If your business has an office-free working environment or if you’re looking for ways to let more workers telecommute, you probably need apps that facilitate remote collaboration. Luckily, there are a host of tools at a range of price points that can help you manage everything from online meetings and group to-do lists to tracking hours.
Mural is a collaboration app specifically for visual projects. In fact, the designers of this app created it while they were developing a video game with a remote group of collaborators. The designers needed a way to share their ideas easily regardless of location, and Mural was born as a result. To understand how Mural works, imagine a giant virtual bulletin board accessible to all the collaborators via a phone or tablet app. In addition to notes, users can post videos, images, and even their own drawings onto the board. The app allows you to arrange your posts spatially into different categories or to create a mind map, and real-time updates keep everyone in the loop. The company offers a free trial followed by a monthly subscription fee per user.
2. Google Apps for Businesses
Google has a suite of apps to facilitate collaboration among remote professionals. Google Drive lets you create word documents or spreadsheets and share them with other collaborators who may also make edits. This tool makes it easy to share documents without any special software; you just need a smartphone, tablet, or computer with access to the internet. Google Hangouts supports video conferencing for up to 25 people, and you can also use the screen-sharing feature to demonstrate processes on your computer to your colleagues at the telemeeting. Some features are free, but if you want access to the full suite of Google for Business Apps, there is a monthly subscription fee per user.
3. Google Apps for Nonprofits
If you run a nonprofit, check out Google apps for nonprofits. Collaboration tools include Google Drive and Google Calendar. However, you also get free access to Google Ad Grants and other tools to help you run your organization more effectively.
Trello is a visual collaboration tool that lets you customize a unique dashboard for each project. For example, if you are creating a blog or an online publication with a team of remote workers, the dashboard may feature research, writing, and editing sections as well as an editorial calendar. When you sign in, you can instantly see what needs attention, and you can tap on individual sections to get more information. Users can add comments and attachments, and you can select who has access to which features. The ability to label items and a powerful keyword search tool make it easy to find notes or entries. Trello syncs with apps such as Evernote, Google Drive, Slack, GitHub, Hangouts, and many others so you can streamline your productivity even further.
A comprehensive project management app for your small business remote team, Mavenlink combines to-do lists, document sharing, and other features. On an average day using Mavenlink, you sign in to look at your to-do list and check in on what your colleagues are doing. As you each tick off items, the other remote workers see that reflected in the app. The program also lets you share documents with each other, and you can even let clients see what’s happening with specific projects. Don’t worry; the app lets you customize whether team members or clients can see specific tasks or documents that you upload. As an added bonus, you and your teammates can add expenses or peg hours to specific projects. Based on that information, you can generate invoices and sync them to your QuickBooks Online software.
6. Time Rewards
When managing employees in remote locations, it can be difficult to track their hours. Time Rewards allows employees to track hours remotely and submit time sheets for your approval. The app also allows employees to peg hours to specific projects and upload expenses. You can customize which managers or supervisors can approve hours, and you can sync the records to any Windows version of QuickBooks or QuickBooks Online to easily create payroll cheques for employees or invoices for clients. Finally, the app generates a range of reports so you have useful insight on where your team’s efforts are the most profitable. With internet access and the right apps, your collaborator can be next door or in Timbuktu. Apps can help you with in-face communications, but they also make sharing of documents and visual information easier. To figure out the most effective approach for your team, test drive a few programs and then dive into what feels right.