The Ultimate Remote Tool Stack For 2020

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By I Done This Support

remote tool stack

This is a guest post from Lisa Banks, an expert in workplace communication and writer at content marketing agency Animalz.

Choosing the right tools for your remote team is second only to hiring the right people.

There are a number ted talks for teamwork available to inspire your remote team but choosing the right kind of tools is more important than that.

Remote tools offer structure, streamline operations, and hold your company together as it grows. And you need a lot of them. You need remote tools for team communication, tools for talking to people outside your organization like customers and vendors, tools for managing the business, tools for hiring and development, and so on.

But picking the right tools for a distributed company is not easy with so many to choose from. I’ve whittled through every remote tool in the most common categories to pull together a list. All the following tools are ones my team uses or have come highly recommended by other remote teams.

If you’re setting up a distributed team this year, these are the remote work tools you need.

Internal Communications Tools

For keeping your distributed team on the same page.

Honey for employee intranet

Why you need it: An intranet gives your company communications a central home. This keeps information from falling through the cracks and strengthens your culture as your company grows. Honey is our pick because the simple functionality makes it easier to use than other intranets. It operates like an internal social media platform that connects all your other tools and documents into a hub. With Honey, you don’t need a separate wiki (but if you have one, you can connect it easily).

What others say:“It was so intuitive, so easy, so familiar that people started engaging right away.” Mark Charlinksi, CRO at Leonardo

Learn more: Honey website

Slack for instant messaging

Why you need it: Remote teams need a way to connect quickly with each other throughout the day. Slack lets co-workers communicate on the fly to resolve issues and answer questions that don’t require phone calls or detailed answers. Teams can create dedicated channels to keep topics and conversations organized. We like that you can use private and public messaging, automations, and fun add-ons, like bots, emojis, and gifs.

What others say: “As part of getting the culture right, my goal has always been to make sure we continue valuing transparency and autonomy across all our teams globally. One of the ways we’ve been able to make that happen is through communication and collaboration with Slack.” – Jeetu Mahtani, SVP of International Operations at HubSpot

Learn more: Slack website

Zoom for video conferencing

Why you need it: Video conferencing is the best way for distributed teams to enjoy the benefits of meeting face-to-face without actually traveling to see each other. We use Zoom for video conferencing because it’s reliable, easy-to-use, and affordable. (In fact, you may be able to get by with the free version.) It also integrates with Google Calendar and other tools, so it fits seamlessly into our workflows.

What others say: “Zoom handles all types of communications for us. Whether you’re on a mobile phone or you’re in a conference room, you’re using Zoom and it all fits together. Zoom is how we get things done around here.” – Peter Gassner, CEO of Veeva Systems

Learn more: Zoom website

Google Calendar for calendar sharing

Why you need it: A team calendar lets your remote team see each others’ schedules and plan company events or meetings. We like the color-coded formatting and different calendar views available with Google Calendar for Business. It’s easy to pull up multiple co-workers’ calendars at once. And most people learn it quickly because they’re already familiar with G Suite tools.

What others say: “The integration between Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Google Drive, and other G Suite apps was another big selling point. As a total, real-time collaboration platform, G Suite is impressive.” – Andy White, Senior Director, Infrastructure Engineering at Salesforce

Learn more: Google Calendar website

Loom for screen recordings & quick videos

Why you need it: Video can be a great tool to help remote team members explain things quickly, especially when you need an asynchronous channel. We like Loom’s versatility. It’s great for making quick videos to show someone how to do something or give feedback when a face-to-face video won’t work.

What others say: “Our team is small and we are all remote. This requires us to pay extra attention to communication and documentation. We primarily use Loom to record our work processes so we can cross-train and bring on new staff. Instead of having one person schedule time on the busy calendar every time someone needs to learn how to do something, we now have a Loom video for them to watch. It means that our team can quickly adapt and pass tasks around with minimal training.” – Rachel Gauvin, Project Manager at Rising Tide Partners

Learn more: Loom website

Status Hero for virtual standups

Why you need it: Staying connected can be difficult for a distributed team, but Status Hero makes it easy to let everyone know what others are working on and fosters a sense of belonging. This app changes a messy standup meeting into an organized asynchronous check-in that saves time for teams and keeps them on the same page.

What others say:“SpringboardVR is a fully remote team across 6 countries and we wouldn’t be able to function without Status Hero. It really empowers our team to work together in an asynchronous fashion that we wouldn’t be able to do without Status Hero.” – Matthew Hall, CTO of SpringboardVR

Learn more:Status Hero website

Google Drive for file storage

Why you need it: As you scale, you’ll need a place for storing documents, so your remote team can access them. Google Drive comes with excellent searchability, syncing, and storage pricing. And its file recovery and change history features can’t be beat.

What others say: Google Drive was used by my whole organization to facilitate communication and collaboration on documents and projects. More than 60 percent of employees worked remotely, including myself, so we stayed in contact often through Google Drive. The main need of our company was to be able to see real-time changes to projects or documents made by other individuals on the team, and Google Drive allows for this. One other huge benefit is that the product is free to use.” Elizabeth Sullivan-Hasson, Research Assistant at TrustRadius

Learn more: Google Drive website

1Password for password sharing

Why you need it: Password protection is critical in an era of data breaches. Teams need access to shared accounts to software and publications, and the best way to store that information is in a secure password hub. The management and delegation capabilities in 1Password are useful, as are the analytics that let you see how people use the account. We also like the ability to have shared and personal folders.

What others say: “We’re extremely pleased to be using 1Password Business to keep IBM secure. Rolling out 1Password to our employees worldwide was quick and simple, with over 50,000 employees adopting it within the first two weeks alone.” – Konrad Lagarde, Director at Toolbox@IBM

Learn more: 1Password website

Notion for note-taking

Why you need it: Taking notes that can be shared and referenced later is critical to smooth operation as a remote team. It’s how your people will share the knowledge they accumulate. Remote teams like Notion’s minimalist look as well as its templates and reminders. Notion is accessible via mobile and works great as a visual whiteboard, too. And, for the features, it’s affordable against its competitors.

What others say:“More flexible content than Evernote, more structured than OneNote, more featured than Keep, more reference-oriented than Todoist, and — thanks to a flexible content model it calls “databases” — it can throw pages on a Kanban board, Calendar, or Table!“ – Taylor Smith, Product Owner and Frontend Engineer at Four Kitchens

Learn more: Notion website

HR Tools

For growing your remote team.

Greenhouse for applicant tracking

Why you need it: You rarely meet applicants face-to-face when hiring for remote work, so it’s important to establish a good experience through your applicant tracking tool. Greenhouse shines at this. The system guides you through flows customized according to the hiring department, and it automates a lot of the time-consuming admin work.

What others say:“Greenhouse has allowed us to scale our recruiting process, to work more effectively, and most importantly, automate so many recruiting tasks like offer approvals and offer document generation that were previously done manually, improving the speed and accuracy with which we work.” – Dan Geiger, People Operations Manager at BuzzFeed

Learn more:Greenhouse website

Truework for hiring

Why you need it: Growing your team is exciting, but it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work to hire someone. Truework will save you time running background checks and verification processes — things you don’t want to skimp on. Plus, the interface is simple and easy-to-use.

What others say: “Truework is so efficient and convenient. I no longer have to worry about employment and income verifications because I can trust Truework has them all handled with no information falling through the cracks.” – Carrie Ohslund, HR Coordinator at Segment

Learn more: Truework website

BambooHR for employee onboarding

Why you need it: A good onboarding experience goes a long way toward setting up a new remote team member for success. But managing the process manually will drain HR resources. Fans love BambooHR for its sleek interface and easy workflows that help new hires complete paperwork quickly and get set up with checklists and introductions.

What others say: My company was in need of software that dramatically cut down our paper usage, particularly for the onboarding process. The paperwork folder that I’d hand each new hire on their first day, was far too much and too overwhelming. With BambooHR, we are now able to have that onboarding process be completely electronic and have each new employee complete their new hire packet before their start date, at their leisure. That way, their first day (really, just about their entire first week) could be spent participating in valuable hands-on training sessions.“ Keyana K.,Internal Operations Assistant

Learn more: BambooHR website

Justworks for payroll

Why you need it: You can outsource payroll — but why would you when you can automate it in-house? Justworks makes life easier for employees, who can access everything they need in one spot: their pay stubs, benefits, tax documents, time-off submissions, and PTO left for the year, to name a few things.

What others say: “I didn’t have to walk a single employee through the initial login and profile creation when we went live with it. Signing up for benefits was just as easy and takes our employees less than two minutes to select which benefits they would like. Also, knowing that they have one resource they can refer to in the future for pay stubs, tax forms, and a summary of their benefits is empowering for them.” – Brian Wannop, CFO at Mamava

Learn more: Justworks website

Lattice for employee development

Why you need it: To help your remote employees flourish, you need a way to track goals and progress. Lattice allows employees and managers to track goals in a dedicated dashboard. We also like its “praise” feature, which lets other team members publicly (or privately) praise someone on the team.

What others say: “The other big return on investment has been employees being able to revisit feedback at any time and use Lattice as their dashboard for personal growth. It’s a place that they can continuously return to and set their own goals and track their own progress.” – Stephanie Mardell, VP of People at Button

Learn more: Lattice website

Bravely for professional coaching

Why you need it: Professional coaching taps into employees’ ambitions to succeed. It works by giving your people an unbiased, “safe” resource to help them overcome obstacles and grow into superstars. Talk about a win-win! Some forward-thinking companies are offering access to coaches as a perk now, and Bravely is a service that matches people with professional coaches on demand. We love the company’s focus on happiness alongside productivity.

What others say: The autonomy our managers feel with Bravely has been a big win internally. One of our general managers referenced the service as a personal coach, almost like a mentor who will give objective advice and direction.” – Jamie Viramontes, VP of Talent at Chipotle

Learn more:Bravely website

CultureIQ for employee engagement surveys

Why you need it: Culture creates a thread that unites your employees despite their different locations. But building an intentional culture is easier said than done with a remote team. That’s where CultureIQ can help. It stands out as a user-friendly SaaS platform that focuses on helping you make your culture a competitive advantage. So much so that it offers consulting to help you get it right, on top of the self-management features of the product.

What others say: There are tons of new HR tech sites budding these days and CIQ is one of a kind. The methodology/theory is thoughtfully designed so as to help educate HR/Biz leaders about how to view and develop their cultures. The passion and energy put into this product and technical functionality is unparalleled. Some HR tech systems, not to call names, were clearly built to work as needed nothing more or less. CIQ is elegantly designed to marry the insight behind the method with top notch tech touch, feel, and functionality.“ – Rachel from Ales Group

Learn more: CultureIQ website

Uptick for one-on-one meetings

Why you need it: When done well, one-on-one meetings help managers develop rapport and connections with their employees — a big challenge for remote teams. Uptick brings structure to your 1:1s. The tool uses industry research to help managers know what to ask their employees, making preparation a snap. It helps ensure the conversation is a two-way street, making for more open and productive relationships.

What others say: Uptick is a great way to streamline check-ins with my team. It helps me manage multiple 1:1s every week with ease. It also gave the team common language to discuss priorities, goals and opportunities for improvement.” – Amanda Janssen, Director of Academic Excellence at Rêve Academy

Learn more: Uptick website

Textio for job postings

Why you need it: The language you use in job postings carries subtle meanings that can make a candidate want to apply — or run in the opposite direction. Textio cleverly uses AI to help you craft engaging and attractive job listings that also align with your remote culture.

What others say: “Think of Textio Flow as Google Smart Compose, only much more prolific and with an eye for culture change.” – Fortune

Learn more: Textio website

Teampay for spend management

Why you need it: A platform that automates and tracks company spending in one place can eliminate hours — or even days — of work. We use Teampay for this. Employees can request a purchase in Teampay, and then managers can approve and track each. The tool also syncs with several accounting systems, making it easy to integrate with software you already use.

What others say: “We went from a 90-100-page monthly AmEx statement to almost nothing now. Our big win has been getting employees off sharing corporate cards and onto Teampay.” – John Chard, Finance at Consensys

Learn more: Teampay website

Customer Success Tools

For serving your customers better than anyone else.

Front for email

Why you need it: Traditional email can be a deathtrap of unproductive time and fragmented information. For our external communications, we use Front, a cloud-based collaboration program that syncs with Gmail. It lets us share drafts, tag each other, and comment on threads internally. This keeps our team organized and supporting our clients better than we could otherwise.

What others say: “Front enabled us to leverage subject matter expertise, group similar conversations together, and have more insight into where our team was spending our time. We saw immediate benefits and efficiency gains that we could then reinvest in more impactful work for our customers.” – Lock Whitney, Manager of Customer Success at HubSpot

Learn more: Front website

Intercom for customer support and sales

Why you need it: Coordinating customer inquiries is a challenge when you can’t just lean over to chat with a co-worker. And now, with so many ways for customers to reach out to your company, providing a seamless experience is hard for everyone. To solve this, Intercom came up with instant messaging for customer service. The tool automates a lot of basic comms while letting customers see where their order stands, etc. Fans say that the tool helps them build better customer relationships.

What others say: “Before, building customer relationships was mainly via email: it was rigid, asynchronous, and impersonal. Intercom allows us to quickly form personal relationships with anyone.” – Winston Christie-Blick,Product Manager at productboard

Learn more: Intercom website

Troops for sales teams

Why you need it: Remote sales teams really need to stay organized to keep information from falling through the cracks. Troops is a top pick for keeping the sales team streamlined and organized. It creates a hub for prospects and candidates at various stages of your sales funnel. It integrates with Slack for easy communication. The tool also offers products for different sales professionals, including sales ops, account execs, sales leaders, and C-suite execs.

What others say: “Troops is a beacon of information. It’s giving us access to information in a way that that we didn’t have before,…making our jobs and the work far more efficient.” – Michael Hershfield, Senior Director at WeWork

Learn more: Troops website

CallRail for call tracking and lead qualification

Why you need it: CallRail provides numerous tools and services that can act as your communications hub for your entire customer and lead base. Their solution provides call-tracking to measure which marketing created the strongest leads, conversation intelligence to analyze calls to organize your leads, form tracking to sort your form submissions with the marketing that provided them, and a comprehensive lead center to compile all of the sales team’s prospects all in one place.

What others say: “Thanks to CallRail, we’re able to track all of the phone calls generated by our SEO and Internet Marketing efforts, for our clients as well as our own company. I can’t imagine going back to tracking a campaign’s conversions without the use of call tracking!” – Kristine Wilson, former Marketing Director at Webmechanix.com

Learn more: CallRail website

DocSend for document sharing

Why you need it: When you send someone a confidential document, you want to be sure it’s secure. Say goodbye to emailing attachments! You can use DocSend to share documents securely. If you send proposals, you’ll love that you can see who has viewed them and how much time they spent on them.

What others say: “DocSend’s analytics and notifications give us a clear sense of which deals are most likely to close. That helps us forecast with much more accuracy than before. The visibility into proposal and presentation engagement is indispensable.” – Chelsea Holt, Account Manager at Mic

Learn more: DocSend website

Stripe for subscription billing

Why you need it: If your business operates on a subscription model, automating payments is a no-brainer. We think you’ll like Stripe’s simple subscription management service for recurring billing. It gives you a lot of flexibility, letting you add one-time costs, discounts, a free trial period, and more. Then just set it on autopilot. It’s hard to go wrong with the same software companies like IndieGoGo, Mashable, eHow, HubSpot, and Amazon rely on.

We have previously shared how to set your team finance goals. Do check it out If you have no idea about it.

What others say: We implemented Stripe to introduce new billing and payment models and increased our trial conversion by 300%.” – Sylvan Boucard, Payments Product Manager at Meetup

Learn more: Stripe website

Productivity Tools

For helping your remote team stay on task.

Trello for project management

Why you need it: A solid project management tool helps remote teams track and move projects ahead. Among the myriad apps to choose from, Trello is beloved for its simplicity. It’s easy to see where things stand at a glance, thanks to its highly visual format.

What others say: “Trello is one of the first project management tools I was exposed to in my professional career and to this day, it remains one of my all-time favorites based on its ease of use, intuitive design, and the extensive list of features offered under its free plan.“ – Nicholas Morpus, Project Management Expert at The Motley Fool

Learn more:Trello website

Toggl for time tracking

Why you need it: If your remote company pays employees or bills customers by the hour, you’re going to need a reliable way to track time. Toggl is a favorite because of its tracking reminders and idle detections — they know how easy it is to forget you’re running a timer! The tool also offers clear ways to break downtime by project, client, and task to keep things separate and organized.

What others say: “Toggl has given us actual data about our labor; we’re able to see how much time each step of our creative process takes. As women in an industry that remains male-dominated, it’s really important to us that our work is rewarded appropriately, and that we’re not doing work for free.” – Bethany Kaylor, Writer at RogueMark Studios

Learn more: Toggl website

Zapier for automation

Why you need it: Automate everything you can for your remote team, so they can focus on the things that move your business ahead. Zapier dominates the integrations/automations industry, connecting over 2,000 apps. These apps let you customize workflows without programming skills. The company offers a comprehensive library of apps on its website that you can steal.

What others say: “Zapier quietly works in the background. My team is now using process to be more productive without even knowing it.” – Ophelie Lechat, Head of Product at SitePoint

Learn more: Zapier website

x.ai for scheduling

Why you need it: Take back all the time you spend coordinating schedules, meetings, and appointments. There are now AI tools to handle this for you, and we recommend x.ai. You can just cc x.ai on your email or click the Chrome extension and bots Amy and Andrew will coordinate the meeting time for you — across time zones and calendar apps. A real gem for remote teams.

What others say:“I recommend x.ai (Amy!) to everyone. She is so easy to use and is my best productivity hack. Scheduling meetings takes up so much time, but Amy is easy to delegate to, and very reliable. I use other automation hacks in my job, but Amy is by far my favorite. I think people are intimidated by using AI or bots, but Amy is beyond easy to setup and use.“ – Vina Rathbone, Consumer Sentiment Analyst at Drake Cooper

Learn more:x.ai website

Okta for user authentication and employee identity management

Why you need it: With so much data stored in the cloud, remote companies need to be mindful of security. At the same time, you need to make information accessible to your employees. Enter the need for user authentication. Considered the leader in this category of tools, Okta makes it easy for your staff to access the applications they need while protecting data. Users include Experian, 20th Century Fox, and Adobe.

What others say:Big or small, tech-heavy or not, tools like Okta make your company safer, your jobs as IT or surrogate IT professionals easier, and most importantly, it makes the day-to-day life of your employees better.“ – Aaron Zander, Senior IT Administrator at Massdrop

Learn more:Okta website

Bonus – A Few Specialized Tools

Special teams need special tools.

TaxJar for sales tax management

Why you need it: Managing sales tax is one problem that no one wants to tackle. TaxJar simplifies the process. Through the TaxJar platform, sales tax calculations, reporting, and filings are all automated within minutes. And with exceptional customer service, transparent pricing, and reliable software, TaxJar users can focus on strategic initiatives like growing their business.

What others say: “The initial appeal was just how easy it was to work with the [TaxJar] system. We knew rates were up to date and we were billing our customers accurately. We could defend all of that when we were submitting our paperwork.” David Heinemeier Hansson, CTO and Cofounder at Basecamp

Learn more: TaxJar website 

Clubhouse for product development collaboration

Why you need it: Your remote product developers need tools that help them manage the specialized work that they do. Clubhouse was built specifically for software development teams. Users rave about how it keeps them organized and focused. Its scalability especially appeals to growing teams.

What others say:“Our team was using GitHub story tracking and a few other things before, and they just weren’t sustainable for the size of our team and the scope of projects we’re working on, so I was quite excited to go to a Kanban style board and use Clubhouse.” – Yasmin Nozari, VP of Product at MakeSpace

Learn more: Clubhouse website

Alexa for market research & SEO

Why you need it: Alexa allows you to stay on top of competitors in the industry. It provides SEO data for keywords and backlinks and other handy tools such as regular site audits. We adore Alexa for showing us how to use the data. Alexa also goes way beyond other SEO tools when it comes to competitive analysis and target audience analysis.

What others say: “People have an emotional reaction when they see that competitors are beating them at something. This is the fastest way to see what’s working for them and not for you. Even at a glance, I’ve found 3-4 actions I can take to get better results.” – Andy Crestodina, Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Orbit Media

Learn more: Alexa website

Vyond for animated videos

Why you need it: Animated videos are useful in marketing, training, and employee recruiting — those times when you need more than a simple screen recording. Vyond’s animations are easy to follow for viewers. And the creation process is user-friendly even for novices.

What others say: “I’ve been using Vyond for about two years now. I researched half a dozen companies out there, tested several, and found that Vyond was by far the easiest to use in the shortest period of time. We use Vyond to create everything from communications videos to kick off new programs to videos that support our recruiting efforts.” – Keith Anderson, Director of Learning at Sears Home Services

Learn more: Vyond website

Thrive for executive recruiting

Why you need it: The stakes are high when you’re hiring company leaders. Remote hiring teams will love the technology-based Thrive platform. It automates the tedious parts of the executive search process while making it easier to extend white-glove treatment to candidates. Hiring teams have access to real-time reporting and the ability to source hidden candidates fast.

What others say: “It’s created an online database of talent that we never had before, which is extremely helpful.” – Kelly Kinnard, VP of Global Talent at Battery Ventures

Learn more: Thrive website

ChartMogul for subscription analytics

Why you need it: How you price your product makes a big difference — but how can you know you’re charging the right price? ChartMogul gives you the data you need to make better pricing decisions. The tool makes it easy to see things like churn rate, customer lifetime value, monthly recurring revenue, and more. Users love that they can see the impact of pricing changes right away.

What others say: “ChartMogul really allows me to get a general pulse of the company. In real time, I can evaluate pricing changes and the impact of product and marketing campaigns. It gives me a baseline overview of where we are today, and what it’s going to take to get to the next level.” Tyson Quick, CEO at Instapage

Learn more: ChartMogul website

SimpleLegal for enterprise legal ops

Why you need it: When your team works remotely, it’s even more important to give your legal department the right tools to stay connected. Our pick, SimpleLegal, streamlines how legal departments operate by centralizing key information, tasks, and vendors. Users especially appreciate the visibility into work and financial performance.

What others say: “Before SimpleLegal, we were reliant on our inboxes. Now, invoices live in one place and we can easily see what each vendor is working on, what is being charged, and how much a similar project has cost us in the past.” – Megan Scolari, Lead Operations Manager at AdRoll

Learn more: SimpleLegal website

What Remote Tools Would You Add Here?

Whether you’re starting up a new remote team or moving an established company to a remote environment, you need the right remote tools to keep a distributed team working and growing happily.

There are plenty more beyond those I’ve covered here. What about you — do you have a favorite you can share with our readers below?

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