One of the challenges of working remotely is making sure that we communicate effectively. This is important even if you all work in the same office – using online tools means that interruptions are kept to a minimum. But when people are working remotely, or your workforce is split across multiple locations, these resources become essential.
Here are four tools that we use at IDRsolutions which make it possible for us to work remotely:
There are several good tools out there to help your team manage and communicate online. We use Trello for lists, mainly to create agendas and lists of action points for meetings. However last year we decided to start using Basecamp as our main means of communicating.
Using Basecamp allows us to conveniently share information and almost eliminates our need for email as away to communicate internally. Basecamp is split into different sections, so people only get notified on topics that are relevant to them. It means that everyone knows as much as they need to about what everyone else is working on.
Remote working would not be possible for us without a bug tracking tool which allows us to communicate and track work on technical development. We decided to start using JIRA because it is highly customisable and allows us to communicate on technical issues. In the past we have also used Fogbugz (now known as Manuscript) but have found JIRA allows us more customisation and makes it simpler to create release notes. We can use it to see what technical issues everone is working on.
3. Google Hangouts
While online resources such as Basecamp are useful for sharing information, a spoken conversation can make you feel more connected to the people you are working with. We use Google Hangouts for all of our internal meetings. Every week we have a company-wide call on Hangouts where everyone talks about what they have worked on that week. For a small company spread across 3 locations, having a group conversation works well. Hangouts is easy to use and allows screen sharing. For customer calls we sometimes use Zoom and GoToMeeting, which also work well for remote conversations. Zoom has some nice extra features, for example other users can control your screen, you can draw annotations on your screen and you can record calls.
This year we have started using close.io for managing our sales conversations. In close.io each customer or potential customer is a separate ‘lead’, and we can communicate remotely about sales by assigning ‘tasks’ to each other on leads. You can also leave notes with useful information or draft emails that you would like others to proofread. So not only does it make no difference if we are in different locations, but everything is documented. A wishlist feature for us is to be able to ‘tag’ each other in the notes.
Having all of these tools makes it not only possible but easy for us to work and communicate as a team without needing to all be in the same office.
What tools do you use that help you work remotely?
IDRsolutions develop a Java PDF library, a PDF forms to HTML5 converter, a PDF to HTML5 or SVG converter and a Java Image Library that doubles as an ImageIO replacement. On the blog our team post about anything interesting they learn about.