Chances are, you may be one of the many people who work in a team scattered all over the globe. As technology progresses and borders seem to be disappearing overnight, more and more people find themselves working with people in different countries or time zones, using online storage to get the job done (compare cloud storage prices using our chart).
Right now, more than 30 million people in the U.S. are already working remotely and around 90 percent of them are happier because they can maintain a better work-life balance. Here at Cloudwards.net, we too have a virtual team with members working from all around the world. 20 years ago this would not have been possible, but now, with the advent of a changing culture, increased internet speed and improved tools, we are able to work in absolute sync.
If you too work in a virtual team, chances are, you use more productivity tools you can keep track of just to make sure everyone on the team knows what they are doing and they are always in the loop. However, why use five different tools to do something that you can do with one single application?
With an all-in-one virtual team software tool, you can handle all the requirements at once and you will never have to jump from one tab to the other. This saves you and your team a lot of trouble and increases efficiency, to boot.
Why Every Virtual Team Needs Software Tools
Let’s take a look at some of the most important reasons why your team can benefit from using these tools.
When you are in an office, meeting colleagues every day, you automatically create a rapport. It’s easy for you to approach team members and ask them for help while discussing the new movie that released last weekend.
Creating that kind of rapport with a virtual team can be difficult when you are only talking to each other about work. Slack helps fill that gap by providing a place for water-cooler chats with fun emojis and gifs.
With members working from all around the world, it can be difficult to make sure everyone is on the same page and knows what they have to do. Can you imagine the chaos if you forgot to send half of the team members important update and changes about the project?
An efficient project management tool can save you from that horrifying misery and increase your efficiency too. For instance, Basecamp has a message board which is geared toward updates. All you have to do is type in the updates here and all your team members will be notified immediately.
While it’s important for teams to maintain transparency, it’s also important to control visibility. By regulating who can see what resources, you can increase organization security, limit employee access and view a transaction log as well.
Asana, for example, allows users to share their entire workspace, a project, or just a single task. If a user is not following a particular task, then they won’t see it in their task list or get notified about it.
Less Email Overload
How many times have you gone through a big email trail just to find that one piece of important information? Project management tools like Trello have a separate description box for each task where you can save all the information and easily access it whenever you need it.
Best Virtual Team Software Tools
Here are five of the best virtual team software tools we’ve tried out:
If you are looking for a project management tool that provides scalability, flexibility and controlled visibility, then Asana is your best shot.
Asana allows you to create different projects and tasks which can be assigned to different team members. You can set a deadline, tags, description, add comments and attach files. Used by companies like Uber, Airbnb and Pinterest, it is free for up to 15 members, which also makes it a great tool for small teams and freelancers.
But the best part of Asana has to be the visibility control it offers — only the team members who follow a particular task or are assigned that task can view them. They cannot view any other projects or tasks that they aren’t following.
Overall, Asana is perfect for teams who want to collaborate but still want to maintain control over visibility of each task for each member.
While Asana is pretty exhaustive and perfect for big projects, it doesn’t allow for a proper overview of an entire project. This is where Trello comes in: based on a Kanban board concept, Trello makes it easier to visualize an entire project at once, regardless of size.
It is like a whiteboard with lists and sticky notes (Trello likes to call them cards). As your project progresses, you can shift the notes to other lists. Each card can be assigned to multiple users. You can also add labels, due dates, attachments, checklists and comments to the card.
Sadly the control over visibility isn’t the same as Asana because all the members added to a particular task, list, or board, can see the entire Trello board and what the others members are doing. Trello is definitely great for creative teams who are looking for transparency and better collaboration.
Project management tools are essential for assigning tasks and making sure everything is on track, but when you work in a virtual team, communication is more important than ever. All the other tools on this list provide a comment section, but there needs to be a special platform where the entire team can communicate and stay updated.
With companies like LinkedIn and Samsung using Slack, the tool has truly proven to be the premier communication platform for virtual teams. With Slack, you can create separate channels for each project including one for water-cooler chats, and easily integrate the platform with third-party tools as well.
If you have a big organization with a number of divisions and projects but Asana isn’t exhaustive enough for you, head straight to Basecamp.
With an incredibly easy-to-use dashboard, Basecamp will not only clear up email clutter, but it will also make your team highly productive. For every team/project, you have a common calendar which marks all the deadlines, a message board for announcements, task list for every member, a separate document folder and an automatic check-in section to ask team members questions on a recurrent basis.
If you have a team of 20 members or more, you should definitely give Basecamp a try; it’s free for students, teachers and non-profits.
For marketing and creative teams, Wrike is an amazing project management solution with timelines, Gantt charts and online document editing.
If you have a content agency and you are tired of going from one document file to another, Wrike can save you a lot of time and effort. You can edit Word, Excel, images and .pdfs without downloading them from the platform. Wrike also keeps version history for each and every file, making it easier to roll back.
It might not be the best virtual team software for sales or technical teams, but Wrike is definitely great for content writing and digital marketing agencies.
In a world of freelancers, virtual teams, and cross-platform apps, there is a strong need for tools that allow online collaboration, sync with different devices and help avoid excessive office emails.
While I have just listed some of the best virtual team software tools available in the market right now, the perfect tool for your team will depend on your exact requirements. So to pick a tool, make a list of your team’s needs and then choose the tool which fulfills most of the items on the list. You can also look at our online collaboration tools roundup.
Have you used any of these tools? Let us know in the comments below, and check out our guide on how to get a virtual phone number, too. Thank you for reading.