Our team is located in three different countries, so it is vital for us to use the right tools to stay connected and productive. Today, I am sharing with you the list of apps we use daily to achieve this goal.
Before we dive in, it’s worth mentioning that all the tools in the world won’t fix a broken team. Tools are here to increase productivity and make your team’s life easier but you still need to do the hard work of building and nurturing a collaborative culture.
Having said that, with the right culture in place, tools can help you keep everyone on the same page and even amplify and strengthen the team collaborative spirit.
I hope this list will help your remote team as much as it does with ours.
1. Slack so you can stay in touch
Our team uses Slack as a virtual office. The app enables us to create a chat room and talk about anything related to work or just let off some steam.
Every morning we use Slack for the team stand-up, a short meeting where everyone talks for a couple of minutes about what they are working on that day. The app is also great for brainstorming, asking questions and sharing files.
If your team is big, it could become messy so at some point you may want to create multiple rooms such us engineering and sales. However, I would avoid this if possible as it could introduce silos, which can interfere with your collaborative culture.
2. Trello our “TO DO list”
Trello is like a super post-it-note for teams with a visually appealing drag-and-drop interface. The app has helped us get organized, which in turn has increased our productivity. Often, when I have a new request from a client or a new feature that I want to test, I add it to a to-do-list in Trello.
The trap is that you can quickly find yourself creating too many cards. To avoid being overwhelmed, we force our people to write a detailed description of what the card is for, what the final goal is, what the success metrics are and why it is important.
We also use Trello to keep track of our blog editorial calendar, product roadmap and really anything that needs to get done.
3. Skype for screen sharing
I probably don’t need to introduce you to Skype, for us, it’s a good tool because a lot of people are familiar with it.
First impressions are crucial and you really don’t want to spend the first five minutes of your meeting explaining to a potential customer or a job candidate how to use the app. Many prospects will assume your product is complex just because the tool you are using to give the product demo is complex!
4. Join.me to replace Skype
The main issue with Skype is the quality of the image and its tendency to lag when you share your screen and this is why we are currently testing Join.me
5. World Time Buddy to find time slots
Anyone who has experienced organizing a meeting for a remote team will tell you that finding a convenient time slot is not an easy task to the point that it can trigger a headache.
But with Worldtimebuddy, it’s really easy to solve this problem. All you need to do is enter the location of your team and the app will find you the overlapping times.
Here for example, I was looking for a 1-hour slot that is perfect for our engineers in Montreal and Paris and myself in London.
6. Google Drive – All documents in one place
Google Drive is great for creating documents, sharing them with the team and also as a repository. It’s easy to organize and search files and multiple people can work on the same document at the same time.
Our team uses it a lot to create and store documents that need to be used multiple times. And with Google as powerful as never before, you can reasonably expect not to lose your spreadsheets, though we regularly do back-ups. The only annoying part is that Google tends to frequently modify the user interface.
7. Balsamiq for mockups
Balsamiq is a lightweight tool we use to design our wireframes. We like it because of its simplicity and limited features, which force us to focus on what matters.
Definitely sharing app and website mockups among designers, product managers and developers is helping us avoid losing time and money developing the wrong product.
8. Bitbucket for developers
Our engineers use Bitbucket to manage, share and store code. The platform is great for reviewing and fixing bugs. However, all the features related to product management happen on Trello.
Working at a startup is hard, and not for the faint of heart. But the same time your team should know when to relax and take a break. I hope this post has given you some ideas for tools that can help your team be more productive and close-knit.