With tools aimed at helping you achieve better collaboration, productivity, and communication, there is something on this list for even the most dispersed remote teams.
When you consider that the concept of “in the cloud” was fairly unknown just 10 years ago, it’s pretty impressive to see what some of the best tools for remote teams can accomplish today. Video communication can now happen across any device, coworkers can collaborate on code or text regardless of time zones, and managers can set up, track, and assign project tasks to fully distributed teams.
What a time to be alive, am I right?
While there is no shortage of impressive technology out there, this post is going to focus on some of the best tools for remote teams, many of which have helped move the idea of remote work from pipedream to undeniable reality.
As a remote team, we at Visiple use many of these tools ourselves and can say that it has never been easier to accomplish tasks, coordinate with different parties, and stay productive without having to worry about locations.
This post is the first of a series we are doing on tools designed to help remote teams. To read about some of the tools in more detail you can check out 6 Collaboration Tools for Remote Content Writers and 5 Tools to Help Keep Track of and Manage Remote Teams!
Want to skip ahead?
Communication Tools for Remote Teams
Visiple is an emerging video conferencing platform that allows click-to-join meetings with HD video and audio. With incredibly quick signup and scheduling, they make it possible to host or join a meeting in minutes.
Hipchat is a chat provider with a ton of features. Teams are able to set up their own chat rooms, share images and files, and even integrate with many of the other best tools for remote teams to make it easy to get the information you need. Furthermore, its ability to work on almost every device ensures you never miss a message again.
Grasshopper is a virtual phone system that lets businesses receive company phone calls on their personal devices. Users are able to forward their local or toll free numbers, including extensions, to relevant parties so that you can take a business call anywhere. Grasshopper is also a great way to save on infrastructure costs of traditional phone systems.
On its face, Discourse is software designed to improve the functionality of a forum with continuous scrolling and expanding topics to ensure you don’t lose your place. However, teams have started to use Discourse as an internal communication tool due to its notifications and ability to easily track views and responses.
Campfire is a chat platform designed specifically for groups. It integrates seamlessly with Basecamp and allows users to share images within the chat and join conference calls with a click. You also have the ability to invite guests like clients and vendors to chat within private and password-protected rooms.
As one of the most successful video conferencing platforms around, Skype really needs no introduction. It allows user to connect via phone or VOIP with full chat functionality and file sharing.
Slack is an incredibly feature-rich chat platform designed for teams. It allows teams to communicate through custom and private channels while also allowing for direct messages between users. Files can be dragged and dropped in chats and there is an almost endless sea of integrations in the form of Slack Bots that allow Slack to work with tons of other tools.
Calliflower creates a modern approach to traditional conference calls by allowing managers to send out invites and manage active calls from a single dashboard. Users can call in though geographically-unique numbers or join through Skype or Google Hangouts.
P2 is a blog theme created by the makers of Wordpress, Automattic. It usually serves as an internal meeting place for remote teams and allows users to easily post updates and respond with inline comments. Think of it as a virtual bulletin board.
Join.me is a video conferencing platform that prides itself on collaboration. Not only are users able to connect through video, they can also share screens and collaborate via an electronic whiteboard.
Collaboration & Productivity Tools for Remote Teams
I almost put Screenhero under development and design because it is such an awesome tool for coding. It allows users to share their screen while maintaining their respective cursors and offers built-in voice chat functionality. Anyone looking to troubleshooting issues, get feedback, or train new hires would benefit from giving Screenhero a try.
Unless you just got online this past week, there is a good chance you’ve already heard of Dropbox. They are one of the definitive leaders in file sharing and make it super easy to share images, documents, movies, etc with anyone on almost any device. As a Mac user, I especially love the seamless integration into my desktop and finder.
Todoist is a task management tool that lets you organize everything from grocery lists to website changes. I use Todoist every day and it is one of my favorite tools for remote teams because not only am I able to break things up by project, add notes, and attach files, but I can also assign specific users to handle different tasks.
14. Pivotal Tracker
Pivotal Tracker is a project management tool designed to help manage and simplify a team’s workflow. It allows users to break down projects into smaller stories and tasks and move them through designated channels until they are completed.
aText is a Mac-only tool that lets writers speed up their pace by using abbreviations that are then changed into full text. Think of it as keyboard shortcuts for your writing.
Basecamp is a notoriously easy-to-use and intuitive project management tool. It combines a few tools like a message board, calendar, and file management system to help teams organize tasks and projects. Items get checked off as opposed to moved through channels to signify that they are ready to go live.
17. Google Drive
Drive is an immensely popular tool from Google that provides anyone with a Google account 15gb of cloud storage for almost any type of file. Users are able to share these files with varying permissions (view, edit, etc) by adding accounts or sending out shared links. In addition, Drive allows multiple users to work on the same file (even offline) at the same time without overwriting their respective progress.
Hackpad is a collaborative writing platform that allows users to take, edit, and comment on notes in a central location, or pad. The ability to embed media, add tags, or restore old versions makes it easy to set up project milestones and track progress.
Asana is a tool that combines task lists, project management, and communication into one dashboard. Teams are able to get alerts, monitor deadlines, and view tasks that are relevant to them and their project.
Draft is an amazing tool for writers that allows them to edit and collaborate on content without undoing another’s work. Proposed edits are highlighted and users must accept them before they take effect, thereby saving any potential confusion over who edited what and why. Draft integrates with popular platforms like Wordpress and Ghost and allows you to publish to your respective accounts with a single click.
Trello is a beautifully designed workflow tool that allows teams to collaborate on almost any type of project. Boards can be set up by team or task and allow cards to be move through different channels, or steps, on their journey to completion. Trello cards can easily be assigned, edited, and added to in order to clarify tasks or remind users of a deadline.
Management & Administrative Tools for Remote Teams
15Five is an employee engagement tool that makes it easy for managers to track status updates, celebrate accomplishments, and measure overall morale for a company or team. It combines checkins, surveys, and questions designed to measure how a team is functioning and can even identify trends over time.
23. World Time Buddy
World Time Buddy is a free tool that lets users convert and track times from different locations. It’s great for scheduling meetings with remote teams or even just checking to see if a colleague should be awake or not.
HelloSign helps alleviate one of the most frustrating elements about working remote - the need to sign documents that are legally binding. Their tool makes it easy to upload and circulate documents in need of signatures and allows signees to add their John Hancock electronically, even right from Gmail.
25. I Done This
I Done This is a simple tool that lets team members check in daily and list what they have accomplished or their goals for that day. Lists are broken out into goals, done, or blocked and help form easy to digest reports on how your team is doing.
Groove combines all the major components of customer service into one tool and makes it easy to navigate for each respective team. Users are able to manage customer emails, submitted tickets, help documents, and support widgets from one dashboard, making it easier than ever to keep your customers happy.
Looker is an analytics and data modeling tool that makes it easy to digest and understand your company’s information. Looker easily works with your SQL database and allows you to define metrics in order to view what’s important to you.
28. Small Improvements
Small Improvements makes it easier than ever for managers to collect feedback and oversee performance reviews. Employees can use the tool to set and manage objectives, submit feedback or praise, or participate in a their annual review.
Zapier is like the missing link between two different tools - it helps apps play nicely so can you share information and interact with programs that don’t normally work together. Zapier currently works with over 500 apps and can be a huge help in automating workflow.
Jell is a virtual take on the stand up or daily meeting. It let’s each user start the day by answering what they did yesterday, what they want to do today, and what challenges they face. These answers are submitted publicly to other team members in an effort to improve performance and productivity.
Clocks is a Mac-only tool that allows you track the times of different cities from your desktop. Clocks puts an icon in your menu bar that enables you to see the cities and time zones of your employees or clients with one click. As someone who often has to coordinate and meet with people in different time zones, I've gotten a lot of value out of Clocks and consider it one of the best tools for remote teams.
Worklife aims to save teams time by optimizing their meetings. The tool lets the organizer choose from meeting templates, set the agenda and add tasks before distributing everything to their team. Meeting participants can add notes and then publish the results in places like Slack and Evernote.
33. Kin HR
Kin is a comprehensive human resources tool designed to consolidate almost every aspect of managing new employees under one roof. Administrators can manage onboarding, store employee files, and solicit reviews electronically to help get new hires up and running.
34. Google Calendar
Google Calendar does just what you think it does, only better. It let’s you share, sync, and manage your calendar from anywhere and on any device while also letting you see the schedules of your team members (assuming they gave you access).
35. Jazz (formerly The Resumator)
Whereas Kin lets you manage employees once they start, Jazz is responsible for making the hiring process as painless as possible. It helps you manage job postings, schedule and execute interviews, and draft offer letters. Even more impressive, it allows you to track and model data like where your best hires come from, skills and traits, and compliance adherence.
YouCanBookMe is a tool that allows people to book meetings with you online. All you have to do is fill out your desired schedule, embed the tool onto your site, and any bookings get synced directly to your Google or iCloud calendar.
37. SalesforceIQ (formerly RelateIQ)
SalesforceIQ is a lead management tool that integrates with your email to bring all your leads, contacts, and communications under one virtual roof. Team mates can easily support and collaborate with one another by tracking potential deals, monitoring the sales funnel, and setting up reminders to follow up with leads.
Development & Design Tools for Remote Teams
Github is one of the premier project collaboration tools for developers and programmers. It allows teams to work on projects simultaneously while still maintaining the ability to approve edits and changes. One of the main advantages of Github is its transparency that allows anyone with permission to see code in full, as well as a history of edits and who made them.
LICEcap is a tool that makes it super easy to make GIF recordings of your desktop or programs. Simply adjust the frame over the area you want to record and use it to document bugs, functions, or anything else you want to save.
JIRA is a software development tool designed for agile teams. It allows users to plan, track, and release software with the help of Scrum and Kanban boards while also offering comprehensive reporting options.
Invision is to designing what Github is to developing. It allows users to create prototypes of designs and UX workflows, test them, and solicit feedback. Comments are left directly in the tool and allow designers to make changes and iterate quickly.
Skitch is a feature-rich annotation tool for Mac users. It allows you to add writing, shapes, and arrows to images and PDFs and then share them across your team for feedback or comments.
Canva is a super-simple drag and drop design tool that makes creating images and designs simple. Users can upload pictures and then overlay shapes, designs, and frames before downloading or saving the final result.
Recordit is a GIF recorder that works on both Mac and Windows computers. Users can frame an area they want to record and create a GIF instantly.
Miscellaneous Tools for Remote Teams
Coffitivity is a unique tool that plays cafe sounds to help boost your productivity. That way, even if you are working from home or a coworking space, you can feel like there is a barista staring over your shoulder.
Tripit let’s you consolidate all of your travel plans into one app. Simply import your confirmation emails or add the details manually and you’re then able to access the full itinerary from anywhere or share with your team.
Freeletics offers unique and customizable workout plans for people on the go. No weights are required and you can follow along and track your progress with their app.
Workfrom is a searchable database for cafes, coworking spots, and anywhere else that’s conducive to working remote. Search by location and filter the results based on your requirements to find the perfect place to get some work done in a new city.
49. Buffered VPN
Buffered VPN allows you to mask your internet traffic and change from where it originates. This can help you connect to your company's intranet, get around firewalls, or even just access Netflix while traveling or working abroad.
F.lux is designed for those of us who work late into the night. With the help of predetermined settings, it will adjust the brightness of your Mac to help preserve your eyesight when working late.
So there you have it - 50 of the best tools for remote teams and everything you'd need to manage, communicate, and collaborate with your coworkers. If we didn't include your favorite tool please let us know in the comments!