What are the most useful tools for a remote working team? We cover the tools we use at VirtualPostMail as well as tools other remote teams will find useful to keep the lines of communication open, manage projects, and effectively work from different areas. Let's get started.
Tools for Communication
Effective remote teams must communicate well. Actually over-communicating is a recommendation! Colleagues need to stay in touch so they can collaborate and discuss on a daily basis.
The Google Suite
Most people are familiar with the Google platform; however GSuite is less well-known. This collaborating tool utilizes Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, Google Drive, and manages assets in Google Drive. It lets you create a team calendar, chat, and write work emails. This is a good choice of platform as it allows multiple applications and full transparency for teams under one platform.
Gmail is one of the most popular email services available and it’s a free product. You can easily sort and categorize messages, set up reminders, and if you forgot or someone else to reply to an email a follow up request will show up at the top of your inbox.
Google Docs is a handy tool for creating documents to be stored in the cloud. The documents are shareable, has easy control access, and allows view-only or editing rights which enables multiple users to collaborate on one document. Additional features include spell check, translator and word count.
Google Sheets is Google’s version of Excel. You’ll be able to share and edit your data with team members as well as integrate charts cohesively with the other Google apps. This includes Google Forms, Google Analytics and Google Data Studio.
Google Slides is a way you can craft presentations in collaboration with others, with similar features to PowerPoint.
Google Calendar enables you to keep track of events and deadlines. It helps you with time-management and scheduling through color coding and other features. You can easily share your calendar with your teammates or employees or create a shared calendar.
Microsoft Outlook is a popular global email tool, which works seamlessly with other Microsoft product features such as a calendar, task manager, contact manager, note-taking, journal, and web browsing.
Microsoft Excel is a very familiar spreadsheet tool, renowned for its powerful data visualization and analysis. It can be used online as part of an Office 365 subscription, which many teams use to collaborate.
Microsoft Word is an excellent writing tool with multiple editing, proofreading, and referencing features.
Microsoft PowerPoint is a presentation software for meetings, industry talks, business proposals, as well as useful for both complex and simple presentations.
Project and Software Management
It is confusing and difficult to manage a project via email or verbal interactions, which is why the best online businesses use project management software. Here are our recommendations to keep you on track.
Asana enables organizations, remote teams, and distributed teams to stay focused on goals, projects, and tasks. Users can organize big and small projects, create tasks, delegate, as well as start chats for each task to allow for better access and administration of teams. You can add attachments from asset management platforms such as Google Drive or Dropbox and your computer as well as using its calendar, personal task list, and project dashboards.
Basecamp is a tool for resource planning and long-term scheduling and helps teams synchronize and reach their goals in a timely manner.
Monday enables teams to manage processes, workflows, and projects in one place. It syncs all information in a single, accessible hub, and empowers team members to make important decisions together.
GitHub was created especially for web developers to build and design software. It allows your team to review code and projects virtually, and provides hosting for software development.
Jira is a project management tool specifically for software development, which allows you to plan, track, and manage your agile and software development projects. It also enables collaboration and workflow customization.
People are increasingly working from home so virtual meetings have become a daily necessity and there are many options. Virtual meetings give you the best ability to excitingly hear and see your fellow employees, coworkers, and friends in any capacity. This is how you can keep building those relationships below.
Zoom is a remote conferencing service that combines video conferencing, online meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration among teams. It is simple to use and attendees do not need an account. It also has recording capabilities. One person sets up the Zoom account, and the others simply click the link sent by the organizer. They can then connect via mobile, laptop or even phone dial-in, for both national and international meetings.
The free version limits meetings to 40 minutes, but there’s no time limit with the paid version.
GoToMeeting is used for online meetings, desktop sharing, and video conferencing and enables users to meet with others via the internet in real-time. It can be used with a PC, Mac, iOS or Android. It is simple to navigate and set up meetings.
Google Hangouts would be your natural choice for video conferencing if you’re already using the Google suite. Use Google Hangouts to meet for video calls, direct messages, group and casual conversations.
Join.me works from your browser requiring no downloads, apps or plugins. It gives you the option of having a virtual whiteboard which is great for brainstorming and taking meeting notes. You can also effortlessly attach your agenda, share screens, tape recordings, and swap presenters.
Skype is an older video conferencing option, but has stayed current with the latest video calling features and provides video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices, the Xbox One console, and smartwatches. Skype services also include instant messaging and users may transmit text, video, audio, and images.
UberConference is cloud-based and offers chat tools as well. It doesn’t require PINs to access meetings.
Casual Conversations with Colleagues
Working remotely means the casual “water-cooler”chat is a thing of the past, but these organic interactions can be useful for collaboration and creativity. Use these remote solutions to share jokes, random questions, or the best memes. Also, if something inspires you, private message the individual/s and get those gears going together.
Slack is one of the most popular messaging tools for remote workers. It creates a chat room for your company and is designed to compliment email for simple questions or checks. The digital space allows you to organize communications by channels for group discussions as well as send private messages. You can share information, files, and more.
If you use Microsoft Office products, Microsoft Teams comes with your Microsoft Office 365 subscription, and enables you to call or video chat with your colleagues. You can send direct messages to other users and share your work from the 365 range of apps, like Word and Excel.
Storing files for online businesses can be difficult. Generally, most of your team require access and sharing capabilities, both from a mobile device and computer. We recommend these asset management tools.
Google Drive uses cloud storage to make your files easily accessible and shareable. It allows online businesses to share calendars, analytics, slideshows, documents, and spreadsheets. You can also upload other types of files such as images and videos and they are accessible from any device, including mobile, tablets and laptops.
Dropbox is a popular cloud storage service that offers a place to store and send documents providing you do not need too much storage space. If you want more the the free storage space, which is comparatively less than Google Drive's free storage space you must pay.
Managing Team Schedules and Payroll
If you have employees using these tools for tracking employee schedules and pay are essential. This is part of our toolbox and promise it'll make you and your employee's life easier.
Tsheets’ timesheets can be accessed from a web browser or mobile device. Employees use the clocking-in method to account for their time.
Gusto is very reasonably priced payroll software that is very popular with small businesses. It gives you a range of payroll, benefits, and other human resources tools.
Analytics and Data Visualization Tools
Tracking your data is a critical part of understanding and expanding your business operations. We depend on Google Analytics to review tests, content strategies, website traffic, and campaigns plus more!
Google Analytics is a good tool to help understand your customers. It enables you to track and measure your website traffic, advertising, video, social networking sites, campaigns, and goals.
Google Data Studio turns your data into fully customizable reports and dashboards that are easy to read and share. You can easily report on data from a wide variety of sources, without programming. You can also connect to data sets such as: Google Marketing Platform products, Google Ads, Google Analytics, Display & Video 360, and Search Ads 360.
OpenPhone is a Voice over IP (VoIP) provider. It lets you seamlessly get a business phone number without a second phone or a second SIM card. You get a local number, a toll-free number or you can port an existing phone number. It works on phones, tablets, and desktop (any device with internet connection).
Benefits of OpenPhone include:
- Call Forwarding: Direct callers to the right people in your company using menus, extensions or shared numbers.
- Call Recording: Record business calls to help with training or interviews.
- Automate Call Routing: easily automate the process for your customers by connecting them instantly to the department they need to reach.
- Auto Replies: Automatically respond to texts, missed calls or voicemail after hours with a pre-defined message.
- Business hours settings.
- Slack integration.
Managing Mail Remotely
A virtual mailbox is very useful when you are no longer working from the physical office. It is a service that collects your postal mail and gives you virtual access to it anywhere and from any device. So if you've never thought of a managing your mail remotely here is what you need to know.
VirtualPostMail provides a permanent street address that is not a PO Box. All locations are a real street address that can be used for registering an LLC or corporation.
A huge advantage at VirtualPostMail is that all locations are a mail processing center that is owned and operated by them. This means all mail and packages are directly delivered from the courier straight into the hands of an experienced and certified staff member.
Furthermore, the mail never gets touched or goes through another point of contact during the last leg of delivery. There is no third party or middleman like a UPS Store, mom & pop mailbox rental store, or a virtual office, all of which increases the risk of mail loss and delayed delivery times.
Another advantage is each mail piece is processed at the location for the fastest turnaround time. On average, your mail is available to you the same day it is received because they don’t forward it to a central processing facility, which can tack on an extra week to have your new mail show up in your virtual mailbox. Faster availability means more time for you to take action on time-sensitive mail, especially critical legal and government documents.
VirtualPostMail also offers the following benefits:
- Free registered agent services
- Mail contents viewable online and downloadable as a PDF file
- Mail forwarding and package forwarding
- Unlimited cloud storage
- Check depositing
- 60 days free storage of physical items
- 1 business day request processing
Earth Class Mail is a more expensive option because it is geared toward enterprises.
They upload your mail to cloud storage platforms like Google Drive, Box or Dropbox, where you can access it. You can also get any checks added into your accounting software such as QuickBooks Online or Xero. They use third-party companies to collect, sort and forward your mail.
TravelingMailbox is a virtual mailbox service for managing your mail online. By purchasing an address, your mail or packages can be forwarded. TravelingMailbox will then use providers like UPS to collect mail from your chosen location. They use third party partners to collect, sort and forward your mail.
Anytime Mailbox is a software service only. They offer the software to smaller third-party companies to perform the work.
They use independent third parties with the ability to offer virtual mailbox services, so each location chooses its pricing and which services they provide. You need to research the plan for your specific area to find out how much it costs and if it offers the services you require.
IPostal1 offers core services like mail scanning, mail forwarding, and checking deposits. Only 2 GB of free cloud storage is offered for scanned incoming envelopes and packages; more space requires a fee.
You can manage your mail online or with the mobile app, which means you can access your mail information from anywhere. It will receive mail from UPS, USPS FedEx on your behalf.
PostScanMail will receive mail and you can choose to forward, store, scan or destroy it.
It doesn’t offer any service for depositing checks and only one option is available for a permanent street address located in Anaheim, California. The rest are PO boxes, which are generally not useful for registering your LLC or corporation.
I'm Ready To Ditch The Traditional Way and Get a Virtual Mailbox
A virtual mailbox is essential to manage your mail remotely. Many small businesses and start-ups are run by the owners from home. However, using the home address means sharing your personal and private information, whereas obtaining a virtual mailbox service is a secure and professional option.
Redirect your mail to a virtual mailbox and be able to access it online from anywhere. Choose one that comes with a street address to register your business and collect business documents.