Remote Tools for Communication
One of the reasons companies are able to be fully remote today is because of the tools that now exist. None of this would have been possible before them, and they only keep getting more and more powerful and efficient.
Let’s dive into the essentials to get you up and running as a remote team:
As a remote team, you’ll spend the majority of your time communicating via text, and thankfully there’s an awesome app for that called Slack. This app will literally become your new office. It allows you to create communication channels for individual teams and projects, as well as water-cooler-like, interest-based channels about things like travel, cooking, gaming, etc.
Slack has competitors like Hipchat, but don’t waste your time — Slack has the most 3rd party application support, a massive app store, and the best UI and design.
Unfortunately, your relationship with Microsoft must come to an end. Google has everything you need and will make your life much easier at the price of $5/user/month.
Your e-mail, calendars, spreadsheets, documents, presentations, and more will now be available to you anywhere and collaboratively.
You won’t find any remote team today using Microsoft’s tools, so just make the switch, and you’ll be happy you did.
For video meetings, there are two options to consider: Zoom and Google Hangouts. Both are free, although Zoom comes with some restrictions (40-minute maximum meetings) unless you pay.
Hangouts is well-known for sucking your battery dry, dropping calls, and being overall terrible. That said, it’s still one of the best options available, it integrates with your Google Calendar, and it’s free.
Zoom can host hundreds of people in a single video conference, which is pretty amazing to experience. The quality is certainly better as well. It also is less likely to horribly crash and burn on you like Google Hangouts, so if you have some budget, invest in a tool that’s going to give you big, consistently quality meetings.
Storage: Google Drive
Since you’ll be sharing a lot of files with one another and won’t have your usual internal company drives anymore, you’ll need an online equivalent.
GDrive (or Google Drive) offers the best bang for your buck and will be nicely stored within your existing GSuite environment. No one comes close to the amount of service and storage they offer, and their price beats every competitor as well.
Surveys: Google Forms
One incredibly important, and often overlooked, tool for communicating with your team is Google Forms to help send out surveys.
Feedback is so important in a remote team, because you don’t see people’s faces on a daily basis and you don’t always know how they’re feeling or truly responding to what you’re doing.
Google Forms lets you insanely quickly create a feedback survey, send it out to the company, and instantly start getting feedback — all for free.
Use this tool and use it often if you want to keep a happy, engaged remote team.
Project management: Trello
You likely already have a go-to project management tool you like, and we recommend continuing to use that.
But for more everyday remote communication and keeping everyone on the same page about a myriad of different, tiny projects, something lightweight like Trello can come in handy.
For example, you can use Trello collaboratively for sharing blog post ideas (and their current status), sharing links to include in your newsletter, doing quick-and-dirty bug tracking, sharing team-wide goals, etc.
You can check out those examples and more on Trello’s inspiration page.
Newsletters are a great way to engage your team on a monthly basis and keep them connected to the roadmap and vision you have for the company.
Mailchimp is one of the best solutions for newsletters. It’s affordable and helps you easily create attractive newsletters and manage your subscribers.
It also comes with plenty of automation tools, allowing you to send out a string of e-mails, particularly helpful for something like onboarding e-mails over the course of a new employee’s first two weeks.
Sometimes communication is best left to the robots to do for us. Zapier is the ultimate robot for helping keep your team informed about, well, anything.
If there isn’t an official Slack integration for something that you need your team kept up to date and informed about (such as new leads coming in, or visitors on the LiveChat), Zapier can rig it up for you with their easy to use service.
Just pick a trigger (leads form submitted) and a destination (Slack), and it’ll send the information however you’d like it and to whomever you’d like it to go to.
It’ll even handle your social media communications for you as well, posting to Facebook, Twitter, etc. all at once.
As you’ll soon discover, Slack has a wide range of bots available to help your team communicate even better. Here are a few to help with communication that we recommend:
Howdy: With people in ten different timezones, it can take a while to collect simple information from all of them. Sometimes, you’ll find Howdy comes in handy as it will go collect that information for you and tell you when it’s done.
VacationBot: Your team will often post in Slack that they are going on vacation in a month, and then everyone forgets. VacationBot automatically sets their status to “OOO” and includes the date when they will return so that no one has to remember when you’re on vacation ever again.
Donut: This bot will connect your teammates randomly with one another in a private chat so they can meet and talk with someone new each week. It’s an awesome way to meet new people.
RightGIF: Our favorite of the GIF bots, simply type “/gif” + [a phrase], and you’ll get a gif delivered instantly to the chat. A must-have for any team that wants more friendly communication.
Geekbot: A helpful bot for poking your team for status updates on a daily basis.
Browse more communication Slackbots here.