What team collaboration software do you use? If you’ve recently been forced into remote working, or considering how you can manage your team remotely for the foreseeable future, this blog will help you navigate.
Remote working enthusiasts had long predicted that by 2020, more than 50% of the workforce would work outside the office, at home, in coworking spaces and even on the road – at least some of the time. They’ve foresaw that this would become not merely become the privilege of those who are pregnant, parents or carers, but a choice that all will possess. Who knew that in early 2020, almost everyone that could would be required to work from home because of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic?!
The rise of remote working, and it most recent imposition on the general public, is great news for those of us with a streak of wanderlust. Software vendors are tripping over themselves to show us how to do it (think wifi anywhere, free wifi hotspots), meaning that remote need not mean only or a cramped spare bedroom or sharing the kitchen table.
Not Just for Digital Nomads
Last year, we decamped to Germany while Allen worked for a client’s client. I shacked up in an AirBnB and enjoyed fresh, local German pretzels every morning. What made it possible? Not only a very well-paid gig, but the various categories of software tools that mean remote working and asynchronous working are going to become part of the landscape.
Which is better for productivity… work as a place we go or a thing we create?
As I write this, in June 2020, the numbers of employees and managers working remotely is unprecedented in 2020, not least due to the current coronavirus. And, while the UK is beginning to stagger its return to the workplace, I wonder…
If your employer requires you to work from home and you’re struggling to manage your staff, here are my five suggestions for software tools that will help you keep on top of workplace projects and help to maintain productivity and communication with your team.
Everyday Internal Communication
There are various tools designed for everyday conversations, the ones that used to be shouted across the office. One of the best I’ve worked with is Slack. For those not in the know, think of it like a giant chat window. It’s has a desktop, web and smartphone app that enables you to maintain an open channel of communication with your team regardless of location.
One of the best benefits of using specifically-designed software for internal team comms over email is that it can help reduce endless Cc email chains.
- The ability to create and chat publicly in temporary (September Event Marketing, Qtr 2 Blog Posts) or permanent project groups (Marketing, Support, Product Documentation)
- The facility to create private conversations with individuals and groups (a little like WhatsApp)
- Video chat
- Document sharing
My experience has been mostly in Zoho, BaseCamp, Trello, Asana and Monday. I’m firmly in the Trello and Asana camps. An,d for those with more complicated PM needs, Monday is a strong contender. Why?
- Ability to add projects and projects tasks and make them visible only to those who need to see (clients too)
- Ability to assign and reassign tasks until they’re done/reviewed/published
- Neat column-style interface to help you see the current status of project tasks at a glance
- Email notifications
- Ability to report (Asana)
I’ve used just about everything from the heavily customisable Meridio’s EDRM system (where I worked for 2 years) to the much more straightforward Google Docs (my recommendation). Once you see the real-time collaboration benefits within your organisation, you’ll never revert to desktop-only document creation tools.
The best file management systems have some common features:
- Ability to upload, save and share documents with relevant users – helping to avoid duplications and multiple versions (twin enemies of repute!)
- Ability for multiple contributors to edit documents simultaneously, making collaboration easy
- Notifications of documentation uploads, amendments and deletions, keeping everyone up to date
Briefly, it doesn’t matter which of these tools you use. I’ve used Skype for ages, but many in the UK now favour Zoom (my current preference). I’ve also used: Google Hangouts, Facetime and Bluejeans. Each of these tools enables you to have a chat with your team or with clients and customers.
Tips for newbies:
- Use headphones. It usually improves the sound and helps dim background noise.
- Ensure your background is not distracting. Today, I ‘met’ virtually with two team project team members from one of our clients in Zoom. One had switched on a Game of Thrones throne, as you do. Well, have you ever sat on your throne in a meeting? I endorse this personality. 😉
Since working remotely does not only mean working at home, you can end up working in stations, trains, airports, coworking spaces, coffee shops and assorted relatives homes. To prevent local whizzkids or hackers snooping around on your laptop, we recommend using a VPN. It acts like a buffer between you and the software you’re connecting with and hides your
If you need advice on how to get set up with software for remote teams, get in touch.