One of the biggest changes we are seeing in the work world today is more and more companies having distributed teams or employees that telecommute, whether the entire organisation works from different parts of the world, or a company with a central office that has remote employees.
This is becoming a more normal way of working, but how do these teams stay connected and manage their workflows? What tools do they use?
At isev, we have a distributed team, with people who work from home and there are certain tools we have found indispensable for keeping our remote team connected, improving communication, collaboration and overall, making us work more effectively.
The tool we use to ask questions and keep the team updated on progress, a nice little instant messenger, that allows us to communicate easily in one place, it helps us cut down on email chains and makes asking or sharing something much easier.
It generally makes communication easier, even for the people who work in the same office, if someone is busy or on the phone just drop them a quick message and they will get back to you when they can.
We also use it to keep everyone updated on the latest news, sharing interesting articles, something funny we’ve seen or suggesting ideas on projects.
We use this as our central project management hub, this is where we lay out the tasks for projects, schedule when we will work on them and track the time spent.
It easily allows us to manage our workflow and see the planned workflow for other team members. We also use it as a central place to make notes and suggestions on projects, so everyone can see them and get notified of updates.
The phrase ‘putting a face to the name’ never rings more true, a very useful (and free) video chat system we use for individual face to face talks with remote team members and for team catchups and discussions.
A much simpler method of talking to someone than phoning, and having the video element makes it feel more like your having a face to face conversation with someone.
We use this for cloud based file sharing, we can easily create documents in a central place and share them with other team members, letting everyone edit and make suggestions on a single document.
This is a much better solution than emailing around documents, trying to get everyones versions back and then having to synchronise all the amendments updates people have made afterwards.
Our high level overview of projects and what stage they are at, with its boards, lists and cards, it is easy for us to organise projects and helps us see at a glance what stages they are at, and what department a project is currently with.
A tool we built ourselves after after what we were using (Sqwiggle)shut down. It brings our team closer together by creating team presence, by taking and updating snapshots of each team member, it feels like the remote workers are just a ‘shoulder tap away’, and creates more a virtual office environment. We use it to quickly see if someone is available, no more wondering if they are there when you try to call them or send them a message.
As I mentioned before, we find these tools essential for collaborating and staying connected with remote workers. Tell us what you use to stay connected?