Having the right software in place is important for any organization—but it’s especially important when you’re working with remote teams.
But not all software is created equal. If you want your remote team to thrive, you need to give them software solutions that make it easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable to do their jobs.
So what are those software solutions—and how can they help your team to succeed?
Let’s take a look at some of the top remote software for 2020 (and how you can use it to level up your organization in the new year):
Why is having the right software tools in place so important for remote or distributed teams?
First things first—before we jump into the best software for remote teams, let’s quickly cover why having the right software in place is so important.
“Software is the primary way that remote teams connect with one another—not a face-to-face meeting, not high-fives, and certainly not cubicle chatter,” says Joey Price, CEO of Jumpstart:HR.
And because all of your team’s communication and collaboration takes place in a virtual environment, it’s even more important to give them the tools they need to feel happy, engaged, and successful at work—which will increase productivity across your organization.
“Software that is frictionless and enjoyable to use will improve your remote employee experience and increase the likelihood that people use the software to its fullest potential,” says Price.
The top remote software for 2020
Clearly, the right software is a must for successful remote teams. But what, exactly, are the best software options?
Here are some of our picks for the top software for remote teams in 2020.
(psst. We included some tips for successfully rolling out new software for your remote team at the bottom of this list!)
“Communication’s already hard enough when organizations have their own space. When you have a distributed workforce, communication becomes way more complex,” says Raven Beria, founder of Brandalaxy.
With the right communications software, you can “solve the #1 issue that prevents many companies from growing to their full potential in the first place—miscommunication,” says Beria.
Let’s take a look at some of our picks for 2020’s best communication software for remote teams:
Slack is a collaboration hub that can replace email to help you and your team work together seamlessly, and it’s become the go-to communication software for remote and distributed teams.
And for good reason! With the Slack platform, you can not only communicate with your team in real-time, but you can also organize those conversations into separate channels in a way that makes sense for your organization—whether that’s by team (for example, a marketing channel or a customer service channel), by project (like a channel for your new product launch), or by topic (like having a channel for your team to throw out new ideas or share funny work-related memes).
Slack is great for sending quick communications to your team. But when you need to send something more in-depth, Loom can definitely come in handy.
Loom is a video recording software that allows you to record your screen, voice, and face all at the same time—and then share those recordings with your team. It’s an awesome tool for sending more complex communications (for example, feedback on a presentation or instructions for a project) and it’s much faster and more efficient than drafting an email or trying to coordinate a meeting.
Communicating and collaborating on projects in real-time is a must. But while it’s easy to do that when your organization exists between four walls, it can get a little trickier when you’re managing a remote team.
Enter Google Drive. With Google Drive, your entire team can access your documents, spreadsheets, slides, folders, and other projects—and work on them, together, in real-time. This significantly cuts down on the back-and-forth of email and makes it easier for your team to get things done—faster and together.
“When working on documents, you want a system that allows you to work with your team in real-time. Having an online system like Google Drive lets you see edits and make comments while you’re on call, which helps support agility and feedback,” says Beria.
Create GIFs, screenshots, and screen recordings – and share them immediately with your team. CloudApp is a great tool to instantly share what’s happening on your screen and explain difficult concepts to others. It also lets you annotate images with quick drawings, arrows, lines, and emojis to communicate with clarity.
2 Team & Meeting Management
If you’re looking for an all-in-one app for effectively managing your remote team in 2020, you need to add Fellow to your list.
Fellow was designed specifically for managers and has all the tools and functionality you need to effectively lead, manage, and inspire your remote team—and yourself.
Create collaborative meeting agendas for your 1-on-1’s with individual team members or all-hands-on-deck meetings with your entire team, and get suggested conversation topics and templates 💡 — then, create and prioritize your own to-do list to ensure you follow through on your action items and get your remote team exactly what they need to succeed.
You can also deliver feedback, give shout-outs to team members who go above and beyond, and set reminders to keep you on track throughout the day. It’s everything you need to manage your remote team—all in one streamlined, easy-to-use app.
3 Virtual meetings
Virtual meetings are a must for remote teams. But without the right software, they can quickly devolve into an unproductive mess of miscommunication, tech issues, and disengaged team members.
Which is why it’s so important to have the right tools in place. Here are our picks for the must-have software for running effective, efficient, and engaging virtual meetings with your remote team:
Video is a must for keeping your remote team engaged during virtual meetings:
“Since everyone on the call is separated by distance, the best thing you can do to make everyone at least feel like they’re in the same room is to use video,” writes Keith Ferrazzi in a Harvard Business Review article. “Video makes people feel more engaged because it allows team members to see each other’s emotions and reactions, which immediately humanizes the room.”
Zoom is a video conferencing software with a host of features that make virtual meetings easier and more efficient, including HD audio and video, built-in collaboration tools, record and transcription options, and multi-device functionality.
Zoom creates the kind of face-to-face interaction that makes virtual meetings more engaging (and, as a result, more productive), making it a must for remote teams.
A lot of people respond better to visual cues—and if you have those people on your team, you need to create a virtual meeting environment that allows them to learn, participate, and collaborate in a visual way.
Mural is visual collaboration software that acts as a “digital whiteboard,” allowing your team to share ideas, work out problems, and collaborate visually. This software can really up the impact of your meetings—and make it easier for your team to work through and share their ideas in a way that works for visual learners.
4 Project Management
There’s a lot to manage when it comes to remote teams, from deadlines to projects to team productivity. And if you want to be effective in managing your remote team, you’ll need the right software.
Here are our picks for the best project management software to help you take your remote team to the next level in 2020:
Keeping track of all the projects your team is working on—including who is working on what, when deliverables are due, and whether the project is falling behind—can be tough. But a project management tool like Asana can make it a whole lot easier.
Asana allows you to make sure your projects are progressing as planned. It also allows your team to submit their work directly through the platform—which keeps everything organized in one, easy-to-access place.
Trello is a project management platform that uses boards, lists, and cards to organize projects. So, for example, you might have a board for a specific project—let’s say a product launch. Then, you can create lists for each stage of the project (like pre-launch, launch, and post-launch) and the status of each stage (like to-do, doing, and done).
Then, you create individual cards for each task associated with the project, assign those cards to your team, and both you and they can move the cards throughout the list and board as the project progresses. You can set deadlines, communicate about each task, and submit deliverables—all within the Trello board/list/card platform. (Not to mention that, for the visually inclined members of your team, it’s super satisfying to see cards moving across the board from list to list until they finally reach “done” status.)
Tips for successfully rolling out new software for your remote team in 2020
Now that you know some of the top software for your remote team in 2020, let’s cover some expert tips on how to roll out that software successfully (and take your remote team to the next level in the process):
1 Help your team understand the why and the how
If you want your team to successfully adopt your new software tools, it’s not enough to explain what the tool is or does—you need to get them on board with the why and the how. “The number one thing you can do to ensure a successful roll out is establish clear communication on why you need the new software [and] what value it adds [or] problem it solves,” says Price. When your team understands a) why this tool is a must, and b) how it’s going to make their job easier, it’s going to be much easier to get everyone on the same page.
2 Train your team—and make it fun
If you want your team to use your new software tools, you need to invest in the training they need to be effective. But some training style are more effective than others—and if you really want your training to be successful, you need to make it as engaging (and fun!) as possible. “Deliver training that is fun and exciting…and you’ll see higher adoption and long-term stickiness,” says Price.
3 Get your team’s feedback
Your teammates are the ones who are going to be using the software day in and day out—so it’s important to get their feedback during the roll out process. “Don’t just dump a tool on [your team] and walk away,” says Beria. “Look for things they liked and didn’t like. See if it’s a problem that can be fixed by customizing the software. Always try to find ways to make it easier. The goal should be to simplify, simplify, simplify.” The easier it is for your team to use the software, the more they’ll embrace it—and the better the software will be able to help your team hit their goals.
Set your team up for success in 2020 with the right software
You want your remote team to not only succeed, but to thrive in 2020. And now that you know exactly what software they’ll need to do that, all that’s left to do? Get out there, roll out that software, and take your remote team to the next level in the new year!
- Work from Anywhere: Shopify and GitLab on a Digital By Default Future
- Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Communication: A Guide For Managers
- 9 Remote Management Tips For High-Performing Teams
- Managers: 15 Questions You Should Ask Remote Employees
- Lessons on Leading a Fully Remote Engineering Team with Joan Deitchman at Buffer