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How To Utilize Online Tools To Maximize Remote Work Productivity?

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Three years since the world of work was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are farther away from physical workspaces than ever before.

As of now, we can say with a fair deal of certainty that remote, or at least hybrid work is here to stay, even as the global pandemic becomes a distant memory.

While remote work offers innumerable benefits for employees, employers, the environment, and more, it comes with its share of drawbacks. In this article, we cover a few such issues, and how they can be overcome by using the right online tools, to drive efficiencies and productivity in organizations.

Communication & Collaboration Tools

Effective communication and seamless collaboration is the backbone of remote work productivity. Online tools have made it easier for teams to stay connected and work together efficiently. Here are some essential tools to consider:

  • Video Conferencing: Platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet enable real-time face-to-face interactions, fostering a sense of teamwork and enabling smoother discussions.
  • Instant Messaging: Applications like Slack and Microsoft Teams provide instant messaging and file-sharing capabilities, facilitating quick updates and clarifications.
  • Project Management Software: Tools like Asana, Teamly, Trello, and Jira allow teams to manage tasks, set deadlines, and track progress, ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding project timelines and goals.
  • Document Collaboration: Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) and Microsoft 365 offer real-time document collaboration features, enabling multiple team members to work on the same document simultaneously.
  • Team bonding tools: Team bonding tools like Slack trivia, custom quizzes, Async planning poker etc. are a must for remote workplaces to ensure effective interaction among the team.

Time Tracking & Productivity Monitoring

Maintaining productivity in remote work requires understanding how time is spent on different tasks and projects, which are made fairly simple and straightforward with these popular tools and solutions.

  • Time Tracking: Applications like Toggl and Harvest help employees log their work hours accurately, providing insights into time allocation and identifying potential areas of improvement.
  • Employee Monitoring: Software like Time Doctor and Hubstaff allows businesses to track employee activity, measure productivity, and identify inefficiencies.
  • Focus & Distraction Management: Tools like Focus@Will and Freedom help employees stay focused by minimizing distractions and enhancing concentration during work hours.

Virtual Collaboration & Brainstorming

Collaborative brainstorming sessions are essential for generating fresh ideas and fostering creativity among remote teams. Here again, organizations don’t have to let remote work become a barrier, and can execute just as effectively as in a physical work environment, or even better.

  • Online Whiteboards: Platforms like Miro and MURAL provide virtual whiteboards, enabling teams to brainstorm, organize ideas, and create mind maps in real-time.
  • Virtual Meetings With Breakout Rooms: Video conferencing tools with breakout room functionality, like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, enable smaller group discussions within a more significant meeting, simulating the benefits of in-person brainstorming sessions.
  • Idea Management Platforms: Idea management tools such as Ideanote and IdeaScale provide a centralized space for employees to submit, discuss, and vote on ideas.

    These platforms encourage a democratic approach to innovation and enable teams to collaborate on refining concepts.
  • Online Brainstorming Tools: Platforms like Stormboard and GroupMap offer virtual brainstorming capabilities, allowing team members to contribute ideas simultaneously.

    These tools often include features like voting and commenting, fostering collaboration, and collective decision-making.
  • Virtual Design Thinking Workshops: Design thinking is a problem-solving methodology that prioritizes user-centric solutions.

    Online platforms like MURAL and Miro offer templates and frameworks tailored for design thinking workshops, enabling remote teams to participate in the entire process, from empathizing with users to prototyping and testing ideas.
  • Gamification For Ideation: Platforms like Idearium, Ideanote, and certain gamification recruitment tools employ gamification techniques to make ideation sessions more engaging.

    These tools stimulate creativity and participation by turning idea generation into a game-like experience with challenges, rewards, and leaderboards.
  • Interactive Polling & Surveys: Tools like Mentimeter and Slido facilitate real-time polling and surveying during virtual meetings and webinars.

    These tools help gather quick feedback, assess preferences, and engage participants in brainstorming sessions.

Automation and Workflow Streamlining

Automating repetitive tasks can significantly improve efficiency and productivity. In the case of remote work, the opportunities for automating tasks is substantially higher than what was possible in physical workspaces. 

  • Zapier & IFTTT: Tools such as Zapier and IFTTT allow users to connect different applications and automate actions, saving time and effort on repetitive tasks.
  • Chatbots & AI-powered Assistants: Implementing chatbots and virtual assistants on websites and communication platforms can handle routine queries, freeing human resources for more complex tasks.
  • Document Automation - Right under the surface of popular documentation tools such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs are incredible automation features that can help reduce time spent on documentation by a great extent.

    Guides and instructional articles have just started covering these features, bringing them to the spotlight. This guide to add your e-signatures in seconds is one such example, that makes paperless organizations a reality.

Wrapping Up

Maximizing remote work productivity requires a strategic approach and the tools to empower teams to collaborate effectively, manage time efficiently, and stay focused on tasks. 

In this article, we’ve provided a brief primer on online tools that can help ensure the lasting success of remote and hybrid work going forward. Embracing these tools will lead to increased productivity and create a positive and cohesive remote work culture, enabling businesses to thrive in the digital age.

July 20, 2023
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