We’ve all spent enough time working at home by now to recognise that at the centre of successful remote or distributed teams is technology that keeps people connected. And while video conferencing serves us well for face-to-face meetings at a distance, a collaborative distributed workforce needs tools for both in-sync and asynchronous communication. Importantly, these tools have to be platforms that feel easy and intuitive to use on different devices to avoid double-handling and offline work-arounds.
As a distributed team, we have our preferred platforms - ones we confidently recommend to our clients to support new ways of working in their organisation, too.
We’re often asked what we use in our business, so here are our top picks.
Slack - for a team communication hub
Slack has revolutionised team communication by providing a centralised platform for all internal discussions. Workers are fielding, on average, 40 work-related emails everyday. Slack diminishes the number of email threads you need to keep on top of, replacing them with real-time chats in organised channels, in one place. Slack enables teams to share ideas, files, and integrates with other essential tools. With Slack, we have found it easier to stay connected, aligned, and productive, regardless of where we are all working.
Trello - for planning and project collaboration
Trello helps teams plan their work, track progress and stay organised throughout a project lifecycle. Its intuitive interface allows for easy task assignment, deadline tracking, and status updates, making sure everyone is on the same page. For distributed teams like ours, Trello ensures we stay aligned, focused, and accountable for our individual and collective contributions, ultimately supporting our team's efficiency at working through tasks.
Loom - for asynchronous video messaging
Loom makes it easy to create short but dense asynchronous videos and screen recordings as a way to communicate with both colleagues and clients. These short videos are helpful for updates, feedback and explanations, for example talking through feedback on a document or design. It reduces the need for meetings, and provides more efficiency and flexibility in delivering feedback in more detail. As a recipient, it also means you can pause or re-listen to notes so nothing is missed.
Google Docs & Google Drive - for document sharing and collaboration
Google Drive, or other cloud-based productivity tools, are a reliable platform for creating, editing and sharing collaborative documents, and storing them safely in the cloud. Because documents are updated and available as ‘live’ documents, the remote accessibility is particularly valuable when multiple team members or stakeholders need to contribute or review documents simultaneously. You know that you’re always working with the most up-to-date version of a document, and documents can be synced and accessed by stakeholders from wherever they have an internet connection.
Miro - for creativity and visual planning
We use Miro as our online, interactive whiteboard at X is Y if we’re hosting a virtual meeting or workshop for more visually engaging sessions (or Google’s Jamboard is a free, simple version if you want something basic with no cost associated). It provides functionality for brainstorming, diagramming, mapping, and strategic planning, where all team members can collaborate simultaneously. Conveniently, it also integrates with other communication tools like Slack, Zoom, and Google.
With all this digital connectivity, we recommend organisations establish mutually understood agreements about expectations and availability. We’ve shared more about creating guardrails that support a productive distributed workforce in a previous post. And if you’re still getting your head around the impact hybrid working is having on your workplace, we’ve dug deeper into how you can make better use of your physical office, while leveraging collaborative tools like the ones we’ve included here.
Of course, if you want to hear more about how we make hybrid working work for us, and how we help our clients do it too, reach out to book a chat.