When the pandemic suddenly forced millions of people to work remotely, employers weren’t sure what to do next. Because the transition was nearly instantaneous, this shift wasn’t easy. But eventually, many people adapted to remote work and learned how to operate effectively in virtual team settings.
Indeed, only 9 months after the Covid lockdown began, Upwork estimated that 42% of U.S. employees were still working from home, and nearly 70% of managers said work was progressing much more smoothly.
What helped individuals and organizations move forward efficiently through tough times? In part, successful teams turned to best-of-breed productivity tools.
Great WorkTech Tools Make a Difference
Now, nearly 3 years later, great worktech tools matter more than ever, as employers strive to offer people continued flexibility in how they get work done.
Effective managers have learned that some applications are especially useful at helping individuals and teams prioritize tasks, manage their time, collaborate, and explain important work concepts with job aids.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 5 worktech tools to help optimize individual and team performance and productivity, going forward.
5 Applications Worth Considering:
1. Slack: Communication and Collaboration
Slack facilitates communication and collaboration among teams by consolidating messages, file sharing and chat activity in a central digital workspace. This lets people organize conversations by topic so they can avoid repetition and confusion while simultaneously conveying information to other group members. It also supports direct conversations with individuals and subsets within a group.
Because these conversations happen asynchronously, everyone can check updates and move discussions forward when it’s convenient for them. And with all related communication available in one place, individuals can easily revisit and refresh their understanding of tasks and stay up-to-date with the latest status. This leads to better team results.
Some of Slack’s IRC-style features include:
- Personalized chat rooms (channels), for topics, private groups and direct messaging
- Searchable content, including conversations, people, files and more
- Emoji buttons to add flair and personality
Also, this tool is compatible with most applications that enable file and document sharing, which makes project workflow management and version control highly efficient.
Slack’s free plan lets users view and search their most recent 10,000 messages. Graduated paid plans give users the opportunity to add more functionality as their reach and requirements grow.
2. Hubstaff: Time Tracking
Hubstaff has operated as a virtual team for nearly 20 years. The company uses its own experience to design and deliver a workforce management software suite that helps businesses spend less time tracking workgroup activity and more time focusing on company growth and success.
This platform bundles time-tracking and proof-of-work functionality with project management, automated payroll management and more – all designed to streamline remote work management.
With its time-tracking software, Hubstaff can help dozens of team members work remotely. Despite being in different locations, employees can collaborate and coordinate effectively by leveraging these features:
- Online timesheets
- Time reporting
- Randomized screenshots
- Mouse movement tracking to supervise team activity and engagement
Hubstaff is highly effective at helping remote leaders analyze team efficiency and encourage accountability. If you want to try before you buy, a 14-day free trial is available with limited features.
3. Trello: Project Management
Next on our list of top productivity tools is Trello. This online list-making application is built on the Japanese-inspired Kanban (visual signal) model. Developed by a subsidiary of Atlassian, Trello is a highly adaptable project management tool.
Trello helps track project progress across multiple stages. It is useful in multiple contexts, from lesson planning, school bulletin boards and gaming to web design, real estate management and law office case administration.
With Tello, users can:
- Create customized task boards featuring columns with various task status options (such as To Do, In Progress, Pending Approval, Done)
- Set deadlines for each task
- Move tasks between columns as they progress
- Add multiple people to cards and use the message feature to communicate with the group simultaneously
Trello offers three business plans – standard, premium, and enterprise – as well as a free plan for individuals and small teams.
4. Evernote: Note-Taking
Evernote is a popular note-taking application that helps team members easily organize and share notes. It lets users create, save and archive ideas and resources in a variety of formats, including audio, video and saved web content and reference links. Notes are archived as virtual notebooks that users can label, annotate, search, edit and export.
With Evernote, people can also:
- Sync notes across various devices so they’re available to multiple team members, simultaneously
- Read digital media in a way that looks and feels just like physical documents
- Integrate group note management with workflows in email and team productivity apps such as Slack, Salesforce and Microsoft Teams
Evernote offers free usage with limited monthly features, and paid plans with expanded storage capacity and enhanced features.
5. RescueTime: Reduce Work Distractions
Last but not least is RescueTime, an application built by remote workers for remote workers. RescueTime is designed to help minimize distractions so people can focus on work and improve individual and team productivity. It does this by recording your digital device usage and time spent engaging with various applications and websites.
The company’s mission is to support better work-life balance by helping people:
- Continuously track their time on websites and apps, so they’re more aware of how they use their time and can adjust their habits for greater efficiency
- Minimize wasted time by encouraging successful productivity strategies
This app lets users manually modify its default settings to fit individual goals and preferences. A free 30-day trial is available, while the paid version helps users:
- Set goals
- Activate “Focus Time” (block distracting alerts, applications and websites)
- Record offline events
Which WorkTech Tools are Right for Your Team?
The number of productivity tools has exploded in recent years. Certainly, they can help team members work more effectively together. But too many tools – or the wrong ones – can be counterproductive. Pointless or unpopular tools can actually discourage people, disrupt workflows and decrease output.
So, before adding to your worktech stack, always research and test your selections. Start by asking your team for recommendations. They’re close to the action, so they’re likely to have good ideas. Plus, if you implement solutions recommended by team members, they’re more likely to adopt them and encourage others to do so.
Also, be sure to think about the best way to roll out new tools. Avoid overwhelming people with too many options all at once. Instead, prioritize and introduce tools over time, so everyone can learn about them and integrate them into their workflow. This also gives you time to determine the impact of each incremental step forward.
No matter what, keep driving toward improvement. Eventually, you’ll see more people working more collaboratively and effectively while meeting more deadlines. And ideally, wherever your people are located, they will feel more engaged, efficient and comfortable contributing to your organization’s success.