I’ve been a participant on Remote Year for several months now. For those of you who don’t know what Remote Year is, it’s a program that brings 75 professionals together to live, work and travel alongside one another through 12 cities over 12 months. To read more about some of my initial thoughts on the value of program you can read this post from Prague.
Working remotely requires a mix of personal discipline, collaboration and coordination. Thankfully there are a suite of online tools that can aid you and your team in all these areas. The team at K Street Partners leverages an array of these tools to keep focused on daily tasks, collaborate with one another and track project timelines.
Speed up Communication with Slack
This increasingly popular messaging application is essential for our culture of remote work. When you’re working remotely, time management is key and you don’t want to waste time crafting long emails, waiting for responses, searching for past messages, repeatedly following up with team members, etc. Slack helps in all of these areas by allowing you to:
- Message one or many team members quickly and informally
- Share file attachments within your messages
- Focus and categorize conversations through specific channels
- Integrate with a range of tools to add more value, making it a “nerve-center” for managing work
This last point is especially important as you can integrate with an ever-expanding library of apps such as:
- Smartsheets - updates when a new row is added to a project
- Wunderlist - review all your open tasks and see when they’ve been completed
- Simple Poll - conduct quick surveys amongst co-workers
- Tomatobot - track Pomodoro method progress (we’ll cover this more below)
- Google Drive - share files right through slack
Give Clearer Feedback with Skitch
When you’re remote, it can be tough to articulate feedback in a clear way. Skitch comes in handy for grabbing a quick screenshot and adding some rough annotations to your team to add some much needed context to your notes. While it offers fairly basic functionality such as text overlays and arrows, it’s really all you need to express yourself quickly and efficiently. Additionally, it syncs with Evernote (if you use that tool) for quick reference when needed.
Keep Yourself on Task with Wunderlist
Keeping track of things is key when you’re remote as work and life get blended together easily. Wunderlist allows you to create separate to-do lists for all facets of remote life such as: personal, work, travel, diet, wish list, etc. Even within those lists you can break a task down into sub-tasks so you can gradually progress towards your goals (e.g., for this post, I broke it down into 5 steps for each tool I’m covering), from there you can prioritize tasks according to importance to make sure you’re focusing on the right steps first.
Additionally it expedites collaboration by allowing you to share lists with friends or work colleagues and integrates with the Slack platform to allow for better communication around project tasks.
Clearly Communicate Project Plans with Smartsheets
With Smartsheets you can develop more actionable project plans. One of my favorite features is the ability to attach files to specific project line items, not just a project itself, to aid in tracking and providing extra content around tasks. To align with the changing needs of your project team members, it provides an array of views to easily digest projects whether that's through a traditional line item schedule, Gantt chart, calendar view or card view if you deploy an agile approach to project management.
Like many of the tools on this list it has a broad range of 3rd party application integration to speed up the tracking and sharing of project timelines (e.g., Google Drive, Slack, Salesforce, Jira, etc.). From an oversight perspective, Smartsheet’s Sights tool gives a comprehensive, executive overview of project efficiencies and allows teams to evaluate their progress and find areas for future optimization.
Share, Save and Edit Files with Drive
Google Drive is similar to many cloud based storage platforms such as Dropbox or Box, in that allows you to store all your personal and professional files. However, what helps differentiate Drive is the natural integration of Google Docs, Slides and Sheets. These tools allow for built in collaboration on documents in real-time with your team members. Additionally, it has a detailed draft history to help track changes and revert to earlier versions if necessary.
Drive benefits from Google’s robust search tool as its directory search functionality is one of its best features, allowing you to quickly find the file you’re looking for versus digging through your directory hierarchy. Lastly, since it’s a cloud based solution fIles can be reached across your phone, tablet and computer, making it easy to share and make edits on the fly, even when you’re flying.
These are just a sampling of the tools one could use to improve productivity and with a growing interest in managing remote teams there are new platforms launching all the time, what do you or your organization use to improve communication, time-management and collaboration?