By Niraj Ranjan Rout
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made remote work the new normal. This not only disrupts the way we work individually but also how we work as a team.
You can’t head over to your colleague’s desk and pick their brains about an idea. You won’t be able to have a quick team huddle at the office to plan a website project.
It’s time to adapt – with a guiding hand from technology. Be it wanting to know what your team’s workload looks like, or brainstorming an idea with your colleague, everything can now be done digitally.
Here, let’s take a look at some tools that can come in handy during these times.
Video conferencing tools (The alternative to face-to-face meetings)
I think we can agree that the closest replacement to face-to-face discussions is video meetings. It helps maintain a certain amount of team camaraderie, while livening up spirits, especially during a period of self-isolation.
But, that’s not all. Flying to meet a prospect for a demo or even catching up with a customer in another city are things you can’t probably do at the moment. So, more workers might take to video conferencing.
Zoom is a highly reliable and popular tool in the video conferencing space. It allows you to save your meetings, either locally or on cloud. Even if you don’t have internet access, you can join a meeting by telephone call-in.
If you’ve got a team that works out of G Suite, Hangouts might be a better option. It’s pretty user-friendly and comes with options to video call, phone call, and message others.
Project Management Tools (keep everyone on the same page)
With remote work coming into full effect, team collaboration will be severely impacted. Managers might have to follow up multiple times to know the status of a project, team members might not have clarity on what exactly they need to do, and ultimately deadlines could be missed.
This is where project management tools can bring order to chaos.
One of the more popular tools in this category is Asana. You can create tasks in various formats – as lists or boards. But, what makes Asana a blessing for remote work is the live dashboard that allows managers to keep track of what’s happening across the team.
Another handy project management tool is Trello. The best part about Trello is that it helps divide a project into smaller sub-tasks, in a very understandable manner.
Team communication tools (reduce miscommunication in your team)
When everyone in your team is working from home, it’s essential to take a slightly different approach to how you communicate – which is to overcommunicate. Being as clear as possible is the need of the hour as it helps make up for the lack of face-to-face meetings.
We, at Hiver, use Slack for internal communication. I like how Slack brings an element of fun and light heartedness to our conversations by offering a wide repository of emoji reactions.
If your company is made up of Outlook power users, Microsoft Teams would make more sense. Apart from using it as a chat tool, you can also get actual work done on MS Teams as it allows you to access and edit OneDrive files, without having to leave the app.
File-sharing tools (Create, edit, and share files with your team)
With most team collaboration taking place on digital platforms, there’s a pressing need to leverage online file sharing on a wider scale. This makes it easier to create and share important spreadsheet reports, work with colleagues on presentations, or get those ad copies reviewed by your manager.
The first solution that comes to my mind in this category is Dropbox. It allows teams to store and share files – PPTs, Docs, Excel sheets and even Trello boards – by setting highly detailed permission levels.
A comparatively lighter file-sharing solution would be Quip.
Time Management Tools (organize your daily routine)
I can’t stress how important time management is while working from home. There’s a tendency to stretch work hours, attend meetings at odd times, and get involved in a lot of back and forth with colleagues.
Time management tools can help organize your day better.
One such tool is Calendly, which helps manage your meetings throughout the day. At any given point of time, you get to know the availability of all your team members. This drastically cuts down on the back and forth messages and helps fix on a time that works for everyone.
For managing your daily routine, I’d recommend Todoist. It not just keeps track of your daily tasks, but also allows you to set a due date and add a priority level.
Email Collaboration Tools (get visibility into team emails)
Let’s not forget that Email is at the core of a business when it comes to communicating with anyone outside the organization.
Be it resolving customer issues in these critical times or communicating with partners or stakeholders, employees need to be on the same page on who is working on which group email, during a time when remote work is becoming pervasive.
This is where a solution like Hiver can help – it fills the void left by in-person communication as every employee on a team gets to see who is working on which team email, how many emails need their attention, and what query needs to be picked up next.
Remote collaboration doesn’t have to be overwhelming
The fact that we’re locked in for the time being drastically impacts how we work. Miscommunications are prone to happen, coordinating with your team could be a hassle, and employees might not have enough clarity about their tasks. This is where using the right collaboration tools can help negate most of these limitations.
The author is the founder of Hiver.