There’s no doubt that hiring remote workers has its benefits. For example, remote workers don’t have to commute. They don’t spend precious company time getting caught up in water cooler gossip. They only bill you for hours they actually work. And, reports indicate that remote workers are happier overall than those in the office.
While there are plenty of perks to having remote workers on your team, when they are not in the same location as you, it can be difficult to help them effectively manage their time.
To help you get more mileage out of remote workers and make sure they have the right tools to stay on task, here is a list of the best time and task management apps for 2017 for remote workers.
Time Tracking Apps
There are several pieces of the time management puzzle, and this article will suggest apps to help you with each facet of time management. But, let’s start with the most obvious—time tracking.
1. Time Doctor
If you’re looking for an app that will help you track time for remote employees, Time Doctor is where it’s at.
Time Doctor helps you accurately track where your remote employees are spending their time and ensures they are working efficiently. This app tracks the total time your team members are working as well as gives a breakdown of how much time they spent on which projects, tasks, and clients.
Additionally, Time Doctor offers screen monitoring software, a tool to monitor internet usage, website application monitoring, and more.
Basically, Time Doctor has everything you could ever hope for in a time tracking software.
Roadmap is another useful time tracking app for remote employees, especially if you are in charge of balancing and monitoring the schedules of lots of remote workers. Roadmap gives you cross-portfolio views of all of your remote workers, so you can see where your workers are under-scheduled or have too much on their plates.
You can also see how your project goals are lining up with the realities of your resources and staff and make adjustments accordingly.
With the help of this time management dashboard, you can compare and view schedules, make custom reports, and view tasks across the full portfolio of all of your projects all while keeping all of your remote workers aligned.
Meetings & Video Chat Apps
Even with the best time management apps, if you don’t take time to connect and actually talk to your remote employees, it’s impossible to stay on the same page. Here are some of the top meeting and video chat apps that will keep your meetings on schedule.
3. Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is probably the go-to video meeting software for remote employees, and there are some good reasons for this.
First of all, there are 1 billion Gmail users and I think you’d be hard pressed to find a remote worker that isn’t familiar with Gmail. The fact that there is virtually no learning curve to using Google Hangouts is a huge plus. You can schedule a time to meet and chat through a voice or video call.
Additionally, you can chat one-on-one or include your whole remote team in your Google Hangout. Not to mention, the app is available across all desktop, iOS, and Android devices.
Google Hangouts is easy, convenient, and free.
If Google Hangouts is being wonky or freezing up for whatever reason, Skype is another safe backup with virtually the same benefits.
With 300 million active users, Skype is another communication platform both the avid remote worker and the layman are familiar with using. Skype allows easy messaging, voice calls, screen sharing, and video conference calls and is available for use across all desktop, iOS, and Android devices as well.
Looking for an even more fluid communication system to organize meetings with remote workers? Then, check out Join.me.
Join.me is good for one-on-one calls, team meetings, and/or communication with your entire global office.
Of course, Join.me has the regular features you would expect like free conference calling capabilities, video conferencing, screen sharing, and chat (through Slack). But, it also offers additional benefits like webinar training services and a mobile whiteboard.
If you are looking for a communication software that will keep you and your remote workers on the same page, and that’s easy to scale, Join.me will do the trick.
Team Chat Apps
Connecting via telephone or video chat is a must for any office with remote employees, but it’s also complete overkill if you, or your remote employees, just have a simple question. For the purpose of quick questions, there’s chat. And, if you are looking to manage your time effectively, it’s necessary to invest in one of these.
Slack is gaining popularity as the hippest and most effective tool for quick group or one-on-one communications, and it’s with good reason.
Slack will create an individual chat account for you and your team members. Then, once you all have an account, you can either chat one-on-one or create a group chat where everyone is involved. Additionally, Slack allows you to create a one-off chat within a group chat in case you have a question that only applies to one individual.
You can also create multiple channels to help organize your chat sessions. For example, you may have a channel for #marketing, #TeamNYC, #AutoVertical, #sales, or more.
Slack is a great app to help keep everyone in your team in the loop and save time while doing it.
7. Workplace by Facebook
Leave it up to the geniuses at Facebook to come up with another innovative product. Workplace by Facebook is another revolutionary way to connect your teams together.
Workplace by Facebook is basically a joint Facebook account for all employees involved in a project. This means you can connect everyone in your company to your account. Hold group discussions, post updates about projects, comment and offer suggestions on posts, and also participate in voice and video calling.
Workplace by Facebook allows unlimited file, phone, and video storage, secure collaboration, unlimited team and project groups, live video streaming, and more.
HipChat is another business chat app that is off the charts in terms of awesomeness. Of course, it has all of the expected features including group chat and video chat. But, HipChat is especially neat, because it offers screen sharing for teams.
Rather than trying to explain what you mean with words, you can just share your screen with your team and show them what you mean. Then, you can either ask the group a question, start a video call, or ask an individual a question with an @ mention.
Project Management Apps
Once you have a way to track time, video conference with your remote workers, and chat with your team members, it’s time to find some tools to help with project management. After all, it does little good to track time and locate inefficiencies if there is no way to improve on your productivity methods.
Basecamp is one of the best ways for remote employees to stay informed and organized. Basecamp works by organizing all important tasks into three categories and displaying them all on one convenient dashboard.
The first section is the “HQ (headquarters)” section. This is where members of basecamp get updates like company announcements, changes in policy, and other company-wide updates.
The second part of Basecamp is the “Teams” section. This is where people on the same team communicate and coordinate. For example, everyone on the marketing team would be able to access things like copy, videos, instructions and more on their team dashboard.
Finally, there is a “project” section where members of different teams can work together to finish a project. Here people can share tasks and see every step of the project from start to completion.
As remote employees check off tasks from their to-do lists and add new tasks, you, as their manager, can see how they are progressing and help keep everyone aligned.
Asana is a straightforward and simple project management app. One of the best features of Asana is that it breaks down tasks into either a list or a calendar. That way, you can see exactly when you have something due on a calendar, and tackle them in an orderly fashion. When you are done with a task, you can physically click on a check mark and the task will be marked as done.
Asana also allows you to organize your tasks by “complete,” “incomplete,” “tasks by due date,” and “tasks by project.” This allows the manager to see how progress is coming along, and allows the remote worker a way to quickly sort out what has been done and what still needs to be done.
This app will also email you notifications before a due date to help keep you on target.
Float is another project management task software that is said to work well for all teams, but especially smaller teams.
Float has an easy click and drop scheduler that helps you visualize team work load, easily assign tasks, make updates quickly, and find the remote worker you are looking for with its sort and search feature.
Float also assists you in organizing projects by helping you make task assignments, marking milestones, grouping projects, and adding tasks notes.
Float will help you manage your teams and also allows you to create custom reporting to make sure you are hitting your goals.
You’ve heard the term “keeping up with the Joneses.” While this usually relates to socioeconomic status, it can be fun to apply it to your work situation with remote workers. In other words, it’s fun to use a productivity app to see who is doing what and who is in the lead.
IDoneThis is a fun productivity app that is essentially a to-do list on steroids. With IDoneThis, you can enter in all of the tasks your remote employees need to accomplish and watch as incomplete red “x” marks turn to green completed check marks.
IDoneThis is an easy way to track team progress and keep tabs on how everyone else on the team is doing. Sometimes the best way to manage time is to turn it into a healthy and friendly competition.
Todoist is a super straight forward to do list app that anyone can use. Seriously, you can even use it for personal tasks like grocery shopping, errands, and movies to watch. However, it can also be completely customized and used for work tasks only.
When you log in to Todoist, you can add tasks, label them, assign a due date, and then filter by tasks that are assigned to you, assigned to someone else, marked with a special priority, etc. You can also view your tasks by the day or that are due within the next 7 days.
Todoist is free if you are using the basic features, but if you are managing a large team, it’s worth the premium upgrade fee to get all the features.
File Sharing App
It may seem strange to include a cloud storage app in an article about the best time management apps, but it’s perfectly relevant. Can you imagine how much time your remote workers would waste if they didn’t have a cohesive go-to app for file sharing? And, heaven forbid they try and email all the files to you.
Many of the apps listed above will include a way to share files, but you may need a backup or may want to use a more trusted file sharing app like Dropbox or Google Drive.
Dropbox won’t let you down when it comes to file sharing and cloud storage. It’s intuitive and most remote workers are already familiar with how it works.
To get the most bang for your buck, go for Dropbox Business. Dropbox Business lets you sync, file share, and collaborate with ease.
15. Google Drive
In the event you manage a smaller team of remote workers, Google Drive is a great option. With Google Drive, you can share files, collaborate, edit, comment on documents, and more.
Additionally, there is an added measure of security and control by being able to control who has access to certain documents.
With the right combination of these time and task management apps, you’ll help your remote workers stay organized, work more effectively, and be more productive than you ever imagined.