The Top 6 Tools for Managing Remote Employees

remote employee at deskThis guest post was contributed by JT Ripton who is a business consultant and freelance writer out of Tampa. You can follow him on Twitter @JTRipton.

Technological innovation has changed what we know about the age-old office and has given employees the ability and flexibility to work and be productive from home.

Mobility is the name of the game now, and if you have employees working remotely, there are a host of powerful apps designed to help the business person run his company efficiently and effectively. If you have remote employees of any kind, you’re going to want these six tools.

1. Trello (Task Management)

Trello screenshot

Trello is a task management program that can be opened by everyone on your team and changed in real-time. It displays projects, who is working on them, and what has been accomplished.

The program lays tasks in columns like cards pinned on a board. Cards are dragged and dropped between lists showing the progress of each task. Employees can be added to each card and reorganized as necessary.

Upload files from your personal computer, Google Drive, Dropbox, or other cloud services. Feedback and changes are instantaneous, and you can set the program to notify you when progress is made by team members.

2. Sqwiggle

sqwiggle screenshot

Sqwiggle is a team communications tool. It has an easy user interface and is an excellent way for remote employees to collaborate.

The program stays open on your computer, using minimum bandwidth, displaying team members in still images several times a minute so you know who is working and when. If you need to connect with someone,simply click the mouse and the image becomes a high-resolution video chat.

Not only will your employees be able to quickly collaborate with one another, they’ll be able to chat and share pictures of what happened over the weekend. Employee engagement and building lasting relationships at work improves retention. I wouldn’t think of this as an app to monitor employees but as a tool that brings people closer together.

3. Timesheets

Timesheets Dashboard screenshot

Get a handle on how much time your employees are actually working at their desks with the Timesheets.com employee management suite. Track your employees’ time by the hour or by project. Bill on project time, pay out on payroll time. Keep track of time-off and capture reimbursable expenses. You can also download and store simple HR docs like performance reviews, and keep track of loans, commissions, and bonuses.

Employees record their hourly time by logging in to Timesheets.com and “clocking-in.” This system offers benefits beyond traditional time tracking methods. It saves time, increases accuracy, and reduces payroll size. It also allows you to manage employees and their payroll regardless of where they are located.

The program also features customizable reports, overtime prevention settings, supervisor approval rules, security features, and more.

4. Evernote

evernote screenshot

Evernote allows you to bring all your loose ideas, handwritten thoughts, and even research notes, together into a multiuser database. This is reason enough to employ this powerful program if you have remote employees.

Evernote can also be used to collect images, videos, notes, voice recordings, scribbled messages, and put them together where they can be accessed and edited. Instead of these disparate items being lost over time, Evernote’s phenomenal organizational structure gives you direct access to them so they can be expanded and recalled.

5. GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is the best professional conferencing software available and is ideal for remote employees who need to conduct meetings with clients.

The program is simple – just launch the program from your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone and your meeting has begun. Invitations to meetings can be sent by email, phone, or instant message. Attendees can log in using VOIP, or call in by phone.

All participants can be seen by each other, and they can chat privately. You can also click on Show My Screen to allow all attendees to see your screen for instant collaboration. There is a fee for this service. A free, and less professional version of this software, which is great for holding in-house meetings is Google Hangouts.

6. Dropbox

Dropbox screenshot

One thing your business and your remote employees are going to need is a single repository from which to draw and work on all your important documentation. Dropbox is the perfect solution.

Team members can sync and share data from any device and work concurrently on documents regardless of the physical location. Dropbox offers safe, reliable, and fast access with powerful administrative controls, allowing you to protect your organization inside and out.

These six apps are essential to running an effective remote team, giving you, the employer greater flexibility, streamlining your administrative tasks, and allowing you to operate your business with employees that are spread out geographically.

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