Thanks to the interconnectivity of the internet, you can run a business from anywhere you want.
Whether you work remotely from home or travel to a new country every month, you can conduct your business right from your laptop or even your smartphone.
Remote work is certainly appealing, but it does prove challenging when it comes to managing your resources. It can be easy to get bogged down in documents, files, and apps.
To help your business run smoothly no matter what timezone you’re in this week, you should learn a thing or two about tools designed with remote workers in mind.
Such tools help you eliminate messy storage systems, better communicate with team members and customers, and reduce unnecessary app clutter.
One of the trickiest aspects of remote work is coordination. Without the face-to-face communication of a traditional office environment, projects can quickly become disorganized.
Basecamp is a powerful project management tool packed with features to help you and your team coordinate everything from to-do lists and customer information to schedules and reports.
Thanks to its wide range of capabilities, you can reduce the number of apps you use to track projects and connect with your team.
Basecamp is a particularly powerful tool for customer relations. Relying on meetings and email chains to track customer interactions can lead to employees who are out of the loop on the latest information.
By having all the customer’s data in one place, and tracking all your interactions there, anyone can jump in and know exactly where your relationship with the customer stands.
For those who need a simple but secure file sharing system, Dropbox is the industry leader.
It provides a secure storage space where you can keep files and access them from anywhere with an internet connection.
While it’s excellent for teams, it’s a useful tool for solo workers as well. No need to remember your flash drive when switching from your home computer to your laptop at the local coffee shop. Just log in to Dropbox and you have instant access to all your files.
Features include centralized, secure cloud storage for all your content, access to content from a computer, smartphone, or web browser, and administrative tools to control who can access which files.
A search bar and intelligent file suggestion capabilities let you navigate through your documents faster.
Dropbox offers several different plans so you can choose the one that best fits your needs and the size of your organization. The enterprise plan is available for companies that need a custom solution.
One of the most common remote jobs is social media management. Since social platforms live in the digital world, you can view and update content from anywhere.
However, keeping track of content schedules, performance metrics, and even time zones can be a hassle.
Social media management tools like Hootsuite manage multiple social platforms all within one dashboard.
It offers features such as:
- Scheduling posts and updates
- Monitoring key online conversations
- Discovering new content to share
- Analyzing account performance
This can save you hours of time otherwise spent switching between social media platforms, tracking down content across the web, and running analytics reports.
For most people, the least exciting part of a business is the financial side. Accounting and invoicing are time-consuming and tedious, yet it’s crucial that they’re done correctly.
FreshBooks is a cloud accounting solution that lets you handle the numbers side of your business on the go.
FreshBooks provides tools for several monetary aspects of running a company. Capabilities include:
- Invoicing and billing
- Expense tracking
- Time tracking
- Accepting payments
- Generate financial reports
Large companies likely have their own accounting department, but if you work solo or run a small business, having a cloud-based accounting software will take the headache out of managing finances.
Not only can you manage your finances from any computer, but you can also handle it without the need for extra employees.
If you provide customer support for your business, a support system is a powerful tool to add to your inventory.
ZenDesk is one of the top tools in this area. It offers an easy-to-manage system where customers can create support tickets and you can track and answer them in a timely manner.
Without a customer service system, you’re stuck relying on email to manage your customer relations. This inevitably leads to missed or forgotten customer inquiries and can hurt customer service experience.
In addition to traditional customer support, ZenDesk also offers live chat options. If you have a large enough support staff, this is a great way to reach customers in real-time.
Response time is crucial when it comes to closing a sale. With a remote support system, you can log in and answer questions from anywhere, whether you’re working from home or lounging at the beach.
Making the Most of Remote Tools
Before selecting the right remote tool for you, there are some general tips to follow.
- Consider the cost and the business size the app is designed for. Some software scales from small business owners to large corporations, while other platforms only support one or the other. If you work alone, you don’t need an enterprise-level solution.
- Take advantage of free trials and documentation. Good software provides plenty of how-to guides, videos, and customer support to help you learn their product. If the workflow is too difficult, the product will only make your job harder.
While the five tools listed above are known for being crowd favorites, it’s still a good idea to test them out yourself before committing financially.
- Use the tools wisely. While all of them can bring awesome benefits when you’re on the go, they might cause your machine to run slower than usual. To make sure that’s not the case, you should check all the processes you have running and learn which you can disable. It’s not a bad idea to avoid running all your apps on startup and just stick to ones you need immediately. For all else, you can start them manually once you need them.
Keeping Up With the Cloud
By now you may have noticed a common factor in remote work apps: they are all Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps, which means they rely on cloud computing to work.
Without secure cloud services, remote work is virtually impossible.
The cloud lets you access documents and apps from any location on any computer or mobile device.
To make sure your data is safe, only opt for services with a good track record on security, and most importantly, the ones that comply with all the regulations your business has to.
Wherever your life takes you, your business can go with you. Thanks to remote business tools like these, you can manage virtually any aspect of your organization from the road.
As technology continues to improve and internet speeds become faster and more widespread, the possibilities for remote work will skyrocket.
By streamlining your process using only the tools you really need, you can manage a successful business without needing to ever set foot in a traditional office building.
By carefully selecting the most effective apps and tools to manage your work, you can ensure a successful remote workplace.
Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance
writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing
consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets
and binge-watches his favorite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters.