Essential Tools for Running Your Business Remotely
In 2020, finding the right business software for managing remote teams has suddenly become very important.
When you think about remote work, you probably think video calls, virtual meetings, and remote presentations. And you’re right! These are a big part of working online, especially with colleagues and customers.
Remote workers who are new to the game are quickly realizing that adapting to working outside of a traditional office setting is not as simple as jumping down on your couch with your laptop. You need clear processes, constant communication, and a strong digital stack to do your best work.
Most of us are now wondering about:
How do I work remotely and still be productive?
And what tools do I need to do it right?
Remote work tools will keep you and your team on track no matter where you’re working from. And there are all kinds of options for different industries, working styles, and team sizes.
With hundreds of software options to choose from, navigating through them all while also settling into your new home office can be overwhelming.
In this article, I’m sharing our favorite work from home software for everything from smooth team communication to client presentation, secure file sharing to financial accounting, and plenty of others too.
Here are the tools you and your team need for remote work success.
Table of contents: List of FREE Remote Working Software
- For Team Communication
- For Online Meetings & Presentation
- For Managing Business Remotely
- For Project Management
- For Design & Development
- For File Sharing
Free Software Tools For Team Communication
When it comes to managing communication between the remote workers, Slack comes as a lifesaver. Say goodbye to sending hundreds of emails in a day.
Slack makes communication more personal. Slack calls itself a “collaboration hub”, but it’s basically a chat platform for teams and individuals.
You can create different ‘channels’ for the different departments like sales, marketing, operations and let the team exchange messages in those channels.
Best part I like about Slack is, it integrates with almost every online application on the planet.
At ProfitBooks, we get customer messages from our Facebook page, Website contact form and from in-app messager. All those messages can be viewed directly into Slack at once place.
Slack also has video calling, file sharing, and integrations with other remote working tools like Google Calendar and Jira. But, at its core, it’s a simple way to communicate with teams or one-on-one in real time.
Its free to get started with Slack. You can manage your entire team and integrate upto 10 other application with free plan – which I think is enough for small businesses.
2) Microsoft Teams
Let’s look at the second free software for managing remote teams – Microsoft Teams.
It’s surprisingly easy to use and packs a lot of features. Their free plan is also very generous.
Watch this quick tour:
Microsoft is making Microsoft Teams available for free for anyone with a 365 subscription while we fight the Covid-19 situation.
The company is also offering a special Office 365 E1 Trial to help employees and companies adjust to working from home. E1 includes Web-based Office apps and business services such as email, file sharing and storage, meeting and conferencing capabilities, data location controls, instant messaging, and more.
I’ve started using Microsoft Teams for some of our projects and so far we are loving it. Specially, an ability to integrate OneNote, Trello and Asana.
I personally find it better than Slack. Go for it.
If you don’t want to use any Entrerprisish applications and want a simple communication app for remote workers, consider Chanty.
It’s a light-weight communication tool and can help you increase the productivity of your remote team.
With Chanty’s free plan, you can manage upto 10 team members and also conduct one-on-one audio calls with them.
I haven’t personally tried Chanty. If you are using it, please share your feedback in the comments.
Free Tools for online meetings and presentations
After Corona virus outbreak, Zoom has become a household name. Right from working from home employees to Yoga teachers, suddenly everyone is using Zoom.
Zoom is a free remote work tool for video-conferencing. I love Zoom because, besides standard features for video meetings and presentations, it offers real-time chat, video recording, screen sharing, calendar integrations, and even webinars.
At ProfitBooks, we use Zoom extensively for conducting client demos. We even used it a couple of times to conduct a webinar and it worked well.
5) Google Hangouts
If you don’t want to download any software and looking for a web-based software for online meetings, then check out Google Hangouts.
If you use G Suit, it’s known as Google Meet there (God only knows why Google does that).
It’s a no-frills software and helpful if you only want to conduct online meetings with occasional screen sharing. It doesn’t offer meeting recording in the free plan. That feature is reserved for paid members of G Suit.
If you are on budget and need a super quick way to manage remote teams, go for Google Hangout. But if you want more useful features like meeting recording, then Zoom is your best friend.
If you want a modern video conferencing software with voice intelligence for your remote employees, then consider UberConference.
You will be able to transcribe meetings and automate tasks with this easy to use tool. Best part is, there is no need to download and software and it doesn’t need any PINs.
UserConference offers a free plan to host online meeting up to 10 participants. To ease disruption from COVID-19, that free plan now allows longer call duration and up to 50 participants.
It works seamlessly on desktop, mobile, tablets and even on Xbox 🙂
On top of that, you also get voice calling and caller ID features.
Free Software For Managing Business Remotely
When you are running your entire business remotely, there is one thing you just can not ignore – that’s finances!
ProfitBooks is a free accounting software that let’s you create invoices, track expenses, manage inventory and stay on top of your taxes.
You can invite your accountant to review your books online.
Best part – with ProfitBooks, you can collect payments from your clients online by integrating a payment gateway like Instamojo.
ProfitBooks is super simple to use and totally free for startups. It is a must-have tool for remote businesses.
Looking for an Omnichannel, AI-driven or Self Service solution for customer service? Check out Freshdesk.
With Freshdesk, you can manage all your customer conversations in one place, collaborate with your teams to resolve support issues faster and provide customer support remotely.
FreshDesk’s free plan is very generous. You can create unlimited number of agents to manage customer tickets. It’s great tool for managing support team working remotely.
10) Hubspot CRM
If you are still maintaining your leads on a spreadsheet, you are wasting your precious time. You need a powerful yet totally free CRM software – Hubspot.
It makes it really easy to capture and manage leads at one place.
We use Hubspot CRM to capture leads for our whitelabel accounting software. We’ve added a lead-capture form on the website which sends the lead information directly in the CRM.
It saves a lot of time for sales team working remotely and helps us to manage customer data at one place.
When managing remote teams, it becomes important to track their productivity. Hubstaff makes it easy to track employee time, monitor productivity, create timesheets and more.
There offer a free plan. However, it’s a bit limited and let’s you track only on employee. Still, take a look.
If you liked HubStaff but not happy with their 1-user limit, then consider using toggl.
It’s a free time tracking software with project management and reporting functions.
It’s free up to 5 members. Good enough for a small remote team.
Working from home can be challenging and you can easily start to feel disconnected. As a business owner, you might want to know about the issues faced by your remote employees.
This is where Officevibe helps. With this free software, you can collect employee feedback, conduct one-on-one reviews and much more.
Free Tools for project management
Jira is a project management platform designed for agile development in particular. Your software team working remotely can use this free project management software to plan, track, and release great software.
Jira lets you integrate with a lot of other tools and it’s free up to 10 users.
Trello is also owned by Atlassian which also offers Jira for Kanban-based productivity. If you’re looking for a lighter task management tool to manage your own work or projects in remote teams, Trello is a better choice.
I love Trello for it’s simplicity. It also let’s you create public boards.
It a completely free software for managing to-do list. Check it out.
If you are looking for a slightly more sophisticated tool for managing projects, check out Asana.
It let’s you plan and structure work in a way that’s best for you. Set priorities and deadlines, share details and assign tasks, all in one place.
Asana is free up to 15 users. This one is my personal favorite.
Check out the overview below.
Basecamp is around since the early internet days. It can easily take the crown of the best free software for managing remote teams simply because the company itself is using this tool since last 20 years!
The parent company of basecamp – 37signals is a huge advocate for remote work. In fact, they’ve written a book on it 🙂
Basecamp is super simple to use and offers a free plan as well.
Airtable is an interesting app. It’s a part spreadsheet, part database, and entirely flexible tool to manage remote team’s work.
Airtable has something called as ‘Blocks’ that gives you a creative palette of app-like functionality that you can mix and match to create the perfect workflow for your remote team.
You can start using it free. It’s really a powerful tool and a great alternative to spreadsheets.
Free Software For Design and Development
If you are a software development company, managing product development remotely can be very challenging. GitHub is a development tool that is mainly used for version control, or keeping track of changes made to files, like ones with code for web pages or apps.
Developers use GitHub to create and work with code repositories. It lets them easily view, share, and collaborate. It also keeps developers from accidentally overwriting someone else’s (or even their own) work and also makes a history of changes so they can go back to them if you need to.
GitHub is free for remote teams and developers.
Figma is a wireframing tool that helps remote teams to create, test, and ship better designs from start to finish. You can create animated prototypes that feel like the real thing.
With this free design tool, you can get insights from your customers and test concepts earlier – all remotely.
Figma is free for 2 editors and 3 projects.
InVision is another popular digital product design platform for creating rich interactive prototypes. You can seamlessly navigate the entire design process in one place, keeping your remote team fully engaged and notified of changes.
It’s used by top companies like Uber, Netflix and Evernote.
InVision let’s you create your first prototype for free. If you are a designer and want to show your designs to your clients remotely, you should definitely check this out.
Free Tools for file sharing
22) Google Drive
Alright, this tool doesn’t need any introduction. With Google Drive, you can not only share files with your remote employees but you can also collaborate on documents, sheets and presentations.
Google is generous with the storage and offers 15GB free.
You should definitely, use this free business software for storing and sharing important files with your remote team.
Also check out – 25 Free Google Tools For Business owners
Everyone loved Dropbox when it became viral during it’s initial days. It offers a clean design and seamless synching between different devices.
I had to bid adieu to this free file sharing app long back due to it’s very frugal 2GB storage limit. But I still use it occasionally to share public files.
So, if you want to share a product presentation to a client quickly, Dropbox comes handy. It can be useful especially during this time when everyone is working from home.
OneDrive is fast becoming my favorite tool because of the integration it offers with other Microsoft products such as MS Office and Teams.
We use Office 365 home edition which gives 1TB of cloud storage to 6 team members. The icing on the cake is, you get a desktop version of MS office free with it – which is a great deal.
OneDrive offers 5GB of free storage if you are not ready for a paid plan.
If you don’t want to signup for any cloud storage service and just want to share large file with the client, then WeTransfer is what you need.
You can quickly share up to 2GB of file using this free file sharing software.
It’s super simple to use – Just visit their website, upload the file and share a link with your team or clients.
Other Free Tools For Remote Working That I Love..
Calendly is a modern appointment scheduler that offers numerous features for managing remote employees. Remote teams or your clients can quickly check each other’s availability, book appointments, and send bookings to a Google Calendar automatically.
It’s free to start and easy-to-use. If you are fine with Calendly branding, their free plan is good to go.
Plus, if you connect Calendly and Zoom, your meetings will sync to the calendar with a meeting room already set.
At ProfitBooks, we use Calendly extensively to book demos with the clients looking for an accounting solution.
If you are finding it difficult to work from home while kids playing video games in the background, then you need Noisli.
With Noisli, you can select different “white” noises that will help you focus on what’s important. If you love to work with background noise, Noisli allows you to select tracks like trains, fan noise, and even café sounds.
If you prefer something a little more peaceful, soundtracks like rain, water, wind, and more can help you build exactly the background noise you’re looking for.
You could choose to immerse yourself in a forest or enjoy a stormy night. Noisli allows you to combine sounds together and create a unique soundtrack to help you do better work.
Timezone is a remote work tool for helping employees manage a work-life balance by keeping track of when and where people are working.
Timezone helps you plan meetings for multinational teams to avoid calling them at odd times.
While working remotely, it’s difficult for businesses to get sales contracts and offer letters signed. DocuSign eSignature eliminates manual tasks and increases convenience for your customers and employees.
You can send and sign agreements securely from virtually any device.
It is accepted in India and most of the other countries.
Learn more about how digital signatures work and how to get one in India.
Remote workers especially, need to be extra vigilant with their time management, and we can all agree that manually updating recurring tasks is not a good use of time.
Zapier connects your favorite apps and automates workflows, leaving you more time to concentrate on deep work.
For example, you can quickly send leads captured from Facebook ADs to Hubspot CRM. This free business automation tool can save you tones of hours every month.
Hire remote workers
If you are looking for a single tool to replace the many apps your remote teams use for task management, time tracking, reporting, file sharing, and collaboration, then ProofHub is the answer.
It has an easy-to-use interface, which makes onboarding for remote teams easy. You can add tasks with deadlines and assign them to team members.
ProofHub is completely free for schools for the rest of 2020 to help teachers, students and admins manage their work remotely.
Tips for making remote teams successful
A Guide to managing your new remote team – By HBR
In-depth guide on remote work – By Zapier
Free resources for making remote working successful – By Linkedin
30 Cost-cutting ideas to survive cashflow crunch – By ProfitBooks
Now that you’ve got the best free business software for managing your remote teams, you need to be a ‘work-from-home’ wizard, it’s time to take a plunge and setup your virtual office.
Navigating in the remote work world can be difficult at first, but remember that just because your team isn’t in the same place, doesn’t mean you can’t be on the same page.
Use these tools listed above to help manage yourself, your remote team, your clients and their projects.
Remember, it’s going to be a new-normal now.
Hope you liked this article. Please share it with your team and colleagues who might benefit from it.
Also, share your thoughts in the comments below.