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Remote work took over the world in 2020, and thanks to the benefits it provides, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s not just good for the employees (who can stay safer and commute less), but businesses as well. Employers are now saving up to $10,000 per employee on office overhead costs, and remote-first companies are 64% more likely to reach their business goals than traditional ones.
Managing a remote workforce doesn’t mean you have to lose sight of how your team or business is performing. In fact, there are dozens of tools that can help you stay more informed and on track than ever before. Here are some of the best tools to help you run a remote team.
Employee productivity and time tracking
One of the most important metrics you’ll need in your daily business is knowing where the time has gone. To effectively analyze, strategize and maintain profitability, it pays to know where most of the work is being done, how long it’s taking and how employees are doing in terms of productivity. The bigger your business, the more a robust tool with strong automation will be important.
When choosing time tracking software, consider the following things:
- Your budget. As your business grows, you may need more features so don’t forget to look at the top-end pricing.
- Think about what devices you use (Mac, Windows, Android, etc.) and look at the integration for each tool.
- If you’re an individual freelancer, you probably just need a simple tracker for billable hours. If you’re a company, you’ll probably want an enterprise solution with more features.
Toggl Track helps you see exactly where your time is being spent. You can time yourself on each task and create calendars that help you stay focused and productive.
- Pricing: Free for up to 5 users. Paid plans range from $9 to $18 a month, depending on features.
- Key features: Expense management and tracking, employee database, file sharing, email and time tracking, billing and invoicing.
- Pros: Straightforward, simple interface, integrated desktop app, tagging to organize types of tasks.
- Cons: Limited features with calendar usability, no auto-tracking of time.
- G2 Rating: 4.8/5
The G2 rating is taken from https://www.g2.com/, one of the largest online review sites where users review different products. The highest rating is 5 stars, the lowest is 0 stars.
Proofhub combines some of the most popular project management tools (Kanban boards, comment threads, file sharing, project progress reports, etc.) into one platform.
- Pricing: $45 monthly for up to 40 projects, $89 monthly for unlimited projects. No per-user fees.
- Key features: Custom workflows, Kanban and Gantt chart features, in-app chat, calendar reminders and full project reports.
- Pros: Diverse features for remote communication, easy to manage tasks and communication for large teams, excellent workflow features.
- Cons: No budgeting functions or options for recurring tasks, user interface can be clunky.
- G2 Rating: 4.5/5
TimeDoctor tracks how much time is spent on each task and which websites and apps employees are using the most, giving management more insight on who’s spending time where.
- Pricing: $7, $10, or $20 per user, depending on features and support level.
- Key features: Time tracking with detailed reporting on employee performance, time use alerts, and web/app usage reports.
- Pros: Ideal for determining which employees could use improvement with time management or task completion. Can track granular details like mouse clicks and keyboard activity per second.
- Cons: Some issues with Linux and MacOS bugs, outdated user interface, mediocre customer support.
- G2 Rating:4.4/5
Paymo is a task manager that not only lets you track your projects, but also sends invoices and payments directly through the platform.
- Pricing: Free for up to 10 users. $9.95/user/month for small business features, $15.79/user/month for larger team features.
- Key features: Time tracking, billable time management, project accounting, electronic payments, invoice creation and delivery.
- Pros: Built-in database for storing attachments, pre-built templates to simplify and speed up projects. Feature-rich, ideal for agencies or teams working with a large number of external organizations.
- Cons: Filter and category interface can be confusing.
- G2 Rating: 4.6/5
Communication and collaboration
Whether your team members are located in the same time zone or across the globe, stronger communication tools are essential to a remote workforce. When choosing a communication and collaboration tool, consider not only the mode you’ll most be working in (video, chat, audio) but also which will be the most friendly and accessible to everyone you need to work with, both inside and outside your business.
When choosing a communication and collaboration tool, consider the following:
- If you will be using it to conduct meetings, video conferencing capabilities are a must, and real-time collaboration and sharing tools are ideal.
- Easy integration across platforms will be important, because you can’t count on your employees to all use the same devices.
- The tool should be user-friendly and have basic functions that someone can use without being tech-savvy.
Nextiva is a cloud-based phone system that also provides a cloud contact center and virtual workspace. Who it’s best for: Sales and customer service teams looking to track and automate their outreach from any place or device, as well as teams that are looking for a simple, accessible coworking platform.
- Pricing: $18.95 to $57.95/user/month, depending on desired features.
- Key features: Conference calling, call analytics, sales CRM, video meetings, internal messaging, and secure screen and document sharing.
- Pros: High-quality customer service. Call recording feature, easy to set up and use.
- Cons: Some problems with poor quality on call audio and dropped/missed calls.
- G2 Rating: 4.4/5
Zoom is virtual video conferencing software that allows users to create and schedule video meetings and special programming, like company town halls and webinars.
- Pricing: Free for meetings of up to 40 minutes; unlimited meeting times and additional features at $149, $199 or $240 for a one-year license.
- Key features: File sharing, live preview, password protection, browser application, instant messaging features.
- Pros: Can accommodate any size of team. Built-in screen sharing, the ability to record meetings, breakout room capability for dividing larger meetings into smaller discussion groups.
- Cons: May require additional licenses depending on team needs, HD video not the default, problems with being able to delete inappropriate comments in the chat.
- G2 Rating: 4.5/5
Slack is an online messaging app designed for workplaces of all sizes. Team members can send messages, create important reminders, take audio or video calls, and integrate dozens of other popular workplace tools into their messaging platform.
- Pricing: Free with limited features; $6 to $12 a month for additional capabilities and custom pricing available for enterprise-level needs.
- Key features: Channels for creating groups around specific topics, teams, projects, or interests, Slack Connect for collaborating with other workplaces that use Slack, Workflow Builder for automating tasks, like sending daily status updates or recurring reminders.
- Pros: Easy to use, cuts down dramatically on email, search features, ability to closely manage communications.
- Cons: Notifications can sometimes be overwhelming, messaging is limited on the free version. Can be resource intensive.
- G2 Rating: 4.5/5
Help Scout provides customer service software that lets your customer support team tackle requests and questions in a more organized, streamlined way.
- Pricing: $20, $35 or $60/user/month, depending on needed features.
- Key features: Ticket creation and automated response, ticket collaboration, live chat support, knowledge base with searchable articles.
- Pros: Ideal for customer-facing teams that need a centralized platform to better manage inbound requests and answer customer inquiries quickly and efficiently. Shared inbox to view who’s working on which tickets and when. Robust reporting to view how the company is performing at any given time.
- Cons: Limited flexibility with customer satisfaction ratings, some reported glitches with Android version.
- G2 Rating: 4.4/5
Notion is a versatile app that lets you create and organize important notes and documents, either individually or collaboratively. You can use Notion to brainstorm and casually track your thoughts and ideas, or file and maintain documents for your entire team or company.
- Pricing: Free for personal use, $4 a month for a Pro plan, ranging up to custom pricing for large enterprise needs.
- Key features: Project planning and templates, wiki with in-content feedback and comments, to-do lists and scheduling.
- Pros: Good for remote teams looking for an easy-to-use but powerful and highly customizable virtual workspace with project management. Often referred to as a “box of Legos” with all the various and modular features it offers.
- Cons: Long setup time with a lot of required configuration, search and navigation could use some improvement, interface can be overwhelming.
- G2 Rating: 4.8/5
Calendar.com is exactly what it sounds like—the ultimate calendar app for scheduling meetings and events. Calendar is AI-powered, so the more you use it, the more it learns how to make your day go even more smoothly.
- Pricing: Three plans: Free, Standard ($6/month), and Pro ($8/month). Premium tiers add more features aimed at business users.
- Key features: Personalized scheduling links, automatic time conflict management, built-in calendar analytics.
- Pros: Notification and alert system, ease of use, orderly and easy-to-understand layout.
- Cons: Can take some time to learn the interface; integration with other apps could use some improvement.
- G2 Rating: 4.7/5
Quick tip on choosing calendar/scheduling software: If a specific tool does not work well with your workflow, there are a ton of other calendar alternatives available for you to check out.
ZenDesk offers lead generation software that helps business owners focus on prospective clients who are the most likely to buy their product or service. With content creation and lead nurturing tools, Zendesk can save time and money by helping business owners land more clients, faster.
- Pricing: $19, $49, or $99/user/month, depending on features.
- Key features: Email integration, wide array of tools for lead generation, sales pipeline, advanced analytics.
- Pros: Wide variety of features in one app, ability to assign tickets to specific users, good integration with other apps.
- Cons: Reports of some difficulty contacting customer support, automation features may be lacking, admin may require some training to get started.
- G2 Rating: 4.3 / 5
The ability to monitor, track, collaborate and communicate effectively about your projects will only grow more challenging as your business grows. Good project management software can help with decision-making, prioritizing, and keeping your budget under control. When choosing the right project management tool for you, make sure you choose one that can grow as you grow — switching software later can be time-consuming and costly.
Here are some other things to keep in mind when picking the right project management software:
- Don’t confuse “best-rated” with “best for you.” Not every project management suite is created equal, and you should look at the features that will be the best fit for your team, while preferably staying as simple as possible.
- Lean toward tools with easy integration and a trial period, so you can “try before you buy” and avoid any potential snags with your team using it.
Asana is a task management platform that lets teams stay in communication and on track with every deliverable. Create projects and tasks and assign due dates and stakeholders to each to-do so that things get done more quickly and smoothly.
- Pricing: Free for up to 15 users, $11 to $25/user/month for premium plans, custom pricing for enterprise.
- Key features: Kanban boards, Gantt charts, forms, shared calendar, workload tracker and goal-setting features.
- Pros: Ideal for projects that need to be broken down into smaller tasks. Clean and simple interface, easy to transfer tasks to different team members, free version is fully functional.
- Cons: Some feature bloat, requires experience with project management software to use effectively, only one user can be assigned to a task at a time.
- G2 Rating: 4.⅗
Preceden is an online project time line maker that helps you quickly create, customize, and share impressive timeline visualizations to stay organized and align your team.
- Pricing: Free up to 10 events in the time line, $29/month after or $149/year if you choose to pay annually..
- Key features: Templates, layers to organize events, collaboration, custom branding, presentation mode, drag and drop, and bulk editing.
- Pros: Time line interface very clean and neat, templates for pre-building time lines, fast and efficient to use.
- Cons: Fewer functions than some competitors, pricing can be relatively steep, some learning curve.
- G2 Rating: 4.3/5
Trello is Kanban board software that lets you create, organize and track projects through your own custom board. You can also view project time lines, calendars and board statistics without leaving Trello.
- Pricing: Free for individual use; $5, $10, or $17.50/user/month for additional features and storage.
- Key features: Custom Kanban boards, integrations with Slack, Drive and Microsoft Teams, time line view, built-in calendar.
- Pros: Very simple interface, easily customizable, appealing visual system of organization.
- Cons: Limited storage space (more available with upgrades), best suited to smaller projects, commenting system could use improvement.
- G2 Rating: 4.4/5
Basecamp is a project management tool that aims to be your company’s Wiki and workflow hub. You can use it to oversee projects from beginning to end, or to post important company updates and announcements.
- Pricing: $99/month flat fee. 30-day trial.
- Key features: To-do list, automated check-ins, group chats, doc and file storage.
- Pros: Simple workflow, ability to leave notes and attach images to entries, tagging system makes organization easy.
- Cons: Limited customization, no time tracking, limited chat features.
- G2 Rating: 4.1/5
Hive is a different kind of a project management platform, many customers call it “first democratic project management tool” – it is built by users, for users. Hive brings all project management functions into one central dashboard, including task management, time tracking, email, note taking and chat messaging.
- Pricing: Hive Solo is free for up to two users. Hive Teams plans start at $12/month per user. Enterprise pricing is available upon request.
- Key features: Flexible project layouts including Kanban, Gantt and Calendar views. Time-tracking, resourcing, proofing and approvals, note-taking, and meeting integrations.
- Pros: New features are released weekly based on feedback from users on the Hive Forum. Add-on apps let you customize your workspace and pricing model based on what you actually need in your productivity platform.
- Cons: Free plan is limited to two users. Limited risk management capabilities.
- G2 rating: 4.5/5
With a slogan of “one app to replace them all,” Clickup is a project management tool that aims to do just that. Plan your day, manage projects, create content and track time without any other integrations.
- Pricing: Free for personal use; $5, $9, $19 and custom enterprise plans available with richer features.
- Key features: Workflow and task customization, in-house document creation, project management analytics, time tracking, and goal setting.
- Pros: Excellent customization, high level of flexibility and control. Same task can be assigned to multiple lists, with the ability to know if another user has picked it up. Most features available in free version.
- Cons: Comment system needs improvements, some reports of bugs going unfixed by developers.
- G2 Rating: 4.7/5
Monday is a project management software that can be customized and automated to fit your team or company’s specific workflow.
- Pricing: Free for individual plans; $8, $10, $16 and custom user/month plans for more features and capacity.
- Key features: Kanban boards, Gantt charts, custom automations, collaborative documents and integrations to other popular tools. Advanced automation features and high visibility on how projects are progressing.
- Pros: User-friendly and flexible, privacy controls to manage visibility of project data, dashboard for easy access to information.
- Cons: Short trial period, potentially expensive for larger teams.
- G2 Rating: 4.7/5
With remote work on the rise, it’s more important now than ever to have strong security measures in place in case an employee’s device is stolen or hacked. Security technology can be used to secure personal and company passwords, monitor credit reporting and unusual activity, and provide VPN features to ensure better privacy.
When looking into security technology for your business, you should consider how much visibility you need into your employees’ online activity, and what kinds of safeguards you need in place in case a worst-case-scenario comes true. Though it might be tempting to go for the cheapest option, you should definitely not skimp when it comes to the security of your business.
Aura provides digital security services to find out if your identity was stolen and protect your identity, finances and other sensitive information from being stolen. Good for companies who want to protect their employees from being victims of fraud and theft, as well as prevent their sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.
- Pricing: $12 monthly for one individual; $22 for couples, $37/month for larger groups.
- Key features: Identity theft monitoring, secure password management, VPN for browsing the web more securely and privately.
- Pros: Retirement/investment tracking, credit tracker, malware protection.
- Cons: Can be pricey at the top end, no sex offender monitoring or Mac OS virus protection.
- G2 Rating: n/a
AnyConnect is a secure VPN and security management software designed for hybrid and remote workforces to browse safely away from online threats. Best for IT teams that need to provide employees with VPN access as well as closely monitor incoming threats, alerts, and network traffic.
- Pricing: Quote-based plans only.
- Key features: Secure VPN, attack blocking, security analytics, threat detection and access management.
- Pros: Beginner-friendly and easy to use, compatibility with other VPN software, host scan feature, good resource management.
- Cons: Network connection sometimes drops; no free trial or available pricing without contacting a vendor.
- G2 Rating: 4.4/5
1Password is a password management tool that securely stores passwords and login info for your team or organization’s online accounts.
- Pricing: $19/month for up to 10 members, $7.99 user/month and up for businesses.
- Key features: Integrations with other popular security tools like Okta and OneLogin, data encryption, brute force protection and customizable administration capabilities.
- Pros: Simple and easy to use, ability to add notes and fields to password entries for passphrase or security question information.
- Cons: No free trial or free/freemium version, no premium consultation or integrating service, some reported issues with browser integration.
- G2 Rating: 4.7/5
Okta is access management software that lets your employees sign on to company devices and platforms more securely. Ideal for IT teams looking to let their workforces access sensitive data safely and securely from anywhere.
- Pricing: $2 to $5 monthly for single sign-on, $3 to $6 monthly for multifactor authentication.
- Key features: Single sign-on (SSO), multifactor authentication enablement, and lifecycle management.
- Pros: Good price point compared to competitors. Ability to sign in with one password across all devices, useful search function.
- Cons: Initial setup can be challenging, some issues with mobile app, not very customizable compared to competitors.
- G2 Rating: 4.4/5
While it’s true that being remote can never fully replace the human connection that comes with an office, there are still a number of tools you can use to engage your employees meaningfully and impactfully. Experience management software can help you generate leads, manage customers, improve the customer service experience, and otherwise help keep your customer base happy.
Choosing the right experience management tool for your business may depend on how often you want to engage your team and in what ways. Some tools, for example, let you gamify engagement, whereas others let you be more buttoned-up with your approach. Look for tools that you can try before you buy, and ones that can help both customers and service agents get the best experience possible.
HubSpot lead generation software uses a simple drag-and-drop editor for creating forms, integrated with HubSpot’s CRM to organize all lead information. Entries can then be broken into lists for targeted newsletters and prioritized. Ideal for remote or hybrid sales, marketing, or customer service teams looking to streamline lead generation, lead tracking, and customer relationship management efforts.
- Pricing: Starts at $45 a month, up to $3,200 a month flat.
- Key features: Company database, email tracking and notifications, deal forecasting, lead attribution reporting, and sales and customer service rep performance dashboards.
- Pros: Email integration, logging and tracking of tasks, notifications for specific initiatives and tasks.
- Cons: User interface can be complicated, no ability to export prospects, mobile app could use improvement.
- G2 Rating: 4.4 / 5
SurveySparrow is a survey creation tool that lets you better engage your employees in a remote work environment. Who it’s best for: HR and People Operations teams looking to create and manage employee onboarding, performance reviews, and exit interviews.
- Pricing: Free, $19 monthly, and $29 monthly for individuals, depending on features, $99 to $499 monthly for business. Custom pricing available.
- Key features: 360 feedback reports, analytic dashboards to track survey completions, customize your surveys to match your company’s branding.
- Pros: Visualization tools for understanding analytics, easy integration with other apps, stock templates for easier survey setup.
- Cons: No free trial, pricing may be out of reach for smaller organizations.
- G2 Rating: 4.5/5
Gusto is a payroll and employee benefits management platform. HR and accounting teams can manage payroll and benefits for employees in all 50 states as well as for international contractors in more than 80 countries. Good for HR teams with a widely distributed workforce or a mix of employee types (full-time, contractor, freelance).
- Pricing: $39/month to $149/month, depending on how complex your needs are. Custom pricing available for large enterprise needs.
- Key features: Direct deposit payments for all employee types, time-off tracking tools, and customized employee onboarding checklists.
- Pros: Easy-to-use onboarding process, paperless documentation, automatic tax reporting.
- Cons: Higher pricing compared to some of its competitors.
- G2 Rating: 4.3/5
Vantage Circle is a company culture and engagement tool that lets you give your employees special awards, exclusive discounts and track their feedback. Good for companies looking for a way to show gratitude toward and foster connections with remote employees to keep them engaged and fulfilled.
- Pricing: Flexible. Custom pricing available from the vendor.
- Key features: Employee reward system and management, employee discount program, engagement surveys and tracking.
- Pros: Good customer support, easy-to-use interface, support of other applications.
- Cons: Quote-based pricing only. Some reported issues with the tracking system.
- G2 Rating: 4.8/5
Woorise is an all-in-one lead generation and marketing platform that allows you to create a wide range of interactive campaigns such as viral giveaways and contests, landing pages, forms, surveys and quizzes, as well as accept payments and more to collect leads and engage your audience.
- Pricing: Free, $29/month, $49/month and $99/month depending on the features.
- Key features: 100+ templates, modern drag & drop campaign and form builder, multipage forms, email notifications, multi-language support, integrations.
- Pros: Allows you to create multiple campaign types in one place such as landing pages, quizzes, surveys, forms and polls as well as accept payments and subscriptions.
- Cons: Advanced features are available on premium plans.
- G2 Rating: 4.7/5
Whether your team is remote or hybrid, chances are you’ll benefit from having better tools to collaborate and stay connected. Take the time to consider what your team needs and what your company values, and you’ll be well on your way to picking the right tools and setting your remote team up for success.