The Distributed Team Tech Stack: 20+ Apps and Tools

Effective communication and productivity are the top priorities and challenges for companies with a distributed workforce. Fortunately, there are a number of tools designed to improve employees’ productivity but building a tech stack for distributed teams isn’t just a matter of having a collection of great tools. It’s how you literally stack those tools and how they work together seamlessly that make them useful and effective for your employees. Here are 20+ Apps and tools to keep your remote workforce productive and working together as one unit regardless of their physical location.

7 Types of Remote Working Tools

  1. Video conferencing tools
  2. Project management tools
  3. Messaging tools
  4. File management and sharing tools
  5. IT enablement tools
  6. HR enablement Tools
  7. Team building tools

Video conferencing tools

Cloud-based video conferencing

Cloud-based video conferencing is especially useful for companies with distributed teams since you can connect to a video conference call on any smart device or laptop, from anywhere. The Lifesize App gives you an easy way to start a video chat, join a meeting or schedule a video conference call right from your PC, Mac, tablet or phone. That means remote team members working from home, coffee shops, coworker centers and on the go can all easily connect to a video call and have the same user experience across various devices. The only thing that is different is the screen size.

4K conference room systems

By connecting cloud-based video conferencing software with the industry’s best 4K meeting room solutions, Lifesize delivers a truly remarkable meeting experience for every call. The lifelike image quality, ultrahigh definition content sharing and superior sound brings your meetings to life and makes it feel like your meeting with your distributed team in the same room. Lifesize offers three different 4K camera systems so you can find the right fit for your meeting space.

Wireless screen sharing

Wireless screen sharing lets you save the hassle and lost time of trying to find and pass along the right dongle or cord during the meeting. Lifesize Share makes it remarkably simple to share your screen in real-time, play a video and control your presentation right from your smart device. Lifesize Share ensures your presentations run smoothly and captures the attention of everyone on the conference call.

Whiteboard sharing

Whiteboards are great for quickly sharing ideas, brainstorming with your team and making visual concepts easier to understand, but if you’re calling into the meeting over video it’s easy to feel left out. Lifesize Share with the Kaptivo whiteboard camera system lets you digitally capture and share content from any standard whiteboard. Kaptivo removes people, reflection and glares from the whiteboard session and presents a clear and sharp digital image to everyone on the call in real-time. After the meeting you can easily download or share your whiteboard session with your entire team or people outside your organization.

Project management tools

Asana

Asana is a popular web and mobile application designed to help teams organize, track and manage their work. One of the best things about Asana is its simple and easy to use interface. It gives you flexibility over how your project board looks, lets you easily move task lists around and highlights projects due dates, assignees and progress. You also have access to an activity feed on your dashboard to see what your team is currently working on. Asana works great for less complex projects.

Jira

Jira helps you plan, track and manage your agile and software development projects. It can be fully utilized by larger companies that need to coordinate multiple complex projects with a distributed workforce. All projects go through a customized task workflow that control the status of the project as well as the rules by which it transitions to other statuses.

Monday.com

Monday.com is a customizable tool that simplifies the way teams manage workloads, track projects and communicate. Most project management tools only allow team members to access their own workspaces which makes working with freelancers and third-party companies difficult. With Monday.com, you can add as many third-party users as you want and customize their access rights to ensure that they only see projects assigned to them.

Messaging tools

Slack

Slack is a champion when it comes to instant messaging for business and a fun way to add one-on-one and group chats across your entire organization. In addition to texts, you can also send GIFs and videos on the platform, making the messages more exciting. You can archive up to 10,000 messages and all files and chats are searchable. Slacks interface gives one of the best user experiences across all your devices.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is the most popular messaging app for businesses and an exceptional tool for persistent collaboration and document sharing within the Office 365® platform. It is a good choice for companies who already pay for an Office 365 Premium or Essentials subscription since its included with the subscription. There are a number of third-party apps that seamlessly integrate with Microsoft Teams as well. Lifesize integrations with Microsoft Teams adds the Lifesize quality audio and video experience to the Microsoft Teams interface and extends video conferencing capabilities to partners, prospects and other contacts outside of your organization.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts started out as a consumer-friendly chat service but has transformed into a useful integration within its G Suite apps for businesses. Google Hangouts Chat comes included with a business G Suite account so if your organization already uses Gmail for email or Google Docs for word processing, then you already have Google Hangouts Chat and you don’t have to pay extra for it. Hangouts Chat allows your team of up to 8,000 members to easily communicate through the use of a chat room and direct messages.

File Management and Sharing Tools

OneDrive

Microsoft’s file hosting and synchronization service is OneDrive and it’s included with an Office 365 subscription. Store, access and share Office 365 files, including Microsoft Teams, from all your devices with OneDrive. Edits you make offline are automatically uploaded next time you connect. OneDrive lets you work on documents with people inside and outside your organization in real-time using Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Google Docs

As part of the G Suite apps, Google docs let you create and work on documents with people inside and outside your organization and see live edits as others type and communicate through a built-in chat feature. Since the documents are stored on the Google Drive, you don't need to install a program on your computer to use it, and you can access the documents anywhere you have an internet connection.

Dropbox

Dropbox is a simple, reliable file-syncing and storage service with enhanced collaboration features. DropBox really comes into its own when you delve into the service’s extra features like Dropbox Paper which acts as a group’s collaborative workspace and Dropbox Rewind which lets you restore folders or entire accounts from a specific point in time. The web version of Dropbox lets you edit files without needing to download them.

IT Enablement Tools

TeamViewer

TeamViewer is an essential remote desktop tool for IT staff that support distributive teams since in-person support is not possible. TeamViewer lets IT admins remotely connect to employees’ desktop computers, mobile devices and IoT devices from anywhere, at any time for real-time support or access to files, networks and program. IT staff can connect across multiple platforms and invite additional IT technicians into complex support sessions.

Okta

Okta is an access management platform that secures a company’s critical resources and provides a single sign-on solution for employees. With Okta, IT can manage employees’ access to any application or device. It comes with built-in reporting, and integrates deeply with cloud, mobile and on-premises applications, directories and identity management systems.

Group Policy

Group Policy Management is a centralized configuration and management tool within the Microsoft IT environment. This gives IT administrators one place where they can configure a variety of Windows settings for every computer on their network. These settings can be enforced so users can’t change them. Group Policy management is also useful for locking down computers, restricting access to specific folders or applications and pushing out companywide software updates.

HR Enablement Tools

DayForce

Ceridian Dayforce is a human capital management cloud platform that combines HR, payroll, benefits, workforce management and talent management into a single application. It unifies HR data for the entire company by putting all employees’ information in one place, from compensation to benefits and performance. Dayforce also gives employees direct access to view and manage their own data and activities to help reduce the administrative burden on HR.

The Applicant Manager

The Applicant Manager (TAM) is a cloud-based applicant tracking solution that helps recruiting agencies and HR streamline the hiring and onboarding process. TAM allows posting job details on multiple free and paid job boards such as Indeed, GlassDoor, Monster and lets HR track job postings and actively engage quality candidates. Additionally, TAM provides advanced search features to filter applicants by keywords, ratings, skills or tags.

Chimp or Champ

In a traditional office environment, it is relatively easy to assess the engagement and satisfaction levels of employees. For companies with a distributive workforce, gaging employee satisfaction is a bit more tricky. Chimp or Champ is an anonymous employee happiness monitoring tool that asks employees once a week to share their feelings, identify pain points and send actionable feedback. It shrinks the feedback loop that's prevalent in traditional employee surveys as reports are shared immediately.

Team Building Tools

StrengthsFinder

The Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment helps identify the areas where you and your team have the greatest potential for building strength. It measures recurring patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Where most assessment tests focus on developing or fixing weaknesses, StrengthFinder focuses on employees’ strengths and gives in-depth tools and reports on how to use those strengths to build stronger individuals and teams.

Mo

Feeling valued is fundamental to any good work environment. Mo is a fresh approach to employee recognition that improves employee engagement with a focus on social and peer-to-peer activity. The platform lets teammates and managers nominate and recognize employees who have gone above and beyond with special awards and prizes in a fun social setting.

My Life Elsewhere

One of the biggest challenges of working with distributed teams that are located all over the world is dealing with biases associated with culture differences. My Life Elsewhere is a collaborative community that allows you to compare the country you live in with other countries around the world. It shows you various statistics that differentiate your country from others, including cost of living, geographic size, quality of life and culture so you have a better understanding of what it’s like to live and work in your coworker’s country.

3 Factors to Consider When Building Your Stack

Interoperability

Interoperability is the ability for a solution or software tool to exchange data and operate in conjunction with other solutions or software tools. Having tools by different manufactures in your tech stack that integrate and work together not only saves your company money but improves an employee’s learning curve and workflow. For example, for companies that have standardized on Microsoft Office 365, the Lifesize integrations for Microsoft adds best-in-class audio and video quality and advanced communication and collaboration technologies to their existing Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Outlook workflows.

Security

You must take the time to assess the risk profiles of your vendors and understand whether each tool in your tech stack is built and configured to protect sensitive data. A breach in security not only disrupts your business but it can damage your company’s reputation and trigger financial and legal issues. As more technology becomes cloud-based it’s important you choose providers that offer the latest encryption technologies and have a proven track record of protecting their client’s privacy and data.

Scalability

Your tech stack needs to be able to scale as your company grows. This means choosing technology that can handle new users and traffic at a reasonable rate as you continue to hire new employees, open additional offices and gain new clients and partners. Any latency can hurt your growth. Additionally, making major changes to your tech stack to accommodate your growing company can eat up your time and money with new technology expenses, extensive testing and training employees.

Your tech stack needs to be able to scale as your company grows. This means choosing technology that can handle new users and traffic at a reasonable rate as you continue to hire new employees, open additional offices and gain new clients and partners. Any latency can hurt your growth. Additionally, making major changes to your tech stack to accommodate your growing company can eat up your time and money with new technology expenses, extensive testing and training employees.