Is your company suddenly working remotely?
If so, you may wonder how your team will successfully navigate doing their jobs at home. There are several resources you can use that improve communication and productivity, no matter where your office is. Here are some of our favorite tools we use at Lynton to equip our remote team.
Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to read our tips on working from home.
Slack and Google Hangouts
Slack is by far one of the most popular messaging apps for teams of all sizes (with a free option for small businesses). It’s great for real-time conversations, staying connected, and asking for help or advice. Their channels help your organization categorize communication by topic so your team can be involved in the correct projects without being overwhelmed by notifications. Additionally, you can set statuses to alert coworkers if you’re away from your desk, and call people directly within the platform.
Another option for open communication is Google Hangouts. This messaging and video-conferencing application is linked directly to your Gmail account and may be quicker to onboard, depending on your needs.
For a more robust video calling or conferencing system, try Zoom. Zoom’s free platform allows users to record video calls up to 40 minutes, with settings like virtual backgrounds, touch-ups, and reactions built-in. Users can share their screen, conduct polls, and chat amongst themselves for increased engagement.
Paid accounts can record for an unlimited amount of time, create breakout rooms, and use webinar features to communicate with contacts and prospects.
Google Drive and Dropbox
In an office setting, you may pass around a printed document for reviewing. With Google Drive, you can take all of your files to the Cloud. Google Drive lets you store and share all your documents, spreadsheets, and slide presentations securely. You can track edits and make comments on content and pass them quickly to your coworkers or third-party sources.
Dropbox also allows for sharing and organizing files across distributed teams. You can create, store, and access your Google documents and other traditional files from any device connected to the Internet. With specific plans, you can connect Dropbox to your other tools like Slack and Zoom to keep conversations related to your projects in the same folders.
World Time Buddy
Remote teams that work across the country or globe could run into communication deadlock by not understanding when someone is working and when they’re not. World Time Buddy can ensure you’re not emailing someone at 9 p.m. their time by converting time and comparing multiple time zones at once. The application also plans conference calls and web meetings that fit into everyone’s schedule.
Jira is a sophisticated solution that offers a free version for teams wanting to try it out first. Jira can be used in multiple scenarios, such as software development, operations, or project management. It can be used at a company-wide level, as well. At Lynton, we use Jira to power our agile environment. That means we use it to build Scrum and Kanban Boards to track and talk about projects. Kanban Boards are management hubs, where tasks are mapped to customizable workflows, and Scrum is used to check-in daily.
Jira uses Tempo for its time-tracking, so you can see how long certain projects are taking, and log it for invoices if needed. Other capabilities, like real-time performance reports and burndown charts, enable everyone to monitor team productivity over time.
Implementing Jira may take time, and if you’re only working remotely for the short term, there are other options. Teamwork is another project management tool that lets users create, assign, track, and comment on tasks. It offers a level of transparency that can help empower a remote team. You can also use it to track time, create invoices, and build custom time reports.
Staying in touch with your internal team – as well as the rest of your network – is critical for remote teams to build confidence and trust. Thankfully, HubSpot offers a free version of their Marketing and CRM platforms so you can use tools like email, live chat, forms, ads, reports, in tandem with sales activities like deal tracking and pipeline management.
It’s an excellent system for building campaigns with distributed teams because you can track each other’s progress on different campaigns in HubSpot, as well as work on blogs and other templates together. If you need to quickly build an internal newsletter to keep your team updated while working from home, making one will only take a few minutes with HubSpot’s pre-made templates.
Need a quicker way to engage with your internal and external contacts? Text them. SMSZap is a cost-effective solution to getting critical messages out to your users in no time. SMS has higher open rates than email and can be used for a variety of campaigns other than simple mass communication.
If your company has a list of passwords written on a post-it-note somewhere in your office, you may need this next tool no matter what. LastPass makes storing and sharing passwords quick and safe. Each employee will create a master password to access their single sign-on portal where your logins and passwords are saved in relevant folders. You can then manage who has access to which accounts and thus increase security in the process.
For individual productivity, Serene is a Mac application that concentrates on three core elements: planning your day, blocking distractions, and enhancing focus. Start your day on the right foot by defining one goal, then breaking your day into more digestible sessions. Serene shields you from distraction by blocking your favorite websites and applications during working hours. Lastly, it provides focus music, countdown timers, and alerts for regular breaks so you can get work done while staying sane.
While these resources can power your team as they work from home, you still may face some hurdles. Whether it’s providing examples of more tools, helping define work-life balance, or offering tips on other remote work best practices, we’re here to support you. Reach out today!