23 essential remote work tools for distributed teams in 2022

Sara Ana Cemazar
July 28, 2022
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5
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“Can you see my screen?”

“Let me try on my earphones.”

“Let me share my screen.”

“Am I audible?”

These are some of the things commonly said and heard in a remote workplace if you don’t use the right remote work tools.

As organizations are adapting to the remote and hybrid work culture in the post-pandemic era, employees have the freedom to work from anywhere. Today, it can be a cafe or a co-working space; tomorrow, it can be from the comfort of their homes. This approach has added flexibility to how organizations conduct business and manage their employees. 

However, some challenges come with working remotely, including data privacy, data security, app fatigue with multiple apps and work from home software, and reduced productivity. But the process becomes much easier if you know which remote work tools are suitable for managing your teams and workflow. 

In this article, we’ve compiled a set of 23 tools for remote teams to work collaboratively and effectively. 

How to pick the right tools for your remote team?

Choosing the right remote work tools will help you optimize your team productivity, streamline communication and collaboration and save costs of investing in multiple tools that only overwhelm your team. 

Here are the top 3 qualities you should look for in a remote work tool. 

1. Security

With employees logging in from their homes and using their personal devices without security protections, it’s become easier for hackers to break in. In fact, 45% of the companies in the US faced data breaches in 2021 due to the hybrid work culture. 

Compromised data protection is a disqualifying factor when it comes to business communication solutions.
Christopher Skelly, VP of Product at Rocket.Chat

This calls for a new set of policies and measures to improve data privacy within organizations, including the tools we use for work. Look for remote working tools that enable encrypted data sharing or come with spam and phishing controls and multi-factor authentication to protect your data.

2. Integrations

There’s a tool for everything! Team communication, project management, client communication, video conferencing, and so on. However, using too many remote work tools can often be counterproductive. Imagine the hassle of switching between tools to join meetings or perform any simple task!

Luckily, most remote work tools have an integration feature that allows you to integrate all the essential tools into one platform. This means you can access them in one place instead of logging in separately, saving more time. 

3. Ease of use

What’s the point of investing in remote working tools when your teams find them hard to comprehend and use? And if these tools make their jobs more challenging, they’re not adding value.

Instead of looking for tools with high-end features, go for one with simple features and a low-learning curve. The idea is to spend less time understanding the remote work tools and more time working. 

While choosing, keep in mind where your team members are located, the team size, and what features they could use in a tool.

The essential remote working stack

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for all your business operations. For instance, the HR team could use help in managing employee data and automating some HR processes. Or the client management team might prefer a tool that helps store, access, and review work internally before sending it for approval. 

For your convenience, we’ve broken down our recommendations into 8 categories, suiting various business verticals. 

  • Instant Messaging
  • Video Conferencing
  • Project Management
  • Screen Recording & Video Messaging
  • Whiteboards
  • Focus & Time Management
  • Office Suite
  • Cloud Storage

Instant messaging

Since remote teams can’t walk up to a teammate’s desk to discuss something, they must be connected synchronously and work well together, despite the distance.

Instant messaging tools allow that to happen by mimicking the way we communicate in a face-to-face scenario. Here are our top 3 picks. 

1. Rocket.Chat

Your search ends here if you’re looking for an all-in-one communication platform. 

remote work tool

From enabling real-time communication with internal & external teams and even the customers, allowing seamless integration of apps and powerful plugins, to enabling a custom messaging experience, Rocket.Chat has it all!

The messaging tool is open-source, which means more flexibility in customizing the tool as per needs, and more agility for teams to work on a problem.

The best part about Rocket.Chat is you get 100% control over your conversations. In addition, you can deploy the app in your server - self-hosted, air-gapped, or secure cloud - based on your security compliance needs. 

2. Microsoft Teams

Since its launch in 2017, Microsoft Teams has become one of the top choices as a team collaboration tool!

The tool offers a smooth experience in terms of team creation, inviting people to collaborate on a project or pick from a template to save time. 

MS teams will be a perfect choice if you’re a small organization that uses the rest of the Microsoft products because it’s free for all Microsoft users!

However, MS teams lack some functionalities compared to other market tools. For example, one team can only have 200 public and 20 private channels, which can be problematic for big enterprises.

3. Slack

Slack is an excellent replacement for Microsoft Teams to connect with your team, get timely task updates, and even participate in team-building activities. 

Think of it as a chatroom for your entire team where you can attach files, tag people, start a video call with a team member, or set reminders for yourself or your team. Slack is great for real-time collaboration, making decisions on the go, setting up impromptu meetings, conducting quick polls, and having a community feel.

However, Slack provides less flexibility when managing large-scale projects and is closed-source, which raises many data security concerns considering the $63 million of fines issued against Slack within the first year of GDPR. 

Check out the 18 more secure messaging tools for remote teams we recommend to help you ensure the highest levels of security.

Video conferencing

Managing a remote team is difficult as it poses the challenge of maintaining accountability when relying only on audio and messaging systems. However, thanks to video conferencing tools, teams can connect face-to-face from any corner of the world to have a more engaging experience. 

Here are our top picks.

4. Pexip

remote work tool

Pexip is a tool we highly recommend for large organizations looking to conduct secure meetings while having control of your company’s classified data. The video conferencing tool is used by international governments, defense departments, military organizations, and healthcare providers. Imagine the level of security it can offer!

Additionally, its integration with Rocket.Chat enables users to consolidate and access their chat messages, video communication, and projects into a single location while offering the highest levels of security.

5. Google Meet

Google Meet is one of the most reliable and popular video conferencing apps among remote teams. It has every basic feature one could ask for in a video conferencing app, including additional privacy for official meetings, an intuitive user interface, video recording, and more. The fact that Google Meet has a live captioning feature makes it stand out among the rest.

However, the challenge with Google Meet is that it disallows people from joining a meeting through an interoperability service. Additionally, screen sharing restrictions only permit sharing one screen at a time. 

Therefore, we recommend it for conducting small meetings and for those already using Google Workspace for a seamless experience.

6. Zoom

Ever since the pandemic hit us, Zoom has been one of the biggest lockdown winners!

Zoom shares many of Google Meet’s features, including screen and app sharing, meeting recording, transcripts, chat, participant spotlight, breakout rooms, and our favorite virtual backgrounds. However, it has the capacity to let in up to 1000 participants and additional features such as a whiteboard, 1000+ integrations, and more. 

The main drawback of using Zoom is its low data privacy and security. Also, being a closed-source app, it restricts its users from understanding how it functions and handles user privacy.

Project management

Project Management Tools are a savior for teams handling multiple projects simultaneously! They not only let you store and arrange your data in a presentable manner but also allow multiple members to access and review that data simultaneously, reducing the scope for misunderstandings and misplaces.

Listing our top picks.

7. ClickUp

remote work tool

ClickUp has everything you’ll ever need in a project management tool!

With 10 different view types, custom dashboards, Gantt Charts, and more, even the free version is loaded with features!

However, the versatile app has a learning curve as it can be too comprehensive for Enterprises looking for more straightforward solutions and has a cumbersome setup process. 

8. Monday.com

While Monday.com and ClickUp have many similar features, Monday.com is more suited for large organizations handling larger volumes of projects, while ClickUp is perfect for small businesses or solopreneurs.

Some additional features that Monday.com offer include product roadmap, business planning, conducting webinars, etc. The work from home software has invoicing and billing features, making it suitable for commerce companies.

9. Trello

If you’re a sticky note lover, you might love what Trello offers!

The remote working tool lets you arrange project information in cards, making it easy to use and understand.

You can drag and drop the cards and use power-ups to integrate third-party apps. However, you can only view data in a Kanban view on Trello and only accommodate simple projects. 

Screen recording and video messaging

Today, remote employees have the option to explain a process or send in an overview to their team members via Screen Recording and Video Messaging instead of calling in a meeting. 

Here are some amazing tools that can help with that. 

10. Loom

remote work tool

Loom is an easy-to-use screen capturing tool that allows you to record your screen in one click and stop the recording just as quickly. You can take the full screen or crop it to suit your requirements. 

While sending Slack messaging or a ‘quick’ Zoom call may hamper your team’s productivity, a quick Loom video can help you finish tedious tasks within minutes!

However, working on multiple screens can be a bit challenging with Loom, and video trimming can sometimes get inaccurate. 

11. Hippo

Hippo Video is an alternative to Loom, with a capacity of up to 500 users (1000 users in the case of Loom). It’s an ideal choice for smaller teams with lesser budgets. 

12. CloudApp

Loom and CloudApp are almost similar in terms of features, but the free version of CloudApp allows users to access features like taking screenshots, GIF creations, and image annotation. 

It sounds like a good choice when you want to try out every feature before purchasing a product. 

Whiteboards

Now that everything is digitized in a remote work ecosystem, digital whiteboards are getting popular for brainstorming sessions and creating simple wireframes. 

Sharing our top picks!

13. Miro 

remote work tool

Miro is a popular mind-mapping tool that lets you translate your ideas into visual representations using several drawing capabilities. You get an infinite number of canvases, 100s of templates, and widgets in this easy-to-use platform. You can integrate it with productivity apps such as MS Teams, Jira, Slack, etc. 

The limitations with Miro are that it doesn’t support OS like Linux, which is what most software development teams use, and it doesn’t have a time tracking functionality.

14. LucidSpark

LucidSpark is almost similar to Miro in terms of features and functionalities, but it has limited templates compared to Miro. It slows down the collaboration process as every user needs to sign up before they can actually use some of its features. 

While LucidSpark’s functionalities cater to any audience, Miro is more focused on catering to software companies, Web designers, Marketing and Advertising Agencies, Creative industries, etc. 

15. Mural

Mural is similar to Miro and LucidSpark, except its zooming functionality lacks clarity when a post is outside the canvas and downloading data isn’t very convenient.

It also lacks many features that Miro offers, including Calendar Management, Content Management, Video Conferencing, etc. However, Mural is available for Linux, Windows, and iOS users.

Focus and time management

The biggest challenge with remote working is staying focused to meet deadlines and managing time effectively. Thankfully some tools can help you stay on track!

16. Focusmate

Focusmate introduces a fun way to stay accountable by co-working with remote workers from around the world for a block of time.

While working alongside another human could be a great productivity hack, it can be awkward for many! Moreover, safety and security can be a concern, too, as there’s no proper screening process for users. 

17. Pomodoro Timer

remote work tool

Pomodoro Timer is another productivity tool that helps you apply the Pomodoro Technique (25 minutes for work, then 5 minutes of break). All you need to do is set the timer and let the app help you focus. 

The only limitation is that the app can initially be difficult to understand. Also, you need to be very disciplined to benefit from this tool. 

18. Time Doctor

Time Doctor is an all-around time-tracking app that records your working hours, produces productivity reports, and more! You can create projects and assign tasks in each project to know how many hours are spent on each task. 

However, the report it generates isn’t well-formatted, and the mobile app has performance issues.

Office Suite

Any remote work is incomplete without a set of productivity tools for remote teams, and an Office Suite comes with the entire collection! Listing 2 of our all-time favorite office suites. 

19. Google Workspace

Google Workspace or G-suite is a collection of cloud-based apps like Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, Gmail, Google Forms, etc., that Google provides. It comes with 15 GB of free storage for all users and offers additional storage for its subscribers. 

While it’s not as robust and feature-packed as Microsoft 365, the suite prioritizes sharing and collaboration, which is the real challenge in a remote workplace. 

20. Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is the home for all Microsoft applications such as Word, Skype, OneDrive, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. Office 365 traditionally provides its services through offline desktop programs. However, you can alternatively use the web-based version based on your requirement.

Office 365 is the ideal option for users who don’t need online collaboration often and are looking for more capabilities and customization.

Cloud storage

Cloud might be the most essential thing helping organizations keep it all together! Be it documents, sheets, company data, etc., cloud storage has helped businesses scale. 

Here are the 3 tools we love!

21. Nextcloud

remote work tool

Nextcloud helps you add an extra layer of security and privacy by letting you self-host the software. 

While the remote working tool has everything GoogleDrive and OneDrive offer, the self-hosting route would require you to back up your storage by yourself, and it’s all your responsibility to handle the process. 

22. OneDrive

Though OneDrive lacks various features its competitors in the space offer, Microsoft is catching up with improvements and new features.

For a dedicated Windows user that regularly uses Microsoft 365 Suite, OneDrive is a reliable option to back up all your files and take care of the syncing needs across multiple platforms.

23. Google Cloud

The Google Cloud Platform is a suite having different services, including computing, storage, analytics, and machine learning. GoogleDrive is the platform that lets you store your data on the cloud, offering a myriad of functionalities and ease of use. It also ties in properly with Google’s other apps, which is an added advantage. 

While it doesn’t have everything to be termed as the “best cloud app”, it has everything an Enterprise needs to collaborate with their teams online. 

Expense management

Simplify and automate the receipt filing to reimbursement process with expense management software. 

With these tools, employees can track and report expenses on the go, while finance teams can streamline approvals and know about policy violations in real-time.

Here are our best picks:

24. Fyle

Accessible through everyday applications like G-Suite, Outlook, and Slack, Fyle is an expense management software that paves an easy way to track expenses in real-time. Unlike its counterparts, the tool allows users to file an unlimited number of expense reports without incurring extra charges. Additionally, its self-serve integrations with accounting software like QuickBooks Online and NetSuite means expense reports can easily be exported in a highly secure and customizable format.

remote work tools

Fyle also offers direct transaction feeds for any Visa credit card across the U.S. This means any SMB or mid-market company can access real-time expense data without changing their existing Visa cards. Moreover, this feature will be extended to Mastercard-powered credit cards by the end of this year. 

The only drawback - it takes some time to get accustomed to the product and its features, but this can easily be overcome after a couple of training sessions.

Some miscellaneous remote work tools we love

  1. Krisp: An AI-powered solution to remove background noises and disturbances from meetings.
  2. TeamViewer: A remote access software to connect you to any device remotely.
  3. WaterCooler Trivia: An excellent employee engagement tool for remote teams.
  4. Windscribe: A VPN-setting tool that helps your browse the web privately.
  5. Dashlane: A tool that allows you to store and access your passwords as and when required.

Remote working tools for the win!

Remote work tools can be very beneficial for distributed teams. They help you manage your business operations in a streamlined approach - be it task delegation, data management, employee engagement, data security, and more!

But remember not to overwhelm employees and cause app fatigue by making unnecessary tools a part of your ecosystem. Moreover, don’t overlook the importance of data privacy while adapting to the remote work culture. 

Download our team collaboration guide to understand the benefits and challenges of hybrid work culture and how you can eliminate these challenges to scale your business!

Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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