Running a business in many ways is easier than ever. Digital communication tools enable global access to talent and resources; communication is cheaper and more efficient than it’s ever been; BYOD workplace cultures aid production while minimizing corporate expenses; and the new remote employee has made it possible for businesses to run with just a skeleton in-house crew. For many small- to medium-size businesses, the days of the 50-person office are all but behind them. In its place, a new, smaller, sharper, more flexible and dynamic work force is entering the fray.

We should know – at EXERTUS, we’re right in the thick of it. Not only do we take advantage of the many benefits that the modern workplace offers, but our clients do too. As such, we’ve learned quickly what works in this type of arrangement, and what doesn’t. Truth be told, sometimes it’s nice to know that you can poke your head around the corner to ask a question. It’s nice to talk with a human occasionally, we’ll admit. But in most cases, we find that today’s tools – so long as they’re properly utilized – more than make up for any potential downsides to a remote and digital working environment. What tools are we talking about? Read further and see for yourself.

Cloud-based Applications Are the New Desktop Software

If you want to conduct business in 2016, you will want to take advantage of one or more of the below platforms. Many of these are derivatives of each other; the platform that you choose is ultimately up to you. Whichever your business decides to run with, you can rest assured that the benefits will be plainly evident. The headline of this article isn’t hyperbole – these really are must-haves for any business operating in the digital realm.

Google Drive logo

Google Drive

We’re partial to Google Drive, as we use it ourselves. If your business utilizes Gmail for its email accounts, then we can’t recommend this option enough – it’s really a no-brainer. For companies that already use Google products in-house or amongst their sub-contractors and remote employees, Google Drive makes it easier than ever to store, manage, and share files. Simply log into your email and you’re done.

Dropbox logo

Dropbox

We may use Google Drive primarily, but plenty of our clients use Dropbox. Which means that we use Dropbox, too! And you know what? It’s a terrifically useful, easy-to-use, and trouble-free file storage system. If your business doesn’t use Gmail for its email accounts, or any of Google’s suite of products, then there’s really no reason to suggest Drive over Dropbox. This is a tremendous option that will satisfy most businesses.

Box logo

Box

And then we get to Box. Our clients use Box, too, which makes us something of experts on the various cloud-based file storage systems. We have truly tried and used them all. Ultimately, deciphering the differences between the various options is somewhat akin to splitting hairs. If you aren’t loyal to or have compelling reason to go with one over the other, might we suggest you cross-shop and find the option that works best for your business? In our experience, Box has highly competitive pricing. Maybe that’s all you’re seeking.

Google Hangouts logo

Google Hangouts

As with Google Drive, Hangouts is a terrific option for organizations already benefitting from Google’s large suite of products. For individuals with existing gmail accounts – be they personal or work accounts – setting up a Google Hangout is quick and easy. And like its biggest competitor, Skype, it provides numerous options for getting in touch with people, including live chat and video conferencing. In many ways, it combines the best of GoToMeeting and Skype under one “roof,” so to speak. We love it at EXERTUS. In fact, we use it for many of our work meetings.

Skype logo

Skype

Skype is the big name in online communication. You can text people with Skype, call them, have video conferences, and enjoy back-and-forth conversations via personal message. It is a hugely beneficial platform that really needs no introduction. Again, if your organization has no loyalty for Google, then adding Skype to your online toolbox should be considered a foregone conclusion. It’s easy to use, incredibly versatile, and free. What’s not to like? At EXERTUS, we regularly use it to communicate directly with clients, as it’s a terrific option for real-time back-and-forth conversations.

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Slack

Slack is the “cool” instant messaging platform, for lack of a better word. It takes everything that other platforms do, and makes it that much more fresh and modern. Files can easily be dragged and dropped to share with others. Channels can be created and curated based around your needs – create a channel for a project or for a team, for example. You can even limit access to channels to protect confidential information from getting into the wrong hands. Perhaps best of all, Slack can connect to a wide variety of different applications, including Asana, Twitter, Dropbox, and more.

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ProofHQ

Full disclosure: ProofHQ is a client of EXERTUS. And yet, we can say truthfully that we’d include this online review and approval application even if that weren’t the case. ProofHQ’s cloud-based review and approval app makes it easy for disparate team members to centrally manage, annotate, review, and approve creative assets. The application reduces much of the traditional back-and-forth messaging that is an inherent part of review and approval, helping to make the entire process more efficient and effective. If your organization produces or reviews creative assets, consider ditching email.

Asana logo

Asana

For task or project management, you’re going to want a robust yet intuitive project management platform. We think that Asana fits the bill. Creating separate clients, projects, and individual tasks is a breeze, and the graphic interface makes it easy to navigate the system. The access permissions also make it easy for people from both within and outside an organization to participate. At EXERTUS, we regularly communicate with clients directly via Asana; in this way, our team and the client’s can be on the same page. An added benefit it that is allows us to consolidate much of the necessary communication into a single channel.

Don’t Enter the Water Without a Paddle

There are more online tools than those listed above. In fact, we could probably come up with an entire list of project management tools alone. You may notice that some big names are missing – Basecamp and Hubspot, for example – but it wasn’t our intention to make the most comprehensive list possible. Rather, we wanted to make an informative list that could help organizations dealing with remote teams better manage them. As a digital marketing and solutions agency in the 21st century, this is something EXERTUS has a wealth of experience with. Let’s just say these online tools get our seal of approval!

If your business would like to take advantage of remote resources, contact EXERTUS today to see how we can help. We pride ourselves on acting as an extension of our clients, and can leverage our considerable resources and talents to your company’s benefits.