The health concerns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated wholesale changes in the way we do things. Gatherings were deemed risky, and social distancing became a necessary step to reduce the chances of getting infected. Work in particular also experienced sweeping changes in how we get things done. While there are still employees allowed to remain working in the plant/office, many were asked to stay at home and work remotely.
Before 2020, the concept of remote work was already gaining steam, as the number of people working remotely (in part or full) increased significantly every year. In 2020, prior to the pandemic, 7 million people are working remote jobs, which is equivalent to 3.4% of the total population.
It’s common knowledge that remote work is mutually beneficial to both employee and employer. For employees, it means the total elimination of commuting, which means more time for the family and for other interests. It also means a more comfortable and less formal setting, lesser office politics, and less stress. For employers, it means reduced cost of utilities and office supplies, higher retention rates, and more productivity.
What is Remote Work Software?
Remote work software is the plethora of programs, apps, and tools that allow you to fulfill your work functions from any location. Connection was achieved through cloud servers to bridge the gap between team members, allowing them to collaborate, meet, and interact with clients without leaving their homes.
List of Best Remote Work Software
Remote work software covers several software types, from collaboration to meeting to accounting to project management. Here are some of the popular remote work software currently available out there:
- monday.com. A project management software that offers both collaboration and communication functionalities in a single application. Teamwork gets emphasized in its board system where tasks and updates are shared among members.
- Wrike. A solution that features project dashboards where tasks can be updated, monitored, and discussed. Its user-friendly interface helps even novice users get on board quicker.
- Jira. Another popular project management software that displays projects through Scrum, Kanban, and Scrumban visualizations. The software also boasts of high integration with a number of third party apps for increased functionality.
- Zoom. Zoom is a video conferencing software that’s gaining popularity for its easy setup and accessibility. No downloads or accounts are required to join a meeting, and the free version lets you have a group meeting for 40 minutes.
- Slack. This is an all-around communications tool that takes collaboration to the next level. With Slack, you can chat, call, video conference, and send files to individuals or groups easily.
- Skype. Microsoft’s longstanding entry in the video conferencing business. This communication platform can support not only video and audio calls but also instant messaging for easier team collaboration.
- Zoho Projects. Another good project management tool that centralizes all information about your project in one dashboard. Projects can be further broken down into manageable subtasks for easier implementation and monitoring.
- Dropbox Business. As the Enterprise edition of Dropbox, this lets you store and share files online so you can have documents available anytime, anywhere. With a 5TB starting storage capacity and layers of security systems in place, it’s a safe storage vault for those important documents online.
- Google Docs. An online word processing app that automatically saves your document in the cloud for easy access. It can open common document types and also export to the same formats.
- Time Doctor. A time tracking solution that is suitable for remote workers. It tracks time not just by the hours but also by projects and integrates with popular project management applications.
- Flock. A solution that organizes project-related conversations, productivity tools, timetables and apps in one place for easier collaboration and updates among team members. It also lets you share files and communicate with the group for better efficiency.
- NetSuite OpenAir. A combination of time tracking and project management software that helps monitor time usage in projects and related tasks. It is a central hub where project managers, team members, and clients can gather to collaborate and update milestones.
- BigTime. This solution provides features for time tracking, billing and invoicing in one interface. You can get real-time updates on time and budget spent so you can see if you’re delivering as scheduled or need to improve performance.
- Smartsheet. A spreadsheet-styled project management software to help you keep track of your tasks. If you’re familiar with spreadsheets, then you’d be pleased to see how easy this software is to collaborate with teams and monitor progress.
- PandaDoc. A platform that takes care of your official document needs, as it can scan and import various formats to create a digital version where you can affix official digitized signatures as well. In addition, it also supports file sharing so you can transfer complete documents in a flash.
How Does Remote Work Software Work?
Remote work software is fundamentally similar to your productivity apps and programs in your workplace. However, the added element of cloud storage means you can access the app via web or mobile, with all files stored there as well. Maintenance and updates of the software are also taken care of by the developer, and you are assured of getting the latest working version every time you log in.
Features of Remote Work Software
Like desktop software, remote work software has a number of key features that help ensure functionality even in the remotest of locations. While there are many types of remote work software, there are features that are deemed standard, including the following:
- Portable. Chief among the requirements of remote work software is accessibility. You should be able to use it anytime and anywhere. Most remote work programs come in web-launched versions or via mobile apps.
- Collaborative. Remote work software must have the ability to connect team members with each other to reinforce collaboration. Documents and files are assigned access levels for editing, commenting, or approval.
- Communicative. This type of software must have communication function so that team members have a central text, audio and video hub where they can discuss among themselves the project and have a venue for file and presentation sharing. In addition, you can hold online meetings and presentations within the software’s confines.
- Easy access to information. Apart from file sharing, cloud-based servers also handle document storage. This means anyone with access can copy, modify, edit or comment on files.
- Scalability. As more workers join the team, or conversely, more members drop out during the windup phase, scalability becomes a requirement, especially for software paid by the number of users. As such, SaaS products that charge by the user (or groups) usually get more notice than those with fixed rates.
Benefits of Remote Work Software
Remote work software has benefits that make remote working a viable alternative to onsite work. These include the following:
- Replicates onsite work conditions. Remote work software removes the physical distance from team members to make it business as usual. This allows workers to continue with work unhampered in a more conducive environment.
- Unparalleled accessibility. The cloud-based nature of remote work files and documents means that they can be accessed anytime and anywhere with just an internet connection. No more driving to the office or waiting for the next business day to get the files you need.
- Convenience. By storing, maintaining and updating the software over the cloud, developers can assure users of full functionality every time. This also leads to no downtime during your peak working hours.
- Efficiency. With everybody on board, it becomes easier to dole out responsibilities and assignments, monitor progress, and communicate with persons in charge. This makes project management easier and more efficient.
- Enhanced productivity. Having to work from home, without the agony of commuting, plus using tools that increase efficiency and collaboration, lets you focus more on the objective at hand rather than the routine tasks. This can lead to a healthier work environment that is less stressful.
Latest Trends on Remote Work Software
With the increase in remote work opportunities, there are emerging trends in software development shaping up. The future of remote work software may include the following observations:
- Growth of remote work. Notwithstanding the current pandemic, remote worker numbers have grown 44% over the previous five years. The competition for better, more efficient remote work software will be amped up as more developers scramble to get a piece of the remote work pie.
- Security threats to remote work. With the growing popularity of remote work, malicious groups also manifested a growing interest to exploit remote work software for financial or personal gain. Expect several customers to scrutinize security features for remote work software before committing to a subscription.
- The rise of BYOD. With remote work, the burden of supplying the tools has shifted from the employer to the employee. Software that supports the Bring Your Own Device policy often get the nod versus solutions with specific hardware requirements.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Remote Work Software
- Cost is a very important consideration. While a suite may solve all your problems, you may end up purchasing modules you have no need for. Also, be vigilant in checking the virtual price tags — most software are on a per-user, per month subscription basis.
- Consider your specific needs. Some remote software may already be duplicating your existing on-site investment. Check your current inventory if they have remote access capabilities before going shopping. And when you do, check if your desired software can integrate with your existing tools.
- Consider your user base. All the bells and whistles won’t do you much good if your target users do not share the same enthusiasm. Make sure to include potential users during the test or trial phase so they can get timely feedback.
What Remote Work Software Should You Consider?
When shopping for remote work software, make sure to cover all the bases. That includes ensuring you have a solution package that covers all or one of the following needs:
- Project management
- Time tracking and payroll
- Document management
Ideally, take the time to test the software you think would be helpful to your work. A free trial would be a good idea for starters, at this lets you get to know the software better. If it doesn’t work out, you can easily uninstall without having to pay anything. While a remote work suite is ideal, your specific work requirements will ultimately be the ones to dictate your actual needs. In some cases, you may opt for different solutions that offer integration with one another.