17 Best Tools to Manage Remote Employees | Latest 2021 Guide

By Farhan Kazme


Remote work has become increasingly more common throughout a multitude of different industries. Working a remote job offers flexibility and allows one to travel whilst not having to use their off days. Although remote jobs offer certain freedoms, some employees do find sorting through the technicalities to be a bit difficult. Managers must still be able to lead and direct their remote teams effectively and efficiently and choosing the right tools to manage remote employees can simplify these tasks immensely.

Therefore, managing remote employees isn’t as simple as walking into their office and speaking with them face to face. Better yet, scheduling a team meeting may also seem to be intimidating when done from the comfort of your home. However, neither of these actions has to be difficult whatsoever. With the usage of online tools and applications, managers can better assist and monitor the work done by their employees.

The following tools to manage remote employees include applications that help in managing employees’ time, monitoring progress, communication, and much more. When managing a remote team, managers should seek to establish an open line of communication along with clear instructions and the efficient tracking of work assignments to ensure that all projects are successfully completed on time. Most of the tools listed below are completely free with the exception of a few that are great investments if you want to manage your remote employees.

Organizational Needs

Organizational skills are critical for the proficiency of any remote team. A lack of organization not only creates an atmosphere of confusion but it also contributes to poor time management. Imagine not being able to find a very important file or work assignment because your digital workspace is full of clutter or the file you’re trying to access is simply misplaced. In this case, clutter and disorganization could be having too many tabs open, unspecified files on your desktop, etc. All work should be easy to retrieve and share. The following apps make file management and sharing a whole lot easier:

1. Dropbox

With Dropbox, team content can be centralized and made accessible to all employees very easily. Files and documents can be downloaded to your desktop and/or shared effortlessly with the team. Files shared through Dropbox include Microsoft documents, Powerpoint presentations, Trello boards, and so much more. Each teammate can input their own content into a centralized folder for the rest of the team to see.

This centralized folder accepts files from a variety of different sources which means that individuals don’t have to transition from application to application in order to access important files. Dropbox can be used through your computer and/or mobile device from any web browser. So, not only does Dropbox allow you to see files from different platforms, but it also allows you to collaborate with your team anywhere at any time.

2. Google Drive

Google Drive is much like Dropbox and can be used in conjunction with GoogleDocs. GoogleDocs offers presentation layouts as well as a standard word document. With Google Drive, team members have access to shared documents and can be given permission to edit the word documents as well as presentations.

Videos, spreadsheets, word documents, presentations, and more can all be shared through Google Drive and made exclusive to certain team members. Employees can leave notes on the documents if not permitted to change any element of the original document. This is a great way to get feedback from your remote team as everyone can leave their notes on a particular part of any document or presentation.

Employee Incentives

Managers need to keep their remote employees engaged in their work. Creating a reward system helps boost employee morale and helps remote workers to focus on their objectives.

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Managers may want to go above and beyond for employees who show a consistent and committed work ethic. These apps are great tools to use when providing incentives for your employees’ great work:

3. GiveAWow

TerryBerry’s GiveAWow application enables you to recognize your remote employees for their outstanding work. The way GiveAWow works, is through a public bulletin where appreciation can be shown to individual employees for their job well done. If an employer would like to praise group of people, the app has feature to recognize the team effort as well.

These praises can be shared on several platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and more. Employees can also be able to earn credit towards Billboard digital music downloads. Also, if you upgrade your account to WOW Pro, you’ll have access to more rewards for your team when they meet important milestones. These rewards can also be given on anniversaries if you have team members who’ve been a part of the business for some time.

4. WooBoard

WooBoard is another reward application you can use to praise your remote employees. Much like GiveAWow, employees can earn credit for their consistent work. With WooBoard, employees gain points that can be redeemed for gift cards. WooBoard’s gamification makes work seem less like work and more fun. When work is fun, employees can focus longer on completing their tasks. Not only does WooBoard allow you to reward your team but it also increases worker productivity.

5. Achievers

Achievers offer a variety of gifts that don’t just include gift cards but an assortment of products. Achievers is a platform that also includes features that allow you to give public recognition to your team’s contributions, reach employees anywhere at any time, quantify your results, benchmark progress, and much more. These features make Achievers an all-around innovative application. Achievers truly prioritize the comfort and appraisal of their employees because Achievers understands the importance of recognizing a person for their work ethic. Employees also have the opportunity to be ‘top recognized’ each month.

6. Awesome Boss

Awesome Boss sends you reminders of employees’ anniversaries, birthdays, or general holidays. With these notifications, Awesome Boss gives you the option to send gifts to your employees. Some gifts you can send using Awesome Boss include flowers, a gift basket, Amazon gift cards, chocolate, Starbucks gift cards, and more.

This tool is a bit different from both Achievers and WooBoard. Instead of employees having to wait to build credit or redeem points, Awesome Boss allows managers to send gifts immediately to their employees. Awesome Boss helps you to remember the more “personable” traits of your employees. For example, Awesome Boss allows you to make notes of your employees’ favorite snacks, colors, drinks, and more. This way your employees feel extra appreciated.

Tracking Progress

Mangers can still find themselves remotely micromanaging their employees. Of course, a manager won’t be hovering directly over their employees’ shoulders to ensure that they are always doing their jobs. However, managers who micromanage may conduct constant check-ins with their team at a high rate.

charts and graphs on the paper with pencil and keyboard
Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd.

This can make it hard for employees to focus when they receive tons of emails and calls from their manager for an updated status of a project or work assignment. Managers can keep track of what their workers are doing by utilizing apps that track the progression of a task to its completion. Tracking progress and focusing on milestones allow remote teams to meet their weekly and monthly goals whilst also giving managers the peace of mind in knowing that their team is keeping to the timeline.

7. Apollo

Apollo is a project and contact management software that is very reliable. It makes the organization of tasks incredibly easy and comprehensive for all remote employees. This software allows you to break large projects down into smaller tasks. Or, if you’d like, you can break smaller tasks down into even smaller and more specific sub-tasks. You can set deadlines for small tasks and large projects as well as assign multiple people to be responsible for completing certain work assignments. This feature is great for employees to ensure that they do not become overwhelmed. It also increases the likelihood that the project will still be completed by the deadline in case one assigned employee can’t get to it in time.

With Apollo, you can order each task based on its level of priority so that the importance of each task is visible at first glance. Each team will be able to log into the software and input the amount of time they have spent working on a task and mark it off as complete. And, there’s really no need to peer at your computer screen to see if a task has been completed because Apollo can be enabled to send you notifications when a task is completed. For important document sharing, you can share content from Dropbox as well as Google Drive. Therefore, file management is done safely and files can be accessed by the team immediately upon upload.

8. Trello

This application is free and can be accessed through the app store and Google Play. Trello is designed to help you work collaboratively with your team and get more work done. While the features of Trello aren’t as expansive as those offered by Apollo, Trello’s simplistic design makes it welcoming to new remote employees who are just starting out using these kinds of tools. Trello allows teammates to provide their input and share which activities they are doing by attaching their notes to ‘Trello cards’. Due dates and attachments can also be added to Trello cards if managers need to see visual updates on a project.

9. Hubstaff

Hubstaff is a tool used primarily for progress tracking. However, this remote tool is more accurate in tracking activity levels and providing more precise reports. If you want quantifiable evidence that your employees are working on a task or project diligently, then look no further than Hubstaff. When managing remote employees, there’s no way to really tell that employees are actually putting in the hours of work they say they are. Or, is there? Well, Hubstaff actually takes periodic screenshots of your employees’ screen whether they are working on their phone, desktop, or tablet. Hubstaff’s other progress tracking features also include time tracking, GPS tracking, online timesheets, team scheduling, app tracking, reporting, productivity monitoring, geofencing, easy payroll, and the list goes on.

Communication

The infrastructure of a successful business always includes clear and effective communication. Whether in person or online, communication remains to be one of the most important necessities of maintaining a team. When communication isn’t being done appropriately, interpersonal business relationships suffer as well as the proficiency of a project. When issuing team meetings, managers should be sure that these meetings don’t drag on for long durations. Short and organized meetings ensure that everyone understands their assignments and aren’t being overloaded with any extra information. The following apps offer great features for hosting team meetings and conference calls:

10. Join.me

Join.me is a platform where you can host meetings for your team. Employees will be sent a meeting link with a link you can personally customize to suit the business. As Hubstaff takes periodic screenshots of employees’ screens to help you monitor their work activity, Join.me features one-click screen sharing. This means that employees or managers can share their screens live during meetings. This is a great way for everyone to present the work they’ve been able to complete individually throughout their workday. One-click screen sharing is as simple as clicking the “broadcast” button and your screen will be visible to everyone in the team.

11. Zoom

Zoom has become especially popular as many people take their lessons and training online. This app has recently become very popular for video conferencing and web conferencing. It’s free to sign up for Zoom, however, prices may vary depending on the features you’d like access to. The features of Zoom include online meetings, online training, Zoom technical support, video webinars, conference rooms, cross-platform messaging, file sharing, etc. Zoom Rooms are available for purchase with a monthly subscription fee per room. They also offer whiteboard Touch features that allow groups to collaborate through drawings, sketches, charts, layouts, and more. Zoom Touch hardware is sold separately to use as interactive displays.

12. Skype

Skype is an application that can be downloaded on mobile devices, desktops, tablets, and more. While Skype has been known as more of a social app, it’s still an excellent resource for group meetings and offers some useful features that you won’t find in other applications. For example, Skype has a live subtitle feature that displays captions while each person is speaking. This feature comes in handy for employees who may not be able to hear as sharply and reduces misinterpretations. You can also screen record full meetings with colleagues and employees. This can help in keeping track of all those in attendance and their participation in each meeting.

13. Jell

Jell is another all-around app for time management, conference meetings, and progress tracking. The features of Jell are as follows: real-time/previously finish projects, By getting the Jell mobile app, you’ll be informed of when a job is done. So, you can save yourself the time of constantly checking for updates. Jell is inclusive and innovative in that other tools can be integrating using the Jell application. Apps your team already uses like Slack, GitHub, Trello, and G Suite can be connected to Jell.

Also Read: Disadvantages of Microsoft Teams – 5 Things to Consider

Time Management

Time management is a skill that both managers and employees should adopt especially when working remotely. Employees may be so immersed in a task that time gets away from them. Keeping timelines helps managers to see which employee has been working on which task.

White board for time management-tools to manage remote employees
Photo by Startup Stock Photos

Timelines also diffuse any potential confusion. Employees will all be given a time table to keep track of their own time so that there is no excuse for meeting project deadlines. Good time management also helps to increase worker productivity. These are some of the best tools you can use to keep track of how your remote employees utilize their time on the job:

14. When I work

Schedule your employees easily and track their time with a few clicks. The features of When I Work helps reduce scheduling mishaps and increase the efficiency of worker performance. Employees can clock in using their mobile devices and receive immediate updates of any changes that surface. When I Work optimizes productivity and assignment turnover. This software encourages accountability but also focuses on empowering employees with features that allow them to manage their own availability, request time-off, and trade shifts with their other colleagues. These aspects make When I Work a tool that both managers and employees can be comfortable using on a day to day basis. You can even post jobs and allow employees to apply to fill in these positions. Overtime labor reports help manage labor costs quite easily. Also, timesheets can be imported to help managers accurately process employees’ payroll.

15. Timeneye

Timeneye is an app that managers can use to budget their time and finances. Unlike some of the other apps and software, Timeneye helps you manage your billable hours to make sure you aren’t going over a set budget or exceeding deadlines. Timesheets can be created, exported, or imported to be shared with your team. Timesheets show each employee an overcast of their time spent working and allows you to see a deep overview of your business’s progress. Detailed reports on a project’s budget also help you to see where you may need to cut costs or invest more. Detailed reports tracking registered time are also shown visibly through data analysis charts. These charts will show you where your team needs to allocate a good majority of their efforts and focus. Overall, Timeneye seeks to reduce time and money wasted on project completion through monitoring activity, funds, and time spent.

16. Harvest

While we’re on the subject of budgeting and tracking project expenses, Harvest has a feature that logs in your team’s expenses as easy as them snapping a picture of their receipts. The picture of the receipt along with the amount is uploaded to the Harvest software. Some of the apps you can use with Harvest are Trello, Asana, GitHub, Base Camp, and Zendesk. Harvest also lets you put your expenses and billable time into invoices automatically, allowing you to email these to clients easily. Online payment platforms such as Stripe and PayPal are very compatible with Harvest. Thus, your clients will be able to pay for your invoices within just a couple of seconds. If you plan on linking your invoices to other platforms, invoices can be copied over to integrated applications like QuickBooks Online and Xero.

Security

Security is a huge priority, especially for businesses. If a remote team is sharing important files on an unsecured network, then documents may be edited or deleted without permission. This is just one of many issues that can result if security is not prioritized. Through secure file sharing, teams don’t have to worry about losing important documents and hours of work going to waste. The following is a good tool to use for remote workers looking to collaborate safely and securely:

17. Huddle

Huddle is so dependable and secure that it is trusted by the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Institution of Health. This highly revered domain features secure document collaboration, secure file sharing, branded client portals, version file control, and government-grade security. Huddle has proven safeguards approved by FedRAMP, certified by PCI DSS and more. This security tool is equipped with exceptional safeguards and dedicated firewalls. Huddle offers data encryption and secure connections for all users which makes it exemplary for remote work and protection during the exchange of personal information or important files.

Let These Tools Help Your Business

These applications are mostly free to use or offer free trials for new users. If you’re looking for tools to manage remote employees, then this list offers a wide selection of software that prioritizes all managerial and employee needs. Remote work doesn’t need to be a hassle nor do you or your team have to experience the difficulties of trying to focus on meeting deadlines. Achieve better budgeting, time management as well as progress by monitoring your remote employees a bit closer and incentivizing their work. These are both great ways to cut extra costs and invest that money back into improving the productivity of the team and expanding your business!


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