Most business leaders would say that working with remote teams comes with a slight learning curve. Without the convenience of proximity, you must find new solutions — outside of those daily face-to-face team huddles — to connect with employees and maintain productivity.
If you’re wondering how to make remote team collaboration work, it takes more than ensuring every team member has an internet connection. Tasks will inevitably come up that require cross-team collaboration, more detailed feedback, and greater project management to be successful. For greater remote work team collaboration, you simply need to find and implement the best technology for a dispersed workforce.
It takes time to arrive at the right combination of resources for leading and working with remote teams while ensuring that team members can be as productive as possible. While the mix of remote working technology is rarely one-size-fits-all, there are many tools to consider when trying to strike the right balance.
Remote Working Communication Tools
To help you determine the ideal solution for working with remote teams, consider the following technologies:
Real-Time Communication Apps
- Slack. Slack is one of the better remote working communication tools available because it allows for real-time conversations — whether they’re one-on-one, in a small group, or with everyone on the team. You can also organize conversations by department, project, or subject matter, and the Slack app can integrate with other platforms your organization may already use. Trello and Google Calendar, for example, have this capability.
- Microsoft Teams. Part of the premium Office 365 subscription, Microsoft Teams doesn’t just provide real-time communication among team members; it can also serve as a remote work team collaboration tool. On top of direct messaging, group messaging, email, and video calls, you can share, edit, and manage work from other 365 applications.
- Zoom. Not much needs to be said about Zoom. You’re likely already using it with some regularity to host virtual meetings with your team. One thing to note, however, is that the pro version of this application allows for larger and longer meetings. You’re not beholden to the 40-minute cap included with the free version.
- Skype for Business. Like Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business comes with the premium Office 365 bundle. That means integration with other 365 applications. You can schedule meetings via Outlook, access different presenter controls, share PowerPoint presentations, and upload a full range of content from Excel, Notes, etc.
- GoToMeeting. If you’re working with a tighter budget and looking for remote working technology, the GoToMeeting free plan is a good option. As with other videoconferencing apps, you can use webcams, VoIP audio, and messaging to connect with co-workers during an online session.
- WebEx Meetings. WebEx Meetings is another app that pulls double duty. It can be used as a virtual meeting tool and a remote work team collaboration platform because it features content-sharing capabilities. And if you have WebEx Teams, you can continue your collaboration session after the meeting.
Project Management Tools
- Basecamp. One of the most cost-effective project management apps ($99 per year with unlimited users), Basecamp does nearly everything. From scheduling and reporting to task management and file sharing, it’s all there to keep everyone on the same page. You can even access a universal search function to make the whole process run smoothly.
- Trello. One look at Trello, and you can easily see why it has grown in popularity. This project management app puts everything you need to know about a project all on one screen, organized with the precision necessary to keep to even the tightest of deadlines. You populate what’s best described as a virtual bulletin board with task cards that contain directions, comments, deadlines, and more. You can even assign a task directly from this platform.
- Asana. Asana is a cloud-based project management platform that allows teams to track and manage projects down to the finest of details. Like many of the other apps mentioned so far, this remote working technology is loaded with features. Share documents, set deadlines, assign tasks, and get automatic status updates from a single platform.
Virtual Collaboration Tools
- MURAL. Looking for a brainstorming and ideation technology to work with dispersed teamsas effectively as you would in one office? MURAL has you covered with a number of different design and communication tools to collaborate and map problems or ideas visually. It even offers task management and collaborative editing features to aid in the brainstorming process. Add Quick Talk, and you can start a voice call with members of the team easily.
- Lucidchart. Like MURAL, Lucidchart allows you to create a visual representation of your brainstorming session collectively. Maps, charts, diagrams, and more can easily be shared and edited within a remote team. If you choose the premium package, you can do this in real time to capture feedback and resolve potential issues on the fly. Lucidchart also allows you to import different files into the platform; no need to recreate something made in Visio, for example.
If you’re still holding conference calls and sharing workflows via email while working with remote teams, employee collaboration and engagement can quickly erode. Left unchecked, this can lower morale, cripple productivity, and decrease the quality of work. Do yourself and your team a favor and continue exploring the best technologies for working remotely to find the right combination of platforms for your needs.
To stay abreast of the latest technology that can help your team collaborate effectively while working remotely, become a PIMA member today.
Published on October 20, 2020.
PIMA® (Professional Insurance Marketing Association®) is a member-driven trade association focused exclusively on the group-sponsored benefits market.