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10 types of tools that will drive the future of remote work

About 1 in 4 American adults are expected to work remotely in 2021 – that’s roughly 39 million people! As more businesses continue to adopt remote work for good, the tools and technologies you embrace can have a great impact on your remote team performance.

Scheduling meetings, keeping track of projects and deadlines, accessing company files, and moving along sales opportunities can all be challenging when teams work different hours or in separate locations.

But, thanks to the rise in cloud-based technology, teams can overcome these issues and keep productivity high, no matter where or when they’re clocking in.

As you’ll see in this guide, there are 10 specific types of remote tools that can help your business operate just as efficiently and effectively as it would in the office.

These types of tools will help your business improve its collaboration, communication, organization, and customer support. 

1. Project management tools

It’s hard to make progress on projects when nothing is organized, and your business is far past using spreadsheets to keep track of tasks. This is why project management software is an essential type of tool for in-person and remote teams.

Project management tools give your teams all the details they need to complete a project successfully from idea to deadline.

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A screenshot of a project management board in Asana.

Project managers can assign tasks, upload assets, set project contingencies, set deadlines, and see what’s being worked on at any given time. Team members can check project information in a single space and see what’s in the pipeline to organize their workloads better.

Plus, project management tools are fantastic for collaborating. Everyone can leave comments and chime in with their thoughts and notes. The feedback will be organized for project managers to read and help them make quicker decisions.

Over 70 tools were compared and analyzed in this campaign management tools review guide. In the project management tools section, the top five tools were BasecampTrelloAsanaHive, and Monday. Other tools on the market have similar functionality with free or freemium versions of their product.

2. Collaboration tools

Collaboration tools are a must-have when it comes to communicating and collaborating with your remote team.

There are 8 main types of collaboration tools, most of which focus on real-time conversation. Your team members will receive alerts and reply whenever it’s convenient for them.

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A screenshot of a team communication channel in Slack.

Similar to project management tools, collaboration tools can keep your projects moving along, as scheduled. If you’re using Trello, for example, team members can discuss what they need to accomplish individually before a deadline creeps up.

Slack and Discord are two other mainstream collaboration tools you might have researched. These act as virtual chat rooms for your business. You can create team channels for your marketers, engineers, salespeople, human resources, and more. You can also use these tools for company-wide announcements, rather than an all-hands email. If your employees want to take conversations away from channels and into 1:1 groups, they can for more privacy.

Another key feature of collaboration tools is the ability to integrate with your existing tools. For example, in Slack, you can integrate your project management or time tracking tools. Then, you can type commands into Slack to approve projects, set reminders, reply to questions, and more.

3. Remote support tools

With business so centered around technology today, you need tools for your IT team to access company and customer devices remotely. This is where remote support tools come in handy.

If customer tech support is part of your service offering, tools such as Zoho can help you securely access PCs, laptops, mobile devices, and servers, so that you can get customers out of any tech jam.

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A screenshot of a remote support channel in Zoho.

For internal tech support, a tool such as RemotePC can give your IT team remote access to your company’s data and sensitive files. These can be shared securely between your entire team or specific members. You can also share files while people are away on vacation or out sick.

LogMeIn is another well-known option when it comes to remote support. It lets you control who can remotely access your company’s files and communication tools.

With customer and business data being a hot target for breaches, remote support tools can add another layer of security and privacy for your business. 

4. Internet phone systems

If your business makes and receives phone calls for sales or customer support, you need to tap into an internet phone system, especially when working remotely.

These systems are different from your traditional phone systems. They are hosted in the cloud, which means cost savings on physical hardware and routine maintenance. Being cloud-based also means accessing more advanced phone features for your business. For example, you can set up an entire automated call route, ensuring that inbound callers who reach out to your business get their issues handled without a human agent.

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An example of how an internet phone system looks across all devices on Nextiva.

Internet phone systems can be accessed by either mobile or desktop apps. This is not only another advantage these systems have over traditional landlines, but also the type of flexibility you need when your remote teams are on the go.

Some other options in this space include OpenPhone, which lets you talk and text through their app, and Spoke Phone, which offers similar features to Nextiva and OpenPhone. It also lets you create a set schedule for when customers can call in.

5. Video conferencing tools

While you could certainly communicate with your team using project management and collaboration tools, video conferencing takes chatting and team building to the next level.

That’s because you’ll be able to see your team members and customers face-to-face, which helps bring back that human connection often lost when working remotely.

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A screenshot of a video call and presentation on Amazon Chime.

Tools such as Amazon Chime, Google Hangouts, and Zoom dominate this sector of remote tools.

All three options allow you to set up virtual video meetings with your team and your customers. You just schedule a meeting time, send out virtual invites, and wait for everyone to join the call. These tools also integrate with most virtual calendars and set reminders automatically, so no need to worry about double-booking meetings.

You’ll be able to create that meeting room experience, despite being in different cities or countries with the other person on the line.

Keep in mind, if “Zoom fatigue ” is starting to creep into your team, you can always use video conferencing tools for voice chats instead. This is basically a voice call without your team’s cameras turned on. Great for mixing up routines!

6. Internal knowledge base tools

The remote tools we’ve discussed so far may already be on your radar, but internal knowledge base tools are less used, which is a mistake.

Remote onboarding can be challenging in any organization, especially those without a seasoned remote work strategy. If you need to train and virtually share knowledge and cadences, you’re probably sending out lengthy emails with semi-confusing instructions, or hopping on a call to discuss specifics.

Besides spending too much time doing this redundant work, you should look into knowledge base tools such as ConfluenceCloudApp, or Loom.

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A screenshot of a full team library of files and videos in Loom.

These tools allow you to upload and share important information with your team on a single platform. Teams can then easily refer back to this database, should they need help.

Tools such as Cloud App and Loom allow you to create instructional videos, ranging from basic how-tos to more advanced tasks that require visual step-by-step directions. These can be saved and viewed at any time by new hires in training and team members who need a refresher. Talk about saving time and improving efficiency.

7. Time tracking tools

If you manage external contractors or freelancers, implementing a time tracking system into your remote toolkit can be a game-changer. They ensure that your team optimizes their billable hours and isn’t wasting valuable time on unnecessary tasks.

Tools such as Hive, Time Doctor, and BigTime are all top-of-class tools to consider in your research. You’ll be able to keep track of your team’s productivity easily, and you’ll know which vendors need to be billed for what hours, making invoicing a breeze.

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A screenshot of a time and project management board in Hive.

Some of the tools mentioned above also have project management functionality. So, if you see overlap between the two types of tools, consider going with one based on the features your business uses the most.

8. Help desk tools

Customer service and experience are integral to the success of most businesses nowadays. In fact, a recent survey by PwC found that 73% of customers consider “experience” as their most important purchasing factor.

Going with a help desk tool will allow you to provide exceptional customer service no matter where your team or customers are located.

One such tool, Talkdesk, is so customer-focused that its tool was designed to make providing outstanding customer service your competitive advantage, as their site mentions.

Guru – another similar option – also aims to help you solve your customers’ issues while delivering a great experience.

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A screenshot of a help desk ticketing board in Zendesk.

The last popular help desk tool is Zendesk. It aims to help your business keep customers happy, which makes your customer support’s job easier. This tool also automates your support, so you can quickly repeat and scale resolutions with ease.

Utilizing help desk tools means you can assist more customers and provide a better customer experience in less time.

9. Scheduling tools

Don’t waste time going back and forth with employees, customers, and prospects for time schedules. With scheduling tools, you simply send a link with your availability, and people can view your calendar and book a time that works for them in a matter of seconds.

Calendly is one of the most popular choices here. Because this tool automatically adjusts for time zone differences, you can set your availability in your time zone, and the person booking a meeting will see your schedule in their time zone, eliminating any math and potential hiccups.

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An example of how one would book a meeting on Calendly.

Visibook and Vagaro are two other scheduling tools that work best if your business runs on appointment setting. These can help your service-based team keep their calendars booked by showing customers available time slots that they can choose from.

Many of these tools will integrate with your work calendars. Say, for example, someone books a meeting through your scheduling link. This time slot will be automatically updated in your Google or Outlook calendar.

10. Sales enablement tools

Remote selling contains its own set of challenges, including a lack of in-person relationship-building with customers. But, remote sales teams can remain high-performing with sales enablement, and with your marketing team on board.

Sales enablement tools will help your team sell more effectively and provide a better customer experience in a remote work environment.

With HubSpot CRM – one of the flagship sales enablement tools – you’re able to keep all your important sales details, prospect lists, templates, content, and scripts in one centralized space. You can even connect with your prospects through HubSpot’s platform. Doing this should reduce bottlenecks in your sales department.

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An example of how HubSpot’s CRM looks like in the back end.

A tool called Seismic also helps you deliver a personalized experience that takes advantage of storytelling. This allows you to capture your customer’s attention, captivate and engage them, and show them why your business is the right choice.

Showpad – another mainstream alternative to the above two tools – focuses on helping you train your sales team, so they can provide meaningful conversations with your customers. This can increase their chances of closing the sale and shorten sales cycles.

Remote tools and technology are essential

Remote work isn’t slowing down anytime soon. So, it pays to take advantage of technology and the 10 types of tools shared in this guide now more than ever.

Not only will they help your team become more productive and organized, but they’ll also help you drive more revenue and provide exceptional customer service, no matter where your team clocks in. They even make collaborating and keeping your projects on schedule a piece of cake.

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