4 absolutely essential tools for completely remote teams
The selection of the right tools is crucial for the productivity and efficiency of a remote team. In this post, I picked only 4 amazing tools that can add tremendous value to the the everyday workflow, improve internal and external communication and empower teammates to create amazing shit. Together.
Slack: Where Work Happens (their words, not mine)
Slack is one those incredible tools, suitable for any size of a remote team. It’s even great for non-remote teams. Honestly, I can’t compliment it enough.
In practical terms, Slack offers teams the opportunity to communicate, in a synchronous or asynchronous style (via a call or a chat), in public (by setting up shared conversation across the entire team) or in private (1:1 direct messages).
The communication can be organized in separate channels, where the same or different people can discuss different topics. For example, there can be a channel for the tech team, another one for the product team, another one for the whole team, another one for a project, another one for fun, etc.
Another awesome thing about Slack is the attachment feature. That means you can upload/drag & drop multiple files, of any type, and share them across the team.
Finally, what’s amazing about Slack is the fact that you can integrate multiple apps onto it. There’s a whole directory of those. Besides them, Slack offers a pretty solid API, for teams that want to take it one step further, integration-wise.
Slack is infinite times better than Skype. If I had to compare the two, I’d say that the only thing Skype has, that Slack doesn’t, is the option to call or text landlines and mobile phones (which comes at a cost, of course). Otherwise, Slack is a clear winner for me.
On the other hand, what I truly hate about Slack is its awful Slackbot, which pops up every time someone mentions the word cake. Make. It. Go. Away. Forever.
Another uber-cool communication tool is Zoom, an online conferencing platform that can connect multiple people, using cloud computing. Each Zoom room (think of it as a Slack channel) has a chat integrated for written communication.
One major advantage of this tool is the option to record a meeting and auto-generate its transcript. This basically means that, even if you missed an important team meeting, you can either watch or read it later!
Zoom is a lot like Slack. However, it is not a great tool for asynchronous communication, like Slack is.
Trello is a project management tool. Remote teams use it to monitor the progress status of a project, who’s doing what, details about each task, etc.
You can easily create a Trello board for a project, create workflow buckets and tasks (which Trello calls cards) and assign users to them.
The ability to drag & drop tasks from one bucket to another makes this tool very flexible and keeps things simple.
Of course, Trello supports attachments and conversations that can add value to each task. It also supports labels, to organize the workflow in a more meaningful way.
Remember the Microsoft Office Suite or the Apple iWork Suite? Forget about them, because Google has put them to shame!
Google Docs et al. do pretty much everything those suites do. And more. It’s an online set of tools that supports the 3 major document types: simple documents, spreadsheets, presentations. Members of the same remote team can jump online and start viewing, editing or commenting on documents.
Note: I’m using the term document liberally for all types, even spreadsheets and presentations.
Each document is the work of a collaborative process that usually happens asynchronously. Everyone is familiar with, at least, the basic features of those document types. Google hasn’t changed the functionality, but rather enhanced it with more powerful features.
Cool added feature: Google Forms! This cool tool enables you to create amazing standard or more advanced forms and surveys. They offer a variety of templates, just like Docs, Sheets and Slides do; it’s dead-easy to create a form and use it afterwards.
There are more tools out there
Depending on the nature of the remote team, its size, goals and work streams, there’s a ton of tools that do anything you can possibly imagine. Slack, Zoom, Trello and Google Docks/Sheets/Slides are only some of the best in the market and of course they’ve got some credible competitors. But, in my honest opinion, these are the absolute bestest of the best. If your team hasn’t tried them, I think they’re worth a shot.