networked participant to actively share feedback and solutions in tandem with other attendees. By gathering the collective insight of the entire team in an inclusive and interactive way, the Collaborate App helps accelerate processes and drive innovation.
The ability to capture anything on your screen and share it in an instant will enhance collaboration and accelerate workflows. That’s the premise behind CloudApp, a handy tool that enables screen sharing and allows you to record videos and GIFs from any device. CloudApp also automatically uploads files to the cloud and allows you to instantly share them with your team.
Getting your team on the same page can be as easy as visualizing your processes. When your team sees what you mean, clarity emerges, and action becomes imminent. LucidChart is a web-based visual communication solution for enhanced collaboration across your remote team.
Huddle helps your team work together on projects by keeping all your files and documents in order. Well-suited for remote collaboration, this solution works with all your computing devices. Huddle has robust security and version control features.
Need to track your work and collaborate with your peers on the go? This platform brings all the things you need to get work done anywhere, and on any device. Workfront is used by small companies and large enterprises to share ideas, create content, execute campaigns, and achieve goals.
Knowledge is power. But with Guru, knowledge translates into amazing business outcomes. Use Guru to capture live info, transform it into actionable insight, and keep it ready when you need it. Built as a knowledge management solution with robust features, Guru runs on a freemium model.
Unlike all of these apps, Zapier is an app that connects multiple apps together. This powerful data access platform lets you sync apps together with total ease. Instead of relying on humans to haphazardly update dashboards in real-time, Zapier takes care of all that for you. Zapier saves your entire team minutes to hours a day with boring tasks. The company has more than 2,000 integrations, including Google, Slack, WordPress, and Asana.
Appointment scheduling software helps you set meetings with ease, join the right events, and manage your time like a pro. Calendly is the tool you need to get your scheduling tasks on autopilot. Use Calendly to supercharge client engagement and team collaboration even across different time zones.
This project management tool helps remote teams organize, track, and manage tasks. Asana’s to-do listing feature makes it easier to set goals and to break down projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. Meanwhile, its task assignment capabilities ensure that things get done by the right person at the right time.
Used by distributed teams of any size, Trello visualizes a project to make it easier to plan and complete its constituent tasks. Projects are presented in a simple Kanban board to show which tasks need to be done at the moment. Trello has an integrated calendar and team chat features. It has mobile apps for Android and iOS.
Basecamp is best for companies who manage a series of projects with clients and stakeholders. This tool helps businesses manage projects better by setting schedules, assigning tasks, and tracking progress.
Designed for both teams and individuals, Airtable is cloud-based collaboration software for managing workflows and projects. This tool is designed as a cross between a full-fledged spreadsheet and a database. It displays your data in any form that you like: calendar, kanban, grid, gallery, or form.
Remote teams engaged in creative projects find Wrike awesome, but any company, regardless of size and line of business, can use it to manage projects better. Wrike is a cloud-based app that gives full control and visibility over tasks, schedules, and workflows. Use this tool to streamline your process and enhance collaboration.
If using too many tools upset you, tame the chaos with Notion, the all-in-one workspace. Great for both remote teams and individuals, Notion lets you take notes, run a knowledge base, and track projects. This tool is a lightweight solution that can take the place of conventional CRMs.
Because projects have a start and an end state, a roadmap can help you reach your goals faster. Aha! is the roadmap software you need. This tool helps you capture ideas, prioritize tasks, manage schedules, and visualize the winning roadmap that will take you from start to finish.
Microsoft To Do
Formerly Wunderlist, the new task management product from Microsoft, offers many features for remote employees to blaze through their tasks. It offers novel task sharing, a daily focus to help people plan their days out better.
This platform suits the workflows of web design and mobile app development teams. Get full visibility and control of the design process: from prototyping and versioning to client feedback and asset management. Using a single tool, transform static storyboards into interactive versions, then present working prototypes to gather client feedback.
Remote teams love using ProofHub because it makes their life easy. By providing a central place to manage their tasks, share, review, and proof files, collaborate in real-time, track project progress, and communicate, it helps remote teams stay away from juggling between different apps. Use this software if you want your remote team to stay in ultimate control of their tasks, projects, and communications.
This decades-old software from Microsoft still packs some punch. Having set the standard over the years, Project integrates well with Office 365. This full-featured tool delivers the most value for enterprises that use Microsoft-centric products.
Litify is an intuitive, fully integrated and powerful SaaS platform for law firms. Their practice management platform approach combines case and matter management, documents, intake, analytics and more — all in one place to help practice operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. Litify is also built on Salesforce, giving users full access to the robust resources and capabilities of secure and customizable cloud technology.
Everyone needs to take notes, especially remote employees who need to perform tasks or finish a project. Evernote is everyone’s go-to app for capturing ideas, taking screenshots, making checklists, saving webpages, and tracking tasks. The company offers a free version as well as extensions for Chrome and other browsers.
DeskTime is an automatic time tracking software suited for teams working remotely, in-office, or in a hybrid setting. Besides tracking you and your team's work time, the software offers features for project management, shift scheduling, invoicing, productivity and efficiency analysis, and more. DeskTime is a great help when it comes to boosting productivity – the software provides a comprehensive insight into your team's productivity patterns, so you can adjust the workflow accordingly.
For anyone fixated on productivity, this app makes it easy to plan schedules and prioritize important tasks. With a wide range of features and capabilities, ToDoist organizes nearly anything you can think of. This handy tool offers benefits to both individuals and distributed teams.
Built for sales teams, Outreach helps drive productivity by freeing team members to focus only on tasks that move the needle. Using data, AI, and machine learning, Outreach automates tedious tasks, streamlines workflows, and accelerates the sales cycle. These give salespeople more time to engage prospects.
HubSpot provides a full stack of solutions for customer-facing teams, whether in the office or at home. These solutions include HubSpot CRM, Marketing Hub for lead generation and email marketing, Sales Hub for scheduling meetings and tracking emails, and Service Hub for nurturing relationships and driving customer happiness.
Creative teams use Figma to manage the development of web or app designs from start to finish. Figma enables teams to work remotely together in creating, prototyping, testing, and delivering crisp designs. Use Figma to drive your team’s conceptualization process and to enhance the way they collaborate, wherever they are in the world.
Deputy is an employee scheduling app to solve time tracking for your team, even if they are remote. The time management solution offers a suite of tools to manage employee shifts and duties. It empowers employers to manage their workforce and avoid costly conflicts.
Ambition is a critical tool for tracking productivity and performance among your revenue-driving teams in sales, marketing, and support. Built for remote teams, Ambition lets managers visualize progress to goals, daily activity, and coaching notes for each employee in real-time. Use Ambition in tandem with other tools like Salesforce, Slack, and Outreach to make working from home more meaningful and transparent for your teams.
GitHub simplifies software development for engineers, developers, and remote teams around the world. Millions of individuals and teams host, review, and manage their code on the open-source platform. In addition to hosting source codes, GitHub provides access and version control as well as collaboration features such as wikis, testing, bug tracker, feature requests, and task management.
Mixmax extends the capabilities of email and improves your productivity. Use Mixmax to schedule meetings, conduct surveys, and drive customer response. Mixmax also enables you to automate your workflow and sync your email with other tools you love.
Momentum encourages users to develop and keep positive habits that bring out their best efforts at work. Use Momentum to stay motivated and focused on achieving goals every time you open your browser.
Secure all your digital assets from the ground up. Okta provides a full-featured access management platform for organizations and is considered a one-stop solution for enterprise security. Okta protects your employees and contractors using methods such as single sign-on and universal directory.
You can protect your passwords and strengthen security without making things too complicated. LastPass simplifies your digital lifestyle — from the storage of sensitive records to online shopping. Use LastPass to generate strong passwords and to remember all of them across every device.
Almost everyone has multiple passwords for multiple apps, network logins, and financial transactions. Managing security credentials is essential to maintaining business continuity. Its business-friendly features make it a must for any modern company.
For many IT administrators, LogMeIn sets the standard for remote computing. Use LogMeIn to securely grant full remote access to administrators, customer service staff, freelancers, and contractors who work from home. It's secure and offers nifty tools for supporting employees remotely.
TeamViewer provides secure remote access for remote supporters. Offering services to both individuals and organizations, TeamViewer makes it easy to control computers over the internet. Keep your software updated and train your staff to spot scams, so they don’t fall victim to a hack.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
The kingpin of cloud platforms and hosting services AWS, has been leading the industry since 2006. Your business can store all its documents with practically infinite storage on Amazon S3, move on-premises servers to a private cloud on Amazon EC2. One drawback is that you will need a qualified IT engineer to install, secure, and manage your private cloud.
Secure your remote workforce from ongoing digital threats with complete antivirus and system-level protection from Sophos. By tightening device access with automated and custom rules, you can maximize productivity. This business-grade endpoint protection is affordable and works for your team no matter if they work at home or in the office. Administrators can also restrict file sharing with hardened IO access (like USB drives).
TrendMicro is another venerable giant in data protection and IT security. Used by half a million companies worldwide, TrendMicro serves nearly all industries and provides purpose-built solutions for data center protection, email security, threat detection and prevention, ransomware, and cloud security.
Running on a complete zero-trust model, Duo Security protects company data at scale. Use Duo Security to improve regulatory compliance and manage comprehensive access to your customer data.
Take control of your network. With dramatic shifts in data regulatory environments and increased cybercrime activities, you need a partner to secure all your assets. Primarily used by enterprises, it can be a great way to organize your IT assets and monitor your critical systems in real-time.
Get ready for the new workplace
Accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, workplaces will move to the cloud with urgency. The software tools they provide their remote staff will allow for substantial productivity when working from home.
Companies around the world will retain the newfound capabilities and redundancy offered by a remote workforce. Happier workers, delighted customers, and more resilient business operations. Who would go back to the alternative?
The only way to achieve higher performance is to couple great tools with effective team management. Welcome to the new normal.
Gaetano DiNardi is the Director of Demand Generation at Nextiva and has a track record of success working with brands like Major League Baseball, Pipedrive, Sales Hacker and Outreach.io. Outside of marketing, Gaetano is an accomplished music producer and songwriter - he’s worked with major artists like Fat Joe, Shaggy and loves making music to stay turbocharged. To get in touch, follow him on LinkedIn.