Working in a remote team has its ups and downs. Keeping in touch and working as if we were right next to each other is essential for success.
Here are a bunch of tools that we use to work together efficiently, as well as having everything accessible if someone is at home ill and away from the office
Slack is our main form of communication. Whether it be having a general conversation or going over finer points on a project, most of our communication will be through Slack.
The software works across all our devices (iOS, Mac, Web) and is often used instead of calling people during busy times of the day - we can check Slack when we have a few minutes to spare to catch up.
One of the many features of Slack allows us to send all our online notifications into specific channels. As an example, when someone commits new code to GitHub we receive a notification in Slack. Similarly if the Continuous Integration server runs the tests and they fail, then we will get notified.
Slack is fantastic way to cover most of our communication apart from voice/video and screen sharing.
Sqwiggle is one of those apps that is seriously aimed at remote workers like ourselves. Whilst Sqwiggle does have an instant messaging feature, the main focus is making people feel like they are in the same room as their team.
When you load up the app you are instantly greeted with the faces of your colleagues, which can be updated every few minutes. When you want to start a video conversation with them, just tap on their face. No need to mess around with finding contact details or waiting for them to pick up. Just tap and talk.
Even if you don’t chat with them that often, it’s great to feel that someone is always there with you when you need them.
Sprintly holds all of the tasks, bugs and features for pretty much every project we work on. Sprintly works very much like a Kanban board, we know at all times what stage we are up to with our projects, who is working on what feature, and how we are looking for time.
Each item allows comments and uploads attached to them, as well as the ability to T-shirt size them so clients have a some understanding on how much effort each item will take to complete.
Other similar tools to Sprintly are things such as PivotalTracker and Trello.
4. Google Drive
Google Drive is the hub that contains all of our documents and spreadsheets. We often use Google Drive when we’re collaborating on a document or just to share some work with each other to look at over in a Skype call.
Skype feels like one of the most essential tools to use when remote working. Whilst you can go so far using text messages, emails and chat software, hearing and seeing someone is a whole different thing.
Skype is our go-to software for longer discussions within the team and also for chatting with clients. Almost everyone we have dealt with thus far has had a Skype account.
Skype also has a feature of being able to get your own local landline number (or non-local if that’s what you want), with the ability of paying monthly to get minutes to call people in specific countries.
When working we may sometimes get a bit stuck or want to share what we’re working on with someone. This is where Screenhero shines.
I’ve spent a very long time going through a bunch of screensharing tools, and Screenhero seems to come out on top in terms of features, simplicity and reliability. Not only can you share your screen with someone, but they get their own mouse and keyboard input so things like pair programming can be done with ease.
Screenhero also has voice and text chat if you want to use it as a basic chat application if needed.
Screenhero has recently announced it is joining Slack, so some pretty interesting integration should be coming soon.
As remote workers we can be working in all kinds of cafés, bars, parks, libraries etc. Sometimes you need a bit of music to give you some energy and get back down to work!
Spotify is great as you can keep playlists saved onto your computer as well as share your playlists with friends.