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10 Essential Tools To Run A Thriving Team Of Remote Freelancers

10 Essential Tools To Run A Thriving Team Of Remote Freelancers

Empower your remote freelancer team with essential tools for clear communication, task tracking, efficient payments, and productive collaborations.

Thriving in this era of remote work requires the right set of tools. It's all about maintaining clear communication, keeping track of tasks, managing payments efficiently and ensuring productive collaborations among your team members.

Luckily, an array of software options exists to help you do just that. In this comprehensive guide, we're going to explore some essential types of tools capable of effectively running a thriving remote freelancer team, each offering unique functionalities designed around simplifying different aspects encompassing management roles within such setups.

A remote freelancer working from home.

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1. Project management solutions

Running a team remotely can be challenging, but the right project management tools make a significant difference. These software solutions help to organize tasks efficiently, keep track of projects’ timelines, and foster effective collaboration among your freelance workers.

Here are some exemplary project management tools:

  • Asana: This tool shines for task delegation and tracking progress. It boasts an intuitive interface that aids in simple navigation.
  • Trello: With its card-based system, Trello simplifies project management in a flexible way. Drag-and-drop functionality enhances convenience while allocating tasks.
  • Basecamp: An all-in-one solution offering easy task assignments and discussions on work threads. Basecamp also features exceptional file-sharing abilities.
  • Monday.com: For more complex assignments or larger teams, Monday.com allows multifaceted project planning with color-coding systems for better visualization.

Choosing the right tool depends greatly on your team’s size, the nature of the tasks involved, as well as personal preferences regarding user interfaces and specific functionalities. As such, it is advisable to give some thought before selecting one that fits best with your operations.

Make the most of free trials where available, and also ask your freelancers about whether they’re already familiar with a particular solution since this could guide your choice.

2. Communication platforms

Efficient communication is key to coordinating and functioning well with remote freelancers. Given this, finding an effective communication platform can be a total game-changer.

Here are some top-tier communication tools you might consider:

  • Slack: A leading choice for many businesses, Slack offers streamlined chat channels and allows seamless file sharing. It also integrates well with other software tools.
  • Microsoft Teams: If your team often deals with Office files, Microsoft Teams will be perfect due to its integration capabilities. Alongside regular messaging features, it provides video-calling options too.
  • Discord: Although traditionally used by gamers, Discord’s sophisticated voice chat rooms, complemented by robust text support, deliver a premium live conversation experience.
  • Zoom: Delivery of HD-quality video meetings is Zoom's mainstay, making this tool ideal for face-to-face chats or presentations within the team.

Incorporating these platforms allows for clear-cut conversations among your remote workers, irrespective of their physical locations. Highlighting what kind of conversations your operation requires most, be it text-based discussions or frequent face-to-face interaction, will help in selecting the right platform that aligns perfectly with your requirements.

A freelancer conducting a zoom meeting

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3. Payroll management tools

Ensuring all freelancers are paid accurately and on time is a cornerstone of managing remote teams. Benefit from highly functional payroll management tools that will simplify this process.

Here's a round-up of several advanced options:

  • OnPay: Known for its wide range of features, OnPay provides payment options, including direct deposit, prepaid debit cards, or paper checks. It also satisfies numerous tax form requirements.
  • Gusto: Gusto offers full-service payroll in addition to employee benefit management, which means you can access multiple services under one umbrella.
  • Wave Payroll: This tool caters well to smaller businesses with add-on app solutions expressly tailored towards expense tracking and invoicing as required.
  • QuickBooks Payroll: QuickBooks Payroll is a favorite among many entrepreneurs due to its extensive integration capabilities with QuickBooks's variety of financial software solutions.

Selecting the appropriate payroll management tool once again involves looking at the size, needs, and growth plans of your team, as well as any ease-of-use preferences. This is also important because ensuring promptness and accuracy while handling freelancer payments not only establishes trust but also promotes an environment conducive to productivity.

4. Task assignment software

If you want to become a better manager, then you need to be able to easily delegate tasks among your remote freelancers. In this context, consider incorporating task assignment software. These platforms allow you to hand out responsibilities, monitor progress and handle issues proactively.

Take note of these reputable options:

  • Toggl Plan: Toggl Plan provides a visual overview of who’s working on what with its user-friendly drag-and-drop timeline feature.
  • Jira: Specially suited for developers or teams following agile methodologies. Jira allows intricate task management, including tracking bugs and sprints.
  • ClickUp: With color-coded categorizations, ClickUp makes it easy to identify the statuses of various tasks at a single glance.
  • Wrike: Wrike excels in workload management due to robust scheduling features that prevent overloading any particular freelancer with too many assignments.

While choosing the right tool for your team's needs, be sure to understand each platform's functionality and fit within your workflow by taking advantage of demo versions or trial offerings. A well-implemented task assignment software will effectively boost team efficiency while ensuring every member knows exactly what their current priorities are, thus reducing confusion and maximizing productivity.

5. Time tracking systems

It is paramount to keep a precise record of how your freelancers utilize their work hours. It aids in project management and helps ensure that everyone is paid fairly for the time they've dedicated to tasks.

Here are some robust time-tracking software solutions you can use:

  • Harvest: With Harvest, you'll get time-stamped logs across multiple devices, so it’s excellent for tracking time on various freelance projects.
  • RescueTime: This tool runs discreetly in the background, providing an insightful look at productivity trends and areas of improvement.
  • Toggl Track: Togll offers an easy, one-click timer system alongside detailed reports, making it an exemplary option for its simplicity.
  • Clockify: A free solution with unlimited user support, Clockify offers flexibility while dealing with larger teams.
  • Hubstaff: Elevate your freelancing with Hubstaff's easy time-tracking software, which provides detailed online timesheets, customizable productivity features, and automated payments.

Selecting a comprehensive yet straightforward tool from this niche will help eliminate any confusion or misuse of company time. Also, providing transparency to your remote team could foster trust by showing them their efforts are acknowledged. In turn, this recognition motivates them to focus all their efforts on completing assignments for your firm.

6. Document sharing apps

Effective document sharing is another central tenet of streamlined remote operations, whether it's sharing drafts or getting feedback on presentations. You can deploy document-sharing apps to enable seamless interaction between your freelancers.

Here are some suitable options:

  • Google Drive: Offering generous storage and easy accessibility from any device, Google Drive supports real-time collaboration on documents, sheets and slides.
  • Dropbox: Known for its sync feature across devices, Dropbox provides ample space and caters well when bulky files need to be shared.
  • OneDrive: If your team primarily uses Microsoft Office tools, OneDrive is a great choice due to its perfect integration capability.
  • Box: For larger teams needing advanced security measures or administrative controls while handling sensitive content, Box can come in handy.

In deciding which platform fits your workflow requirements best, you need to acknowledge that long-term efficiency correlates directly with the software's user-friendly nature paired with any customized control features it offers. Once successfully implemented, these powerful tools will greatly bolster the productivity of all those involved in project execution phases by making sure every important detail is just a few clicks away.

7. File backup and storage

Data protection and recovery planning are top priorities for any business, including those that operate remotely. File backup and storage services allow your team to safely store, access, and recover important files if need be.

Here’s a list of reliable tools:

  • Carbonite: This is an automatic cloud-based solution that offers multiple versions of files in case you need to restore from different save points.
  • Backblaze: Considered particularly user-friendly, Backblaze also allows unlimited storage, making it ideal when dealing with high volumes of data.
  • iDrive: iDrive offers a versatile solution that performs well on all operating systems and provides continuous backup for updating files in real-time.
  • Zoolz: Known for its capacity to handle large amounts of data efficiently, Zoolz could be an optimal choice when redundancy features and archiving solutions are top priority.
  • AWS S3: Amazon Web Services' Simple Storage Service (S3) is desirable, particularly due to the reliable scalability it offers alongside low-cost storage options. These aspects are especially beneficial when dealing with growing data needs over extended periods.

While selecting these applications, their ease-of-use characteristics must coincide with hi-tech integrations, ensuring that you’ve got access to safety measures that are aligned with the industry's best standards. A smart choice here will result in peace of mind, as you’ll know that important information remains secure irrespective of any unforeseeable or accidental incidents occurring at the remote workers’ end.

8. Video conferencing software

Maintaining human connections in remote work can be difficult. With video conferencing software, however, it's possible to hold team meetings just as if you were face-to-face in the same physical space.

Check out these top options: 

  • Skype: An early player in the market, Skype continues to be reliable, with strong performance even during large group calls.
  • Google Meet: If your team already uses Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), Google Meet will provide native integration, making scheduling or joining conferences effortless.
  • Webex: This Cisco service offers high-quality video conferencing and advanced collaboration tools, making it a popular choice, particularly for larger businesses.
  • GoToMeeting: Known for its great call quality along with the ability to record meetings, GoToMeeting proves useful, especially during crucial discussions or presentations where referencing back could be needed.
  • BlueJeans: BlueJeans provides Dolby-powered audio for clear sound in addition to offering breakout sessions that may come in handy when small-group interactions are required amid bigger virtual gatherings.
  • Slack Video Call: If your team primarily communicates over Slack, their native video calling functionality can reduce the need to manage additional software while aligning perfectly with existing system setups.

While you’re in the process of selecting video calling platforms, recognize that ease of usage paired with stability ranks way above sophisticated but rarely used functionalities. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles, don’t pay over the odds for them unnecessarily!

9. Virtual workspace platforms

A virtual workspace platform can successfully mimic a physical office environment, facilitating better collaboration and coordination among remote freelancers. Here are some standout choices:

  • Sococo: Sococo strives to recreate an actual office space where each team member gets a distinct virtual 'room'. The interface shows who is present and available.
  • Miro: Miro is an online collaborative whiteboard tool ideal for brainstorming sessions, strategy planning or creating flowcharts. Its easy-to-use interface makes it a favorite among creative teams.
  • Zoho Workplace: An all-in-one platform offering a range of apps, including email service to document creation tools, thereby catering to diverse needs under the same umbrella while the team collaborates & interacts over their specific workspaces.

While evaluating these solutions, investigating their adaptability should be a priority. You want to be able to put together a setup that closely mimics what on-site workflows offer without being beholden to having freelancers visit the office in person. This is different for every business, so don’t rush into picking the first virtual workplace platform you come across.

10. Graphic design software

Effective visual communication is a must. This means having access to user-friendly and powerful graphic design software can help your team stand out. It’s also useful when working with third party design firms.

Take note of these feature-packed options:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud: Offering everything from Photoshop for image editing to Illustrator for vector-based work, Adobe’s tools are industry-leading solutions.
  • Canva: With its simple drag-and-drop interface packed with templates, Canva allows non-designers or beginners to create professional-quality graphics swiftly.
  • Sketch: Particularly favored by UI/UX designers, this tool provides reusable components along with a grid system, ensuring consistency, particularly when dealing with mobile and web applications' interface designs.
  • GIMP: This stands as a robust free alternative tool that matches up closely with capabilities similar to Photoshop, so it’s a good choice for firms facing tight budget constraints.

When exploring the perfect fit, ensure the tool aligns well with the proficiency levels that exist among freelancers, as well as look into the hardware compatibility aspect.

You don’t want to force teams down a particular avenue only to discover that they are either unfamiliar with the graphic software you recommend or have a workstation at home that simply doesn’t support it to its fullest.

Conclusion

If you roll out the right mix of these tools, managing a remote team of freelancers will become not only feasible but also very efficient. As part of this, keep in mind that it’s useful to align your choice of software across your entire team, thus avoiding fragmentation.

Getting everyone on the same platform and providing access to freelancers as required is better than ending up with mission-critical info and project data being siloed.

Sawaram Suthar is the founder of TheNextScoop and Jagat Media. A digital marketing consultant, he has experience in branding, promotions, page optimization, research, and strategy. He has an MBA from the University of Pune. Anyone can find him on Twitter @sawarams.

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