Mobile workforces are becoming increasingly common. As companies look to save money on office space and employees look for flexibility, remote teams have become a popular choice.
This development comes with its own set of benefits and challenges. On one hand, a mobile workforce can arguably increase productivity, lower costs and increase flexibility. On the other hand, companies may find it challenging to manage these remote employees well and encourage teams to collaborate. But these challenges are not insurmountable!
There are many tools in place to help small businesses and large enterprises manage their mobile workforces. These business apps can help you keep employees in communication and productivity. But that’s not the entire point – you don’t just want to manage your employees, you want to support your mobile workforce.
We took some time to research which software tools TrustRadius users utilize to help them support their mobile workforce. Some useful tools are for collaboration, while others focus on time tracking or video communication.
This list is in no particular order, but all the products have at least one thing in common: they are used by customers to support a geographically diverse team.
Dropbox Business expands the cloud storage offerings of DropBox with lost file recovery, integration and a collaboration extension. The software tool would work well for your mobile workforce by providing a centralized file storage solution with some collaboration capabilities.
With Dropbox Business, managers can take advantage of granular permission sharing and tiered administrator controls.
Dropbox Business offers flexibility to team members, with the ability to work offline or collaborate within the web based platform. As an additional benefit, the interface is easy to learn with quick implementation for remote teams and managers.
“Dropbox for business is our primary tool for sharing and collaboration across our entire organization. We found that it works really well for our workforce the majority of which are remote or mobile employees. The interface is very easy to learn and use. This helps are associates stay productive as well as reducing the need for training and support calls.”
~ Verified User | Administrator in Information Technology | Chemicals Company
Grasshopper is a simple telephony solution that brings quite a bit of flexibility to companies looking to maximize their mobile workforce. The software tool creates either a 1-800 or local number with a customized greeting for the business. From there, companies can add individuals and employee extensions that route calls through to cell phones.
The applicability for a mobile workforce is clear: customer-facing teams that were previously tied to an office setting can now take customer calls from anywhere. The telephony tool can be used by any department that needs external contact. This keeps the team both professional and flexible.
“Grasshopper is great for small and agile teams who just need to make calls and get the job done. It’s customizable and flexible and it is simple, great for a company of under 200 people where representatives want to be mobile, and who are very invested in their calls.”
~ Becky Jewell Laughton | Operations Analyst: Customer Success | Zentail
Trello is a collaboration and task management tool for individuals and teams. The web-based platform allows users to organize documents, to do items, and conversations into ‘cards and boards’ using a kanban system. The system offers flexibility to organizing tasks and a visual way to collaborate on projects.
Trello works particularly well for remote teams and a mobile workforce that needs collaboration. The entire workforce can be added to a company board, or can be segmented across departments or teams. Users can use the board to submit deliverables, ask questions, and get feedback on projects.
“[It’s well suited for] handling a large task list for a distributed workforce or team – we are a remote worker based company with staff in 5 different locations, countries and time zones. Trello enabled us to post tasks and our staff could handle them and post responses so it improved our communications.”
~ Paul K. Saunders | Founder | New Music Lives
Airtable is designed primarily as a collaboration platform, used by customers for everything from product management to creating content pipelines. The value of the software is in a friendly UX, customization, a shared calendar, and a flexible structure depending on the needs of your mobile workforce.
Remote teams and managers can use Airtable to replace spreadsheets, assignment communication, event and activity planning and scheduling.
According to reviews, it works just as well for very small teams as it does for large ones. It is a more robust project management program rather than a select tool and will take a little more effort to implement for your mobile workforce.
“Our organization is using Airtable to better organize the programs that we manage, including an after-school and weekend tutoring program. Airtable has afforded us the ability to not only stay organized but to be able to better collaborate – especially with remote colleagues.”
~ Loreal M. Newson | Board Secretary | Chamberlain College of Nursing
5. Time Doctor
Time Doctor – as you could guess from the name – focuses on time tracking and productivity for its users. The tool addresses two needs for the mobile workforce: the need to eliminate distractions for individual remote workers and the need for accurate team reports for remote managers.
In its simplest form, the app can be used as a time tracker for geographically diverse teams. In addition, the tool tracks which websites users visit and which applications are used on their computers. It should work well for mobile workforces needing a bit more control and uniformity.
“Time Doctor is used by our organisation as a whole. Since our team works remotely, it is extremely useful for tracking time spent on each project and allows us to monitor overall efficiency. It also helps us in employee evaluations and provides accurate billing information for our clients.”
~ Sidharth Kavalu | Managing Director | Kodegear Technologies
ConnectWise Control doubles as a remote access and meeting tool. While the primary use case is as an IT support tool, users report using the software for a wide range of uses. It can work particularly well for companies using a mobile workforce for help desk support, as you’ll see in the review below.
The software can also be used to hold meetings and training sessions with a presentation feature. The dual purpose of the software tool means it can work well for remote companies with a tech focus.
“We primarily use ConnectWise for training purposes and for helping staff process difficult tickets. I have 46 users working remotely on four different projects right now. I use it constantly on mobile and on the road. ConnectWise enables us to receive the message about a question, and connect to them within seconds to be fully immersed in all the systems they already have active so that we can problem solve immediately.”
~ Kelly Tapani | Project Manager | Private Contractor, Hospital & Health Care
Slack – or the Searchable Log of all Communication and Knowledge – is designed solution for internal collaboration and communication. With a web-based and app version, the software is designed to do away with the need for lengthy internal email chains, reminder tools, and file sharing tools.
The platform is broken into individual channels, which can be customized depending on the needs of the team. Users can quickly send private messages, reminders to a group, or questions about a specific project. For remote teams, the messaging software acts as everything from digital watercooler to a more formal collaboration tool.
“Because of Slack there are no meetings or lost time, as it targets specific issues, and everyone is from your job, you do not need a conference room for a meeting. It’s perfect for remote teams; everyone can contribute ideas and participate, using instant messaging so there is no need to use corporate emails within Slack. You can attach almost everything and you can receive all your colleagues in real time.”
Zoom offers a solution for a mobile workforce needing consistent video communication. The tool can be used for one-on-one conversations, virtual team meetings, and even training presentations. Zoom should work well for a remote team, with integrated features like document sharing, scheduling, reminders, presentation mode and a whiteboard for visualization.
Additional helpful features for a mobile workforce include screen sharing, group messaging and the ability to join in across multiple channels. Users can join a call with a dial-in number, through the mobile app or on the web-based platform.
“We worked with a team in New York, Boston, Paris and Santiago. Zoom is an essential tool that allows to work everyday as if we were all in the same office space. The speed and versatility is unique and also the data usage, so there is no real competitor right now. If you are managing teams that are geographically separated this is the best tool ever.”
~ Verified User | C-Level Executive in Corporate | Venture Capital & Private Equity Company
9. Google Drive
Google Drive works simultaneously as a cloud file storage system and a collaboration platform. Users can both upload and create files on the cloud drive, which can then be shared with any number of Google users.
The platform works well for collaboration on individual documents since users can make edits that appear to other users in real time. Managers can also choose which folders are shared with which employees, designing an easy to use and customized storage system for cloud files.
At the same time, remote employees can easily create word documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the platform.
“We are using Google Drive as a productivity tracker and brainstorm dump. We share ideas in one DOC and it is much easier to track everyone’s input without having multiple documents in different places. We also love the calendar… The chat feature is pretty awesome as well. I love that everything is in one place. I don’t have to have word, excel, email, and a chat platform open at the same time. I can just use one platform.”
~ Verified User | Administrative Assistant in Research & Development | Construction Company
Getting the Most Out of These Mobile Workforce Tools
With these mobile workforce tools, you’ll be able to keep your mobile workforce productive and supported. That said, it can be a challenge to implement new tools, especially if your mobile team is not accustomed to them.
As you get ready to use one or more of these software tools, consider taking these tips into consideration.
Tip #1: Take your time, do your research – read reviews!
TrustRadius features authentic user reviews on all 10 of these mobile workforce tools. You can use these reviews to assess how the tools will work for your specific use case.
Tip #2: Prepare your team and ask them what their needs are.
Avoid dropping an entire new project management system on your team without preparing them first. Start by asking individual remote workers what they need to be better supported, and work off of that.
Tip #3: Look for tools that will improve the entire mobile workforce experience.
As a manager, you may need a time tracking tool more than anything. At the same time, your mobile workforce may be wanting a better way to collaborate on projects. Consider finding tools that benefit each of these areas – social, productivity, time tracking, collaboration, and more.
Tip #4: Start small.
You don’t want to change the way your mobile workforce operates overnight. Consider starting with just one or two tools that change a couple of processes. After assessing this implementation, you can start to look at bigger changes in project management.
A mobile workforce will be much more productive with some of these collaborations, project management and productivity tools in place. Take some time to read through how customers use the tools we list here for their own mobile workforce. Set up a free trial or ask for a product demo, and you’ll be well on your way!