In a hurry? Get the PDF summary here.
Remote work is fantastic in many ways, but it’s not perfect. Not yet. However, we’re well on our way there.
Buffer & Angel List released an important report on remote work, to let us know how we’re doing so far. They found that people's biggest struggles were with things like collaboration and communication.
Being unable to unplug, distractions at home, and being in a different timezone than their teammates.
Have a look-see.
The future of work means giving people more freedom and getting high-quality results — everything we improve on is to get us there.
This year, remote work proved to be a strong step in that direction, even with the limitations. If you believe in the future of work like us, you’ll be stoked to read this piece.
We’ve found super cool software to help us deal with those limitations. Here’s some amazing software to improve your remote experience!
The Work Essentials: Communication & Collaboration 🧠
When Email Isn’t Enough To Handle Team Comms
Instant Messaging & Communication Hub
Where would we be without Slack? Slacking off, maybe. While Slack isn’t the only team collaboration software there is, it has a strong reputation for helping us work.
We’ve come to expect instant messaging, third-party app integrations and file-sharing features from team hub software. We want to have individual and group conversations, and organize all the important information we exchange. Slack has a free plan, plus paid options for more features.
There are more options for communication hubs to be explored, check out this article for a (slightly biased 😆) rundown of the best collaboration software there is.
Without team hubs, we miss out on conversations, team relationships and idea-sharing. It’s also easier to streamline our workflow. And of course, it improves employee engagement, supports project management, and has a way of motivating team members to be responsible.
Alternative: Microsoft Teams
When Texting Just Won’t Do It
Audio/Video Cloud Call Meetings
This may be pretty obvious, but they do make life easier. Cloud calling is one of the pieces of technology the world is most grateful for, because of COVID-19. As a remote work champion, video calls are something we won’t be able to do without till we can create holograms and teleportation.
Most cloud calling software lets you share your screen and integrates with other apps or hardware that you need for your calls. Other than that, it’s pretty straightforward.
When Background Noise Makes Calls Stressful
Two-way Noise Cancelling for Online Meetings
You know how awful background noise can get during video meetings? Goodbye cringing, hello Krisp; the intuitive AI that focuses on human voice and throws the rest in the bin where it should be.
You get a great-sounding audio experience that could even pass for a professional podcast. Your meetings become less stressful, and less Zoom fatigue-y. The free version of Krisp comes with 120 minutes of noise-cancelling per week, definitely worth a try.
When Texting Just Won’t Do It — But A Call Is A Stretch
Sharable Video Demonstrations for Easier Communication
Not everything needs a full-page text or a Zoom meeting. Imagine a world where you could easily explain complex stuff through prerecorded videos (that share your screen)…
Loom brings that world to life! That means reports, demonstrations, onboarding, SOPs and other things that need detailed explanations instantly become easy. The free version of Loom lets you record unlimited videos — but has a 5-minute limit. Of course, there paid options for more features.
Vimeo can do this too, actually, but Loom is a dedicated tool. More on Vimeo later.
*I was gonna include a video ad by Loom here, but I didn’t find any fun ones. Tsk, tsk, tsk. We can’t have that.*
When You Just Wanna Share Your Screen
Easy Screen Sharing Chrome Integration
Literally. If you need to quickly share your screen, add Screenleap to your Chrome browser on any device.
The free plan has 40 minutes of share time, and with 8 people. It doesn’t come with audio, but you could upgrade to the paid plan or simply use Zoom/Google Meet if you need more features.
But if you want up to 100GB of your screenshots and screen recordings saved to the cloud with sharing links and app integrations; for $7 per user per month, you could get Droplr to drop it like it’s hot. Or Teamviewer.
Nike, Airbnb, Mailchimp, eBay use Droplr for their stuff.
The Well-being Senseis: Motivation, Team Culture & Work-Life Balance 🕊
When You Wanna Recognise People’s Work
Appreciation & Celebration Software
Please give a warm welcome to recognition culture on your team (whoo!). It’s a given, appreciating people for their hard work increases the strength of the culture-glue. You’ll keep your team happy and retain the best talent with strong company culture.
WooBoard has a collection of research on its page about employee engagement. I’ll summarise for you.
67% of employees picked recognition as the biggest motivator for their performance. Also, Deloitte says that employee engagement has to become a core business strategy to make work irresistible.
HeyTaco! works as a Slack integration that encourages team members to give out 5 praises (aka tacos) per day. Easy peasy. If your team doesn’t use Slack or would prefer a dedicated web or mobile app, serving woos (woohoo!) with WooBoard, or dancing with Disco are other ways to go.
Disco also includes weekly pulse surveys to help you understand how your remote team is doing. Very important.
HeyTaco! and Disco have 30-day free trials, but WooBoard has 14 days to kick it. After that, each plan starts at $3 per person, per month.
When You Wanna Know How Everyone’s Doing
Team Pulse Surveys
Chimp or Champ is an interesting name for a piece of software. It’s a happiness meter that collects anonymous feedback from your team to help you make improvements to your culture for better results.
According to them, a happier employee is 23% more productive, 87% less likely to leave and 66% less on sick leave. They make it straightforward and easy to set up, and it comes with a 14-day trial.
And hey, they boast of a 90% employee participation rate. Now, how about that?
There’s also Disco, the recognition software I mentioned earlier. Depending on your company’s needs, it’s the best of both worlds.
When You Want The Whole Nine Yards
Supporting Engagement, Performance & Retention for Teams
Culture Amp does a pretty good job of being the Slack of company culture. Its easy-to-use tools and data-driven solutions help HR managers really understand what’s happening with everyone on the team.
Culture Amp is trusted by big dogs like Airbnb, Oracle and Slack to move their companies forward. It merges pulse surveys, analytics, performance reviews and feedback into a one-stop-shop. It also comes with resources from research into leading companies, insights, integrations and mobile apps. The whole nine yards.
There’s no fixed pricing structure on their website, so it really depends on the size of your company and the features you need.
When You Wanna Have Fun At Work
Using Trivia To Bring People Together
The best way to bring your team together is by building connections. A great way to do that is doing fun things together. And what’s better than games? Nothing, mate. Absolewtly nothing.
So, Watercooler Trivia is an awesome piece of software that helps build team culture through trivia. Believe me, the Christmas edition of games we had at Athyna was hilarious.
If you decide to host games regularly at work, here’s what will happen: your team will feel closer and less lonely. It integrates with Slack and maintains a score sheet for healthy competition. It has a free trial for a month, with reasonable pricing.
When You Wanna Automate Holidays & Leaves
Managing Employee Timeoffs
I present the super-fantastic, somewhat elastic, say-no-to-plastic, Timetastic! Software that helps you manage time off (who would’ve thought?) for your company. It automates the process to keep track of leaves and public holidays to help your remote team rest assured. Mmmmm.
With its integrations on Google Workspace, Outlook and Slack, you get a smooth leave application/approval process that you can control. The data is also recorded and compiled into a report if you need it. There’s a free trial for a month, and afterwards, this software goes for £0.95 per user, per month.
There’s even a 50% discount for charities, Certified B Corps, Fair Tax Mark holders, 1% for the Planet members (of which we are proud members at Athyna *smug look*) and NHS Trusts.
Annoying Stuff: Timezone Differences, Password Management 😪
When Everyone’s In A Different Time Zone
A Visual Tool To Pick The Best Time to Do Stuff
It’s not easy to juggle multiple timezones in your head. There are a couple of solutions for this, but I like Timezone.io. It helps you decide at a glance and with a fun animation, what the best time is for everyone when you have to plan stuff.
It was created by the CTO of Buffer, Dan Farrelly, when he started building their remote team. They’re currently 87 people working together, all over the world. The software is free for everyone.
Here’s how the Buffer team uses it:
When Time Zone & Schedule Differences Complicate Things
Software to Simplify Your Schedule
Calendly is another great piece of software for easing the stresses of remote work on a rotating planet with one sun. Instead of the back and forth messaging and having to check time zones, Calendly helps you share the open slots in your schedule for other people to pick from & set up a meeting. It’s time zone intelligent, so they don’t have to worry about it either.
It also integrates with Google Calendar, Office 365, Outlook and iCloud calendar to prevent double-booking. It’s pretty neat and comes with a free plan that provides decent features.
HR: Hiring, Payroll & Performance 🥰
When You Need To Bring The Best People To Your Team
Talent Acquisition Software
As a remote recruiting agency, Workable is pretty much essential to doing our job well at Athyna. With access to 200+ job sites and a number of bells and whistles, Workable is a very good choice for recruiting software. It supports collaboration for hiring teams, helps you manage the hiring process and automate some of the tough stuff. When you want to hire a virtual assistant or build a remote team to scale your business, you can't go wrong with Workable.
Think interview kits, calendar syncing, job descriptions, integrations, onboarding and hiring plans. It’s a helpful piece of software that makes work something to look forward to.
After a 15-day trial, there are different pricing plans depending on what you need.
When You Wanna Manage Work Benefits
Automated Payroll & Benefits
Ah, Zenefits. Work Benefits. Happier hires from the genesis.
From speeding up onboarding and automating payroll*, to health coverage, managing time off and compliance, Zenefits focuses on making work benefits easier to dish out.
Zenefits’ pricing is like pay-per-view, so you don’t pay for features you don’t need. Pretty neat.
*Payroll for Zenefits doesn’t work for global teams, sadly.
Fortunately, Deel is a dedicated tool for global payroll and compliance. With them, you can pay anyone anywhere — with one click. I particularly like the feature that lets your team members (contractors or employees) choose how they withdraw. (Take that, Zenefits!)
It also manages contract and tax compliances, expense reports, pension and health insurance. This one goes out for $49 per contractor or $500 per employee per month.
When You Wanna Provide Global Health Coverage
Global Health Insurance
With a futuristic webpage design (where humanoid birds are the apex of global civilisation), it’s clear it wants to be a lever for the freedom in the future of work (because birds migrate).
I don’t want to bore you with the deets, but you should definitely check out their offering. Spoiler alert: I can see “full refund” everywhere.
When You Wanna Collaborate & Track Everyone’s Progress
Collaboration & Progress Reports
The volume of collaboration software that exists right now is amazing. Each of them does something in a way that just works for some teams. There’s Trello. There’s Ora. And Asana. And Airtable. They easily interact with Slack and other communication hubs.
There’s also software that’s focused on individual productivity & progress reports. A couple of these are iDoneThis, Weekdone, and Standup Alice. Depending on your preferences, you could check these out to find what works for your team.
When You Wanna Share Passwords & Access
Fast, Easy & Secure Authentication for Teams
It’s super annoying when team members can’t get access to the platforms and software because of their location or some other restrictions. Access shouldn’t be a problem, and thanks to software like Okta and 1Password, it doesn’t have to be anymore.
The mere sight of a failed login is enough to knit the eyebrows, so this is one hell of a lifesaver. It makes logging in to SaaS stuff easy-peasy, lemon squeezy.
Okta has multiple pricing options, so take your pick. 1Password is B2B & B2C, so it works for personal use too.
Data: Team Documents & Archives 📚
When “Everyone Needs To Have This”
Sharing Work Systems & Procedure Data
Notion is a powerful workspace for collaboration, and its uses are phenomenal. But even when you don’t need a collaboration tool, Notion is a beautiful database for work systems. I’m talking SOPs, workflow sequences, onboarding, company wikis, design systems, content calendars, you name it. The best part is, you can share these systems to automate processes and make life easier.
Also, it’s really straightforward to use. You can use Notion to share your work systems for free on the personal plan. However, if you need to use Notion for collaboration, team plans start at $8 per user per month.
When You Need To Make Decisions Together
Organized, Asynchronous Communication for Decision-Making
Threads is a piece of software designed to help remote teams reach collective decisions in an organised way. The difference between this and a regular communication hub is having transparency and order along with collaboration.
If you find that important parts of team communication and decisions get lost in the horde of instant messages, then you should consider using Threads to hold the seam together.
For teams, pricing begins at $10 per user per month — but of course, there’s a free trial to be sure.
Here's how remote teams use it.
When “Everyone Needs to Have This — and Watch It Too”
Private Video Hosting on the Cloud
Remote teams can use these platforms to create work systems just like with Notion, only more engaging. Videos come in handy when the information is complex and needs more than text, screenshots or scribbles to explain.
Private video hosting is useful for creating internal workshops and training, onboarding, SOPs — basically, everything you could communicate better in a video. Both are free to use, but free Vimeo comes with a limit on cloud storage, for good reason. Vimeo contains an inbuilt video creation tool, live streaming and screen recording.
Well, that’s about it for now.
At Athyna, we love the cloud 🌬 and the winds of change. After all, it was the Greek goddess Athena that breathed life to the Prometheus’ clay. We use that life-giving wind to sail into the future of work.
Yep, we love finding ways to make remote work more exciting for us, and for the world too.