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 2021 (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 2021

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 2021.

(psst. We included some tips for successfully rolling out new software for your remote team at the bottom of this list!)

1 Communication

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 2021’s best communication software for remote teams:


Slack

Features: 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. 

Benefits: 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). 


Loom

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.

Features: 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. 

Benefits: Loom allows you to take videos of your face, your screen or both! You can also trim your clips for easy editing and there are multiple sharing options of your Loom video such as sharing a URL or downloading the file.


Google Drive

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.

Features: With Google Drive, you can sync all your files on multiple devices, share your files with others easily, and work offline.

Benefits: 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. 

CloudApp

CloudApp is a great screen recording software where you can instantly share what’s happening on your screen and explain difficult concepts to others.

Features: With CloudApp, you are able to screen capture to quickly show others exactly what you mean by sharing a portion or the entire screen. You can also create GIF’s, screen record to easily demonstrate your ideas and enhance screenshots with annotations.

Benefits: CloudApp makes it easy and faster to share your ideas without lengthy explanations. You can store your files in folders and collaborate faster with your team.


MS Teams

Microsoft Teams is a collaboration and messaging app that helps your team stay organized and have conversations in a seamless manner.

Features: MS Teams allows chat and video calls as well as documenting photos, videos, and chat history. This is a tool like can improve remote work and asynchronous meetings.

Benefits: Whether you need to group chat or video call your team, MS Teams makes it easy to contact whoever you made need with a click of a button. You can also share files in real-time with apps like Word, Excel, and more!


2 Meeting Management

If you’re looking for an all-in-one app for effectively managing your remote team in 2021, you need to add Fellow to your list.

Fellow

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. 

Features: 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. 

Benefits: 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.

Pro tip

Using a meeting management tool like Fellow allows each of your meetings to be as productive as possible and act as a source of truth for you and your team.


3 Video conferencing

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.

This 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:


Zoom

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. 


Google Meet

Google Meet is a widely used video conferencing tool that allows real-time meetings, screen sharing, and recording through a simple shareable link.

Features: See your teammates at the same time with two-way and multi-way audio and video calls with the option of an accompanying chat.

Benefits: Google Meet offers free versions so everyone can try! Connecting with your team is straightforward and can integrate your meeting notes from Fellow right within your Google Meet calls.

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 2021:


Asana

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.

Features: 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.

Benefits: Asana helps track your work and improve your results by letting you know who is doing what and by when. Having your tasks all in one place reduces the amount of time needed for emailing and status updates with your team.


Trello

Trello is a project management platform that uses boards, lists, and cards to organize projects.

Features: 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.

Benefits: Trello can minimize confusion by allowing for a simple way to organize and track projects. 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.


5 Visual collaboration

Mural

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.

Features: With Mural, your team can use sticky notes and text to add to their thoughts, ideas and offer feedback. You can also get creative and use drawings, images, and gifs to further your point.

Benefits: 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.


Figma

Figma is a digital design tool that can be used to create websites, apps, and other user interfaces! Collaboration is made easy by allowing multiple team members to work on the design files

Features: Some of the many features Figma has to include auto-layout to reduce the amount of time spent on moving designs around as well as offering plugins to automate tasks.

Benefits: With Figma being a design system in the cloud, your designs are able to be accessible and flexible so all your projects can go from start to finish!

6 Automation

Tasks are constantly being juggled to completion and shuffled through multiple tasks. Automation allows for an easier and more seamless way for tasks to be checked off as complete automatically through triggers.

Zapier

Zapier is an automation tool that can handle your work for you automatically instead of handling repetitive tasks between multiple tools.

Features: Aside from keeping your data safe, Zapier offers over 3,000 integrations so you can automate whichever tools you use. They also offer a way to automate multiple tasks with a single click of a button.

Benefits: With their integration options, you are sure to find a workflow that works for you! Saving time by automating tasks allows for your energy to be spent elsewhere while continuing to achieve great results.

Tips for successfully rolling out new software for your remote team in 2021

Now that you know some of the top software for your remote team in 2021, 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 2021 with the right software

You want your remote team to not only succeed, but to thrive in 2021. 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!