A recent survey from Clutch found that 66% of employees in the United States are working remotely at least part-time due to COVID-19. Nevertheless, the rise in remote work isn’t related to the current global health crisis alone. Remote work also comes with an array of advantages that many businesses, especially small and mid-sized businesses, find attractive.
Employees with the ability to work remotely report a better work-life balance in general and are more likely to be loyal to your company as a result. Remote workers also report increased productivity and can save your company some of the overhead expenses associated with managing an office space full-time. All in all, people like working remotely. A study by Owl Labs discovered that 83% of workers believe a remote work opportunity would make them feel happier at their job.
As with everything in life, managing a remote business comes with some drawbacks. Common challenges associated with this kind of business model include logistical concerns related to communication, efficiency, team management and the joy of seeing your team face-to-face, day in and day out.
Luckily, there’s an array of fantastic tools out there to help you manage these drawbacks and make a remote business model worthwhile. A little short-term time and resource investment in figuring out the right procedures and processes for your company will go a long way.
Here’s a list of five handy tools that perfectly suited to help you run your business remotely.
1. Maze: Remote usability testing
Usability testing is a major challenge for remote businesses, especially in the design, manufacturing, IT and product management industries. It’s difficult to manage the logistics of prototype testing remotely, and even more difficult to do so efficiently.
That’s where remote usability testing tools like Maze come in. Maze is an incredibly useful platform that allows designers, developers, product managers and more to test prototypes and collect helpful insights quickly in their product development processes. Its flexible features are perfect for companies of all sizes and it’s used by designers at household name companies like Airbnb, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft.
Maze enables you to undertake prototype testing with your own users, but they also have a panel of 70,000 testers that are available for hire on-demand. This is incredibly useful if you need high-quality insights in a hurry and lack contacts of your own.
If you’re interested in trying it out, check out Maze’s free trial. It has limited functions, but still allows you to get a general feel for the software. Otherwise, their paid plans are priced on a sliding scale according to your team’s size and the features you want to use.
2. 10to8: Appointment scheduling software
When it comes to running a remote business, another common hurdle is scheduling. It’s more difficult to organize internal meetings when you don’t see your coworkers and employees every day. This hurdle also extends to external communication; it’s important to find a workflow that suits for your business in terms of scheduling meetings and appointments with providers, clients, freelancers and more.
If you want to optimize your remote business’ scheduling and organization, try a software like 10to8. It’s one of the most popular appointment scheduling softwares on the market, used and loved by over 50,000 businesses worldwide.
10to8 offers tons of useful functionalities like professional, automated communications, an easy-to-use online booking website that processes payments, calendars and other staff coordination tools, audit logs and payments and custom reports. It also connects with over 500 other web apps and integrates seamlessly with email, SMS and your website.
It offers transparent pricing and a free plan with a wide range of functionalities. If you require more features, you’ll be able to pay as you grow and only for what you use.
3. Slite: Collaborate on content
If you’re responsible for a remote team that creates content together, Slite is the perfect tool for you. Slite functions as a collective workspace that allows your team to pool together their knowledge and work collaboratively in a seamless manner, even if they never see each other face-to-face. No matter the industry, it’s the perfect solution for all your team’s content development needs.
One of the best things about Slite is their templates. Whether you want to learn how to write a project report, how to improve your employee onboarding procedure or how to document your internal processes, Slite will guide you. It can be daunting to get started on any long-form content, but Slite’s design provides you with an alternative to starting from scratch.
The best part? Slite has a robust free plan, so you can test it out and see how it works for your team. After that, plans are priced per member and per month.
4. Attest: Global survey platform
Attest is a global survey platform that enables companies to develop intelligent, custom surveys and connects them with diverse global audiences. Surveys are the perfect way to perfect new product development, brand tracking, consumer profiling, and other attempts to grow your enterprise. With Attest, you can create a survey in minutes, using templates or starting from scratch, with the most pressing questions for your consumers. Attest gives you a ready-made audience of 100 million people across 46 markets, with demographic filters to define target audiences and a choice of sample size. It even helps you analyze the results of your surveys in an interactive dashboard, so making big decisions in your enterprise just got that much easier (and evidence-based).
What’s more, every feature on Attest can be operated remotely, so there’s no more handing surveys out to passers by in the street. Attest is an excellent tool for enterprises who can’t do on the ground activities during the current business climate; there’s nothing stopping you getting started on some research for future projects or ventures and it might even prove to be the next big move for your enterprise.
5. SoapBox and PukkaTeam: Mimic in-person communication
One of the biggest issues caused by remote work is complicated or lower-quality communication. Many employees report that simple issues become more difficult when they have to be solved over email or text rather than with a quick, in-person chat. Additionally, remote workers often miss out on some of the informal bonding time that happens naturally in office environments.
Software like SoapBox and PukkaTeam aim to fill these gaps.
SoapBox is a meeting management tool that helps managers organize and lead both one-on-one and team meetings. It allows for all parties involved to develop agendas, exchange notes, suggest questions, assign follow-ups, send feedback and more through a central dashboard. Their basic plan is free with paid plans starting at $12/month.
PukkaTeam focuses on inter-employee communication and seeks to imitate an office environment. It’s a communication and collaboration tool that takes automatic photos of you at your desk at established intervals, making it easy to schedule informal chats (much like you would at the office). Don’t worry - you can turn on privacy mode or change your availability whenever you feel like it.
PukkaTeam is used by companies like Shopify, Uber, Orange and John Lewis. You can even give it a try for free for 60 days.
All in all, there’s a wide array of advantages to working remotely. Whether your team is working remotely because of the global pandemic or because you believe managing a remote business presents your company with unique benefits and opportunities, it’s a situation that’s only becoming more common.
Think about it this way - a 2019 study found that the number of people who work from home in the United States increased by 140% between 2005-2015. Remote workers are one of the fastest growing workforces out there. With the events of 2020, these statistics will inevitably increase even further.
Stay ahead of the curve and invest the necessary time into becoming well-versed in managing a remote business. If any of the remote business tools mentioned caught your eye, try them out and see how they can help you and your team work more efficiently, even if it’s from a distance.