Tools that help to enhance the communication of your remote teams

03 Apr 2020
Kate, copywriter
Can you go without communication tools? Yes, if you have strong pigeons, delivering letters the old way. 
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Challenge accepted!

Remote working is filled with obstacles. Project Managers feel tense in tracking the progress. Developers often cannot understand the requirements because it is easier to explain them in words. Here are other potential issues and how to overcome them.

Time Management

The difficulty with this aspect can emerge if you have different time-zones. How do you plan your call sessions if your team works as you sleep, and they sleep as you work? Well, in this case, there should be a one-way convenience from time to time. One day, you’ll sacrifice your sleep. Then you’ll switch the roles. Or you can arrange results and requirements sharing that don’t require face-to-face talking.

Language and cultural barriers

If you collaborate with people from another country, there’s a chance some of them will be skilled experts with terrible English. Google translator, although not a perfect interpreter at all, can help your teammates to overcome the language barrier. However, we would advise you to test English language skills because it influences the communication process a lot.

Lack of trust

“I have to see to believe”, some of us think and we are right in it. However, working with remote crews, it is necessary to trust what they do. As soon as they meet all deadlines and give you a great quality product, there’s no need to raise doubts. However, know that many tools not only track the process but also show what other resources the devs use during their work. So, you will see if they watch YouTube videos on their laptops (but not smartphones)

Team Communication

One of the most important things to create a successful group of people, not just the guys who do their tasks for the sake of it. Working remotely deteriorates communication. In an office, people often chat about their personal lives or share opinions while making coffee. When the problem emerges, you can resolve it in no time because of your teammates in the same room. Virtual teams lack it.

Can you go without communication tools?

Yes, if you have strong pigeons who will deliver the letters across all the teammates in no time – yeah, sure, you don’t need them. However, we strongly support pigeons and their rights to the fair hourly wages and convenient hooting conditions. So advise you to spend some time, and choose a set of collaborative tools. You also can communicate on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, theoretically. However, you will mix personal and working chats. And, well, they are not created for project supervision. We don’t think your team wants to be interrupted by bloggers’ posts about Bali and unsupported news about the next American Election. You do need special collaboration tools if you live in 2020.

  • to track productivity;
  • to automate mundane processes, like scheduling;
  • to have good-quality communication solutions (calls, chats);
  • to have the implemented time management solutions (or integrate with them);
  • to divide working and personal environments.

Features to look for

  • Chat and messaging;
  • Audio and video conferencing;
  • Discussion threads;
  • Files sharing;
  • Security solution (two-facet verification, end-to-end encryption);
  • Integrations with Excel tables, Google Docs, and other productivity-boosting apps);
  • Progress checker.

Tools for communicating with your remote team.

Slack – messenger for virtual teams

Features:

  • pinning important messages, links, and files to chats;
  • convenient search engine for messages and files;
  • ability to divide different workplaces or projects;
  • reminders;
  • customizable notifications (e.g. “notify only if the user writes the word “deadline”)
  • channels;
  • useful bots (for stand up, to-do lists, and translating the time-zones);
  • mentions (@jackhr, ask Jane about her working hours!);
  • integrations with many office tools;
  • starred items;
  • shortcut commands (e.g. /archive – to archive the current chat);
  • audio and video calls;
  • emojis, stickers, and gifs.
Trello

Pricing:

FREE for small teams (access to 10 000 recent messages, 10 integrative solutions, only 1:1 calls);

STANDARD $6.67/month (unlimited messages and integrations access, group calls up to 15 teammates);

PLUS $12.50/month (improved management, 24/7 support from Slack’s team);

Enterprise Grid (500 000 users integration, live administration).

It is good if you:

  • want your communication tool to remind messengers (Telegram, Signal, etc)
  • require flexibility in organizing your chats;
  • need integrations with other boosting productivity apps;
  • strive to solve time-zone inconveniences;
  • ready to build trust.

Trello – collaboration software for task management tool

Features:

  • standard Kanban boards (to do, in progress, done);
  • customizable boards (you can change them, and use not only with Kanban methodology);
  • templates for different industries and projects (for copywriting, for marketing, for software development);
  • open-source reliable API;
  • customization of the design;
  • attach lists, cards, polls, photos;
  • add more than 1 member to the card (or a task);
  • add mentions (@kateCopywriter, will we post it today?);
  • archives;
  • personal or business instructions;
  • constant power-ups.
Jell

Pricing:

FREE/per user (unlimited personal boards, cards and lists; 10MB/file limit, 2-factor-authentication, 1 Power-Up per board, 10 team boards);

BUSINESS CLASS – $9.99/mo/annually and $12.99/mo/monthly (+250MB/file limit, enhanced support and security, unlimited team boards, unlimited powerups);

ENTERPRISE – customizable per number of users (enhanced automation and security).

It is good for you if:

  • your team consists of less than 50 members;
  • you work with Kanban methodology;
  • your team requires the visualization of the tasks;
  • you think simplicity is a key;
  • you already have a messenger for communication and only require management tool.

Jell – check-ins tracking platform

Features:

  • daily standups;
  • check-in and check-out system;
  • goal monitoring;
  • synchronization with Slack;
  • access control;
  • feedback management;
  • templates;
  • dashboards;
  • messaging.
Codeshare

Pricing:

STARTER $4/user, (daily standups & reminders, check-In templates, integrations)

PLUS $8/user, (+ manage goals & OKRs, private teams)

ENTERPRISE (customizable), (+ personalized onboarding & training, dedicated customer success manager, support for custom integrations)

It is good for you if:

  • you need to track the precise time when your team starts and finishes work;
  • stand-ups are the major form of reporting;
  • you already use Slack, Trello or others tool; this tool is better for integration;

Codeshare – hack together

Features:

  • coding with your team;
  • interview with new devs;
  • teach people to program;
  • legroom;
  • multi-user chat;
  • real-time code sharing;
  • video chat;
  • different syntaxes;
  • tab sizes;
  • customizable themes;
  • keymaps;
  • download your code.

Pricing:

“Share code for free” – the best solution for team collaboration online

$49/month + for the phone-screen and interview developers with real-time code-sharing.

It is good for you if:

  • your team needs to collaborate in code writing;
  • you need to enhance the debugging process;
  • you have a developer to interview new employees.

Toggl – a combination of dashboards and timer

Features:

  • one-click timers;
  • tracking reminders;
  • manual time entries;
  • calendar integration;
  • reporting (tables, charts and pie graphs)
  • project dashboards;
  • billable rates;
  • profit and labor costs monitoring;
  • email reminders;
  • scheduled alerts.
basecamp

Pricing:

STARTER $9/user/mo/yearly, $10/user/mo/monthly (find time inconsistencies and see the revenue, transparent reporting)

PREMIUM $18/u/mo/yearly, $20/u/mo/monthly; (project profitability charts, scheduled reports to email, reminders, Toggl consultant)

ENTERPRISE – custom price (priority support, expert training, customizable solutions)

It is good for you if:

  • your work is dependable on deadlines;
  • you need to track the budget;
  • you want to see the results visualized by charts and graphs;
  • you need to make your team time-efficient.

Basecamp – an alternative

Features:

  • message boards;
  • to-do lists;
  • shared schedule + integration with Google Cal, iCal and Outlook;
  • docs, images, spreadsheets adding;
  • group chats;
  • automatic check-ins when you enter the system;
  • activities;
  • assignments;
  • drafts;
  • bookmarks;
  • boosts;
  • client access;
  • hill charts;
  • reports;

Pricing:

Business: $99/month flat (unlimited features)

Individual: FREE but limited.

30 days of free trial

Pay for a year – get one month for free.

It is good for you if:

  • you need to customize all features;
  • you need to keep track of all to-dos of your team;
  • you want to get a constant digest of updates about your teamwork on your email;
  • you weren’t satisfied with Slack or Trello.

How to improve your collaboration with remote teams?

1) Quit multitasking. Each member should have one assigned task at a time. More? Than include help. It is better to work for quality, not quantity.

2) Do not interrupt the process. It usually takes some time for each dev to focus solely on work. The highest productivity comes in the middle of performing the task. If you interfere with it, your teammate will have to make time again to get into the zone.

3) Arrange work in short periods and allow breaks.

4) Talk a lot with your team, and allow them to speak up. If you find out about the conflict or problem in its early stages, you’ll solve it faster.

5) Do not be afraid to shift from one collaboration platform to another. Of course, you should minimize such changes. However, if you see that your team is not convenient with Trello or says it’s hard to work on Basecamp, do not stay there.

6) First, choose a free plan or pay only for a month.

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