How to stay connected with your remote team
In 2018, 70% of the people around the globe worked remotely at least once a week and it was estimated that 3.9 million Americans worked from home at least half the week. Remote work has grown in popularity over the years and with it, the possibility of outsourcing. Within the IT industry, it’s a great option for companies to get high-quality development at lower rates, by having teams in a different country.
Just a few decades ago, this idea would’ve sounded crazy and overly complicated, but technology has made it possible with new long-distance communication and team management tools.
We help US companies with development and design from Latin America and we are always looking for the best tools for communicating and organizing our projects. When we find something that helps us with remote teams communication, we hold on to it because good communication improves understanding; it avoids overlap, reduces the risk of tasks being left unattended to, and helps projects run faster and better.
Here’s a list of what I would call our “essentials” kit; tools that will make your life simpler.
More than 50,000 teams have used ActiveCollab for their projects over the last decade. This popular tool allows you to plan your project, organize tasks, communicate with team members and track progress. What’s great about this site in particular, is that it also offers the option of sending invoices and has special features to help you stay within your budget. It’s super useful, clear, and on top of that, absolutely gorgeous!
You can try the unlimited version of the tool for free for 14 days. After that, you’ll have to purchase one of the plans that start at $6.25 per person, per month, billed annually.
Good organization is key—we can’t stress this enough—and this tool will help you with that. Once you have your team on Asana, you can create boards with tasks that you can prioritize, assign, and mark as done. This way, you can also keep track of the progress of all of your tasks in one place. Each task can include a title, description, notes, and attachments.
You can choose the free version, available for small projects management, or a paid plan from $10.99 per person, per month, billed annually.
For quick meetings, this is a great option. Members of the team can upload their available times inside Calendly and share a link so anyone can schedule a meeting or call in just a few steps. If you’re outsourcing part of your work, chances are that you have teams from different countries and there’s a time difference between them, so it’s great to have the option to schedule meetings through a simple and quick tool like this.
There’s a free trial available for 14 days and paid plans start at $8 per person, per month.
Acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge”, Slack is one of the most popular tools for communication and organization of work teams and it definitely deserves its fame. Slack allows people to create different chats for every team or group task. Inside the chats, or channels, you can easily send reminders, share files, make general or private announcements and have conversations in real time. You can also add friendly bots to remind your team of birthdays, meetings or periodic activities.
There’s a free version that can work well with small and medium-sized teams and there are other plans from $6.67 per person, per month. Paid plans can include apps integrations, group calls with screen sharing capacity and more.
Yes, we know email is nothing new and it doesn’t need recommendation nor introduction, but apart from that, Outlook offers an integrated calendar that’s very useful to set meetings and reminders. You can send invites to one person or a whole team, set the time and place, check what rooms are available and even see others’ schedules to avoid schedule conflicts. And last but not least, the calendar has adjustable reminders so you can always be prepared in time and never miss an appointment.
You can get the premium standalone service from $19.95 a year.
6. Google Drive
Google doesn’t need an introduction either, but we can’t leave it out of this list. With Google Drive, you can create documents, sheets, slides, forms, use the account as a backup, and more. You can organize things in different folders and share with other members of your team, choosing if they have permission to read only or edit. It’s simple, effective, and chances are that your team already knows how to use all the tools. We love it and recommend it.
You get up to 15GB of storage for free and paid options start at 100GB for $1.99.
This is what we use for videocalls, or conference calls, sometimes. Anyone can access the site and create an account; that’s all you need to accept or host a meeting. It’s as simple as sending the meeting link to all the attendees and waiting for them to join in.
The free version allows unlimited one on one meetings, and has a 40-minute limit on group meetings. If you want to buy it, you can get it from $14.99 a month.
A board of boards: a place to organize and share all your tasks. Sounds great, right? Trello does all of this. We like the Kanban methodology, and we usually use Trello to imitate a physical Kanban board, avoiding burning through stacks of post-its. When you create a new board, you can share it with whomever you want, assign tasks, define deadlines, mark them as done and more. It’s a great tool for teams because you can check it from wherever you are and see what’s left to do, how much time you have, visualize progress, add tasks to the backlog, and more.
The free version is quite complete, but if you prefer to have more added capabilities, you can upgrade for just $9.99 per person, per month, billed annually.
If you’re a fan of Kanban boards, you will feel at home with Jira’s layout. Here you can monitor metrics, build task boards (with a Scrum or Kanban style), have your own roadmaps, and even integrate development tools for a live view of the development channel. Our own teams are big fans of Jira; our projects run smoothly when we’re using it!
There are different plan options starting at $10 per month.
This one tool combines just about everything. Notion integrates notes, docs, tasks, projects, databases and more. If you’re feeling like you have too many apps and your work is scattered all around, or maybe disorganization is making it hard for you to focus, this is one great option to have your team use. Notion even allows you to import the information that you have in other apps so you won’t lose nor have to rebuild anything.
There’s a free version available and plans start at $4 for individuals or $8 for teams (both options are per person, per month, billed annually).
We use Zeplin all the time. It’s highly beneficial for our projects when our developers and designers have to be truly connected and share a tool that shows all progress and iterations in real time. Developers can use Zeplin’s automatic snippets (which are helpful with the repetitive bits) and designers can work inside of it and export their designs directly from the site. Zeplin’s attractive features keep everyone on the same page!
There’s a free version that allows you to work with one project and then there are paid plans starting at $17 per month.
“Companies change for the better when they work in Basecamp,” that’s the first thing you see when you enter the site, and it’s a true statement for many teams (there were 5,064 new sign ups last week alone!). This tool offers the possibility to group different kinds of tasks and it works great, especially for remote workers. There is a message board for communications that is far more organized than an email chain or a group chat, a to-do section so everyone can see progress, and more. Of course, you can also invite everyone involved in the board, which makes it easier to keep people on the same page.
Basecamp has a limited and free version for personal projects or light use as well as a business plan for $99 a month.
Traditional meetings are great for maintaining quality communication. Luckily, if your team is located in a different city, country or continent, there are tools like this one that will help you achieve the same results as having a face-to-face conversation. GoToMeeting is fairly popular, so maybe you’ve heard of it before; it’s a simple and reliable way to have people from all over the world connected in the same conference call. Useful, right?
There are paid plans with different benefits and possibilities, starting at $12 per meeting organizer, per month.
Being able to see the team’s progress and performance is important for making decisions and improvements, so if you’d like to have a single place where the whole group can see the top metrics for your work, this is a really good option. Cyfe allows you to create customizable boards so you can monitor everything on a single screen and you can create multiple boards if you have more than one project or group. One really good thing about this tool is that you can integrate your metrics from other sites where you might be already keeping track, but you can also create custom ones if you prefer.
You can use the free version, with limited options, or you can choose one of the paid plans that start at $29 per month.
Whether you’re a programmer, a designer or a manager, if you’re looking for a beautiful tool that can help you organize your project, you’ll like this option. Taiga.io’s goal is to offer a site where you can get everything you need to manage your project, without being too basic nor too complicated. It was brought to life by a group of developers who wanted to improve their work dynamics and it’s open source. Don’t you love it already?
There’s a free version that allows for the basic features and then there are premium options from $5 per person, per month, billed annually.
These are the sites and tools we use the most; they’re trustworthy, effective and inexpensive. With this pack, you’re all ready to kick-off your new project!
Last but not least, we recommend to always try new things. Most tools offer a free option or a free trial, so if something catches your eye and seems like it would be a good fit for your needs, you should definitely take a chance.
Let us know if there are other tools that you recommend, or if you have any questions about those listed in this post!