A few years ago, the concept of remote working was often frowned upon, and businesses didn’t encourage remote teams. However, in recent times, with technology allowing us to work from wherever we are in the world, more and more businesses are warming up to the idea of building remote teams. In fact, with the COVID-19 pandemic, even businesses that were wary of remote working have had no choice but to implement it within their organisation.
That being said, remote team collaboration can still be challenging, especially if your organisation hasn’t implemented it on a large scale before. Working away from the office occasionally is one thing, but transitioning a large chunk of your workforce to a remote setup requires significant planning. And because there’s no manual on how to do that, there may be plenty of questions such as, “How can I manage my team across multiple time zones?”, “How can I collaborate and brainstorm with my remote team?”, and “How can I communicate effectively through text messages?”.
The answer is simple — by using the right tools. In another blog post, we’ve covered some cloud-based project management tools that can be used on a daily basis. However, this blog post covers all the online tools that remote teams can use to stay connected, collaborate on projects, and more. Let’s begin!
1. Communication Tools
Effective communication is an essential factor in maintaining healthy and strong working relationships at all levels of an organisation. However, this is particularly true when working with remote teams. Investing in clear lines of communication will lead to trust among employees, higher levels of productivity, and a boost in morale.
Which communication tools can you use?
Fully integrated with G Suite, Google Hangouts is an enterprise-grade video-conferencing application built on Google’s robust and secure global infrastructure. All you have to do is set up a meeting and share the link with your remote team without having to worry about creating accounts or installing plug-ins. The application is integrated with your calendar, syncs across multiple devices, allows call recording, and instant messaging as well.
“As our team continues to grow, Google Hangouts makes it easy to text and video chat with multiple members of our team at the same time. It provides us the same benefits of having in-person conversations when we can’t be face to face.”
The OG of video-calling, Skype is a free global video-conferencing application. The app allows instant messaging, calls between Skype and landlines or mobiles, voicemail, video calling, screen sharing, SMS text messaging, and wireless hotspot network access — making it the perfect application for remote teams.
With an always-on chat interface and public & private chat rooms, Slack has emerged as the undisputed champion of team communication in recent years. Its simple, easy-to-use interface allows remote teams to share photos, videos, documents, create and schedule reminders, and access archives.
DID YOU KNOW?
17% of the respondents wish for better collaboration and communication with their remote team.
Source: 2019 State of Remote Report
When you work with remote teams across the globe over multiple time zones, organising a central meeting can be a bit of a challenge. However, by using Jell, the crisis can be quickly averted. Jell allows you to get an overview of each member’s schedule, their tasks, and their local time, making it the perfect application to schedule and conduct daily scrum meetings.
Zoom Video Communications is an American communications technology that provides video telephony and online chat services through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform. In recent times, especially with the pandemic urging businesses to work remotely, Zoom has been used extensively for teleconferencing, telecommuting, distance education, and social relations.
2. Time-management tools
When managing large remote teams, it’s next to impossible to personally message each employee to know what they’re working on and what their schedule looks like. And that’s precisely why time-management tools are invaluable when working remotely. Some of the best time-management tools include:
actiTIME is a time-tracking software that allows users to record hours spent on various tasks and compare actual performance time with the estimated one. One of the main benefits of actiTIME for managers is the ability to review which team member is engaged in which task and evaluate if the delegated work is completed on time.
TimeDoctor takes into account the different websites and applications that employees visit and creates reports on how work time is used. The app also optionally takes screenshots of employees’ workstations. Thus, by using TimeDoctor, managers can review daily task performance of every remote team member at any time.
3. Project management and collaboration tools
A report published by Harvard Business Review stated that collaborative activity is the ‘secret sauce’ that inspires creativity. It enables virtual teams to make innovative and creative new products, communicate better, and promotes productivity.
Some of the best collaboration tools that you can use when working with remote teams include
Podio is a collaboration software that helps teams organise tasks and projects through a system that puts content, context, and conversations in one place. With automated workflows, meeting scheduling, unlimited storage, integrated chat rooms, personal dashboards, task management boards, connected CRMs, and data visualisation, Podio is extensively used in large IT teams for collaboration.
Trello is one of the most famous project management tools for remote teams, known for its simplicity and generous free tier. The simplified kanban card-based system allows individuals or small teams to build a ground-level project management framework. They can also track tasks, attach files, images, or hyperlinks to the board, set-up custom dropdowns, and archive boards that you may need at a later point.
What does Uber, Dropbox, and Pinterest have in common? They all use Asana as a project-management tool. Asana is a project management and collaboration tool that you can use to organize your work into shared projects or kanban boards, break tasks into manageable pieces, visualize significant checkpoints in your project, share progress, assign tasks, design workflows, create custom fields, attach files from cloud systems, and streamline approval processes.
“We deal with a lot of small tasks and we were having a hard time keeping track of who’s responsible for what, so we started using Asana. When planning a project, we split it into tasks and sub-tasks, assign them to the responsible team members, and set their deadlines. It’s all very easy.”
Traditional note-taking and brainstorming on a whiteboard might work with local teams but fails to unite remote teams. And that’s where Milanote is an asset. Milanote allows users to take notes, drop graphics, insert links, and somehow tie them all together in their own individual ways. You can also connect the notes and graphics with lines, arrows, or different custom methods.
With over 2 million customers, Basecamp is a veteran of the remote project management systems world. What sets basecamp aside from the dozens of project management systems is the simple, uncluttered, and powerful interface. Straightforward instructions, e-mail integration, visually appealing task boards, and a strong reporting suite makes using the platform a smooth and hassle-free experience.
4. File management tools
If you need to share work documents, presentations, and spreadsheets across multiple remote team members, then Google Drive is a no-brainer. It’s fast, free, offers significant storage options, and can be accessed from any Internet-enabled device.
Dropbox is a simple, user-friendly application that allows you to store all your files in one safe place and access them from your computer, phone, or tablet. The auto-sync feature of the app means that any changes you make to a file will sync across your account.
“A well-organised Google Drive is key for our remote team. My partner and I can share documents meant for just the two of us, or our bookkeeper can upload reports for the finance team. The best part is that files are accessible anywhere, so it doesn’t matter whether I’m sitting at my desktop in my home office, working from the corner coffee shop from my Chromebook, or pulling up a document on my phone on the go.”
Businesses like GE and Morgan Stanley swear by Box, a cloud-based file management application that allows users to securely store and share files with remote teams at the price of $5 per user.
5. Timezone management tools
When working with distributed teams across the globe, it can be challenging to keep track of what time it is where your colleagues are. As our world becomes hyperconnected, discovering a good time zone management tool becomes more important than ever. Our recommendations include
World Time Buddy
World Time Buddy is a software with a time converter for remote teams. It is a convenient world clock and an online meeting scheduler wrapped in one. The app lets people compare multiple time zones, plan conference calls, and web meetings for businesses taking geography into consideration.
10to8 is a scheduling software for remote teams that enables them to arrange virtual meetings and online appointments. The 2-way calendar sync with most calendar apps ensures that double-bookings don’t happen, and the automated reminders help teams keep track of meetings, eliminating wasted time and confusion.
If you’d like to know more about building an efficient and productive remote development team, feel free to reach out to us by filling out the contact form. One of our senior executives will be happy to help you. You can also download a copy of our offshoring crash-course ebook that acts as a guide to all things offshoring.
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