Working from home is no longer a luxury for the modern business. Whether by choice (to attract talent) or necessity (responding to a global pandemic), businesses across the globe are quickly adopting flexible remote work policies for their employees.
For companies that have already embraced collaborative technology to connect their employees and customers, shifting to a remote work environment should be a breeze.
For those that haven’t, we curated a list of our favorite work from home productivity tools.
How work-from-home tools make teams more productive
Working remotely and employing remote employees can be very beneficial to your business. Your team’s remote work strategy will be unique in many ways, and will probably require some trial and error, but you can still stack the odds in your favor. By using the right tools, your remote team will be more efficient and productive.
Remote workers eliminate the need for expenses such as office space or supplies. Moreover, your team members won’t have to spend time or money commuting, which is a stressful part of any workday. Plus, all this has the added advantage of being more eco-friendly.
Working from home can have a positive impact on morale, from lowered stress to better work-life balance. Remote workers can schedule appointments and run errands without missing a workday. Studies show that they are less likely to miss work due to illness, and don’t run the risk of getting everyone else sick.
Wider talent tool
If you bypass geographical limitations during the hiring process, this allows you to pick from the very best applicants for a given job. If the most qualified potential hire is located on the other side of the world, you can still employ them, no problem
Be more available and responsive
Those who work from home can be available outside of regular work hours and in any time zone. This means you can make your services more available to customers, and extend business hours. This is invaluable for both sales and support.
Now let’s look at which work from home productivity tools will most benefit remote teams.
Ease and efficiency of internal communication is the main hurdle for remote teams. If your team can’t talk to one another, people will step on each others’ toes or lose touch altogether.
Slack is a communication management app well-suited to remote work. You can create team channels for every department, and send direct messages. Slack lets you drag-and-drop files, bookmark messages, and pin documents for quick reference. This app cuts down on internal emails since it’s quicker, more efficient, and more user-friendly.
For remote teams, Slack can serve as a virtual water cooler, letting team members bond or blow off steam. If gives your remote team members a hub where they can gather for both professional and team-building purposes.
Aircall is a VoIP business phone system for both sales and support teams. Just install the software, and within minutes Aircall will be operational—whether you’re using our desktop or browser-based app. Since it’s so easy to set up, your remote team members will be reachable easily even if they work from home; all they’ll need is a laptop.
Our nimble and functional software will let your team field calls (both internal and to and from customers) easily, with no infrastructural hurdles or time restrictions. Since Aircall integrates with various other business tools (such as CRMs, Helpdesks, and more) no important phone call will slip through the cracks. Aircall keeps you connected to your team and your customers.
Zoom is the swiss army knife of video conferencing. Combining HD video with increasingly important features like screen sharing, content sharing, and local recording make it an obvious choice for organizations in need of an end-to-end conferencing solution.
For starters, Zoom makes meetings more accessible. Only one person needs to download it––everyone else can click the meeting link to jump in from their phone, desktop, or tablet.
Zoom can also enhance collaboration during meetings. Whether toggling between participants to share screens, or making use of shared touch screens with whiteboarding, Zoom offers more ways for participants to exchange ideas than most video platforms on the market.
No matter how many people choose to work from home, everyone will need ways to stay on the same page. These tools will help you share important information with your team, no matter where they are.
Front solves the problem of emailing about email. By combining help desk tickets with internal email, messages, and apps, customer service reps who use Front benefit from a centralized and intuitive communication hub.
For teams that leverage Front’s integration with Aircall, this includes the ability to make and receive calls, and access crucial contextual information about them all in one place.
With relevant information about customers readily available, your agents can forget busy work in favor of meaningful conversations—and they’ll accelerate productivity in the process.
Zapier lets you automate workflows by bridging the gap between your many other tools. Busy team members dislike having to switch between apps, so Zapier makes sure that all of your customer and team information is synchronized between platforms. Facilitate the integration of your other tools, and keep your whole team in the loop while saving everyone valuable time.
If your team isn’t in a single location, it can be difficult to assign and follow up on tasks. Everyone could use a little help to stay on top of priorities and work assignments. Without the proper tools, your team will risk running in circles and missing important deadlines.
Monday describes itself as The Work Operating System. We’d describe it as a powerful project management platform that helps teams of all types track, manage, and execute various tasks and initiatives.
To do so, Monday combines a slick and intuitive UI with automation capabilities that make it a breeze to use. Like Aircall, Monday integrates with many of your favorite business tools—an essential feature for modern teams.
Intercom is a messaging app that enables businesses to stay in touch with their customers. Its primary function is accompanying the transition from website visitor to paying customer. However, Intercom boasts many useful features for teams that work from home.
Intercom can keep track of every customer interaction in a unified dashboard, and the group inbox lets your team all stay on the same page while annotating client files. Managers can also assign follow-up tasks. Intercom integrates with many other tools, allowing remote employees to monitor client engagement as a cohesive team.
Intercom can keep track of every customer interaction in a unified dashboard, and the group inbox lets your team all stay on the same page while annotating client files. Managers can also assign follow-up tasks. Intercom integrates with many other tools, and lets your whole workforce monitor client engagement as a cohesive team.
Trello lets your whole team create, design, and assign tasks in a straightforward visual interface. You can create cards for every task, and sort them by department, assignee, or department. As the resolution of a task progresses, team members can slide the relevant card from one category to the next. Trello’s collaborative tool lets your whole team stay informed on the progress of various tasks, in a way more engaging than emails or memos.
Productivity and reporting
These tools will help boost your team’s productivity, and help you keep track of everyone’s progress. If you can manage to have a clear indicator of performance and success, your remote team will work from home like a well-oiled machine.
These tools will help boost your team’s productivity and keep track of everyone’s progress. When you have a clear indicator of performance and success, your remote team will work from home like a well-oiled machine.
For some managers, allowing agents to work from home can raise concerns about performance. With quality assurance tools like Klaus, customer service managers won’t miss a beat.
Klaus empowers support managers to digitally audit and rate their team’s interactions with customers across channels. When integrated with Aircall, you can easily find and review calls, leave constructive feedback for agents, and score agent performance from the comfort of one interface.
Avoma is an intelligent assistant that helps sales and customer success teams transcribe and analyze customer-facing calls to get summarized notes and actionable insights from every conversation.
For sales and success teams, it offers searchable transcripts, AI summarized notes, and auto-sync to your CRM. Conversational intelligence features like speaker and topic identification, custom keyword trends, and talk insights help to surface critical information for managers.
Avoma also powers cross-functional collaboration with searchable recordings, centralized notes, and snippet and playlist sharing.
With Avoma’s integration with Aircall, a business can analyze conversations across teams without doing manual work and use these insights to close more deals and delight customers.
Pivotal tracker lets your technical team work together by logging bug reports, feature requests, and to-do lists in a single interface. This gives you a top-down view of what your team is working on, allows you to set priorities, and lets you plan your schedule week-to-week. If your developers are scattered and work from home, Pivotal Tracker is an easy way to stay a cohesive unit.
Github lets your developers share code. You can ask for feedback, comment on each other’s code, and work on projects collaboratively. Plus, with Github’s Slack integration, code reviews and pair programming are even easier.
Tips and best practices when working from home
It takes a great deal to be a good team leader and managing a remote team is no easy feat. Though the advantages for your team and for your business are many, it’s still an investment of time and effort to make every single day. Here are some tips on pulling it off.
Inspire your employees
Select the hires you feel are up to the task of working remotely. Setting your own hours is a great opportunity, but it’s not for everyone. Make sure that new hires are a solid fit, and won’t lose track of the big picture. Give your team more responsibility, foster trust, transparency, and self-reliability; you will reap the benefits of empowering your coworkers.
Be available, but give your team some space
If you’ve hired the right talent, then you’ll have a team you can trust. Give your team clear objectives and a deadline, and so long as the work is done well and on time, let your employees breathe. One bad habit of remote team leaders is micro-managing. It’s not time-efficient since your remote employees will be wasting time interacting with you. Moreover, it will quickly become grating, and morale and productivity will take a serious hit. Let your team know that they can always come to you for help and advice, but that you trust them to be independent and self-reliable if they work from home.
Build a company culture
Having a company culture for a remote team might seem oxymoronic, but it’s essential. Remote workers may not have the benefit of in-person communication, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to build team spirit.
With several of the tools listed above, you better foster camaraderie within your team. Encourage good-natured banter and the organic growth of human rapport. It will pay off, since everyone will feel more connected to their coworkers, and more inclined to work as a unit.
Teamwork is especially difficult for remote teams, but consider this: some aspects of working in close proximity (loud coworkers, different temperaments, interruptions, etc.) are less impactful when working remotely.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
The tools listed above are a great way to start, but it’s up to you to make the most of them.
The lack of close proximity gives remote workers more freedom and accountability, but it also makes the little acts of day-to-day communication more difficult. While working remotely especially, make team meetings a valuable time to share insights so you don’t waste time. Take every opportunity to make sure everyone is on the same page—and resist the temptation to avoid or delay acting on issues so they don’t balloon into bigger problems.