SMEs can boost productivity with technology to help work remotely

As more businesses switch to remote work, these free or low-cost apps help you manage projects, communicate with customers and collaborate with co-workers. The first thing to keep in mind is to familiarize yourself with the digital tools necessary to maintain productivity.

Productivity suites

G Suite is an invaluable tool which enables a remote workforce with basics, such as video conferencing, email, spreadsheets and calendars.

Collaborate on documents in real time

Emailing attachments is a thing of the past. These days' teams can view, create, and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations remotely with Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.  Changes are saved automatically and previous versions of the document can be accessed easily thus enabling employees to collaborate in real time.

Sharing and storing resources in cloud

Team members have easy and secure access to shared files with Google Drive. Files can be shared with the full team or select employees as needed.

Coordinate with other team members

Google Calendar allows a team to share their schedule and stay organized. Multiple calendars can be created for meetings, training, vacations etc. Additionally of there is a need to reach someone immediately then Google Hangouts is a great tool for sending text messages or hopping on a video call.

Microsoft products like Microsoft 365 also offer a similar suite of productivity tools including Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.

Work-flow management

Teamwork can be used to manage internal initiatives and client projects. Teamwork offers multiple time-saving, collaboration-enhancing features to make project management quicker and more efficient. All projects are composed of task lists, tasks and subtasks to manage a detailed plan of action. Managers can make sure all projects run smoothly through time tracking, customizable dashboards, and risk management.

Some of the other project management tools that are available on the market include:

Trello: Trello's boards, lists, and cards can be used to organize and prioritize projects in a fun and flexible manner.

Asana: It is the work management platform which is recommended for teams who need to stay focused on the goals, projects and daily tasks that grow business.

Basecamp: Basecamp provides everything needed for the work to get work done in one place. It's a neat way to organized and manage projects with clients and communicate companywide.

Team communication and collaboration

Teams need to communicate for getting work done. Slack is the go-to choice for instant communication. Employees can easily follow and contribute to conversations by creating channels which allow conversations to be organized based on project, topic or team. Slack also offers excellent app integrations to connect with other productivity tools like Google Drive, Asana, Trello, GitHub, Zoom and much more. It is accessible via desktop and mobile devices.

Some of the other options one can explore are:

Microsoft Teams:  Available with Office 365, it is a hub for teamwork. It keeps all the team chats, meetings, files and apps together.

Google Hangouts Chat: Makes it easy for teams to be able to get their work done in one place.

Discord: The free all-in-one secure voice and text chat that works on both your desktop and phone.

Workplace by Facebook: Transform your whole business and empower the team with familiar features such as groups, chat and video calls.

Skype: The easy way to do online meetings in three simple clicks.

Meetings and video chat

Some businesses may need more than just a simple messaging app. Tele and video conferencing is one of the most useful tools for increasing the productivity of remote workers. If video conferencing is a major aspect of your business, Zoom is a great solution offering simplified video conferencing across any device with end-to-end encryption. Additionally, Zoom integrates with other productivity apps to help manage email communication and set up calendar events. The platform's built-in collaboration tools allow multiple participants to share screens, create annotations, and more.

Here are a few more alternatives:

Google Meet: Connect with your team from anywhere with easy-to-join video calls.

Microsoft Teams: Invite everyone you work with to chat, meet, call, and collaborate all in one place, no matter where you are.

WebEx: This is the most secure collaboration platform to work remotely or from home. Stay connected with unlimited usage.

Businesses need to be transparent to with their teams for remote work to be effective. Employees must be proactive in discussing and sharing their work. Managers must communicate clearly and frequently. A great way to get everyone up to speed is by setting up daily catch-ups via a video conference. Establish a system of check-ins throughout the day so that all employees are held accountable for sharing their progress, successes and setbacks.

Teams need to build a strong sense of trust among each other while working remotely. Managers should do their best not to micromanage and focus on trusting their employees to get the work done. Many of the productivity tools listed here are enabled to keep records of interactions, updates and progress. These time stamps can be used to oversee employees and guide them through the project.

But employees and managers should also look at the positive side and take advantage of the flexibility of remote work. This can be easily managed by deciding on optimal hours for the team to sync up. Committing to strict deadlines will certainly help in building reliability and dependency.

The transition to working remotely will need to be made comfortable and stress free by business leaders. This is incredibly important if it is the first time that a business is attempting to work remotely. Success now will mould expectations for the future.


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