Remote Work Tools for SMEs: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity

No space to rent, no facilities to manage, and the world as your talent pool–remote work offers incredible benefits for businesses. Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are quick to take advantage, with 53% of SMEs operating remotely in some capacity.

Yet as advantageous as it can be, it appears that businesses may not be fully sold on remote work. Return-to-office mandates are on the rise. More people are working exclusively from the office than in hybrid roles, despite employees clamouring for flexibility.

So why are businesses pulling back on remote, despite all the advantages it can bring? 

One major reason is that many businesses still struggle to provide employees with the structure and resources they need to work as effectively from home. When Covid-19 shuttered physical locations, businesses took on new tools virtually overnight – processes that would usually take months of planning and preparation. The office became a suite of apps.

Post-pandemic, businesses are discovering that a more deliberate approach may be needed for how to do remote work. Issues like Zoom fatigue and hyper-collaboration are highlighting that there’s more to remote working tools than logging in and using the app.

How to Choose the Right Tools

For SMEs to get the most out of remote and hybrid working arrangements, choosing tools fit for purpose is paramount. Here’s how you can find the tools you need:

Define What You Need

SMEs have access to more powerful and affordable remote working tools than ever before. But with abundance comes complexity. More tech doesn’t always mean better performance. In fact, it might be hampering your employees’ productivity. A study from Cornell University has found that people waste 59 minutes every day trying to find data stored on disparate apps and tools.

Help employees stay productive and focused with a lean tool kit. Clearly define the purpose of each tool to reduce confusion and overlapping functions. For example, you may wish to categorise your software into the following groups: Communication, Project Management, Time Tracking, and Document Sharing.


Tech sprawl is not a new phenomenon. When digitalisation first swept businesses en masse, many workflows devolved into a chimeric mess of apps that simply did not work together. Disorganisation breeds miscommunication, and that’s hard to resolve when you can’t simply walk to a coworker’s desk to ask questions.

Break down silos by choosing tools with integration capabilities. Luckily, many popular tools already come with integration baked in. For instance, the content planning platform Trello has native integration with Google Drive and Slack, allowing users to attach documents and send updates on tasks directly to Slack channels.


Training employees on new tools takes time. If you have remote workers on asynchronous schedules, you also have to consider that people have to squeeze modules in between regular work on their own.

The more intuitive and user-friendly a tool is, the faster employees can use it efficiently. Conversely, complex tools, no matter how powerful, can frustrate users and make remote workers feel more isolated. Easy-to-use tools also require minimal training, a plus for small businesses with no dedicated training specialist or IT department.


SMEs have headroom for considerable growth. This means scalability is an important factor to consider when looking for tools. Look at how easy it is to add new users, check out new functionalities (and whether you need them), or how much more capacity you’ll gain access to.

Aside from functionality, look for tools that offer flexible pricing plans, such as pay-per-user or pay-per-feature models. This ensures that SMEs only pay for what they use and can scale costs in tandem with their growth.


Remote workers are a major point of weakness for your network. Many are using their own devices – devices which may not be patched with the latest security updates. Some work in cafes or airports, using public WiFi connections that are teeming with malware waiting to pounce on vulnerabilities.

For that reason, security should be a top priority when choosing remote working tools. Features to look out for include encryption, two-step verification, and device authentication. Businesses in certain fields such as healthcare and finance should also confirm if prospective tools are compliant with industry-specific regulations.

SMBs Doing It Right

InVision is a software startup that employs more than 800 people, all of whom work remotely. One of their secrets to better communication at work, ironically, is having avenues to talk about things other than work. In the office, employees establish connections with random, water cooler conversations. At InVision, these moments are replaced by Slack channels for “every interest imaginable”, helping people feel connected to their colleagues.

Tilt takes the idea one step further by using Kumospace to create virtual offices that employees can navigate and interact with just as they would a physical office. Hours-long meetings were replaced with much more organic conversations in virtual rooms where employees can join to discuss work with teammates or hang out. Managers set dedicated office hours to make collaboration and communication easier to coordinate.

Doist, a productivity software developer, maintains clear collaboration and communication lines by keeping conversations organised and accessible to all, at any given time. The company switched from Slack to their own in-house tool after it noticed employees were struggling to catch up to conversations, especially those who weren’t always online.

Armed with the right tools and a deliberate strategy, businesses can create thriving remote and hybrid setups that are as efficient as traditional office setups. By focusing on how remote tools align with the needs of the business and employees, SMEs can hurdle the challenges of a distributed workforce and unlock opportunities for greater collaboration and productivity.

Evolvit has spent over 20 years delivering IT solutions for SMEs across the UK. Contact us today to learn how to choose tools that give your remote workers the environment they need to succeed.