There are more than 3.3 million people working remotely in the United States, reports The Fast Track. That is 2.6 percent of America’s workforce breaking away from the traditional desk job for the idea of being able to work wherever you are.

However, several hurdles lie in front of a business that allows its employees to unleash themselves from their office desk. For instance, much of the work depends on the employee’s work ethic, organization and responsibility. And, perhaps even more importantly, establishing regular communication is essential so everyone is on the same page.

No matter how your business decides to set up the remote work process, there are many programs and apps that can help.

Work Phone Plans

Some businesses offer stipends for employees who use their mobile phones for work. However, many businesses are trying to do away with the Bring Your Own Device stipend pay as they put a hard line on phone expenses for employees, reports CIO.

Another option is for companies to provide mobile phones for employees. This is a good option because it can be easier for IT departments to control, maintain and sync data with the business’s headquarters and other staff. Plus, having every employee on the same kind of phone can be easier to maintain.¬†Android phones like the ZTE ZMAX, for example, work well for utilizing file-sharing apps like OneNote and Google Drive as compared to iPhones that may not be compatible with these programs.

Apps to Connect Employees

When allowing your employees to work remotely, you need to be sure to have all the tools needed to communicate and work efficiently. Consider some of the following:

  • ShiftPlanning: This is an online scheduling program that keeps your roaming employees up to date with the latest scheduling data. It works well with third-party applications, including Google Calendar, iCal and Outlook. The program can sync individual, department and business-wide schedules so everyone is on the same page.
  • OneNote: This tool lets employees working away from the office have access to a digital notebook for notes on lectures, meetings and to-do lists. OneNote allows you to sync handwritten notes, drawings and other needed data that can be sent to multiple employees at the same time. Plus, it has great interactive chatting.
  • HipChat: This app brings all your employees to the same conversation no matter where they are. HipChat promises an easy setup and is user friendly, giving your IT team a sigh of relief. It offers secure conversations through a 256-bit, bank-level SSL encryption. This means your business can invite clients, vendors or any other third-party person to the conversation without having to worry about what everyone can see. You also have easy screen sharing, drag-and-drop file sharing, and savable and searchable chats in case you or an employee need to backtrack information.
  • Trello: This app lets remotely-located employees create to-do lists that can be accessed anywhere. As employees write their lists, they have to include a detailed description for what their idea is about, its importance to the company and what results it would have if completed. This allows other employees to check out the card and implement the idea without needing to discuss the item with the creator. It’s a great way to keep employees motivated and production flowing, no matter where employees are at the time.