There are hundreds of tools that make remote work more effective. In the spirit of simplicity, I’ve broken down the Top Five. While not a comprehensive list, it focuses on those resources uniquely valuable to remote workforces.
- Company Messaging
- Video Calls
- Video Recording
- Digital White-board
- Document Management
Company Messaging : Slack
A single messaging tool reduces the time wasted hunting through email, text, and DMs. We use Slack.
Not only is Slack a great tool for internal teams, but it’s helpful for clients and outside relationships as well. It gets communication out of the email inbox and organized in appropriate channels. Their paid plan also allows for shared channels.
Rather than forwards and BCCs, public channels make it easy for team members to work in plain sight. Here is a glimpse of how our conversation style has evolved to almost completely public communication since 2016.
Notice the drop in private channels and spike in public channels.
Video Calls : Zoom
With audio only, it’s tempting to ‘multitask’ and divert focus. Video chat forces a greater level of presence and heightens human connections. We use Zoom.
With a team stationed across country and around the world, we have to use video calls instead of in-person meetings. We also use them as a mechanism to drive company culture. Each week, we have a “Team Call” on Monday and a “Values Shoutout Call” on Friday. These keep everyone on the same page and excited about the work ahead.
Each month, we also broadcast an internal State of the Union where we cover progress toward our goals, financial position as a company, and important updates.
Even when some members might be together in office, we advise everyone to signin on their own computer. This creates a significant load on our internet bandwidth, but the conversational benefits greatly outweigh the costs. Everyone is front and center.
Video Recording : Loom
One of the hardest parts of remote work is asynchronous communication. You don’t bump into others at the water cooler nor can you reach over when it looks like someone is available. Typically, this means you’re forced to write-out your thoughts and explanations.
Video recordings, of your screen or yourself, allow you to use visual aids or exhibit more emotion while sharing. So much context is lost in written format.
We are huge fans of Loom. Their product is easy to use and immensely valuable when explaining complex or nuanced concepts.
BTW. Regardless of how fast someone speaks, you can increase the speed to accommodate your listening preference.
Digital White-boarding : Miro
The experience of in-person white-boarding sessions are hard to replicate. Communication, information, and ideas flow freely. I’ve experimented with many options and prefer Miro.
Miro (formerly Realtime Board) is a boundless, digital whiteboard. It has no edges and provides a collaborative workspace. Multiple people can access the same board at once and you can watch them move across the screen. It even tracks versions and revisions so you can roll back.
Concepts can be organized into ‘frames’ that are easily exported.
Document Management : Notion
Finding and organizing documents is hard. We used Google Docs for years, but the limited organization structure began to break down. There were too many pages and links without an inherent design system. Notion changed that for us.
The best example of this is the New Story Company Handbook. The primary page is a collection of links, but they can be grouped and organized clearly. There is also a global sidebar (not pictured) that roles up favorited pages, shared pages, and items of company-level importance.
Regardless of the exact tools, these elements are key to remote work. As the team and tools have become more standardized, the benefits have only grown.
Feel free to reach out if you’d like to know more.