The global pandemic accelerated existing trends in remote work. 17% of employees worked remotely five days a week before the pandemic, but that figure jumped to 44% as lockdowns made it impossible for many to return to the office.
Managing a work from home team can be challenging, especially when you’re used to having everyone working in the same office.
Fortunately, technology has made it easier than ever to manage remote teams and set expectations.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the top tools you need to run efficient remote meetings with your team. We’ll also cover the features that each one offers.
Managing a remote team isn’t like managing a conventional team. Just communicating with everyone can be difficult when you have team members on completely different schedules.
Here are some of the common challenges of managing a remote team:
Using the right tools and software can help you overcome these challenges and keep your remote teams aligned. Now, let’s look at the best tools you can use to run efficient and productive remote meetings.
Appointlet is an online scheduling tool that makes it easy to schedule meetings with your remote team. The tool lets you manage your team’s schedule in one place, so you don’t have to rely on constant back-and-forth emails to confirm availability. Simply schedule a meeting, and your team members can accept bookings through their own personal scheduling page.
One of the more difficult aspects of managing remote teams is when team members are in different time zones. With Appointlet, schedules automatically adapt to any time zone so you can streamline scheduling no matter where your team is located. It also integrates with popular email calendars like Google Calendar and web conferencing tools like Zoom.
Appointlet offers a generous free plan that lets you book unlimited meetings, send automatic appointment confirmations, connect with conferencing tools, and more. You can always start with the free plan and upgrade to its Premium plan as your needs change.
Zoom has become one of the most popular video conferencing tools, especially during the pandemic when professionals use it to host webinars, and even teachers used it to hold remote classes. It’s a quick and easy conferencing tool with a ton of features that are accessible to free users.
With the free plan, you can host up to 100 participants and have unlimited group meetings for up to 40 minutes. You also get access to collaborative features like screen sharing and co-annotation for more interactive meetings. You can also add cool Zoom office backgrounds to make it interesting.
If you would like to host more participants, record transcripts, and include your company branding, you can upgrade your plan. Paid plans start at $14.99 per month for each license for the Pro plan and go up to $19.99 for the Enterprise plan.
Zoho Meeting is a video conferencing tool that offers screen sharing, video recording, and advanced administrator controls. The software is entirely browser-based, so there’s no need to download any software to your computer or mobile device. Unlike Zoom, which collects and shares personal data, Zoho Meetings doesn’t track or share your data with third parties.
Zoho Meeting has a free plan available, but it’s limited to up to only three participants (including the presenter). If you want to post more and gain access to additional features like file sharing and in-session chats, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan, which starts at $3 per host per month for up to ten participants.
Slido is a meeting tool that lets you host more engaging meetings. Sometimes employees don’t always speak up during meetings — they might be afraid of appearing incompetent or saying something wrong. In these instances, you’re not getting feedback from your whole team.
With live polls, you can ask attendees to share their opinions through multiple choice polls, open text, and more. Users can choose to make their inputs anonymous, which gives your team members an opportunity to voice any opinions or concerns without fear of retaliation. Slido also offers a free app called Switcher, which enables you to start a presentation using PowerPoint or Keynote and seamlessly switch between the two.
Loom is a video recording tool that lets remote teams record and share videos. It’s a popular way to hold asynchronous meetings — communications that don’t happen in real-time or require an immediate response. Sometimes calendars don’t always sync up. Instead of writing out a long email or finding the time to arrange a meeting, you can simply record a video and share it with the rest of your team.
Loom offers a free starter plan which allows you to create up to 25 videos for five minutes. However, if you want to create more videos and get access to additional features like transcriptions and engagement insights, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan, which starts at $8 per create a month.
Hugo is a tool that lets you manage your calendars, notes, and tasks in one place. Without a clear plan, meetings can stray off track and take longer than anticipated. With Hugo, you can set an agenda for your meeting ahead of time and send it to your remote team before the session takes place. This gives attendees a chance to review action items and prepare accordingly.
Another handy feature is its note-taking function. During meetings, you can create and share a meeting with your team. Those in attendance can add their own notes and receive tasks in real-time. The software automatically indexes new notes, making it easy for you to instantly find what you need.
Like the other meeting tools on this list, you can integrate Hugo with popular applications like Zoom, Slack, HubSpot, and most Talkdesk competitors. Hugo offers a free plan that includes unlimited docs and tasks, private templates, and basic integrations. However, for extra features like shared templates and premium integrations, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan, which starts at $6 per user per month for the Pro plan.
Asana is project management software that lets you organize your tasks and projects in one workspace. It offers multiple views, including list, timeline, Kanban, calendar, and more so you can get a high-level view of your work. Other features include to-do lists, subtasks, automatic reminders, and file sharing. With real-time project data, you can keep tabs on your team (without micromanaging them).
Asana also offers automations to help you save time on repetitive tasks. For example, you can create custom rules to automatically assign tasks, set due dates, and more. You can also automate Asana with Zapier and get even more work done.
With its free plan, you can manage unlimited tasks, unlimited projects, and collaborate with up to 15 teammates. However, if you want to access additional features like unlimited dashboards, advanced search, task templates, and private teams, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan which starts at $10.99 per user per month (billed annually).
Slack is a popular messaging and workplace communication tool that’s great for managing remote teams. You can organize channels by projects, departments, functions, or anything else. You can also use Slack to send individual messages to your team members. This is useful for sharing feedback or following up on a task.
Slack also offers features that allow you to manage a remote team. With calendar integrations with apps like Outlook and Google Calendar, you can schedule meetings right from a channel. What’s more, you can jump straight into a video conference with your team with just a few clicks. You can also share your screen and communicate your ideas better.
Need to find a recent conversation? Slack offers advanced search functionality that lets you quickly search through your conversations. This feature is available with the free plan, but you can only search up to 10,000 messages. To access the entire message archive you have with your team, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan which starts at $6.67 per user per month (billed annually).
Hypercontext is a meeting agenda app that helps you keep your remote teams aligned. The app provides a dedicated space where you can create meeting agendas, take notes, share feedback with your team, assign tasks, and more. You can also set goals to keep your team accountable and measure progress to see how your team is doing.
Hypercontext includes a library of nearly 200 goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) with examples. You can manage your agenda, assign tasks, and provide feedback right from your Google Calendar with the Chrome extension. Hypercontext offers a free plan, which includes unlimited one-on-ones and team meetings, real-time employee feedback, and more. However, upgrading to a paid plan ($5.60 per user per month, billed annually) gets you extra features like custom agenda templates, real-time collaboration, meeting insights, and more.
ExpressVPN is a virtual private network (VPN) that creates a secure internet connection by routing your traffic through encrypted servers. Globally distributed teams need to have a fast and reliable VPN to access remote meetings and company materials. This is especially useful for team members where certain internet services may be blocked in their location. ExpressVPN, among others, is highly rated for its performance and extensive network of servers.
ExpressVPN uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit encryption to secure your internet traffic. Even if your remote team is working on a public Wi-Fi network, their connection will be completely secure. Other features include split tunneling, which allows you to route some of your traffic through a VPN and push the rest through a regular internet connection. ExpressVPN also has a strict no-logs policy, meaning it doesn’t track or record any data while you’re connected.
Remote work is more common than ever, and it’s a trend that will likely continue well into the future. However, managing remote meetings can be tough, especially when your team members are all located in different time zones around the world.
Fortunately, the tools covered here will help you run efficient remote meetings and set clear expectations for your team. Most of them also integrate with the software that your company already uses, so there’s no need to constantly switch back and forth between different platforms.
If you’re like most businesses, you already have a lot of work on your plate. While tasks like answering phone calls and scheduling appointments are certainly important, they’re only taking you and your team away from higher-value work. The good news is that you don’t have to do everything yourself.
Hire virtual receptionists at Smith.ai, and they can help you handle inbound and outbound calls, schedule appointments, qualify new leads, and even collect payments on your behalf.