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With advanced technology available, many businesses were already working remotely, but the pandemic has transformed the way we work and has accelerated the adoption of remote working for other businesses as well. These businesses need to manage their resources and work in a virtual space; that calls for remote work tools.
Remote work tools can help remote team members collaborate in a virtual space. It also helps businesses with virtual meetings, live chat, web conferencing, and more.
We’ve prepared this guide to help you select the right remote work software for your business. Here’s what we’ll cover:
Remote work software helps professionals stay productive while working remotely, i.e., outside the office space. Remote work tools allow professionals to stay connected and streamline their work effectively from anywhere. The solution helps employees collaborate with each other in a virtual space, access files and systems that they need, and manage projects in real time.
Features include web conferencing to attend a meeting, collaboration to stay in touch with your peers, project management to manage tasks and workflows, and live chat to be readily available for customers.
Here’s how businesses can benefit by deploying remote work tools:
Better remote collaboration: With remote work tools, employees can stay connected with their remote team members via email, instant messaging, chat, web conferencing, and voice and video calls. In addition, employees can collaborate on project tasks and remotely access services such as the help desk. They can also upload and store all work-related documents in a centralized cloud platform that can be accessed by all authorized team members.
Efficient task management: Remote work tools consist of project management features that allows businesses to create tasks, assign them to specific employees, and track the status of these tasks in real time. This not only provides complete visibility on project progress but minimizes miscommunication on tasks or deadlines.
Cost savings: If you invest in remote work software that offers features such as document management, content curation, project management, collaboration, file sharing, live chat, and task management, you can save yourself from investing in these solutions separately.
Data security: Businesses can remotely implement data security measures, such as antivirus and software patches, if they invest in remote work tools with IT management capabilities. This will help in scanning vulnerabilities in the network and ensures the security of sensitive business data such as employee personal information.
Key questions to ask a remote work software vendor before you buy:
How is your remote work software going to benefit my business IT infrastructure?
How will the tool add additional value to my pre-existing IT security processes?
If your employees are working remotely and you have decided to invest in remote working software, it’s important to learn its common features:
Project management: Allows users to create project tasks, assign them to remote team members, and track progress using dashboards. It helps users in tracking and managing projects from conception to completion.
Web conferencing: Facilitates webinars, calls, meetings, and online events via the internet.
Collaboration: Allows users to communicate with team members via emails, messages, and calls thus facilitating ideation, sharing, and editing of documents, and virtual chats thereby improving employee productivity.
Task management: Automate processes involved in creating, assigning, prioritizing, and tracking the tasks of different projects.
Remote support: Allow IT professionals and administrators to access employees’ end devices such as laptops and desktops remotely to resolve technical issues and provide maintenance support.
File sharing: Allow users to store and access files over an organization's network or the internet.
Time tracking: Tracks and records the time spent by employees on assigned tasks. This specifically helps businesses that pay employees or bill clients by the hour.
Video conferencing: Allows users to communicate with team members and clients via online video conferences.
Key question to ask your remote work software vendor before you buy:
Does your remote working tool integrate with third-party applications like project management or HR software?
What data security measures does your remote work system have in place?
What kind of storage for shared files does your remote work solution offer?
There are many issues that you need to address before choosing remote work software. Below are some of the issues that you might encounter once you invest in a remote work tool, therefore it is important to be wary of these in advance:
Integration issues: The remote work tools that you wish to purchase should very well integrate with your existing systems such as accounting, CRM, or HR management software. With proper integration functionality available in the remote work tool, you will be able to sync your business data across applications which ensures data consistency. Therefore, it is advisable to check integration capabilities beforehand if you want to avoid any data duplication/data inconsistency issues in the future.
Data security issues: One of the biggest issues that you may encounter while working remotely is data security Make sure that as a part of your remote work toolkit, you take virtual private network (VPN) and data security features such as antivirus, browser privacy, password management, firewall, and anti-malware into considerations. If you want to provide a blanket of security to your data, implementing a good data security strategy becomes indispensable.
Budget issues: Remote work software is not stand-alone software, it constitutes a whole lot of solutions ranging from project management to file sharing to network monitoring. While making this decision and allocating a budget for purchasing remote work tools, it is recommended that you list all the remote work applications you need, calculate the total cost of ownership, and ensure that the total software expenditure doesn’t exceed your budget.
Key questions to ask your remote work software vendor before you buy:
Does your remote working tool integrate well with other systems such as accounting and HR?
Is your remote working software secure?
What will be the total cost of ownership if I choose to invest in your remote work software?
Let’s talk about some trends in the remote working space:
Artificial intelligence (AI) is managing remote work: AI-enabled remote work solutions will make the lives of remote workers easy. For instance, there are remote work tools that come with AI-enabled chatbots that can answer repetitive questions. These questions could be related to internal applications, IT, HR, policies, documents, portals that employees need answers to. This kind of remote working tool can act as a single point of contact for employees to get their questions answered. It will not only increase your productivity but also free up employee bandwidth for other strategic tasks.
Key question to ask your remote work software vendor before you buy:
What are the ways in which you plan to use technologies like IoT, AI, and machine learning in your remote work software?
Are you planning to incorporate any new technologies in your remote work software?
While some remote work products are available for free, most products on the remote work software market are priced on a “per user, per month” pricing. On the basis of our research, pricing can be broken down into three pricing tiers based on their starting price:
$3 - $6
$6 - $16
These ranges summarize pricing for the base plans of most products. An enterprise or premium product that is priced higher may include additional features such as integrations, advanced security, and premium customer support.
*The pricing included is for the entry-level/lowest-priced offering that was found on vendor websites on August 27, 2021. These ranges correspond to the 25th, 75th, and 100th percentile of the pricing information gathered from vendor websites of sample products and exclude freemium plans.
That being said, these costs pertaining to different remote work solutions could vary depending upon business size and number of features. Other additional costs associated with remote work software could be for additional features/add-ons, premium customer support, advanced integrations, and training.
Therefore, it is important to beware of the total cost of ownership before investing in a particular remote work software.
Key questions to ask remote work software vendor before you buy:
What is the pricing model of your remote work product?
In addition to the subscription fee, what other costs are associated if I decide to purchase your remote work software?
Do you offer a free plan, free trial, and demo with your remote work software?
An unpredicted event like the COVID-19 outbreak has made this essential for small and medium businesses (SMBs) to chart and implement remote work policies. For SMBs, the remote working tool serves purposes like:
Staying connected with their remote employees
Collaborating with the virtual team
Deploying remote work tools will not only help SMB owners to access the files in a centralized space but to communicate and collaborate with their employees and stakeholders.