2015 was a year of some pretty major shakeups across many huge industries around the world, leaving many marketplaces scrambling to keep up in an ever-changing global business environment. Changes such as the explosion of the freelance marketplace and companies like Uber questioning the nature of the employer-employee relationship indicate that even the everyday aspects of how one does daily work are undergoing a tectonic shift.
In 2016, it will be more important than ever to make sure your work not only avoids getting left behind by the major trends of change but also stays ahead of the curve, keeping pace with the cutting edge. Whether you’re in a cubicled office or working as part of a remote team, more than ever, your team will need to be firing on all cylinders to make 2016 the best year yet.
Here are 13 tools every great team needs to maximize its efficiency and productivity.
This product is especially great if you are managing a remote team or have freelancers on board for a certain project. HiveDesk is a management tracker that shows when employees are online and what they’re working on, submits weekly time sheets, and even periodically takes screenshots of your team members’ desktops, so you can always know when everyone is staying on task.
One of the top team-communication platforms out there, Slack is great for streamlining the many moving parts that come with team-based work. You can divide up the team and/or your projects into channels to keep communication from getting cluttered, and you can share collaborative files via their platform as well. Slack also allows you to send notifications from other tools to their platform, so you can get all your notifications in the same place, making your work life simpler and more efficient.
Developed and recently launched by Toptal, the top network of elite freelance developers and designers, TopTracker is the first quality time tracking app that is both completely free and comes totally untied to any job platform. The app features in-depth analytics and productivity reports to help you identify areas for improvement and make sure everyone is staying smoothly in sync.
Another great platform for team collaboration, with a specific emphasis on task management, Producteev offers a streamlined way to pivot quickly from planning to execution. You can create projects, assign tasks to team members, and track their progress, all while keeping an eye on the project’s progression as a whole. This app is especially useful for distributed teams.
It’s quite possible you’ve already heard of Basecamp, and for good reason. Basecamp offers a phenomenal service for individuals and teams looking to have an easy-to-use central hub for their business. With everything from synced calendars to a messaging system to shared documents, Basecamp is good for serving the needs of both the individual worker and the team as a whole.
A great service for teams who collaborate a lot but may not work in the same place, PivotalTracker utilizes core ideas of agile project management to offer a great service for maximizing team efficiency. Their user interfaces acts as a live infographic for your team, updating priorities and offering simple visuals that let you keep an eye on everything at once.
A fantastic app for visually-minded people, DropTask is a task management platform that aims to simplify your workload by assigning each project an easy-on-the-eyes visual. You can see who on your team is working on which project, and the in-app messaging and comments features allow for fast, easy collaboration around these well-organized tasks. DropTask also syncs nicely with many other cloud-based apps, such as Evernote and Dropbox, so your work is even more streamlined.
The perfect app for teams that rely on members holding each other accountable for their end of the project bargain, Remindus is a simple, easy-to-use to-do list and reminder app. Users can send tasks to other users and establish a reminder and alert system to keep everyone on task without one team member hounding someone else about a deadline.
On a very basic level, TickTick is a pretty simple to-do list app that syncs with your calendar. What makes it especially useful is its many features and collaborative capabilities. Its multiple views and platforms make it easy to use no matter your visual preferences, and the cloud-based backup and sophisticated reminder system along with the ability to share lists makes TickTick a great app for allowing your team to stay on the same wavelength, even down to individual team members’ daily schedules.
With a graph-based platform that’s simple to follow while delivering key analytics, Weekdone may very well be the ultimate team productivity tracker. With such features as a weekly progress report and streamlined communication and goal-setting functions, Weekdone is especially useful for teams whose members may work from home or do their whole job online, or both.
You already know this one, of course, but it doesn’t make it any less important for maximizing team efficiency. Skype has, for a long time now, offered fantastic alternative solutions to little nagging issues that come up in a team environment. Want to get rid of those annoying, confusing email chains? Use Skype’s chat functions, either to a whole team, a subgroup, or an individual. Want to cut down on costs by eliminating ridiculously high phone bills? Use Skype’s video and phone calling functions, which allow you to immediately reach out to anyone on your team, no matter where in the world they are.
- Google’s Cloud-Based Products
Again, this one may seem obvious, but Google is pretty much second-to-none in terms of offering fantastic cloud-based collaborative tools for teams. Whether it’s Google Docs or Sheets, both viable alternatives to the sometimes-pricey Microsoft Office, the collaborative tools in Google’s programs make it easy to do work on the go with your team, including live editing, in-platform messaging, and easy cloud-based sharing through Drive.
Trello is another solid team productivity tool with an emphasis on live collaboration. The easy-to-follow platform divides your screen up into “cards” for various projects, which update live as team members add contributions. Alongside this is an activity feed, which also updates live, allowing you to see what each team member is currently working on.
A particularly hot tool on the team productivity market right now, Asana has a great, de-cluttered dashboard which allow you to jump from project-to-project with ease, highlighting priorities, delegated tasks, and progress on each task. This great app also syncs to many other devices, meaning you can take your work with you wherever you go.
While it’s an especially hot product on campuses for obvious reasons, Evernote actually can be immensely useful for professional teams as well. Their wonderfully streamlined platform allows you to combine notes with to-do lists, giving you a nice glimpse at both the big picture and the tiny details all at once. Evernote also has very useful sharing functions and can sync easily to other devices. You can even upload a presentation and deliver it straight from the program to the rest of your team.
Great list of tools, Peter! I suggest you check out Worksnaps (http://www.worksnaps.net/www/). Designed for remote work from ground up, Worksnaps addresses the problems that traditional time tracking tools could not solve. It is seamlessly integrated with project management services such as Basecamp, Freshbooks, Harvest, Asana and etc. Easy to use and effective!
Hi Peter, really great list of tools. Just signed up for the newsletter :) I personally worked with 6 of them on a professional level and can say they did wonders for the projects and my productivity. Another tool I use that you might want to check out is Hubstaff. It’s a desktop time tracker that comes with optional randomized screenshots and activity levels. As a freelancer, I use these for proof of work and to gauge my productivity with different tasks. Cheers!
Great list! We are using proofhub for our projects. It is a great project management tool helping us managing our remote team in better way.