The Secret of Successful Remote Working and 5 Tools to Get you There

Virtual Team Tools

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Communication is a crucial element to success for any business. But for businesses that have an outsourcing operation or runs on virtual teams, communication is life or death. Virtual environments do not have the luxury of being in the same room or building as their co-workers, so the natural communication benefits from working in an office disappear.

Poor communication can lead to lower quality, productivity, and morale across the organization.

Here are 5 tools that can get you and your team back on track and chatting up a storm.

1. Skype

Skype is the default go-to IM for many business users. It’s a free version, allows for chat, voice, video, group chats and more. They did use to offer free screensharing but they took it out and now only offer it in the premium version. Skype goes further than many of the other items of this list by, offering inbound phone numbers and the ability to call phones around the world for very reasonable prices.

Skype is available on most devices too, although if you have a lot of conversations going on it can be a battery and data drain.

The core Skype features are free for life and they also provide advanced features for business customers starting at $10 per month, plus you will have to pay for a subscription or buy credits to call real phone numbers.

2. Slack

Slack is a powerful Instant Messenger platform designed around search, built for teams and companies. It allows for group conversations across entire organizations, and teams, file sharing, screen sharing, private conversations, @replies, embedded images, and a lot-lot more.

Slack has a much deeper level of control than Skype, managing multiple private conversations, @replying to people inside group chats, collaborating around screencasts and images. All of this made easily and instantly searchable.

Slack also integrates with a huge number of other products which is really neat for setting up all sorts of alerts.

If you want an IM platform to communicate across your whole team and organization, Slack is the way to go.

Slack is free for unlimited users except they only keep a 10,000 message searchable archive. If you want to keep your message history prices start at $6.67 per user/month and go up pretty quickly for added functionality.

3. Process Street

When running an outsourcing team, it’s very important to not just have open lines of communication, but also to have clearly defined documentation so the whole operation knows its key objectives and how they are supposed to get them done.

Process Street is a workflow tool that allows you to create and manage standard operating procedures. Documents are broken down by task and rich content such as images, videos and files can be added to each task. This is great for showing screenshots, screencast videos, having links to login information or other resources they may need to complete the job.

This kind of knowledge management is effective for training staff and managing quality across an organization.

Documents in Process Street can also be spun off into checklists, which can be executed against. So you can easily track the status of your outsourced team and know where they are at with their activities at any point.

Process Street is free for teams of up to 3 people, the lowest plan is $30 for 10 users and it goes up from there.

4. Asana

Asana is a task management tool which touts communication without email. Teams work around collaborative “to-do” lists, projects and workgroups. Tasks can be created, completed, commented on and moved around projects. This is great for teams collaborating around projects and need to communicate against many moving parts at once.

Asana makes it easy to get alerted of changes and see an overview of the teams activity with the inbox feature. The audit trail is also handy so you can see exactly who made changes to a task when.

Asana’s pricing is also awesome, offering a free plan for teams under 15 people. The pricing structure goes up pretty quickly from there.

If you’re not a fan of Asana’s ToDo list interface, check out competitors Trello and Basecamp. They essentially do the same thing with a slightly different interface.

5. Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is an excellent tool for video conferencing, meetings, brainstorming sessions and a whole bunch more. It’s a powerful video conferencing platform that includes video, audio, chat and screenshare with as many people as you want for free. Sessions can be recorded directly to YouTube to view later or as a record.

Google Hangouts also has great technology, automatically detecting who is talking and rotating the cameras appropriately, group hangouts just feel nice. Hangouts can be done in private one-on-one conversations or closed groups, but can also be created so they are open for anyone in the team, or even anyone in the public to watch or join in.

There are hundreds of third party apps that make Google Hangouts even more powerful, such as whiteboards, diagramming tools and more.

Google Hangouts is 100% fee and runs in your browser making it well positioned to become the default go-to video conferencing solution for virtual teams and outsourcers.

And there you have it, get your team using more of these tools and you should see an improvement in communication across the board.

But remember, its not just about the software. Correct training, processes, and leadership are required to have your team use these products effectively. Even the greatest tools will not help if nobody is using them.

How do you communicate with your team?

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Vinay Patankar

CEO and Co-Founder of Process Street. Find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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