Interested in a toolkit for managing remote workers?
Since COVID 19, many companies have allowed their employees to work from home.
But if you’re new to remote work, figuring out how to manage your remote team can seem daunting.
However, with the right remote work toolkit, managing your distributed team should be a piece of cake!
In this article, we’ll show you the best tools to include in your managing remote workers toolkit and highlight their key features. We’ll also offer you a few strategies to effectively manage your virtual team.
This Article Contains:
(Click on the links below to go to a specific section)
- What is a Remote Work Toolkit?
- Top 5 Tools You Need For Managing Remote Workers
- 4 Strategies for Managing Remote Teams
Let’s get started.
What is a Remote Work Toolkit?
A remote work toolkit is a collection of software, strategies, and techniques that make it possible for managers to oversee remote work, even if their employees are in different time zones.
The right remote team management tools should equip you to manage projects and team performance with ease.
But with several remote working tools available today, which ones should you go for?
Let’s find out.
Top 5 Tools You Need for Managing Remote Workers
To engage and motivate your remote team, you’ll need the right online solutions.
Here are some of the best remote work tools for managing your entire team:
1. Time Doctor for Time and Productivity Management
Your remote employees may be working long hours, but how can you be sure they are productive?
You can’t — unless you have the right tool like Time Doctor to monitor their time and analyze their productivity.
Time Doctor is a robust employee time tracking and performance management tool.
Large corporations like Ericsson and small businesses like Thrive Market and Firehouse Subs use Time Doctor to track and enhance productivity.
A. Key Features
Here’s a look at some of Time Doctor’s key features:
1) Time and Activity Tracking
Employees can track time with its easy-to-use interface, either manually or automatically.
This way, you can ensure your team is really working when they’re supposed to be.
Time Doctor lets you track:
- The hours worked by each member of your team.
- The projects and tasks they worked on.
- How long they took to complete each task.
2) Comprehensive Reports
Time Doctor automatically generates a range of productivity reports in real-time.
A manager can receive reports on a daily and weekly basis via email. And your team can track their own productivity at any time via the Time Doctor website dashboard.
Some of the reports available include:
- Activity Summary Report: Reveals the active minutes and seconds, unproductive, manual, and mobile time for each member of your team over a selected period.
- Hours Tracked Report: See the number of hours tracked per day, week, or for any date range you select.
- Projects & Tasks Report: View the time spent on projects. It also indicates the individual tasks per employee for each project.
- Timeline Reports: There are two reports under this category — the daily report and the weekly report. They show how much time an employee spends on tasks and breaks per day (or week), including start and end times.
- Web & App Usage Report: Shows the time spent on various sites and apps so you can ensure employees aren’t wasting time on unproductive sites like Facebook and other social media apps.
3) Productivity Ratings
Time Doctor’s productivity ratings feature lets you categorize the URLs that your team visits. This way, you can be assured they are using their time well.
But most tracking software does this, so what makes Time Doctor different?
Other time tracking solutions classify social media sites like Instagram and YouTube as unproductive.
However, what if your team needs to browse these sites for work-related purposes?
Time Doctor’s productivity ratings feature helps you overcome this issue.
Admins or managers can choose which websites and apps are productive and unproductive for their teams.
There are four ratings to choose from:
Time Doctor uses these ratings to generate your productivity reports, so they are accurate.
4) Idle Time Pop-up
Time Doctor has an idle time pop-up to help employees remain actively engaged.
Here’s how it works:
- When Time Doctor detects no keyboard or mouse activity for a certain amount of time, it generates a pop-up message, asking employees if they’re still working.
- Employees can then take a break or continue working and recording time.
Idle time tracking also ensures your employees don’t log their idle time as billable hours.
Note: Time Doctor isn’t a keylogger. It only determines if you pressed any keys to detect inactivity.
Time Doctor’s optional screenshots feature helps you see what your team is doing on their computers in real-time.
With this feature, you can take screenshots or record videos of employees’ screens during tracked hours.
You can also:
- Set intervals for screenshots (for example, every five minutes).
- Download screenshot images and videos.
- Delete or blur screenshots with sensitive information.
- View screenshots with low or no keyboard/mouse activity.
The payroll feature calculates payroll for any employee based on tracked hours or fixed rates.
With the payroll feature, you can:
- Automate and upload timesheets for bulk billing.
- Customize pay periods and currencies.
- Approve timesheets manually or automatically.
- Set up payroll for hourly or salaried employees.
- Make quick payments with integrations to PayPal, TransferWise, etc.
- Create and assign projects and tasks to team members.
- Simple navigation with a user-friendly interface.
- Flexible time tracking — track hours automatically or manually.
- Supports employee-friendly settings.
- Shows you the individual domain pages visited by your team, not just the root domain.
- Strict privacy and data security policies.
- Track time from other apps with the powerful Chrome extension.
- Integrations with more than 50 workplace apps, like ClickUp, Trello, and Asana.
Paid plans start as low as $8/user per month. A 14-day free trial is available that requires no credit card.
D. Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.4/5 (170+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.5/5 (320+ reviews)
2. ClickUp for Project Management
ClickUp is a cloud-based project management tool. It’s also a great collaboration tool for your remote workforce.
A. Key Features
- Helps you organize tasks and projects with notifications, calendars, goals, and reminders.
- Customize your tasks’ status (stage) and move them from one stage to the next for a streamlined workflow.
- Task management features let you see what tasks employees have completed, who needs more tasks, and who’s overloaded with work.
- Supports integrations with tools like Zoom and GitHub for easy workflow management.
Paid plans start from $9/user per month. There’s also a free plan with limited features.
C. Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.7/5 (2000+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (2000+ reviews)
3. Slack for Instant Messaging
A. Key Features
- Create specific channels for communication with individual employees, teams, and project members.
- Communicate with your virtual team using video conferencing (limited to 15 participants).
- Share ideas and instructions over video conference calls with screen sharing.
- Organize discussions using threads. Start a thread from any message to discuss tasks or projects in further detail, without cluttering the main channel.
- Works on Android and iOS mobile devices.
Slack’s paid plans begin at $8/user per month. There’s also a free limited plan available.
C. Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.5/5 (26,000+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (19,600+ reviews)
4. Zoom for Video Conferencing
With Zoom, you can hold a virtual meeting or record your video and audio calls to review later.
A. Key Features
- Host a team meeting or webinar for up to 100 participants with the free plan.
- For detailed discussions or troubleshooting, you can use the screen share feature.
- Join Zoom meetings from any Android or iOS device.
- Record meetings to transcribe or review them in the future.
- Divide a meeting into smaller groups with Breakout Rooms.
Want to learn how to create Zoom Breakout Rooms?
Zoom has a free plan, and its paid plan starts at $14.99/license per month.
C. Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.5/5 (32,000+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.6/5 (7500+ reviews)
5. Google Workspace for File Management
Google Workspace (formerly GSuite) is a popular, cloud-based file management system. It lets you share files with your team and collaborate on documents in real-time.
Like Microsoft Office 365, it has several tools and mobile apps for creating and sharing files.
A. Key Features
- Create and edit text documents within your browser with Google Docs.
- Share online calendars with your team. These calendars integrate with your other Google Workspace apps, including Gmail, Drive, Contacts, Sites, and Meet.
- Store, access, and share your files with your remote team in one place with Google Drive.
Paid plans start at $6/user per month, and a free 14-day trial is available.
If you have a Google account, you can access Drive, Docs, and a few other features with limited cloud storage space for free.
C. Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.5/5 (300+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (10,000+ reviews)
4 Strategies for Managing Remote Teams
Some of the common challenges associated with remote working include:
- Low productivity due to the absence of face-to-face supervision.
- Distractions as a result of working from home — for example, family members disrupting work.
- Lower quality of work due to insufficient access to information.
- Social isolation, which can affect the mental state of a remote employee.
Despite these challenges, remote work strategies can be successful.
Here are a few tips for effectively leading remote employees:
1. Communicate Effectively
Communication and collaboration are the cornerstones of successful remote work arrangements.
If an employee is new to remote working, it’s essential to check in with them daily to avoid them feeling overwhelmed. You could use email, texts, or phone calls, and video conferencing for more detailed face-to-face interactions.
Keep in mind that communication issues already exist in most traditional workspaces.
However, they can be even worse in a remote work environment.
That’s why you should communicate clearly, simply, and often.
2. Be Prepared
Ensure your team has the technological resources they need for successful remote work beforehand.
They may require laptops, better WiFi, and new equipment such as headsets or webcams for their home office.
Once you’ve adopted the right set of software tools, ensure employees know how to use them. Offer additional training to your team if necessary.
Additionally, make sure you have an onboarding manual for new recruits, clearly explaining how to use the tools you’ve acquired.
3. Focus on Outcomes
Rather than micromanage a worker throughout the day, it would help if you concentrated on the outcomes.
Ensure that employees successfully complete projects independently, rather than managing how they carry out every step towards the goal.
Managers should focus on:
- Making sure the goals are clearly defined.
- Giving remote team members the freedom to make their own decisions.
- Providing a flexible work arrangement for employees, such as letting them set their own working hours.
These are good ways of building trust between you and your team.
4. Encourage Social Interactions
When managing remote employees, you should encourage them to interact socially.
In a physical office, employees typically gather around the watercooler to discuss non-work related issues. However, this type of social interaction will require more deliberate action in a virtual work environment.
You could consider virtual happy hours, virtual parties, and other virtual time management activities to promote remote employee engagement and teamwork.
If you carve out time for conversations between team members, they’ll understand your company culture better and feel like part of the team. It will also build trust and improve collaboration among team members.
Want to organize some fun gaming sessions for your remote team?
The Coronavirus pandemic has led many companies to adopt remote work strategies.
However, managing remote workers can present a unique set of challenges.
Fortunately, enjoying the benefits of remote working becomes a lot easier with the right set of tools and strategies.
Implement the tools and tips we’ve suggested here, and managing remote workers will be a piece of cake.
Liam Martin is a co-founder of Time Doctor—a time tracking and productivity monitoring software designed for tracking hours and productivity of remote teams.