3 essential apps for managing remote staff

Here’s how Google Drive, Asana and Slack can keep your virtual team organized, in sync and on schedule.

As companies increasingly rely on remote workers, resources that facilitate collaboration and connectivity are essential.

The three apps below will help you improve communication, efficiency and teamwork—regardless of your workers’ locations.

Asana

Asana helps you divide tasks among employees and easily review who’s doing what. This prevents miscommunication, clarifies deadlines and responsibilities and lets workers see how their tasks relate to one another’s projects.

Here are Asana’s standout features:

  • Team calendar view. Projects are color coded. Tasks and subtasks display across the calendar so you can review and adjust your team’s projects. Asana’s platform is cleaner and more elegant than a long list of tasks with due dates. It’s also easy to reschedule or drag and drop tasks from one date to another.
  • Task attachments. File management can become a virtual team’s nightmare. Asana brings order to chaos by making files searchable and attachable to tasks. You don’t have to fumble around with links to external cloud services; all the elements of your project are available in one tidy space.
  • Comments. Comments in Asana link to specific tasks, not a general inbox, which shaves down email clutter. You can mention members of your virtual team in a comment to send them an alert and add them as a task follower. If you want to show someone you’ve seen their comment without leaving another, just click the heart and “like” the comment instead of replying. Communicating through Asana can alleviate your inbox overload.

Google Drive

Google Drive offers 15 gigabytes of free storage. Here are other benefits:

  • Collaboration. Google’s commenting and edit tracking tools are great for collaboration in documents and spreadsheets, which can be neatly sorted in date-stamped folders.
  • No more multiple document versions. Revisions, updates and rewrites can sow confusion among virtual teams. Word documents get passed back and forth via email for edits, and new versions get created. Before long, no one is sure which version is the most recent. Naming conventions fall apart. Precious time is lost. Google Drive eliminates version confusion by letting employees collaborate and edit the same Google document. The app keeps track of each edit, so it’s easy to see exactly what everyone has changed, added or removed.
  • It stays in the cloud. Every virtual team should have a shared hub where everyone can upload their work. Google Drive enables you to create a filing system so your team has access to what they need. You can also set permissions to restrict who has access to specific materials.

Slack

Messaging apps such as Slack haven’t yet replaced email in the workplace, but they’re well on their way. Slack offers a sleek chat platform and makes it easy to share files. You can create specific Slack groups that pertain to certain projects or conversations. This allows for faster, easier collaboration—another way to trim your inbox.

Whatever tools you end up using, keep it simple. Don’t overload your team with too many platforms or channels; just tinker until you find the right mix that helps you promote robust collaboration. Open, frequent and clear communication is the foundation of business success.

David Porter is the marketing director for Brickell Men’s Products. A version of this post first appeared on Duct Tape Marketing.

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