Remote work is currently the only healthy work option for a lot of businesses, including startups. However, it's been an essential mode of business for many of us for years, and I've personally been working remotely with distributed teams in the United States, parts of Europe and even Asia for over four years. In this post, I will take you through the best tools I recommend for remote collaboration in different interesting remote work activities from project and time management to development and even design hand-offs, plus a lot more.
Project management basically involves the creation, assignment and arrangement of tasks or deliverables of a particular project in boards and cards to the people responsible. Trello is one of the most intuitive list-making project management tools, where everyone can collaborate remotely—and it’s free. It has a very simple and intuitive user interface and comes with amazing social-media-like features. It is web-based, but is also available as a mobile app. I currently use it on an iOS device and it is amazing. Other project management products are Airtable, Basecamp and Asana.
Your product designers, graphic designers, product managers and frontend developers also need to collaborate as they have always been doing at the office. There is a need for a design tool that fosters sharing of work, and ensures that the hand-off process is seamless. Unite UX is the tool to use to bridge the gap between your design team and your development team. Create responsive applications from your Sketch designs with an intuitive round-trip workflow. Unite UX is created and backed by Progress, trusted by over 140,000 application development teams worldwide.
Now that everyone works from home, remote communication is no longer optional—it's essential. You and members of your team need communication tools dedicated to work and devoid of distraction to help you keep track of things and handle check-ins and other office admin business through chats. Slack is a great free solution where instant messaging can be done remotely in a work environment with channels that can be arranged as departments or groups. Slack also has an API you can consume to create bots to help automate or handle tasks like reminders, conduct voting or even schedule messages ensuring that employees stay engaged.
For all types of journaling needs, meetings and shared documents, teams need tools like Notion. Notion is a hub for asynchronous communication where docs can be worked on by more than one person without breaking flow. Documentation can also be written with Notion, as it has over 30 media types and it prides itself as the all-in-one everyday work app. It also has an easy-to-use database system with an attractive user interface.
Sometimes you want to jump on calls with team members or employees and have meetings like stand-ups or all-hands, just like at the office, but this time remotely. Zoom is your best bet for things like video meetings, webinars and even conferences generally. Zoom is also one of the most successful video conferencing apps with up to 300 million active daily users as of April 2020.
Storage Service in the Cloud
How do you store files like images and spreadsheets and media and all your business-related files? There are a lot of options, one of which is Dropbox. The business section is tastefully built for teams to bring all their storage needs to one place, an all-in-one solution for cloud storage and collaboration for teams. It is very secure and you can easily access your files because as they are stored in the cloud.
You can be in the category of people who are still serving customers’ needs even though you are doing so from the comfort of your home. There is a need for a tool you can use to manage your customer support team, and that is where Groove comes in. With Groove you can manage your customer support team, comment on an ongoing customer support ticket or thread (that the customer can’t see), assign tickets to team members easily and get a report of the support team as a whole all in one place.
Time Zone Management
Your team members might be living in different locations geographically and so you might also have to worry about time differences from one country to another. This will require you find a way to manage the time zone differences properly and still ensure that all work is done when due and meetings happen on time. World Time Buddy is a great service that lets you manage up to four different time zones for free. The slider is such a cool feature, as you never have to miss accurate times again when scheduling meetings or deadlines.
Git and Product Development
GitHub is one of the most powerful tools for collaboration around, especially for developers. The concept of version control matched perfectly with working together on one project is one of the magical things in software development. With GitHub you can ensure everyone is doing exactly what they are supposed to, you can create an organization and have a Kanban table. Most importantly people can contribute to project and the record of their contribution is tracked and properly recorded in a tree-branch format. You can even have the documentation as a Wiki and track progress all in one place. There is also a lot of integration possible with GitHub, from simple app deployments to continuous integration.
Contribution can also get deeper to become more involved. A part of it is called pair programming. VS Code from Microsoft, which is one of the most used integrated development environments of all time, has a feature called live share where developers can come together and do pair programming but remotely. This is such a cool thing because things like bug fixing and quality assurance sessions can now be done remotely.
These are a few interesting realities you need to consider, plan toward and solve for as your team members work from home.