Teamwork anytime, anywhere: Collaboration tools for remote teams

May 6, 2024
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When the 2020 pandemic hit, remote work became a quick fix for many businesses. But guess what? Turns out, we kind of liked it, and even after the virus calmed down, a whopping 91% of employees favour remote or hybrid work setups over in-office hours. Big names like Apple and Google seem to be totally on board too, only asking their employees to show up in the office three days a week.

But, of course, there are concerns. Like, how do we keep a consistent organisational culture when we're all over the place? And collaborating? One of the employers’ major concerns regarding remote work!

Thankfully, we've got collaboration tools for remote teams to save the day. These tools make virtual teamwork a breeze, helping us stay connected no matter where we are. So yeah, they're not just a privilege for businesses anymore – they're a must-have for any hybrid team.

And that’s what brings us to why I’m writing (and you’re reading) this blog post. What are collaboration tools? What are their types and benefits? And most importantly, what are the best collaboration tools for remote teams, especially when you're working on delivering the best customer service. 

Let’s collaborate for a few minutes to find out!

The trend of remote work in key industries

What’s a better way to save on daily commute prices, office rents, time lost, and access talent from all over the world? Having remote employees!

Almost all industries saw a shift in work structure trends in recent years. Teams went from in-office to remote in all businesses. Here’s a little overview of our favourite industries and the percentage of their employees who work fully or mostly remotely:

Source Statista

Here are a few examples of how some of these industries benefit from having remote teams:

Remote hospitality team examples:

  1. Remote reservation and booking agents: reservation and booking agents can work remotely to manage bookings, handle inquiries, and assist guests with their travel plans from anywhere with an internet connection.
  2. Virtual event planning: event planners in the hospitality industry can organise and coordinate events remotely, including weddings, conferences, and corporate gatherings, by leveraging virtual communication tools and platforms.
  3. Remote customer support: customer support teams can assist guests via phone, email, or live chat from remote locations, addressing inquiries, resolving issues, and ensuring guest satisfaction.

Remote automotive team examples:

  1. Virtual sales teams: automotive companies can employ remote or hybrid sales teams to engage with customers online, handle inquiries, and facilitate vehicle sales through virtual platforms and communication channels.
  2. Remote technical support and troubleshooting: automotive manufacturers can establish remote technical support teams to troubleshoot vehicle issues, provide software updates, and offer remote diagnostics to customers and dealerships.
  3. Online marketing and sales promotion: remote marketing teams can develop and execute digital marketing campaigns, social media strategies, and online promotions to generate leads, increase brand awareness, and drive sales for automotive products and services.

💡 Read more about the customer engagement automotive solutions that’ll bring revenue.

Remote retail team examples:

  1. Remote merchandising and inventory management: retail companies can manage merchandising and inventory remotely by utilising digital tools and platforms to track stock levels, update product listings, and analyse sales data from anywhere with an internet connection.
  2. Virtual personal shoppers: retailers can offer virtual personal shopping services where customers can consult with remote stylists or advisors to receive personalised product recommendations, styling tips, and assistance with outfit selection via video calls or messaging apps.
  3. Online marketing and e-commerce management: hybrid (maybe even local) marketing teams can develop and execute digital marketing strategies, social media campaigns, and email marketing initiatives to promote retail products, drive website traffic, and increase online sales.

Types of collaboration tools for remote teams

Think of an in-office go-to-market team working together on a marketing campaign. What are the few things they are likely to share? Is it just verbal communication or also files, documents, ideas, and even their progress with the project?

Collaboration between employees does not follow a single format and neither do collaboration tools!

Here are a few types of remote working tools for effective collaboration:

1. Communication tools

Effective communication is a documented challenge while working remotely. But modern solutions like virtual meetings, video conferencing, and video calls maximise productivity in distributed teams.  

According to Abilene Christian University, investing in communication tools is an effective way to keep remote teams connected. Here are a few more benefits of having a dedicated collaboration software for remote communication:

  • Instant messaging: these tools keep everyone in the loop, no matter where they are. You can chat, video call, or send messages in real-time, making it feel like you're all working side by side, even if you're miles apart.
  • Seamless teamwork: working together has never been easier! Whether you're brainstorming ideas, working on projects, or giving feedback, these tools let you collaborate seamlessly with your team, sparking creativity and innovation along the way.
  • Stronger team-building: building a strong team with members scattered over three continents is hard. But not with these tools! You can catch up, joke around, and celebrate wins together, creating a supportive and inclusive work culture.

Top 3 collaboration tools for communication

According to Statista, almost 90% of US employees who were working fully remotely in 2023 reported using a video conferencing tool.

Here are the best collaboration tools for remote teams that foster teamwork and effective communication:

  1. Slack: When big names like OpenAI Verizon Lyft and IBM use Slack for boosting their productivity you know the tool is good. The platform features a channel system that keeps conversations organised and allows voice/video calls, images/documents/file sharing, and stores the shared material for later access.
  1. Zoom: Primarily a video calling service Zoom has now become a household name due to its sleek interface. The free version allows a 40-minute video call with screen sharing, group calls, and in-app messages.
  1. Happeo: Looking to connect work-related collaboration and social interactions under one roof? Happeo lets you do just that! The app allows integrations with your Google Workspace and every collaboration tool you are already using — making remote working a breeze.

2. Project and task management tools

In the healthcare sector, just 18% of project managers operate exclusively in physical office settings, with 35% opting for complete remote work, marking the highest proportion compared to other industries.

Anyone who has managed a remote team knows how quickly things can go downhill with even the slightest overlook. It is hard to keep motivation up, curb miscommunications, and incorporate adequate feedback to keep the team going in the right direction.

Project management tools enable PMPs and managers to keep a hold of things even when working remotely or with a remote team. Here are a few ways collaboration tools for remote teams can be of use while managing a project:

  • Keep everyone on the same page: email chains and spreadsheets can be messy and confusing. With project management tools, everyone can see what needs to be done, who's working on what, and when things are due, keeping your team organised and on track.
  • Tracking progress is a breeze: collaboration tools come to the rescue when tackling multiple teams by helping you track progress on tasks and projects. You can see what's been done, what's still pending, and what's coming up next, giving you a clear picture of where things stand.
  • Smooth communication: need to ask a quick question or give an update? No problem! Some project management tools let you chat, message, or video call your team in an instant, keeping you connected 24/7 – even if you're working from different corners of the world.

Top 3 project management tools

Looking for the best collaboration tools for remote teams as a project manager? Here are our top picks:

  1. Trello: Trello is a convenient alternative for office whiteboards and confusing spreadsheets. The tool breaks down the tasks into “to-do”, “doing”, and “done” categories for easy organisation and follow-up.
  1. ProProfs Projects: Featuring Gantt Charts and Kanban Boards, ProProfs is an all-in-one management tool that shows real-time updates, tracks time, generates invoices, arranges projects based on priority, and calculates billable hours.
  1. Asana: We love Asana because of how detailed it is. You can have individual and project boards, plus descriptions about what needs to be done. It sends notifications for assignments and weekly and daily reminders to get the task done.

3. Document and file sharing tools

Working remotely wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for these cloud-based collaboration tools for document and file sharing. These collaboration apps keep the entire team in the loop by sharing work files and documents.

Here are a few advantages to using document and file-sharing tools for remote collaboration:

  • Easy sharing: with document and file sharing tools, sharing files is a piece of cake! No more digging through endless email chains or struggling to find the right version of a document—just upload, share, and voilà! Your team can access files anytime, anywhere.
  • Seamless collaboration: collaboration tools let you collaborate in real-time, whether you're brainstorming ideas, editing documents, or giving feedback. They allow comments, in-document conversations, edits, and suggestions.
  • Security and peace of mind: these tools come with built-in security features like encryption, access controls, and user permissions, so you can share files with confidence, knowing they're safe and sound.

According to TechJury, cloud-based document sharing apps have improved online security for businesses by 94%.

Top 3 document and file sharing tools

Here are our 3 best collaboration tools for remote teams that allow document and file sharing:

  1. G Suite: When you’re talking convenience and functionality, it hardly gets better than the good old G Suite. With multiple collaboration apps like Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Gmail, etc., Google Workplace has what it takes to be at the center of your operations.
  1. Microsoft Office 365: Office 365 offers seamless collaboration features such as real-time co-authoring and cloud storage. With its user-friendly interface and robust security measures, it is easy for remote teams to collaborate effectively from anywhere, ensuring productivity and data protection in remote work environments.
  1. Dropbox Business: Dropbox Business is a leading file and document-sharing tool for remote work, providing secure cloud storage, collaboration features, and seamless integration with third-party apps. 

3. Customer engagement tools

Yes, your remote teams are sharing documents, communicating and project managing to work together. When this is to collaborate on customer engagement, delivering service or offering support your team will need a customer engagement tool!

Customer engagement tools play a pivotal role in modern business strategies, fostering meaningful interactions and relationships between companies and their customers. These tools offer several advantages for businesses looking to enhance their customer experience and drive loyalty.

Here are a few advantages to using customer engagement tools for remote collaboration:

  • Personalised communication: allowing companies to tailor their messages and interactions based on customer preferences and behaviours. This personalised approach not only improves customer satisfaction but also increases conversion rates and sales.
  • Omnichannel engagement: customer engagement tools facilitate omnichannel communication, enabling seamless interactions across various touchpoints, including social media, email, and live chat. This ensures that customers can reach out to businesses through their preferred channels, enhancing accessibility and convenience
  • Reporting: these tools provide valuable insights and analytics, allowing businesses to track customer interactions, gather feedback, and measure the effectiveness of their engagement strategies. By leveraging these insights, companies can continuously refine their approach and deliver more targeted and impactful customer experiences.
  • Integrations: customer engagement spans channels, tools, systems and more. So you'll need a tool that offers all the integrations needed for your team to deliver the best possible customer answers.

Top 3 document and file sharing tools

  1. Trengo: Trengo stands out as a comprehensive customer engagement platform that integrates various communication channels into a unified inbox, streamlining customer interactions and team collaboration. With features like shared inboxes, AI-efficiency features, automated workflows, and conversation tagging, Trengo enables service businesses to manage customer queries efficiently, deliver timely responses and scale personalisation plus quality across channels. Its analytics dashboard provides valuable insights into customer engagement metrics, helping businesses track performance and drive customer satisfaction and retention. Plus, it offers all the integrations needed for your team to be up and running. It's a top pick for any remote team! 
Source Trengo
  1. Intercom: Intercom is a customer messaging platform that offers live chat, email marketing, and customer support solutions. Its interface and customisable chatbots enable businesses to engage with customers in real-time, automate repetitive tasks, and provide personalised support at scale. Intercom's built-in CRM system and reporting tools empower businesses to segment their audience, track user behaviour, and measure the impact of their communication efforts.
Source Intercom
  1. Zendesk: Zendesk is a versatile customer service software that offers a suite of tools for ticket management, self-service support, and customer engagement. With features like omnichannel support, knowledge base management, and community forums, Zendesk helps businesses provide seamless and consistent support experiences across channels. Its AI-powered analytics and reporting capabilities enable businesses to identify trends, forecast customer needs, and optimise their support operations for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

Factors to consider when choosing collaboration tools for remote teams

When it comes to picking the perfect collaboration tool for your remote team, there are a few key things to keep in mind. 

  1. Use case: think about what features are essential for your team – whether it's real-time messaging, file sharing, or video conferencing. 
  2. Ease of use: you want a tool that's intuitive and user-friendly, so everyone can jump right in without a hitch. 
  3. Data security: make sure the tool you choose has robust security measures in place to keep your team's data safe and sound.
  4. Budget: opt for a solution that offers the right balance of features at a price point that suits your needs
  5. Integration: you'll want a platform that seamlessly integrates with your existing software stack to streamline workflows and enhance productivity.
  6. Scalability: choose a tool that can grow with your team and adapt to evolving needs over time.

💡 Trengo integrates with your favourite business tools, like Salesforce, Zoho, Wix, etc., for seamless business operations and maximum productivity. 

Cars Commerce x Slack: Case study of successful remote team collaboration 

Cars Commerce is revolutionising the automotive industry with its mission to simplify car buying and selling. 

The challenge: With a focus on seamless retail operations and engaging consumer experiences, Cars Commerce sought to enhance cross-team collaboration. 

The solution: Slack seamlessly integrated into Cars Commerce's workflow, providing a platform where teams could collaborate with precision and speed, ultimately empowering them to work more efficiently and effectively towards their goal of transforming the automotive retail landscape.

Hubo x Trengo: Case study of successful remote team collaboration 

By implementing Trengo's unified communication platform, Hubo transformed its remote operations, enabling team members to collaborate effectively regardless of their location. With Trengo's shared inboxes, and task assignment features, Hubo's teams could streamline communication, delegate responsibilities, and track progress on projects with ease. As a result, Hubo experienced improved productivity, faster response times to customer inquiries, and enhanced team cohesion, ultimately driving growth and success in the competitive e-commerce landscape.

Always be on top of your team tasks

Collaboration tools are the unsung heroes of remote work, bridging the gap between teams and empowering them to work together seamlessly, no matter where they are. 

As we look to the future, it's clear that remote work and collaboration are here to stay. With advancements in technology and a growing emphasis on flexibility and work-life balance, we can expect to see even more innovative strategies and collaboration tools for remote work emerge, further enhancing the way we work from home in the years to come. 

So, here's to the bright future of remote work – let's embrace the possibilities and continue to collaborate, connect, and thrive, together.

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