As anyone who’s worked on a remote team knows, it can be notoriously difficult to maintain good communication without team members being in a centralized location. While remote work of course has numerous advantages – low or no commute time, no cost for office space or utilities, and the ability to travel more flexibly and spend more time with family, among others – there can also be downsides in the form of communication issues.
Sometimes these are easily resolved by quick email or phone conversations, but sometimes they are deeper rooted and require more detailed processes or even specialized software to solve the problem.
For example, if you were to come across a roadblock in the middle of your workday, being in-office has the advantage of enabling you to simply walk over to a coworker or manager’s desk to ask them how to fix it and get back on track. When working remotely, it can be more difficult to find these quick fixes. However, there are dozens of excellent apps, platforms, and other tools available that, while they may not be a perfect substitute for being in-office, make collaboration much smoother (and sometimes even more efficient than in-person communication!).
Here are some favorites and how they can help streamline collaboration:
Trello: simple and effective project management
Trello is an easy-to-use but powerful project management tool. While commonly used for software development, its simple card-style interface can be adapted to virtually any workflow and serve as an excellent way to manage tasks and meet deadlines.
With the option to create boards for different projects, set due dates, assign responsibilities to users on a given board, and have full conversations within a card (for example, leaving comments or attaching important documents for a project to the corresponding card), Trello is a versatile and useful platform for managing any kind of project, from app development to marketing strategy.
- Automated email notifications to stay up-to-date on project progress
- File attachment to keep all relevant documents in one place
- Drag-and-drop editor for quick and easy editing
Slack: the virtual office
Slack is the tool for teams that work remotely, serving as a virtual office for companies that may have employees all over the world (at last count, over 9 million people around the world are having important meetings and water cooler conversations using Slack). With a stellar free version and intuitive pricing for teams looking for the next step up, Slack is the go-to software for remote teams.
Not only does Slack facilitate quick and easy communication via text chatting and voice or video calling (even in the free version!), it enables teams to set up any number of channels for different purposes, be it having specific channels for each team or “just-for-fun” channels where team members can schedule informal coffee chats to stay in touch and get to know each other better.
All in all, Slack is a multipurpose tool that enables teams to communicate as if they were in the office, even as they’re scattered across the globe.
- Unlimited channels, to organize discussion around offices, projects, or even fun topics like movies and music
- Direct messages for quick one-on-one conversations
- High-quality voice and video calling, for when a text message just won’t cut it
Asana: project management on steroids
Asana is the king of project management, with a variety of options for organizing teams’ workloads and tasks. With the option to use a card-and-column style workflow or to-do lists, Asana is easily customizable for each user to get the most out of the platform.
Asana gives users the option to create different boards or projects, so teams can segment their workflow out as much as they’d like. It’s a great option for organizing work and making sure nothing falls through the cracks.
- Card and “to-do list” view, so you can use the format that works best for you, plus see all your tasks in My Tasks to stay on track
- @ your teammates to notify them of questions or important updates on projects
- Calendar view to visualize timelines for important tasks
Zoom: the video conferencing giant
We would be remiss not to mention Zoom, the best option for video conferencing out there today. Boasting excellent call quality, the ability to record calls (great for playback later, whether for your own records or for sharing demos with prospective clients), and easy calendar syncing, Zoom enables users to hold meetings with anyone around the world as if they were in the same room.
- Zoom Meetings syncs with your calendar across any device, so you can connect to your meetings from anywhere
- Multiple users to share their screens at the same time, enabling quick and better collaboration
- Easy recording and transcripts, making meetings accessible after the fact
Confluence: your online organizational ally
One seldom-discussed but significant feature of remote work is the lack of a central office. With this can come a significant drawback: where do we keep important information, like company policies, quarterly plans, and records?
Enter Confluence, a workspace that makes organizing and saving important information easy. Trusted by companies such as HubSpot, Audi, and even LinkedIn, Confluence offers a transparent way to build a knowledge database that can be critical to a company’s success.
Easier to navigate than Google Drive, Confluence is a secure place to store information, and has the added benefit of being easily searchable and a breeze to organize.
- Enterprise-grade security, so you know your data is safe
- Over 3000 integrations, including Slack, Trello, Jira, Microsoft Office, Google Drive, and more
- Desktop and mobile app to access your documents from anywhere
While remote work can present a unique set of challenges, with the right tools any team can set itself up for success when working remotely. Whether it’s setting up a virtual office in Slack, organizing and storing key information in Confluence, or having face-to-face meetings via Zoom, there are plenty of tools out there to help your team stay just as connected and productive when working remotely – no matter where in the world you may be.