In a remote work setup, the stack of tools you use can hugely affect how effective your collaboration will be.
Fortunately, modern technology is more than capable of supporting a seamless remote workflow—it’s just a matter of choosing the right ones that fit your team culture and project requirements.
Real-time collaboration tools
Real-time collaboration tools ease the drawback of distance in remote work by allowing you to work as if you are side-by-side with your colleague or supplier.
These tools let multiple people edit a document or a file at the same time and see each other’s changes as they happen—here are some examples:
1. Microsoft Teams – Part of the Office 365 line, Microsoft Teams is primarily a communication platform where you can chat and video-conference with people within or outside your organization.
Aside from this, though, Microsoft Teams lets you easily collaborate with other people in the project by working on word documents, excel sheets, or powerpoint presentations simultaneously.
Changes reflect in real-time, so you can discuss revisions in a video call and polish a file at the same time—almost better than a face-to-face meeting.
2. Google Drive – Aside from being a free cloud-based storage, Google Drive also offers a software office suite including Docs, Sheets, and Slides (similar to Microsoft Office) that you can access and collaborate on online.
Inviting people to collaborate a file with you is as easy as sharing a link, but if you’re working on confidential documents, you can also choose to restrict access and editing to invited emails only.
3. Miro – Brainstorming for new projects and campaigns often involves drawing on a whiteboard and getting live feedback in a conference room—digitally, this practice has been made possible by online whiteboard apps like Miro where teams can draw, annotate, and collaborate on a “whiteboard” just like in face-to-face brainstorming sessions.
4. InVision – InVision offers a suite of design tools that helps not only designers, but also other people in the project.
It has a variety of features for prototyping, managing design feedback, and a real-time “whiteboard” tool for co-creating and annotating designs.
Project management systems
A project management system is a platform where you can manage different aspects of the project at its different stages, from initial estimation and planning, to resource allocation and keeping track of the progress until launch and deployment.
Often, it’s also where communication between everyone involved in the project is facilitated and kept, so that everyone can have a full view of the project in one place.
Here are some of the most popular project management systems:
1. Zoho Projects – Zoho Projects is a cloud-based platform that lets you manage project activities and collaborate with a remote team, with features such as project timesheets, task automation and management, as well as issue tracking.
2. Asana – Asana is another project management tool built for easily monitoring task and project status.
Some of its key features include boards, which provide an easy overview of task progress, timeline for planning project deadlines, and calendar for scheduling and task adjustments.
3. Podio – Podio gets your team working in sync by providing a centralized platform for all conversations, processes, tasks, and workflows.
It also comes with a straightforward interface that helps everyone involved easily adjust to the system.
4. Bitrix24 – Bitrix offers both web-based and on-premise solutions depending on the needs of your business.
It can be used as a private social network within the company, a CRM platform, and a task management tool.
Other tools for remote work
Here are a few other useful tools that you can consider for collaborating remotely:
1. Facebook Workplace – Workplace is Facebook’s commercial communication tool for businesses.
It offers some features similar to the free social network, like Groups and Chats, along with others like Auto-translate for easier global collaboration among teams.
2. Slack – Slack is a “collaboration software” that contains features for team communication (chat, voice, and video) as well as file management and sharing.
It can easily be integrated with most popular apps and tools like G Suite, Dropbox, Github, Salesforce, and more.
2. PasswordState – Working at home does not provide the same technical security as a maintained office network, so it’s important to manage critical information like passwords and credentials in a secure platform.
PasswordState makes it easy for teams to share and access passwords for company accounts in a secure environment.
Beyond the software that you’ll use for remote collaboration, it’s also important for everyone working on a project to adapt the right mindset in order to make the most out of your tools and achieve a smooth workflow.
With many viable options in the market, it can be tempting to try out different sets of apps and move from one to another across different projects.
While you may have to test out different tools to arrive at the best one that fits your business or project, it’s best to decide on a final core stack that you’ll want to use and make your team stick to it.
This avoids a scenario where you’ll have to go through different data on different tools just to check one project detail, and makes it easy for you to onboard any new team member or supplier.
At 1902 Software, we strictly use our own project management system regardless of the size or nature of the project we’re working on.
This makes it easier for both our team and customers alike to stay on top of project progress as well as internal company news and updates.
In the last part of this series, we’ll share some other best practices from our project managers that enable efficient remote collaboration.