To successfully work remotely these days, you need to possess more than mere self-motivation and a good Wi-Fi connection. Distributed teams depend on a ton of digital tools for productive collaboration, but in the face of increasing software sprawl, they need to be more selective. Aside from keeping subscriptions costs in check, choosing remote tools wisely reduces the risk of creating information silos and effort duplications across your business. Here’s our selection of indispensable remote collaboration tools, to help get your remote toolkit started.
Used by millions of people every day, Slack is one of the most popular apps for remote communication. It takes an instant messenger approach to communication, helping people feel involved no matter where they’re located. While it can get disruptively synchronous if used for everything, Slack is perfect for quick everyday syncing – like short team announcements, updates, quick requests and sharing inspiration. If you’re looking for a tool to help work feel more streamlined, Slack ticks that box too: you can use it to keep all work communication, contacts and tasks in one place, create specific channels for certain projects, and chat publicly, in groups or privately.
Think of Basecamp as an asynchronous communication hub for remote teams, where you can link important company docs and create rich project posts, as well as assign to-do tasks to different teams or individuals. When everyone’s working remotely it can be tricky to gauge progress and how people are getting on, but Basecamp helps keep you on track. Work is broken into separate projects, and each project contains everything related to the task – who’s working on it, every chat you’ve had, every file that’s been uploaded, every upcoming deadline. You can also set automated recurring prompts to your entire group – we use these to post a short list of what we we’re working on in the week ahead, and what we did in the previous one.
Time tracking is an irritating but essential business task, and for many remote teams it’s an essential means for keeping work and employee workload visible. Thankfully, by automatically capturing everything you work on, Timely can outsource the task for everyone. Using AI, it can even draft accurate time sheets for employees too, so they spend less time on admin. Managers can stay in touch with remote workers via real-time team dashboards, quickly reviewing their activity, logged hours, overtime, workload and work against capacity. Using the team planner feature, teams can also visualize project timelines and sync calendars to keep collaboration thoughtful and effective.
Airtable is a highly customizable tool for detail-oriented remote teams who like to stay organized as they collaborate. Perfect for centralizing and indexing tasks, here at Memory we use it to collect and prioritize feature pitches for our products. Part spreadsheet, part database, you can use Airtable to organize your work however you want – whether it’s to plan editorial calendars or project management. Because changes are instantly synced across all devices, remote collaboration, storage and organization has never been easier.
Google Docs is probably the best-known free tool for collaborative work, particularly content. It’s incredibly easy to share, edit and publish all kinds of documents, as well as knock up presentations and spreadsheets. Because all users can mark their edits as suggestions, Google Docs is especially useful if you have lots of different people working on the same file at once. There’s no worrying about edits being lost or people overwriting each other: the file owner can see all suggested edits and simply choose which to accept. Another plus is you don’t need an internet connection to use it, meaning Google Docs is perfect for when individuals work on the move and want to save their work.
When a team is spread across different time zones, it can be tricky finding a time to catch up that suits everyone. If you’re tired of having badly timed meetings interrupt your flow, you need to sign up to Dewo. Using AI, it considers the productive patterns and calendar availability for everyone on your team and intelligently schedules meetings with minimal impact on everyone’s focused time. It will also automatically block all Slack and email notifications when it sees you enter a flow state, protecting your focus from the distracting Slack and email notifications that often tear you away from important work.
Seamless remote knowledge and file sharing is essential to remote teams. If you’re looking to simplify the ways your team works, check out Box, a single platform for secure content management, workflow and collaboration. It creates a protected workspace where multiple teams can securely edit, share, comment on, and assign work – quashing the security risks that can come with accessing content from a host of different places. What’s more, its handy collaborative note-taking tool makes it easy for people to swap ideas and see developments as they occur in real time – essential for keeping everyone on the same page.
For design work, you can’t beat Figma, where everyone can collaboratively edit and design in real time from one place. When it comes to staying updated, quickly seeing what different contributors are up to and how projects are looking, Figma’s capabilities are second to none. It allows you to work faster and smarter, give all design work the required visibility between teams, and get everyone on the same page. Also, because it’s built for browsers, you can use Figma across any platform. Easy.
For pair programmers who want more than a generic screen sharing tool, check out Tuple. This innovative new app gives mouse and keyboard control to both parties, and because you can start pairing in just one click, there’s no need for collaboration to be delayed even for a second. The handy screen annotation feature means you can highlight or draw directly on your pair's screen when navigating, and with crisp audio and 5K visual quality, no detail gets lost. All of this is achieved with a staggeringly low CPU cost to your machine and once you’re paired up, Tuple fades into the background so you to just focus on working together.
Working in remote teams often means sharing access to the same tools. The days when it was OK to manually store passwords on your computer are long gone, but keeping tabs of multiple different passwords and their respective updates – and then sharing them between different users – isn’t an easy job. Enter 1Password, a useful tool which not only remembers all your passwords for you, but also helps protect your data, strengthen your defenses, and encourage your workers to make smarter security decisions.