How to choose the right tools for remote work
With the sudden shift to remote work caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, some companies are still having a hard time doing so in a seamless way. A good part of this chaos is caused by the lack of understanding which tools to use while every single employee is working from their own home office. As Marek Pałys, our Head of Strategy points out, there are more than 150 tools just for time tracking... so it’s not at all surprising that many organisations still aren’t able to pick ones that fit their needs.
Of course it’s impossible to test them all out when the deadline is, well… yesterday. But over the last 5 years, all of our teams have been working remotely to some extent, so by trial and error we’ve managed to pick our favourites. Hopefully, this short guide will give you some idea of what to expect of them and hint you towards choosing those best for you!
The absolute holy grail of online collaboration. G Suite combines all of Google’s applications that are a must, even more so when you work in a remote team. With each account, you get your Gmail inbox, a calendar shared with all your teammates, online surveys, the basic office tools — Docs, Spreadsheets, Slides, etc. There’s even a tool that serves as a digital whiteboard, called Jamboard. And that’s just to name a few! But there’s one more tool in this package that deserves its own honourable mention…
Google Hangouts Meet is free video conferencing software that we use for most of our calls — within the company, as well as with our clients and candidates. It synchronises with other Google apps, most importantly with Google Calendar. Using it gives us the smooth experience of staying within the same environment, without having to switch to a different tool.
A few alternative recommendations from one of our Senior Developers, Paweł Ochota, are Zoom, which is more appropriate for team meetings with more than a couple people, Microsoft Teams, if you need a more elaborate tool, and of course, the irreplaceable for 1on1 calls — Skype.
No questions asked, Slack is our personal favourite for messaging. What we value most in this tool is that our internal communication takes place mostly in this one space. All neatly sorted by channels, individual messages and group chats. Such features as statuses, threads and @mentions also add to its practicalness, whereas custom emojis and gifs allow for a more casual atmosphere. With Slack, you also have the option of video calls that work from both the desktop and mobile versions of the app. So again, there’s no need to switch over anywhere else. There’s also a bunch of integrations with other external tools, which makes our lives easier every single day.
Another great solution for organising your team’s remote work is Trello. It serves as an online kanban board, where you can manage all of your tasks within certain projects. Apart from keeping track of our current work, it’s also incredibly helpful in planning out future assignments and prioritising specific tasks. It synchronises with Slack, so you can follow your team’s progress in real time!
Although we cannot say that we’ve tested them all, from those previously mentioned 150 apps for time tracking, Toggl came out as our winner. With its simple and intuitive design, it is stupidly easy to use on the surface, at the same time offering an extensive Report panel on the administrative side. You can divide your working hours between different projects, sorted by billable and non-billable, which is especially helpful for our development teams.
More remote solutions
Of course, these are only a few general tools that all of our employees use on a daily basis. There are also a few tools that we highly recommend specifically to Developers, QAs, Designers and Project Managers — you can download our new guide for free to check them out!