We’ve heard about the arguments for and against bringing work home, but many companies these days don’t have much of a choice. With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting countries all over the world, business owners must now adjust to maintain stable operations. Today, this means taking stock of the best remote work tools so employees can remain productive without exposing themselves to health hazards.
The good news is that there are many of them to help ease the transition from office to remote work. Remote work software solutions are now at a point where they can facilitate more efficient collaboration and hassle-free communication, smoothing the transition for newly-minted remote workers.
Remote work is not a new concept. For as long as personal computers could connect to the internet, employees have been working outside their cubicles and offices. The word ‘telecommuting’ was coined by physicist Jack Nilles in the 1970s when he was working remotely via a communications system for NASA.
More than three decades later, remote work has become firmly entrenched in the US work culture. This is thanks in part to forward-thinking companies such as IBM, which first allowed employees to work from home in 1979. Likewise, legislation like the Telework Enhancement Act further normalized the concept.
Today, 33.9% of remote workers have been working for more than four years. These workers comprise a wide variety of roles and job types, with the majority being founders, C-level, and VP-level executives.
Source: Owl LabsDesigned by
No matter what your job entails, though, modern software makes remote work easier. These applications help teams work together even without sharing the same space.
In this article, we’ve listed 20 of the best tools for remote work. These top-of-class tools span a variety of software categories, including collaboration software, communication systems, and file-sharing platforms.
Many remote work tools today fall into the category of virtual collaboration software. While there are many types of collaboration software today, these tools share the same capability of helping teams work together on different tasks and projects. As such, these platforms typically come with features that allow users to easily communicate, exchange files, and keep each other updated on task progress.
With these features, many of these tools help managers hurdle the challenges of managing remote teams. These applications will help managers improve their teams’ accountability and productivity without resorting to micromanagement.
There’s a reason monday.com consistently ranks as the top collaboration software today. The platform provides a central hub for information relevant to projects, allowing managers and teams to work together more efficiently. With its collaboration-first interface, the platform makes it easy for users to take responsibility and contribute to the overall progress of projects.
monday.com streamlines collaboration and project management through a unique Board concept, with the main Board listing all projects and tasks. You can customize boards with a wide variety of columns, including People, Date, Timeline, and File. This way, you can easily see which team members are assigned to which tasks, the dates these tasks are due to be completed, along with relevant files. The platform’s ease of use can help remote workers become more productive even when they’re at home.
More importantly, the software offers various features specifically designed to ease remote work. monday.com comes with built-in templates that can help teams get ready-for remote work and hit the ground running. For instance, you can set up a Daily Team Tasks board to establish clear responsibilities, whether your work sprints are in terms of days, weeks, or months. Likewise, you can use a built-in template to set up a Quarantine Status board, making it easier to track at-risk employees.
You can try out all these features through monday.com’s free trial or go for a paid plan, which ranges from $39 per month to $79 per month. You can also get enterprise pricing for the platform if you contact the vendor.
One of the best practices for working from home is to keep things simple to minimize distraction. Trello works as a great example of this principle. The platform simplifies collaboration by collecting tasks, projects, and files into one system. This way, team members get all the information they need to work efficiently and be productive.
Through Trello, you can use Kanban boards to organize projects and assign tasks to cards and lists. Drag-and-drop functions allow users to move each card to different lists, so project status is always updated in real-time. Managers can also handle simultaneous projects by setting up multiple boards. Moreover, if you have a large team, you’ll appreciate the solution’s ability to add due dates and checklists to cards.
Trello further simplifies remote work through its intuitive interface. Users can quickly add tasks as cards and label them according to their status. Additionally, Trello’s Butler function brings automation to working from home, scheduling tasks, and assigning cards according to customized rules.
Though the software doesn’t offer a free trial, you can sign up for the Freemium version of the application. You can also choose Trello’s paid pricing plans, which start at $9.99 per month.
Detailed Trello Review
Popular among software development teams, Jira makes project planning and task delegation easier for remote teams. The software easily adapts to Scrum, Kanban, and Scrumban methodologies, so it proves to be an excellent fit for many teams today. The platform is the product of more than 15 years of agile evolution, and regular updates ensure that it keeps up with software development trends.
Aside from Scrum and Kanban boards, teams can also use Jira to create roadmaps. These roadmaps provide a bird’s eye view of your current projects, helping you visualize progress through a timeline. This feature comes in handy for organizing large-scale projects, and it’s particularly useful to managers who want to communicate project details to team members working from home. With its capabilities, this platform can help home workers follow best practices for remote work.
Not only that, but Jira also offers users the ability to create customized workflows. You can set up workflows customized according to your projects. You’ll be able to set statuses and transitions for every item of work as well, improving transparency and accountability among team members. A clearly established workflow can help remote teams work more efficiently.
Like many collaboration software today, Jira offers a free trial and a Freemium version. The application’s paid pricing plans start at $7 per user per month.
Detailed Jira Review
Zoho Sprints works as another great project management system and collaboration software for agile teams. The platform provides a simple yet full-featured interface for planning projects, assigning tasks, and tracking project progress.
The platform offers the flexibility agile teams need to incorporate feedback and changes to tasks and projects. With Zoho Sprints, sprints become easier to handle even for development teams working from home. For instance, the software allows users to personalize their scrum boards with custom statuses, WIP limits, and swimlanes.
Additionally, Zoho Sprints facilitates easier collaboration for remote workers through its Meetings feature. Likewise, integrations with third-party software like G Suite and Microsoft Teams ensure that teams continue to hold sprint activities, such as planning, reviews, and retrospectives.
Zoho Sprints has a Freemium version and a free trial, but you can also opt for the software’s user-based paid plan. The Professional plan costs $10 for the first 12 users per month.
Detailed Zoho Sprints Review
One of the most popular project management software today, Asana helps teams focus on their goals and daily tasks. The software offers plenty of flexibility, so users can plan and view tasks in a way that best works for them. For instance, users get various choices for viewing projects: List, Board, Timeline, Calendar, or Progress.
Asana makes remote work easier, whether you’re a manager or an individual contributor. Managers can quickly create project-based boards and specify deadlines, while users can assign tasks to themselves or teammates. Each task can be easily moved between various statuses, so everyone is always updated on project progress. In-context comment threads and file attachments also help add clarity to tasks, greatly improving collaboration within remote teams.
Detailed Asana Review
Furthermore, additional features such as Workload ensure easier resource utilization. Through Workload, managers can prevent team members from getting overwhelmed without sacrificing projects’ progress. This feature makes Asana a helpful tool to managers looking for effective strategies for keeping remote workers motivated.
You can try out Asana’s features for yourself by signing up for the software’s free trial. The platform is also available at three paid pricing plans, which start at $10.99 per user per month.
With VoIP users projected to reach 3 billion by 2021, the importance of communication to efficient collaboration cannot be underestimated. This rings true, especially for teams working remotely.
What’s great is that teams can now choose from a wide variety of communications software, including applications for instant messaging, video conferencing, and VoIP. All these tools provide workers with a reliable and secure means of exchanging information.
RingCentral Video serves as a fully-featured communications platform for teams of all sizes. The software combines instant messaging, screen-sharing, and video conferencing into one system. Users can also share files within the platform for hassle-free collaboration.
The platform can be a useful solution for large organizations, as it allows users to hold HD video conferences with up to 500 people. You can choose a presenter as a spotlight speaker to keep things organized and minimize disruptions from other meeting attendees. And with add-ons like RingCentral Webinar, you can extend the software’s capabilities to suit your needs.
Of course, users can also use messaging for one-on-one conversations with their colleagues. This way, you can easily share files, set up tasks, and discuss projects. Aside from file-sharing, the software also offers advanced annotation capabilities. Moreover, the software works seamlessly with mobile devices, giving teams more ways to connect and communicate.
The platform offers a Freemium version with a 40-minute limit on group meetings and desktop and app sharing. However, if you want more features, go for one of RingCentral Video’s paid plans, which start at $14.99 per user per month.
Detailed RingCentral Video Review
Designed for sales and support teams, JustCall works just as well for organizations that need a reliable communication tool. The software offers the features of a multiple-location call center software that supports multiple devices. Moreover, this tool lets you select and use a local phone number for up to 58 countries all over the world.
JustCall also provides call forwarding and distribution, so you get more control over the calls you get. Team members can forward incoming calls to other numbers to ensure 24/7 availability. Likewise, you can configure rules to distribute calls across teams or in a sequence. You also have the option to choose dates and times the system will forward business calls to your phone.
Aside from recording details of all incoming and outgoing calls, JustCall offers out-of-the-box integrations with CRM and help desk software such as Pipedrive, Freshdesk, and Hubspot. These integrations ensure that your team can spend less time switching between apps.
You can try out these features first-hand by signing up for JustCall’s free trial. The software is also available at two paid plans, starting at $25 per user per month.
Detailed JustCall Review
One of the best-known communication tools today, Slack, holds the distinction of being the collaboration platform of choice of industry leaders, such as Target, Airbnb, and Oracle. The software aims to replace email by collecting team discussions and personal conversations in one accessible platform.
Slack provides various features to facilitate easier communication within teams. For instance, managers or admins can set up channels for specific teams, clients, or projects and add users to these channels as needed. Aside from instant messaging capabilities, team members can also use voice or video calls and share screens right from the Slack interface.
Detailed Slack Review
Moreover, the software offers enterprise-grade data protection, so you don’t have to worry about security threats. Features like single sign-on, domain claiming, and enterprise mobility management ensure that only the right users and devices can access your company’s data.
Slack currently offers three paid plans, starting at $6.67 per user per month for an unlimited message archive, group calls with screen sharing, guest accounts and shared channels, and unlimited app integrations. You can also contact the vendor for enterprise pricing.
If you and your team do plenty of webinars, virtual meetings, and video conferencing activities in general, Zoom is a great tool for you. For instance, through the software, you can host and broadcast online meetings with up to 100 interactive participants and 10,000 view-only attendees.
And the platform works not only for webinars but also for virtual meetings. Users can record virtual meetings in various formats for documentation and reference purposes. Users can similarly create groups for sharing documents, images, and videos. These files can also be annotated as needed, easing collaboration among team members.
Detailed Zoom Review
The platform also offers an enterprise solution, which syncs with your calendar software. Moreover, it provides enterprise-grade video conferencing for up to 1,000 participants and 49 onscreen videos. Role-based user security and waiting rooms also provide sufficient security for your organization’s meetings.
You can use a Freemium version of Zoom or go for any of its three paid plans. Designed for small teams, the Pro plan starts at $14.99 per month per host and includes features such as user management and admin controls.
Document management tools have proven to be essential tools for team collaboration. With document management software, remote workers get a secure means of storing and tracking electronic documents. The software can be especially useful for teams involved in managing document repositories and retrieving sensitive information.
As a result, of their security features, these systems also provide a safer means of sharing files. Plus, many of these platforms facilitate paperless transactions through e-signatures. Both of these functions are highly useful to remote workers.
Designed as a web-based solution for document management, PandaDoc provides features for creating and sharing documents. The software allows users to create a wide variety of documents, including proposals, quotes, HR, and legal documents like contracts. For added convenience, you’ll also get document templates that you can customize through a drag-and-drop editor.
In particular, PandaDoc may prove to be useful for remote workers who have to handle documents that need signatures. The platform offers built-in support for legally binding e-signature technology, helping teams save time and effort on having documents physically sent to and from signatories.
Additionally, the software allows for easier collaboration. PandaDoc comes with built-in tools for activity logging and commenting. Automated internal workflows and document access codes improve security for documents with sensitive information. Likewise, the platform offers features for managing user roles, ensuring easy file sharing without compromising data security.
You can use a free version of PandaDoc as long as you’d like, but you’ll get more features with the software’s paid plans. The platform’s Business plan for small teams starts at $49 per month per user.
Detailed PandaDoc Review
Dropbox Business is Dropbox’s enterprise solution for file sharing and secure storage. Through the platform, users can create links to a wide variety of files in storage, including photos, videos, zipped folders, and large files. You can even share files as large as your cloud storage space quota. This makes the software a useful tool for creative teams.
Furthermore, Dropbox Business improves security by providing password protection for links and sending you alerts of file changes. You can set up shared folders that provide user-based access to files relevant to projects. Likewise, you can create groups to easily allow multiple users to access these shared folders. An Admin dashboard also allows managers to monitor team activity and audit file-sharing activities.
Detailed Dropbox Review
In addition to file sharing and security, Dropbox Business provides robust cloud storage for files. You can easily create backups of files you’ve stored on your account and sync files across devices. Plus, to go with the industry’s best practices for secure file storage, the platform offers a remote wipe function in cases of missing devices.
To suit businesses’ varying needs, Dropbox Business offers various paid plans, which starts at $12.50 per user per month for 5 TB of storage and tools for storage and collaboration.
One of the most popular cloud storage systems, Google Drive, provides ample storage for a wide variety of files. The software’s enterprise solution–Google Drive Enterprise–likewise serves a secure cloud-based platform for sharing and storing files.
Drive Enterprise supports over 100 file types, making this storage solution ideal for various projects. The software’s collaboration features also allow users to track versions and request approvals right from the Drive interface. Additionally, you can easily find, share, and edit files on different devices through Drive File Stream.
Detailed Google Drive Review
Notably, one of Drive Enterprise’s more important features is its ability to speed up file access. The software uses artificial intelligence to find the most relevant content in your Drive. This way, you can spend up to 50% less time searching for the files you need. Likewise, Google AI powers Drive Enterprise in creating recommended workspaces featuring the documents most often accessed and edited.
You can try out Google Drive Enterprise for free. The software’s paid pricing plans, however, start at $8 per active user per month. You can also get more storage space for $1 per 25 GB.
eFileCabinet offers powerful features for document management and file sharing. The software allows for fast file uploading and streamlines data migration to reduce the risk of human error. Moreover, the platform provides flexible deployment options, so you get to choose between cloud or on-premise deployment.
The software makes it easier for organizing and accessing files. For instance, Rubex by eFile Cabinet can automatically recognize, organize, and name files by scanning the information in the files themselves. The platform also enables smart, secure sharing directly from its interface. You can set permissions for the recipient, specify expiration dates for files and folders, and receive notifications for file changes.
Detailed eFileCabinet Review
Additionally, using the platform, you can send secure signature requests whenever needed. You can configure software settings so these signed documents get a separate audit trail. These features make the platform a safe, standards-compliant way of handling electronically signed documents.
eFileCabinet is available in four paid plans, starting at $15 per user per month for 25 GB of storage, secure file sharing, and unlimited guest users.
Used by more than 50,000 companies all over the world, Box enables secure file sharing and easy collaboration. The platform also provides various benefits, including a simplified workflow, seamless out-of-the-box integrations, and syncing across multiple devices.
One of the most important features of Box is its ability to provide advanced security. For instance, you can protect your files with Box’s built-in security controls, which include granular permissions, strong user authentication, and AES 256-but encryption. Likewise, simplified features for governance and compliance ensure that you meet even the strictest security standards and privacy requirements.
Detailed Box Review
Additionally, the platform makes user management as easy as possible. The software comes with an Admin Console that gives you access to a wide variety of features. These include capabilities for adding or removing users, managing members’ files, and running account-wide reports on user statistics and user audits.
While Box offers a free trial, you can also sign up for any of the platform’s paid plans, which start at $5.51 per user per month. Similarly, you can contact the vendor for enterprise pricing.
Keeping track of your team members’ working hours becomes a challenge when they’re working from home. Time tracking software can help with this, generating reports on the exact times remote workers clock in and out. The software also tracks the time users spend on individual tasks, a feature that helps you determine how team members manage their time.
If you need software with more capabilities that track how employees spend their time while on the clock, you need employee monitoring software. These tools typically track software usage, active and idle computer time, and internet browsing activities. These features come in handy for spotting potential problems in productivity.
When I Work does double duty as a time tracking software and an employee scheduling tool. Once the application is set up on a device, employees can use it to clock in for work and clock out at the end of the day. This app can also be configured to track locations from where your team members are clocking in.
Moreover, the software saves hours worked every week and arranges the data into timesheets. For convenient tracking, these timesheets reflect attendance issues, such as absences and tardiness. When I Work also integrates with payroll software like QuickBooks and OnPay. This minimizes the risk of human error in handling data from timesheets.
When I Work also lets managers set up task lists that can be assigned to specific teams or employees. You get the ability to add task lists to certain shifts, as well, so employees will see the list when they clock in for their shift. Managers can monitor these tasks from the software’s dashboard or mobile devices. This way, you can be sure your team members are working when they’re on the clock.
You can sign up for a free trial of When I Work, but you also have the option to sign up for any of the software’s three paid plans. The platform’s Basic plan starts at $1.50 per user, with an additional $2 per user per month for the Time Clock and Attendance add-on.
Detailed When I Work Review
BigTime works as a fully integrated time tracking software that’s designed to make billing and project management easier. Aside from time tracking, the software offers robust features for expense tracking and reporting. All these capabilities help managers ensure that team members properly utilize their time and resources when they’re on the clock.
The application makes it easier for users to track billable hours through its intuitive user interface. The timer also has a one-tap feature so users can quickly start it up when they start work. Plus, the timer works offline, automatically syncing with the user’s BigTime cloud account when they go online. Daily or weekly views of these timesheets are available, and managers can control user access levels to ensure security.
Also, the platform comes with the ability to customize reports and analytics. You can quickly see pending tasks per project and team member and view task completion by percentage. Like with timesheets, you can restrict access to these reports as well. Reports like these also help you ensure that your team is as productive as possible.
BigTime comes with a free trial, along with three paid plans. These plans start at $10 per user per month and include time tracking, integrations, and a custom report wizard.
Detailed BigTime Review
Kickidler offers a full suite of computer monitoring capabilities. The platform’s features include time tracking, live desktop monitoring, activity recording, and granular control over user permissions. The software also offers unlimited technical support, making onboarding and issue resolution faster. This means users can focus on getting work done.
As a time tracking software, Kickidler helps managers track hours spent on actual work versus time spent on personal matters. You can also configure settings on which actions are considered productive or relevant for each user or user group. The application then collects information on how much time users spend on different programs and websites.
Likewise, Kickidler offers various monitoring capabilities. Aside from histograms of risky actions and violations per employee, the software also lets managers view live video records of employee activities. This screen capture capability can filter videos by websites and apps to make it easier for you to spot misbehavior.
Aside from a free trial, Kickidler licenses are also available at various price points. You can get a monthly license for $9.99 per month, for instance. This license gives you full control over one computer.
Detailed Kickidler Review
Time Doctor works as an easy-to-use tool for tracking time and monitoring the activities of remote workers. Employers can choose to have their employees use one of two timers from Time Doctor: silent or interactive.
The silent app tracks time whenever it’s activated; users won’t be able to see the app because it works completely in the background. On the other hand, Time Doctor’s interactive timer has an interface for switching the timer on and off. The interactive version is more suited to remote workers who use their personal computers for their tasks.
Detailed Time Doctor Review
More than these timers, Time Doctor comes with capabilities for monitoring employee activities. You can configure intervals at which the application captures screenshots of users’ monitors. Mouse and keyboard activity indicators also provide a more accurate picture of how your employees spend their work hours. Furthermore, time use alerts and reminders help users stay on track and productive.
Time Doctor offers just one pricing plan, which starts at $9.99 per user per month. You also have the option to sign up for the software’s free trial.
With the COVID-19 pandemic looming over society, it’s not unusual for employees to experience more stress than usual. This puts the onus on managers to find more ways to keep their teams engaged and boost employee morale. After all, engaged employees are more likely to be productive.
One way to do this is to use gamification software. These applications allow managers to set up incentive programs and reward productivity.
Xoxoday Plum provides an easy way for managers to build an incentive scheme and distribute rewards. It takes less than an hour to set up a campaign on the platform, which lets you create a white-labeled e-storefront and catalog. You also get full control over reward distribution modes and reward messaging. Employees can claim rewards themselves through the redemption portal.
Moreover, the software offers specific features for employee rewards programs. You can define and control rewards budgets for specific teams and departments. You can also choose from a vast catalog of rewards, including hotel stays, experiences, gift vouchers, and discounts. Use these rewards to build catalogs that will motivate your team. These rewards can be personalized according to milestones to improve engagement.
Detailed Xoxoday Plum Review
Furthermore, Xoxoday Plum comes with an easy-to-use interface. Whether setting up an incentive scheme or claiming a reward, users can easily get the job done. For easier tracking of employee incentive programs, the platform also integrates with various third-party software like Salesforce, Zendesk, and Freshdesk.
Xoxoday Plum is available in two paid plans, one with enterprise pricing. The platform’s SMB plan costs $5000 per year for a full suite of distribution features and personalization capabilities.
Formerly known as GamEffective, Centrical uses gamification to help managers empower teams and individual employees. Through this platform, you can ensure business continuity even in times of crisis and improve overall business agility.
Through the platform, you can identify specific KPIs and skills and set benchmarks. This way, you can compare these goals to actual employee performance. By engaging in microlearning activities, such as quizzes, missions, simulations, employees can earn redeemable coins, collect badges, and level up. Alternating challenges, raffles, mini-games, and TV bulletins prevent the experience from getting boring.
Detailed Centrical Review
Moreover, Centrical comes with various capabilities to keep your team members motivated. Intrinsic and extrinsic rewards keep absenteeism and demotivation at bay, while social boards and team challenges foster a feeling of connection among teams and to the organization.
You can contact the vendor for more information on enterprise pricing for licenses.
As we’ve said before, remote work is hardly a new concept. For many employees, though, doing full-time remote work could feel like charting new territory. Whether you’re an individual contributor or a manager in charge of a team, you’ll run into some obstacles that affect the way you work.
Fortunately, you’ll have various tools and software at your disposal to ease some of the burdens of remote work. Through these applications, you can be more prepared to join the growing segment of virtual workers.
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