Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by freelance blogger Emily Anderson. Her opinions are her own.
Managing creative and executive remote workers requires a certain level of expertise, and it requires the right tools if you wish to do it efficiently. What’s more, we live in an age where one may manage large groups of remote workers and bring them together to work on collaborative projects.
If you wish to tap into the collective power of your employees, then apps such as the ones listed here may help you do so in the most efficient and hopefully the most cost effective way possible.
1. WhatsApp (for mobile workers)
Stating that WhatsApp is the top app for managing remote workers is likely to make eyes roll louder than a wooden ball rattling down an old tin slide, yet WhatsApp may be the simplest solution to your most complex remote worker problems.
You can spend a small fortune on apps that help you manage your workers, and yet the most common problem is that workers ignore your messages, or the notifications do not appear in time, or the workers claim they didn’t see messages when they did, or workers claim they didn’t see group messages when they did. WhatsApp solves all these problems.
You can contact workers individually, or you may add them into WhatsApp private groups and send group messages. They may send replies via the group messages too. WhatsApp notifications permeate the users’ phones to the point where they even show up when a user is playing a mobile game. The app is free to use, and your employees probably already have it. What is more important is that you can see when your message is sent, when it is received by the employee, and you can see when the employee read it.
Plus, your employee cannot pretend to have not seen it because the app also shows you when the user last checked WhatsApp, which means they cannot visit and chat to their friends while ignoring your message because it will show on your screen that they ignored you.
2. Skype (for an office setting)
Some remote workers prefer to work face-to-face, or they prefer communication with a personal feel.
There are some remote working jobs where video chats and group chats are necessary, and that is where Skype may be helpful. It may be used by managers and trainers who wish to train employees over the Internet. Distance learning courses often use Skype to teach students in a more visual manner.
3. Google Apps (for avid Google users)
Teams and remote workers who are already avid Google Apps users may appreciate how Google apps have sharing and collaborating functions. You do not need Google to open the files you create using Google apps because you may save in a number of different file types. For example, it is not like video-editing collaborative tools where project files may only be opened by one piece of software. It is handy having creation tools and file viewers situated in the same place.
4. Pivotal Tracker (an agile sprint tracker)
Programming groups enjoy tools like Pivotal Tracker because they allow users to collaborate in real time. It allows for prioritizing, content sharing, and backlog management. It isn’t as easy to use or as visual as Trello; it better suits an executive mind or an analytical mind rather than a creative one.
Nevertheless, it offers tools for collaborators, allows for private projects within a group, and it comes with a chunk of online storage so that users need not rely on downloading and local storage. Make sure your free trial doesn’t roll over into a paid subscription by accident.
5. Trello (a slightly more visual tool for projects)
Keep track of things within your project from the smallest details to the big picture. Trello is helpful for group projects and team projects because it has a very visual way of displaying what needs doing, who is doing what, and what is required next. With minimal training, a remote worker may see what the priorities are, and may see exactly where he or she fits into the big picture.
6. CodePen (for programming groups)
7. DropBox (still the most convenient cloud storage option)
Complete a file, drag it over the DropBox icon and drop it. The file is saved automatically to the cloud, and that is the last you need think of it. You may share your account with numerous other people, and you may offer permissions on what others are allowed to touch, alter and add.
It is not a sophisticated tool for managing remote workers, but it allows you all to add your contribution to a project while keeping those contributions together online where all participants may see them.
Seek the simplest option and scale up
Do not be tempted to opt for the biggest and most expensive project management program because not only will it demand that your employees undergo new training on it, there is also a chance that the program will be completely unnecessary.
Some may scoff at the idea of an app such as WhatsApp or DropBox being used for remote workers and teams, but sometimes the easiest and most simple ideas are the best. Think in terms of Occam’s razor and keeping it simple, and then scale up over time if one or more of the apps turns out to be exceptionally useful.