Shifting from an in-person team to incorporating freelancers or remote workers on your team can come with its own interpersonal and workflow issues. To help make the transition easier, DoneStreet has put together a list of our favourite software tools that can help your team find remote working success!
Whether you’re a development team considering a full transition to remote work post Covid-19, or an employee or a freelancer who is new to a distributed team, this list can help you find success in your new remote work environment, without missing a step.
COMMUNICATION IS THE SECRET TO REMOTE SUCCESS
Having a dev team work remotely can come with its challenges. As we said in our recent post, communication can make or break the success of a team -- quarantine or not. And, when your team isn’t physically in the same place or building, the communication tools you choose will play a vital role in the engagement, management, accountability, and production of your team.
SLACK: REAL-TIME COMMUNICATION FOR REMOTE TEAMS
Tested and true, Slack is a game changer for internal communications. Used by many teams in place of email, Slack is a real-time messaging tool that provides faster, less formal, seamless internal communications.
Since launching, Slack has added significant functionality that helps remote teams work better together. From search and archiving abilities, to a myriad of integrations that you can add like Google Drive, Calendar and even Zapier, Slack allows you to make it your own with customized individual workflows. Slack alone can create a better flow of information between your teammates and you and it goes that extra mile to help to keep you organized with meetings, projects, and tasks.
You and your team may not be new to this tool, but there are some best practices when using it to help amp up your communications:
- Public channels: Slack’s public channels are helpful for mass digital communication. Share information widely with the team and promote an open work culture by sharing often and clearly.
- Direct messages: Great for connecting with your peers and colleagues, and even better for discussing things 1–1. These help in times when a face-to-face conversation can’t happen.
- Slack etiquette: reduce the number of unneeded notifications by pushing your team members to avoid using @channel or @here unless absolutely necessary. Here, absolutely necessary means that what you’re sharing is something that everyone in that channel should be immediately aware of.
- Start a #remote channel in your company Slack to provide documents, information, and tools to help build best practices for the transition.
- Working hours and the almighty snooze function: If your company is remote across several time-zones, it’s critical to remember that other team members’ working hours will differ from yours. Use Slack’s Snooze functionality to snooze notifications outside of working hours. This functionality will help you and your team maintain a healthy work/life balance - something that may be difficult while working from home.
ZOOM VIDEO CONFERENCING - CONNECT AND COMMUNICATE
You’ve probably already moved some of your meetings to a video conference format due to the quarantine, but here is one of our favourite tools. Zoom is a shining star in an uncertain time, and they’ve done a great job providing a seamless tool that makes scheduling video calls easy and affordable. Added bonus: Zoom also integrates with Google calendar to make setting up your calls easier!
We love to use Zoom for watercooler meetings at the end of the week, giving our team an accessible space for hands-on collaboration. Add this to your tools if you’re looking for a stable, secure, smooth, and virtually pain-free option.
Looking for some best practices for using Zoom effectively? Check out this great list here.
TOOLS FOR BRAINSTORMING AND COLLABORATION
MIRO - INNOVATE AND COLLABORATE VIRTUALLY
When teams go remote or take on a remote member, a significant component that goes missing is the ability to come together and gather around a whiteboard for a good brainstorm session. For some companies, this is where innovation happens, and by adding visuals to the discussion, understanding can take place across all team members.
Without this function, distributed teams, such as ours, have brought Miro in to help us simulate this whiteboard-type of sessions. Miro is a real-time whiteboard that organizations can use for workflow creation, journey maps, or even design-thinking sprints.
Check out these six free templates from Miro to help you host productive remote meetings.
WORLD TIME BUDDY – KEEP TRACK OF REMOTE COLLEAGUES' WORKING HOURS AROUND THE WORLD.
With teams that exist between several time zones, scheduling calls and collaboration sessions can become a pain. If this is new for some employees, learning and being aware of the different working hours of remote workers isn’t the most natural thing.
That’s why we love World Time Buddy. This tool makes it very easy to enter a few time zones and find some overlapping times.
TOOLS FOR REMOTE PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Beyond interpersonal interaction hurdles, accountability is the next puzzle to solve when working remotely. Finding ways to be transparent about your work and increase accountability can be tougher to accomplish when your dev team is remote. Enter project management software tools. Once implemented, they’ll help take the guesswork out of your day and give you a snapshot of the work that is being done and needs to be completed next.
NOTION - PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOL AND MORE
For this, we love Notion. With this tool, individual team members can keep on track with their assignments and understand how they funnel into more significant company strategies and projects.
For example, product managers can create and share a kanban board filled with cards for each task their team needs to complete for an upcoming feature release. Keep track of sprints, icebox ideas, and work to be done as well as assigning tasks to each employee.
Each card on Notion can be given a due date, a number associated with time and amount of effort (for higher-level time and resource management), and you can even assign it to an individual developer for an extra layer of accountability. Add extra clarity by providing labels for additional context, card descriptions, and get conversations around projects going with the comments section.
Notion was designed specifically for design teams but has since become a staple for entire companies, with templates for marketing, sales, and engineering. To put it simply, Notion, and some of its counterparts, such as Asana and Trello, help keep things from slipping through the cracks.
OPTIMIZE THE PRODUCTIVITY OF YOUR REMOTE TEAM
FREEDOM - FREE UP SPACE TO BECOME MORE PRODUCTIVE
How do remote developers keep the focus going when working from home? The most effective way is with one of our favourite tools, Freedom. Freedom gives you the space to focus on your priorities and get them done.
Offices can indeed be a major source of distraction, and studies show that distributed workers are also fighting an uphill battle, at home, or working from other spaces.
Freedom is an app that minimizes distractions and notifications that come from your phone, laptop, or any web app that’s fighting for your attention.
Your team can use it to block out their calendars, set aside time, and make an intentional effort to stay focused on the most critical projects.
APPS AND TOOLS ARE NOT A REPLACEMENT
It’s easy to throw a bunch of tools at your team to make them work better while at home. Avoid this temptation, and don’t over-complicate things when you don’t have to. Picking the best software for your remote developer team to use while working from home is an art and a science.
Above all, prioritize your work, communication, and collaboration with your team and ensure a seamless workflow. Once that’s down pat, you can then incorporate these tools to make productivity more achievable and straightforward.
Which tools, best practices or strategies does your remote development team use to keep on track and achieve success? Please share your best practices and favourite tools with us on Twitter using @donestreetdevs and the hashtag #RemoteWork.