Running an online business is easier and more popular than ever. Businesses are finding new ways to capitalize on the rise of remote work and the gig economy, and for small businesses that means you can save the huge overhead of a physical office. That’s more money to invest in growing the business itself.
With remote work comes a bigger organizational challenge but there are all sorts of tools that facilitate effective online working. Whether you’re a freelancer looking to communicate with a client or a company with a team of employees that need to coordinate, here are a few of the best tools that make working online that bit easier.
1. Project management
Trello – When working remotely, especially with a team, organization can be a pain. Coordinating everyone can seem next to impossible – unless you’ve got a good tool for it, that is. Enter Trello – an online platform that enables you to keep things neat and tidy. Task management is clear, because Trello gives you the option of incorporating all of the members of your team and creating different categories.
That means that you can make it clear for everyone what tasks need to be done, (with details and deadlines), who is assigned to complete them, whether they’ve started working on it, when they’ve finalized the task, etc. This way, everyone can keep track of where they are in the process, and accountability is much easier.
Why it’s essential: Especially when you’re juggling multiple projects or tasks, you need an efficient way to stay organized. Otherwise, things can very quickly descend into chaos.
Alternatives: Pipefy, Asana
Slack – Working with a team also means that there are a lot of different voices, needs, and opinions that need to be taken into consideration, not to mention the need to collaborate on certain tasks or projects. Even administrative issues need to be communicated effectively somehow, and the tool that will help you is Slack.
Having the entire team in one place means that all communication is simplified, and made quicker and more convenient. You are no longer playing a very frustrating game of Telephone with your team. In addition, everyone is allowed input, no matter where they are. This can streamline a lot of the back-and-forth and repeated messages that are exchanged in a remote work environment, and it also makes announcements much easier to make.
Plus, it provides an opportunity for very important socialization between team members and establishing a sense of community and camaraderie that is more difficult to do remotely.
Why it’s essential: Communication is key in every team or project and it’s at the basis of successful collaboration, so it needs to be seamless.
Alternatives: Skype, Discord
3. Calendar/Time management
ScheduleOnce – If you think a calendar manager is too much, well think again. Just because you’ve got a small business doesn’t mean you should be paying any less attention to how you manage your time. Especially if you’re working remotely and you don’t have an assistant, a tool like ScheduleOnce can be your best friend.
Discipline and a healthy work schedule are easily achieved with software like this, especially because it can be synched with Google Calendar. That means that you can always have access to it on the go, and even grant access to it to your team members, if they need to be aware of meetings and other scheduled commitments.
Why it’s essential: It ensures you are always aware of what’s coming up and that you never overbook.
4. Meetings/Video Calls
Google Hangouts - Meetings always seem the most difficult to organize when you’re working with a remote team, simply because the coordination can be a nightmare and it’s hard to include everyone. Thankfully, there is dedicated software that tackles that exact problem, such as Google Hangouts. You can organize voice calls or video calls that the entire team can take part in with minimal effort.
This means everyone is aware when the meeting is and how to participate, as it only requires them to install an app and join in on the conversation, no matter where they are in the world. Especially if you ever travel for business, this is a life-saver. And you don’t even need to have your professional outfit on.
Why it’s essential: It saves everyone hours of frustration with the simple push of a button.
Alternatives: Join.me, Zoom
As you can see, running a business remotely comes with its challenges, but they can all be tackled – or at least made easier – by smart use of online tools that can change the way you manage your business and your team.
While you certainly don’t need to use all of them, they can help you successfully master any aspect of business organization that you need extra assistance with, whether that’s basic everyday communication, meeting organization, project management, or even time management and syncing calendars. They facilitate teamwork and increase productivity in your online business – with no physical office necessary!