Here at Remote Work Hub, we walk-the-talk when it comes to working remotely.
To run our business, and communicate and collaborate with our remote team, we use various remote applications and tools that allow us to work from anywhere.
New cloud-based applications are popping onto the market every week, and you’ll literally find thousands of tools to cover all of your business needs.
We thought we’d put together a list of the ones we love – most of which we just can’t live without because they allow us to remain productive regardless of where we are.
Yes, it’s an oldie but a goodie! We find Skype very useful and most of the members on our team have been using it for several years. It’s free, generally reliable and most external clients/customers are familiar with it so it’s easy to hook-up. We use it for voice and video chat with international customers mainly, and we also have a Skype phone number – this is a great option when you want a ‘local presence’ for your business in different countries, so your callers aren’t hit with international call rates to contact you overseas.
We’ve just started using Slack recently for internal communication. Slack has several features that Skype doesn’t have such as the ability to setup multiple communication channels for teams and save chat history. Slack also integrates with various other tools like Google Drive and Dropbox and can be customised in various ways to suit your team. There are a few other nifty features like being able to markup your message text (nice to have). But you’ll need to upgrade to a paid version if you want to take full advantage of all Slack has to offer. Our only advice with using tools like Skype and Slack for internal communication is to set some rules with your team as to when you would use one over the other, or switch completely to one application to avoid any confusion.
Zoom is another tool we’ve started using recently for short online meetings and screen sharing, and the quality is very good. The free plan gives you unlimited 1-1 meeting time, however, group calls are limited to 40 minutes in duration. Previously we’ve used GoToMeeting to conduct online training sessions where we need to share screens, but it’s a little pricier than Zoom. We’ve also used Google Hangouts for video calls which is also a good option and free.
Jing is a free online tool from Techsmith (the makers of Camtasia Studio) and is fantastic when you need to record a short screen video with audio of up to 5 minutes. A great way to provide tech support to customers as well. You can upload the recording to Jing’s cloud and send a link for instant playback. You can also use Jing to take simple screenshots to forward on to team members.
Freckle is a great application for time tracking and invoicing clients. We haven’t actually started using Freckle at Remote Work Hub as yet but we have trialed it and plan to start using it in the not too distant future. We like the multi-currency invoicing feature and also the fact Freckle connects with over 500 third party apps through Zapier, so the skies the limit! We know of several other teams who are using Freckle and it comes highly recommended.
We LOVE Basecamp for project collaboration – our founder, Deb, has used this tool since 2009 when she ran a web agency with a remote team. The interface has changed a lot since then, but the core features of this tool have remained the same. It’s very easy to use, reliable and keeps project tasks out of your inbox and in one central area. The basic plan subscription is very reasonable for startups and small businesses. (As a side note, Basecamp founder, Jason Fried, also wrote the book “Remote” back in 2013. Remote was a New York Times bestseller and provides compelling reasons why individuals and companies should embrace the remote work movement. Recommended reading.)
With a distributed team spread around the world you need a reliable way to pay them, and preferably in their own currency. We’ve used TransferWise for the past 6 months. It supports all the major currencies and so far it’s been very reliable.
Xero is the cloud accounting system we use for our bookkeeping and finances. In Australia & NZ particularly, Xero is a popular choice for small business and an alternative to MYOB and Quickbooks. Xero provide free unlimited support to their customers 24/7.
Hubspot CRM is free and it’s a great customer relationship management tool for small business. You can add up to 1 million contacts and have unlimited users. There are some sales features that you can add-on at a price, but we’ve found the basic CRM meets our needs at this stage.
We use Google Drive for all our file storage needs and to collaborate on documents and spreadsheets. The apps are very easy to use, they’re reliable and Drive provides ample storage space for free.
This is a great tool for scheduling appointments with team members and customers, especially when you’re working across different time zones. Calendly allows you to preset your availability on a calendar that you can share via a link and allow others to book an appropriate time to hook up with you.
So, there you have it. If you’re new to remote working, we highly recommend you acquaint yourself with some of these tools – employers will love that you’ve taken the initiative to upskill yourself and test them out. As mentioned previously, there are thousands of other tools on the market, but if you can familiarise yourself with some of the key ones, it will make the process of learning others so much easier.
And if you’re a seasoned remote worker, we’d love to hear about the tools and applications you use to stay productive. Drop us a note in the comments below.