Managing remote team is challenging enough. But let's face it – choosing proper apps to save (or enhance) your team's productivity can easily turn into yet another struggle. But how to make the right decision and pick the best tool to manage remote employees and help them? It's not that easy anymore, because the number of available options is practically countless, and they offer endless possibilities. There is no guarantee that one team's perfect solution will be equally great for others, because each team has its own needs.
When choosing task management software, video chat app, or a content collaboration platform, you should consider the following: price, credibility, functionality, ease of use, security, integration, and consolidation. All teams are unique, and their needs can be quite specific, so are the tools and their features.
Be ready to spend some time trying several apps to find the one for you. And while it may seem natural to choose what's popular and stick with it, one-size-fits-all approach many of those popular tools employ can leave too many gaps in your process or introduce a huge overhead when wrestling with overabundance of features.
In this article, we've listed five affordable and easy-to-use tools for remote team management, that most of you probably haven't tried. And we've added four alternatives for each of them to make sure you have enough options.
1/ BlueJeans for team communication — powerful video conferencing and easy screen sharing
Messaging is great! Phone calls – even better (or terrible, depending on who you ask). But when it comes to remote teamwork, things change, and you have to adapt to a new situation quickly. If your team previously used to work in an office-based environment, a robust video conferencing software is a must-have. Replacing at least some of the messages and emails with short video calls can strengthen and improve your team's spirit, especially to those lacking human interaction while working from home.
Yes, Zoom is everywhere these days, but it has its fair share of problems. This time we would like to introduce you to BlueJeans video conferencing software – it's got all the bells and whistles, with no cloud of negative headlines surrounding it.
BlueJeans video conferencing platform is an excellent alternative to the leading video tools. The original idea of BlueJeans was to make video conferencing as comfortable and as casual as a pair of jeans. BlueJeans serves small to large-sized companies and offers three main services – online video meetings, huddle rooms (chat rooms), and event support. As an extra function, it provides decent broadcasting features that allow users to stream content into social media.
BlueJeans supports video calls with large number of participants, allowing to connect an entire company if needed. Team meetings and one-on-one meetings are easy to access with a one-touch silent entry system – there are multiple ways of joining the meeting. BlueJeans ensures fast screen sharing capabilities, video recording, high video and audio quality, integrations with calendar and scheduling apps. Apart from that, you can show presentations to your teammates in a boardroom, initiating presenter mode, which is a rather convenient feature. Just like Zoom, BlueJeans is easily accessible via browser and does not require an account or a software download.
Recently BlueJeans was acquired by Verizon, and Verizon's CEO named security and scalability as one of the reasons they've decided to buy them. In the long run it remains to be seen how the service will evolve under the new leadership, but right not it's a great and secure alternative to Zoom for everyone.
— Standard plan: $9.99 per host per month; — Professional plan: $13.99 per host per month.
Other tools for team communication:
2/ Infolio – productivity suite for effortless project and task management
Project management platforms now offer a lot more than simple task managing – they help you to stay on top of everything related to your projects, tasks, assignments, content, deadlines, and more. There are so many great tools that you probably haven't even heard of, but they are worth giving a try.
Keeping up with your team's tasks and progress can become very demanding when you are managing a remote team, right? But not with Infolio, which is designed to simplify all your tasks. We've made Infolio intuitive and straightforward, easy for anyone to start working on a project from the get-go, so you barely need any onboarding (anyway, we're always here to help you and your team if needed).
Running and tracking your projects with Infolio, you can opt for three handy views: Kanban board, Table, and Calendar view. Each of these views allows you to sort your tasks according to Statuses, Lists, and Assignees so that you won't be confused about your team's progress. You will see what your team members are working on, what they have done, what they will be working on, and what the deadlines are. In other words, you get a full view of your project.
Infolio allows you to keep an unlimited number of teams, projects, and spaces to collaborate on your projects in virtual collaborative boards visually. Therefore, if you are managing a creative team, you'll find this feature especially useful.
Apart from all the above, you can have conversations with your team in project chats, so that you don't have to switch tools for communication and do it all in one place.
— Free without any feature limitations; — Professional version is $4.99 per user per month for extra storage.
Other tools for task management:
3/ Clockify for time management – see what your team works on
Do you know what are the 4D's of time management? It's Do, Delete, Defer, or Delegate. When the work goes remote, it gets harder to keep track of the team's workflow pace and rhythm, to plan tasks ahead. Time management tools help you to analyze how much time is spent on different tasks, automating your routine tasks, keeping track of to-do-lists, and improving your productivity.
This time, we will tell you about a great time management app for remote teams – Clockify.
Clockify is a free time tracking app with accessible and easy to use UI, which might be a reasonable solution for remote teams of different sizes. This time tracking software lets you and your team track time so you can later see where it goes and improve productivity. The time reporting feature helps to keep track of log history across multiple projects and clients.
Both freelancers and teams can easily try this app mainly because it is free to use. Clockify is available in the form of timer and timesheet, with team and project management features. It's also easy to use both with the browser extension or the mobile app. Clockify records the exact time you spend on a project, by clicking Start/ Stop, just like an online stopwatch. However, this software doesn't have a built-in invoicing system, so if you are looking for time-tracking software with this feature, you may look closer at a similar app – Harvest.
Tailor-made for an unlimited number of users, projects, and clients, Clockify supports more than a hundred integrations, making it even more convenient.
— Standard: Free; — Plus: $9.99 a month per company; — Premium: $29.99 a month per company.
Other tools for time management:
4/ Milanote for creative visual team collaboration
Tools for team content collaboration help you to not fall behind on the work progress. One of the best ways to stay on the same page with your team members is to be involved in creative processes all the way from the start. And the best solution is to have a digital workspace, where your team can create anything from mood boards to a perfect creative brief.
Take a look at Milanote – it may be a lesser-known creative team collaboration tool than Miro (previously RealtimeBoard), but it is well worth your attention. Milanote's simplicity makes it a good fit for creative teams of different sizes who need a safe place for brainstorming, idea generating, and real-time visual content collaboration.
Milanote is a tool for organizing creative projects into beautiful visual boards. The easy drag-and-drop user interface allows you to arrange things by your team's preference. You can quickly upload images and files (JPGs, PDFs, Word, Excel, standard design files) to your boards, and visualize them into ideas and plans (which can be especially useful at the project's planning stage).
Boards can be private with restricted access, or shared collaboration workspaces. Users often compare working in Milanote to working on a whiteboard – it is highly visual, interactive and flexible. The board sometimes becomes messy, but so is the usual creative process. You can also write notes and to-do lists and simultaneously share links and images from the web with the other team members. The good thing is that you can use your project boards even when you are offline. Creatives will definitely enjoy this space to play around with the ideas, files, and images.
— Free (up to 100 notes);
— $9.99 for the Pro version.
Other tools for creative content collaboration:
5/ Egnyte for secure and stress-free file sharing
Everyone knows Google Drive and Dropbox, but have you heard anything about Egnyte? If not, you'll probably be surprised by how many useful features it offers regarding file sharing and collaboration.
Egnyte is a mature, comprehensive, and secure file sharing platform and cloud storage with a high-security level. This software is designed to fulfill the needs and requirements of business users, mostly because it is a scalable platform that can grow simultaneously with the needs of a business. Egnyte has an ability to cover the secure file storage needs of startups, small to midsize businesses, and even large enterprises. File storage is the main, but not the only function of Egnyte – thanks to integration with Microsoft Office 365, it also allows smooth team content collaboration.
Egnyte's layout looks like a desktop file manager, where you can find the links to the most recent files, shared or used folders, any bookmarks. The intuitive user interface makes it easy for new users to start. To upload files, you simply drag and drop them from your desktop. Egnyte claims that it is secure and loss-free cloud storage. For example, it has a file locking functionality, which cuts down reworking or duplication. With Egnyte, you don't have to be afraid of the potential attacker gaining access to your data, thanks to the extra security level – e.g., two-factor authentications.
Another advantage that makes Egnyte to stand out, is its diversity – it is not only a secure file server but also a hub for various integrations and extensions, that provides unlimited capabilities while working with your information.
— Office: $8 per employee per month (the team of 20-25 employees); — Business: $15.99 per employee per month.
Other tools for file sharing: