T here are so many tools available now in the digital landscape that make remote working amazing. Everything from video chat to collaboration tools makes it so that remote employees can connect with each other and get their work done productively. So, what are some of the best tools out there for such things?
Slack is an outstanding tool for company chat and allows people to have multiple different organizations in it. We, at Chatra, have different channels for different purposes, for example, there is a #random channel for sharing watercooler-type conversation, as we mentioned above. Our #urgent-from-chat channel is for questions that require help from other team members outside of our support team, like asking our developers to look into an issue or help with a more complicated technical question.
Slack also doubles as voice and video chat. We use Slack for our stand-ups and meetings between teams. We also have a team video call when a new person joins our team so they can introduce themselves to us, as we are all remote. During those calls, our founder introduces each team member one by one and says what they do for the company as well as some tidbits like what city they live in and what their hobbies are.
Trello is a useful kanban tool that many companies use to track feature requests, the development processes, and some personal tasks. They are also highly remote, and so offer a lot of great features for other remote teams to use. For example, you can check out their Inspiration Boards for examples of ways to use them for things like onboarding a new employee, creating a way to track OKRs, establishing an ongoing 1:1 meeting agenda, or tracking bugs.
Just like Slack, Trello can be used for dual work/life balance, which can be important for remote employees. You can create separate teams within Trello to separate out work boards from private, personal boards or you can share your personal boards with your teammates for things like recipe shares, or home improvement plans that you’re looking for advice on.
At Chatra we use Asana for billing-related tasks. It allows us to keep better track of things like refunds and invoices but also allows us to send individual reminders to ourselves. For example, we might use Asana to remind an individual employee to send a custom invoice to a specific customer every 6 months.
Google Docs is a great way to share schedules, drafts for newsletters and onboarding emails, and anything else that requires you to create and share a document. It can be used for both personal and professional means just by switching between Google accounts (which are used for Gmail). It’s also associated with Google Forms, which can be a useful way to take surveys or send questionnaires to customers to see how they are doing, or to do internal training or surveying.
Appear.in is a lightweight web platform that allows you to video chat by just sending a URL. Unlike other video chat software which requires a lengthy installation process to your desktop, Appear.in allows you to just send a link to any participant and allow them to join. This is an excellent tool for conversations on the fly, or if you have to meet with a customer quickly.
Zoom is another excellent software for video chat and allows you to have up to 100 participants in a call — so, it’s great for those big company meetings. It does need to be installed on a desktop or mobile phone to work, so if you have a lot of people joining a meeting, it’s important to let them know beforehand so that they can prepare and have everything installed that they need to.
As we mentioned in the productivity section, some companies choose to have their employees track their time in hours with a detailed description of what they did. Harvest makes this easy by having a Chrome Extension (that integrates with Trello!) to make logging hours and entering details about them super easy.