A Guide to the Best Remote Work Tools for HR Teams

Check out the best remote work tools that will empower your remote team to get work done across time zones as efficiently as possible.

Person on laptop creating remote work tools

Plane Team

Published on December 13, 2022

Remote work tools 💻🛠️

Remote work has opened up plenty of opportunities for growth, but it has also introduced new challenges for team management. For example, teams may find it more difficult to collaborate with teammates who live in different time zones and to communicate well via text. (Emojis can only go so far in conveying your message!) Additionally, remote employees feel less connected to their colleagues and company culture than hybrid or onsite workers, according to research from Workhuman.Working from home shouldn’t feel like working alone. That’s why your company needs to find and utilize tools that can keep your remote team on the same page and working well in tandem. To that end, remote work tools are the glue that holds together remote companies. Without a solid set of SaaS solutions, remote companies simply wouldn’t be able to function.The right remote-work tech stack streamlines team collaboration across time zones and creates a more productive online workspace for everyone. We’ve compiled a list of the best remote work tools based on how well they empower your remote team to get work done as efficiently as possible. Be sure to keep your company’s unique needs in mind as you consider which tools would best supercharge your remote organization’s work.

Project management tools 🤹🏼‍♂️

In a traditional office setting, project collaborators can check in with each other for updates throughout the day much more easily and visibly. It’s as simple as popping into their office, dropping by their desk, or pulling the whole team into a quick meeting. It can be much harder to provide and receive those project updates when your whole team is separated by time zones and physical distance. Project management software helps bridge the information gap between virtual team members by providing constant visibility into the status of each project and its relevant tasks. These tools can track projects through frameworks as simple as a checklist and as complex as a Gantt chartTrello is a great project management tool with a straightforward and intuitive UI that specializes in the Kanban system. Meanwhile, Asana (which we use at Pilot) leans into the to-do list style of task management, compiling a personal to-do list for each team member based on what tasks they’ve been assigned. For companies with more robust PM needs, supports a wide variety of use cases, offering over 200 customizable templates for all kinds of remote work processes. What to look for: 
  • Various ways to visualize projects, such as Kanban boards, lists, timelines, or tables, so that you can view progress in different formats
  • The ability to set due dates and deadlines for tasks to keep projects moving along
  • Integrations with your remote work software stack for even more productivity
  • Collaboration tools directly in the platform, e.g., comments, task assignments, or tag mentions, to streamline team communication and enhance teamwork
  • Automations and templates to help your team replicate and complete tasks more efficiently

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Communication tools 📝

Remote work demands a different set of tools and best practices — ones that prioritize flexibility and balance real-time and asynchronous communication. While email used to be the digital standard for workplace communication, that’s no longer the case for remote companies. Fifty-six percent of employees that shifted to remote work say that the way they collaborate and communicate has changed, according to Buffer’s 2022 State of Remote Work survey. The messaging tool Slack is almost ubiquitous in remote work. In a Kona survey of over 200 fully-remote companies, 80% said that they use Slack as their main hub for communication. (Add Pilot to that list! We use Slack to keep our fully remote team connected.) Slack supports both real-time and asynchronous communication. You can send messages instantly, schedule them to send at a more convenient time, or pause notifications completely. Other popular instant messaging tools include Microsoft Teams and Google Chat, often favored by companies that utilize the Microsoft Office or Google Workspace (G Suite) ecosystems, respectively. Remote work replaced the physical conference room with virtual meetings via video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, and Google Meet. While remote companies should avoid holding excessive or unnecessary team meetings, video calls are still important for conversations that would be better held face-to-face. If your company wants to emphasize async-first, a screen recording tool like Loom can encourage people to communicate via video messages instead of video chat. What to look for: 
  • Integrations with your other remote work tools, such as automatically importing meetings to your Google Calendar
  • Ability to store chat messages and meeting recordings for future reference
  • Screen-sharing for instantly adding context to meetings
  • Ability to communicate with internal and external collaborators and regulate who has access to which channels on a need-to-know basis
  • Allows users to set their availability status as it helps your team keep each other informed as to when they’re actually available to chat or otherwise occupied with meetings or non-work obligations
  • Native mobile apps for iOS and Android, especially beneficial for teams that often work from their tablets or phones 

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Knowledge-sharing tools 📚

Knowledge is power. When everyone has equal access to information, the burden on your HR team or on managers to be the only source of knowledge is reduced. It can be difficult (if not impossible) for employees to keep track of all company updates on their own, which is where knowledge management tools come in.Knowledge management systems (KMS) create and maintain a space where your company knowledge should live. For HR leaders, a KMS can make it much easier to create, store, and distribute need-to-know information, like your employee handbook and remote work policy. Knowledge base tools like Tettra, Guru, and Stonly empower employees to answer their own questions, reducing the workload placed on your HR team. While your KMS should focus on maintaining the most up-to-date, useful repository of knowledge, your file storage systems should hold a library of all your company’s data and files. Cloud storage solutions like Google Drive and DropBox enable you to organize files into folders and subsequently enable smooth file sharing with internal and external collaborators. What to look for:
  • Empowers employees to get the information they need on their own, thanks to self-service search and 24/7 cloud-based accessibility
  • Centralizes resources in one specific location, organized in a logical manner so that people can quickly find files and info
  • Makes it easy to share files and knowledge with others

Employee training and onboarding tools 👩‍🏫

Remote onboarding is a different beast from in-person onboarding. You can’t physically guide your new hires around the office and through their workday. Instead, you’re faced with the gargantuan task of teaching new employees how to do their jobs, including how to use your stack of remote work tools, exclusively online. The right tools can help ease new hires into their roles and educate them thoroughly via replicable workflows for employee onboarding and training.Learning management systems like 360Learning, TalentLMS, and Lessonly make it easy for you to create course materials and learning paths for new hires. These types of e-learning platforms guide new employees through everything they need to know and break information down into small, digestible sections.You can also create onboarding flows and paths in HR platforms like Pilot and BambooHR. These flows assemble an agenda of tasks that both the company and its new hires need to complete, such as payroll paperwork and benefits registration. These self-guided onboarding flows keep you and your employees on the same page regarding everything they need to know and do on their first days at work. What to look for:
  • Reporting and statistics to gauge how effective your training programs are
  • Set deadlines for the completion of tasks or courses to encourage learning to keep progressing
  • Ability to assess employees’ understanding of training materials
  • Ability to embed images and video for more engaging, interactive content

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Time-tracking tools ⏲

In a fully-remote work environment with flexible hours, everyone works on their tasks on their own time – which can make it difficult to know when work is actually getting done. Time-tracking tools grant visibility into exactly when your remote employees are working and how much they’re getting done. Companies may need or want to keep track of when their remote workers are active, especially if they are hourly employees or billing clients based on hours of work. Time-tracking software can also provide insights into key time management metrics like what hours your team is most productive and what projects or clients take up the most time.Apps like Hubstaff and Timely allow employees to track time worked by task or project. They also track how productive your employees are with optional screenshots and activity percentages.What to look for:
  • Reporting metrics and insights on employee productivity that can help managers better assist their teams
  • User-friendly UI for employees to clock in and out quickly and easily
  • Automatically compiles a digital timesheet or invoice for each employee, reducing administrative work for both employees and managers
  • Offline functionality in case of internet outages

Employee engagement tools 😍

The challenge with remote work is that employees can feel like their work isn’t appreciated in an “out of sight, out of mind” way. An InComm InCentives survey found that 59% of employees “feel less appreciated and connected to their team while working remotely,” and “only 13% feel recognized by their executive team.” Just like you would at any onsite company, your HR team has to actively engage employees and recognize their accomplishments. Employee engagement tools can make it much easier to show your employees that their work matters and is seen.Performance management tools like Lattice and 15Five allow managers and employees to collaboratively set and update goals and review them regularly in one-on-one meetings. This makes it easy for managers to conduct check-ins and see how well employees are performing over time, which can justify promotions. You can also use these tools to conduct employee engagement surveys and gather feedback to improve the employee experienceBonusly gamifies employee recognition through a points-based rewards system. Anyone can gift others points for work well done, and those points can be exchanged for rewards, such as company swag or retail gift cards. Nectar has a similar rewards system, automatically gifting points for milestones like birthdays and work anniversaries. These solutions enrich your remote work culture with a tangible and public way to call out meaningful contributions. What to look for:
  • A collaborative platform that invites employee participation –across all levels of your organization — not top-down, strictly from managers to their direct reports not top-down
  • Evaluating employee performance based on clearly defined goals and metrics
  • Ways for employees to receive recognition, both publicly and privately

Legal Disclaimer:

The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.

Hiring and payroll tools 💳

For remote companies, hiring and payroll can pose big obstacles to overcome. First, you need to draw up contracts that are compliant with all the labor laws that apply to each employee. Then, you need to sign them up for payroll and ensure that they’re paid on time. Each step of the process can come with logistical and legal challenges, so the right tool can help keep you on track and compliant. Pilot is the best all-in-one HR and payroll platform for US companies hiring distributed teams all over the world. With Pilot, you can hire employees in over 100 countries without setting up a foreign subsidiary, and pay contractors in over 240 countries. No matter where your employees and contractors live, you can manage everyone’s onboarding, hiring, and payroll in one unified interface. We take care of all the logistical concerns for fully-remote companies, from contracts to benefits management, so that you can focus on what really matters: enabling your employees to do their best work remotely. What to look for: 
  • Ability to hire US W2 employees and 1099 contractors in all 50 states
  • Ability to hire and pay employees and contractors in countries where you recruit
  • Payroll via bank direct deposit in local currency, not money transfers or e-wallets
  • Benefits administration, including PTO requests
  • Securely store all hiring paperwork and documentation, including offer letters and contracts

Find the remote work tools that work best for you 🥇⚙️

Even the best remote work tools might not be the best for every company. Make sure to choose the right software for your organization’s budget and needs, comparing tools based on their features and pricing. Create a tech stack where ideally, all the cogs of your remote work machine work seamlessly together — this will optimize your work environment for remote collaboration.

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