If you wish to contribute to the HRN blog, please get in touch by emailing content@hrn.io. You can follow us on Twitter @HRTechWorld.

This is a guest post by John Porter, freelance writer and translator

Working remotely is at its peak in popularity, and not for no reason. Due to an unprecedented level of flexibility, it is employed by more and more companies, but this type of employment does come with its own challenges. Many business owners and managers find it difficult to manage remote employees because of issues such as logging hours, organizing group projects, sharing files, and quickly communicating with one another. If this sounds like something that you have seen as a problem, then read ahead for a look at several great apps that will allow you to overcome these problems.

1. When I Work

For those who are managing a team of remote employees, one of the biggest concerns is payroll. Unlike a brick-and-mortar office where employees must physically clock themselves in, managers might never know when their staff are actually near their devices doing work. Luckily, that has all changed with the release of When I Work. This comprehensive program gives managers full control over their employees’ hours no matter where they are. Employees can be monitored in multiple locations with GPS maps after they check-in on any mobile device, tablet, laptop, or desktop.

When I Work can track 5 to 100 or even more employees, and the price starts at a low $9/month. Both the employer and staff members are given daily alerts regarding work schedules and hours. At the end of each billing period, this information can be downloaded into your payroll program effortlessly. If there were any errors, When I Work quickly notifies you so nothing falls through the cracks. At the end of your fiscal year, you can create timesheets to compare budgeted labor costs to actual labor costs.

2. Skype for Business

Skype, one of the globally most popular communication programs lived to see a new business incarnation of itself: Skype for Business, which takes its services to a new level. One of the main features of the newer Skype for Business is HD video conferencing for up to 250 users with whiteboards and polls which are handy during meetings to ease creative processes, planning and decision-making. The prices start at just $2 user/month, and this includes instant messaging, audio calls, and HD video calls. There is also an alternative, namely one of the Office 365 plans you can choose, which bundles Skype for Business with 1 TB OneDrive storage and Exchange with a 50 GB mailbox for $5.

Just like other Microsoft products, Skype can be tied to countless other programs such as Outlook and Office. Larger HD video conference calls can be made with up to 250 unique users at a time. During these calls, tools such as screen sharing and instant translations make this software unlike anything else in the world. Technical difficulties are very rare, and when combined with good security and support, it is surely among the best communication programs.

3. Intuit Payroll

More than one million small businesses use Intuit Payroll to streamline their payroll and reduce costs. The cloud-based payroll processing application lets you pay your employees on time from any place with an Internet connection, allows managers to track expenses, calculate future taxes, print checks fill out tax forms or even enjoy Intuit’s full-service payroll process done by professionals. Unlike many other software, Payroll uses secure cloud servers to store all your data. This means you can access the data anywhere anytime on virtually anything.

If you have QuickBooks, the data from Intuit Payroll can be transferred back and forth. Business owners are able to track all the payroll expenses, create unlimited checks, make direct deposits, and even schedule future payments. Much like When I Work, this software can also be used to go over your monthly, quarterly or yearly expenses. This allows you to spot and correct any discrepancies before they become expensive problems.

4. Teamwork Projects

Manage every task relevant to your team in Teamwork Projects, where real-time collaboration helps you achieve great results. The app features a simple interface that makes project management fast and fun. Try Teamwork using a permanently free account that can manage as many as two projects. After experiencing the software, you can choose from six different price levels that scale with your company as it grows.

Track time to increase billable hours and improve the efficiency of non-billable activities. The app supports an unlimited number of users, so your entire team can simultaneously log on work on the same project. Reports that include time sheets and expense reports facilitate management decisions. Tools such as a timer and color coding highlight activities and improve efficiency. Gantt charts quickly give you an overview of each project and a free standalone desktop chat client improves communication among your remote employees.

Another useful feature is that you can choose an optional domain name for your Teamwork projects or use the default settings for the software. Teamwork also features integration with Dropbox, simplifying file sharing. The emphasis in Teamwork is not on Gantt charts, but, overall, this software does provide a nice set of features and it works with Windows and Mac computers, as well as on mobile devices.

About the author

John Porter is a Southampton-based freelance writer and a tech head, so he enjoys writing about new technology and is particularly interested in all types of productivity apps. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.