13 Best Communication Tools for Remote Businesses
In 2018, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that only 23.7% of the US workforce worked from home. In recent years, that percentage has risen to 58.6%. In the beginning, working remotely and its convenience were primarily reserved for those in customer service. However, 2020 signaled a shift for many industries. Even in 2022, the evolution of communication tools has kept remote work a feasible and profitable opportunity for many businesses.
Naturally, with remote work, there exists the expectation for your team to perform at the same level they would if they were in the office. One way to maintain this expectation throughout your company is to introduce communication tools to your daily process. Losing the ability to communicate face-to-face can be an expensive part of adopting a new business model, as it often results in miscommunication. SHRM shares that for companies with 100 employees, miscommunication can cost up to $420,000 per year.
Whether your team is temporarily or permanently remote, you must equip them with communication tools that complete daily tasks and resolve obstacles. These tools will elevate your company and contribute to happier, long-lasting customers.
Communication: The Greatest Challenge of Working Remotely
At first glance, it may not seem like the loss of physical communication will significantly impact your remote business. Yet, communication is at the heart of your business. It determines whether your business thrives or fails.
Managing a small business involves several other challenges, including cross-team collaboration and maintaining productivity. Recently, a Gallup poll uncovered that employee engagement is determined by the quality of communication, primarily regarding factors like having the right equipment to do their job, a clear definition of their role, and equally committed coworkers.
Without a brick-and-mortar location to house your employees, the potential for human error increases. Project.co reports that 92% of people have had to repeat a piece of information to two or more people within an organization. Repeating and mishearing information can lead to incomplete tasks, production delays, and appearing disorganized to customers, which may lead to customers seeking out competitors. Thankfully, using communication tools can remedy many of these challenges. Knowing which is the best option for your growing business is key.
What to Look for in a Quality Communication Tool
After deciding to take your operations remote or starting a remote business, the next step is to consider which communication tools will best accompany your employees throughout their daily tasks and keep them connected with others.
You must remember that every company has different needs, and what one company uses may not be the best pick for your small or medium-sized business. Besides the app, we recommend investigating features that reduce the friction and fatigue that frequently accompany remote work.
When comparing choices, there are a few things to look for in a quality communication tool for your remote business:
Look for a Quality Support Team: No tool is without its flaws, and when these incidents inevitably occur, you need a responsive and helpful support team at your call. The best option is a team with multiple ways to contact them, including email, phone, social media, or live chat.
Top of the Line Visual/Audio Capabilities: The ability to hear and see your employees is vital when you own a remote business. It reduces the chance of miscommunication. So, with that in mind, you must seek a platform that values the same high-quality experience.
Find Tools the Whole Team Will Love: Not every employee has the same level of technological savvy, so investing in communication tools that cater to everyone’s abilities is a must. Platforms with a clean and intuitive UI are more likely to reduce the need for training and aids in quick adoption.
Features That Suit Your Needs: It may be tempting to purchase certain platforms based on popularity. But it is a far more business-savvy choice to opt for an app with features that suit your current needs and come with features to grow into.
The Price is Cost-Effective: Communication tools should always complement your company’s process, not break the bank. While searching for the perfect tool, consider a cost-efficient option, which saves you money to dedicate your budget to other resources that will enhance your company.
It Offers Security for Your Team: You must never underestimate the benefits of a secure connection, especially if the industry you serve handles sensitive data (think finance, insurance, healthcare, and education). A quality communication tool should offer layers of security that cannot easily get overrun.
13 Best Communication Tools for Remote Businesses
Working remotely has many benefits, including lower overhead costs, improved employee retention, and more autonomy. Conversely, there are also a few luxuries your company will sacrifice in favor of a remote operation. The most noticeable of these sacrifices is face-to-face communication.
Despite the internet being a necessary part of a successful remote business, it is not the only factor in your success. Communicating effectively is perhaps the second-most instrumental part of your process. According to McKinsey, when organizations have connected employees, their productivity increases by 20-25%. That means not having the right communication tools that suit your remote business can make remote work harder for you and your team.
Although an all-in-one platform is ideal for saving money and ensuring multiple departments can benefit, you don’t have to pick one app. Statista reports that the average North American company uses 3.1 organizational communication tools. You must invest in the app or apps that will bolster your company’s success. Furthermore, when selecting the best option, the obvious course of action is to opt for the more popular brands, as we often think hundreds of millions of downloads equates to a quality product.
In reality, it could be the result of a stellar marketing strategy. However, we invite you to experiment and shop around for a robust, affordable, and easy-to-use communication tool that resolves your pain points and won’t cause notification fatigue.
Zoom is the perfect addition to any remote business as a leader in the virtual communication world. Although it rose to popularity during the global pandemic and is primarily used to connect with families, this group calling app is also an expert at connecting to international teams. Zoom allows your team to schedule, launch, and record full-length meetings and can also be used for screen-sharing presentations and combined discussions.
Affordable and straightforward, the application offers impressive audio and video quality, making it an ideal candidate for webinars and voice capture. Best of all, your remote team can access Zoom virtually on mobile, desktop, or laptop, enabling them to join any meeting by voice or dialing in.
It is crucial for everyone on your team to be on the same page, and having a communication tool like EverNote can assist with that. As a notetaking solution, this software serves as your liaison, taking all typed notes and organizing them, then syncing them across all company devices.
Meaning, that everyone on your team has the updated strategic plan for your clients and knows their role in your clientele’s success. You can even assign EverNote as a notetaker, PDA, pocket notebook, or a to-do checklist (did you know 34% of people map out their daily tasks on paper instead of an online tool?).
Slack is a favorite communication tool that your team can use, whether in-office or as a remote business. Think of it as a digital office where employees can share ideas, comments, files, and more in real-time. Its instant messaging feature is the perfect answer to your team not getting their questions answered or receiving feedback face-to-face.
You can create departmental channels, client channels, or direct message company employees within the private server. Slack recently introduced a call feature so that you can quickly access team members to handle last-minute tasks.
Few applications offer features for managers, teams, contract or freelance workers, and clients alike. With Basecamp, communication is meaningful and a genuinely collaborative effort. This project management tool is a space where teams can come together to map out and execute projects.
It offers tools that assist with organizing conversations, sharing ideas, and ensuring everyone is on the same page. Your company may also share the living document with clients and allow them to voice feedback and share their vision as you bring the project to life.
5. World Time Buddy
One of the most beneficial parts of running a remote business is the freedom to hire talent spanning the far reaches of the world. Unfortunately, such freedom also creates the challenging task of managing varying time zones and finding a time that works for everyone to meet.
World Time Buddy is software that combines a built-in time converter with an online meeting scheduler. Department managers can effortlessly compare time zones, and schedule conference calls, meetings, and collaboration sessions. This enables them to find overlapping timeframes without the possibility of miscalculating time differences.
6. Google Suite
Google’s budget-friendly office package provides a host of communication and collaboration options. Additionally, your company has access to Gmail and Google Drive and its other in-house apps, including Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slide.
Each app offers technology that enables teams to work simultaneously on projects, edit documents, and post comments. Furthermore, if you are already using other Google apps, you can use Google Hangouts for quick messaging, video calls, and other suite-related integrations.
Managing a remote team is a challenging aspect that demonstrates how little control you have over the distractions present in many team members’ homes. This is where Krisp comes in handy. This noise-canceling app significantly improves productivity by removing background noise on both ends of the call.
Such a feature lets you and your employees effectively take calls anywhere without distraction. A bonus feature is that Krisp integrates with your most-used communication tools, including Zoom, Skype, and Slack, making it one of the more beneficial tools in your arsenal.
Managing the one-time and recurring tasks your team has is a job in and of itself. Asana can assume the role of office manager, ensuring that all tasks are completed and on time. This tool is a favorite amongst in-office and remote teams alike, as it can organize tasks, remind employees of upcoming deadlines, serve as an idea and vacation tracker, and much more. Another feature your employees will enjoy is customization, which enables them to choose dark mode, various backgrounds, and celebrations when tasks are completed.
9. Chimp or Champ
Gaining valuable employee feedback is essential, as it helps your team grow professionally. And reading an employee’s mind is something you cannot achieve, even if you weren’t operating remotely. Communication tools like Chimp or Champ create a validating yet straightforward way to connect with your employees. The app sends out a weekly check-in happiness survey that people can answer anonymously and give feedback.
Not only does this improve an employee’s well-being, but it ultimately reduces churn. Employees who feel their voice gets heard in the workplace are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to deliver their best work. Your team is an excellent source for unique feedback about company processes because they implement them daily. Moreover, as an owner or manager, it is important to leverage this insight to improve your business for your employees and clients.
If your company provides customer service, using a cloud phone system can be a helpful tool for your remote operation. Nextiva is a virtual phone system that empowers employees to connect with their clients on the go.
The single platform prioritizes simplicity, ease of use, and reliability, making it a quality app you can use on a smartphone, office phone, tablet, or laptop. Besides its device versatility, Nextiva boasts many features, including call forwarding, website live chat, SMS, virtual fax, mobile app, and more.
11. Time Doctor
Trust and accountability are two things that are required to run a remote business successfully. Time Doctor is a time tracking tool that keeps tabs on an individual’s time through a desktop or mobile app. This app is beneficial to your small business because it allows you to review how much time your team spends tending to clients and specific projects.
Because of these metrics, you can bill clients accordingly or work with employees to adjust their time spent on tasks. An employee’s productivity and accountability can be visualized in the dashboard report that details sites visited, time spent on them, and how their daily workload is broken up.
JIRA is an outstanding project management tool for companies in the tech field. Although primarily used for developers and IT representatives, it offers plenty of use for your customer support team, too. Employees can track their progress on projects during sprints and provide updates, which keeps everyone on the same page.
Concerning the support team, it aids in keeping track of bug tickets and feature requests, which inform them to keep customers updated. All these factors come together to improve communication substantially.
Content creation is instrumental in successfully marketing your brand and your client’s brand if your industry treads those waters. By simply incorporating content into their marketing, a company can significantly impact its conversion rates. A communication tool worth using is Canva, which packs a lot of variety without the budget-tightening price tag.
Like Adobe, Canva lets you use team accounts to create and share design templates, blog headers, source imagery for social media posts, and more without needing to be an expert in navigating the site. Also, its shared folders allow you to reuse and repurpose designs as often as possible.
Effective communication is a must-have to run a successful remote business. We hope that our list of communication tools drives home the importance of collaborating and getting in contact with your employees. As you become an expert at managing your remote team and growing your business, we invite you to consider Joseph Studios as your go-to digital marketing firm.
We know a thing or two about operating remotely, as members of our organization work from all over the United States. At Joseph Studios, we elevate the client experience and help remote organizations run successful marketing campaigns worldwide.
For more information about Joseph Studios or to get a quote for our services, contact our team today!