Running a startup is a great way to reduce expenses, tap into the global talent pool, and get things done a lot faster. A study conducted by Stanford reveals that work-from-home employees are generally happier, less stressed, and overall more productive than those working at the office.
Remote businesses also have a positive impact on the environment. But in order to make a virtual business work, you need to use platforms that enable seamless collaboration despite the lack of face-to-face interactions.
Rather than sifting through the hundreds of available products, we've done the legwork for you. Here are the top ten platforms for cloud storage, team communication, and project management:
Cloud Storage Services
It’s worth mentioning that the 2 GB space for free Dropbox accounts can be increased without spending a dime. This is done by enabling features, linking your social media accounts, referring other users, and a few other actions. Dropbox is also the only platform that features LAN syncing, which allows you to quickly share large files through a local network.
Google Drive offers a generous, 15 GB storage space for free accounts. This should be enough for remote businesses without heavy data needs. Its key advantage is the integration with other Google products, including Google docs, sheets, and forms. It also integrates with Gmail, which makes file-sharing a lot easier.
The third cloud storage platform may not offer anything new in terms of free storage space and premium plans. However, Microsoft OneDrive integrates straight into the Windows ecosystem – making it the most sensible option for virtual businesses using the OS.
Slack is a popular online communication and file-sharing tool for remote teams. It allows you to organize conversations using channels, which ensures everyone stays on topic. Users can also share files and download the mobile app to stay ahead of conversations. It is perfect for businesses that require a lightweight and effective communication tool.
Apart from messaging and file-sharing, HipChat also enables screen-sharing, video, and group chats. This allows remote teams to beat the distance barrier altogether and work as if they’re in the same office.
Google Hangouts is here for the same reason as Google Drive. Since it integrates directly with your Google account, other services such as Gmail and Google Docs are always within reach.
Voxer has a unique approach to team communication. By installing the mobile app, remote teams can use their phones like walkie-talkies – allowing users to broadcast voice, photo, and text messages to everyone else in real-time.
Today, the simplest way to delegate tasks to remote employees is to create a Trello card, upload the details, set a deadline, and add the members in charge. The entire process is further simplified – thanks to Trello’s intuitive, drag-and-drop interface.
Asana is a more comprehensive platform that lets you manage the finer details of projects. It allows you to segment your team members, create different dashboards, and organize everything through a visual, interactive calendar.
Last but not least, Basecamp is a comprehensive project management platform that helps remote teams stay on the same page. Its key features include a to-do list, message boards for brainstorming, and campfires for real-time collaboration. The platform also offers “check-ins”, which automate the process of status meetings.
To understand the core components of a virtual business, here is an infographic by Ooma on the most popular services and apps being used today:
Infographic courtesy: Ooma