Create close-knit remote teams with our favorite tools for collaborating across distances
Ask any expert what the single most common explanation for the demise of a team is and they’ll tell you failure to communicate. In order for people to feel connected, they must be able to communicate with one another and share experiences. Over time these shared experiences form the basis for meaningful and productive working relationships. Given that more and more people are choosing to work remotely, it becomes increasingly important for those who lead virtual teams to create a shared workspace in which members can form authentic connections and communicate freely. Fortunately, for today’s remote teams and their leaders, there are some wonderful tools out there that make connecting with remote team members an easy and rewarding affair. Below are our top tools for remote teams:
Ideal for communications that are quick and short, Slack is a tool that allows you and your remote teams to message each other without overloading everyone’s email inboxes. Additional benefits remote teams enjoy with Slack are:
- Organization – Messages can be organized in a variety of channels, i.e. projects, departments, etc.
- Visibility – Everyone on a team can click on a channel and see what’s being said, so it keeps people on the same page. You can also create private channels for confidential messages.
- File Sharing — Slack enables teams to share files like PDFs, images, spreadsheets, etc.
- Synchronization — Messages are updated in real-time, so you are always in the loop.
Alex Turnbull, the CEO of Groove, a software company with an entirely virtual workforce, says, “We use Slack to ask each other questions, pass files back and forth, compare notes on new releases, and much more.”
Forming authentic connections with team members requires face-to-face interactions, and the only way to do this with remote teams is through video. That’s why Highfive is one of the top tools for remote teams. Highfive delivers best-in-class HD audio and video and is super easy-to-use – as in anyone anywhere can Highfive a team member using any device. It’s also incredibly versatile. Among the many ways companies are using Highfive to keep their remote teams connected are:
- Always-On Portals — Some companies are designating meeting spaces where Highfive is always live so team members can pop in and chat with one another, just like they would if they were physically in the same office. Still others are turning the cameras on entire workspaces, which enables remote employees to see and be seen and feel like they are part of the work environment.
- Group Meetings — Highfive is ideal for the give and take essential to true collaboration. When people can genuinely talk and hear the excitement in one another’s voices, it creates a feeling of closeness between team members that boosts morale and builds trust. From brainstorms and weekly stand-ups, to project updates, Highfive is a matchless tool for creating camaraderie between virtual team members.
- One-On-Ones — Highfive video units feature a wide angle lens that allows remote team members to feel like they are in the same room with each other, thus it’s a great choice for feedback, reviews and private conversations.
To foster closeness in remote teams at Zapier, Wade Foster, the CEO uses a video buddy system. “As we’ve grown, it can be harder to know all your teammates. One easy way to mitigate that is to have folks on the team get paired up with one other teammate at random each week for a short 10-15 minute video call. We use this to chat about life, work or whatever random thing seems interesting. Sometimes cool new product features come out of these, other times it’s just good fun. Regardless it helps everyone better know their teammates.”
One of our favorite tools for remote teams is Google docs. It helps collaboration when team members are working on files together and storing them in a central place where everyone can see them, and see each other’s comments. Among the many advantages Google Docs offers virtual teams are:
- Synchronized Changes – When you access docs from a central location you always have the latest version, so there’s no confusion during meetings.
- Central Access – The ability to log into Google and comment on a doc from anywhere using any device enables remote teams to be productive even when they are away from their workspace.
- Visibility – Google docs allows you to see and respond to comments, ask questions and interact with everyone involved on a document
Part of building trusting relationships requires following through on what team members say they are going to do. To help team members stay accountable to one another, another of our favorite tools for remote teams is Asana, a project management tool. A few of the cool things that Asana will enable you to do are:
- Develop Tasks — Asana enables you to break a big project into small tasks and then assign those tasks to individuals or groups.
- Create Clarity — Tasks come with descriptions, attached documents (if needed) and deadlines, so team members are clear about what they need to do and when their work needs to be completed.
- Track Results – Asana allows everyone on the team to see what work has been done and what is in progress. It also enables people to have their contributions be seen, which fosters pride in work.
“Visibility is crucial as a manger of virtual teams and Asana helps me stay organized and keep up with what my team is doing,” said Johnny Jiang, Vice President of Marketing for Peloton.
Forming meaningful connections with remote team members may require a little effort on your part, but with the right tools the rewards will far outweigh the investment. So what are you waiting for? Implement these top tools for remote teams and improve your collaboration today. At Highfive, we care about creating vivid video atmospheres where remote and in-house teams can collaborate with ease. To equip your team for success, give them a Highfive.