Who would’ve thought that “remote work” would become as big as it has become in this day and age?
Work from home type of jobs was reserved solely for employees who had to go on parental leave or couldn’t otherwise attend work in-person. These days, remote-friendly is one of the most commonly found terms when looking at new job listings in industries like tech, marketing, engineering, and more.
Likewise, a lot of new companies coming up are built solely on the foundation of a remote-only type of job environment. And this is largely because of the available talent pool across the globe. It’s not as easy to sort out things like visas or work permits for people who you would really like to have on your team. So, working remotely is a sound compromise in situations where you’re looking for the top talent for your team.
If we look at the statistics of remote work, between the years of 2005 and 2017 — there was a monumental increase of 160% remote workers and/or job offers on the market.
If you frequently check for tech-related jobs on the ever-popular Hacker News “Who is Hiring?” monthly thread, more and more companies are listing their job opportunities as remote-friendly. From just a dozen listings a few years ago to more than 100 companies looking for talent that wishes to work from the comfort of their own home or office.
So, to sum it up, it’s a great time to become a remote worker. Work on the beach in a tropical island (digital nomadism), work from home while watching over your kids, or work from your car while the sights of Grand Canyon linger in your foreground.
Communication and the role it plays in work
Although the perks of working remotely can be tremendous, let’s not look past the fact that you are still working as a part of a bigger team. This means that communication is still an essential part of your daily (or at least bi-daily) workflow.
Graphics designers, freelance writers, or otherwise gig-based remote workers can often get away with Email/Slack communication alone. But this won’t be the case if you’re joining a company as an engineer, or a humans relations representative, or any other job type where communication is an essential part of the job’s description.
So, for that reason alone, companies and startups generally have to decide on a specific remote communications tool they’re going to use in the long-term. Sometimes, choosing a specific tool backfires, and you need to transfer everything to an alternative. Likewise, you have to consider the learning curve and the usability of the specific remote communications tool for your type of company.
Tools for communicating with your remote team
A single Google search for “remote communication tools” will return a billion results. It’s a lucrative topic to focus on because remote work is growing (as we learned), and the fact that starting your own business of this type can be lucrative, as well.
Slack is probably the most popular tool of this type on the market. Not only did Slack go through several acquisitions, but it also attracted an enormous amount of investments from individual investors and angel companies. Which then culminated in Slack going public (IPO) at a staggering price of $38.50 per share at a $23 billion valuation.
Having used Slack as a remote worker/employee myself, I only have good things to say about it. It really does make it easy to communicate with your team members, and in multiple different ways, I might add.
Although initially built as a tool for chat-based communication, Slack has evolved to include audio and video calls, too. This makes it easy to jump in on a conference call, to mentor new employees, or to host general meetings across the board.
But that’s not all. Slack also specializes in helping solve individual problems for specific industries. And those industries are:
- Customer Support
- Human Resources
- Project Management
- …and more!
Whichever industry you work in, Slack ensures that communication is as smooth as possible. As an example, if you run a marketing agency and would like to use Slack to communicate with your team and your clients, there are some significant advantages you can benefit from.
First of which is the integration with your favorite marketing tools.
Slack supports all your favorite marketing tools (more than 100 at the time of writing this) that you can integrate directly into your communications process. So, things like invoices, social media stuff, reviews, etc. can be managed directly from your Slack dashboard.
And this goes out to all the other types of industries which Slack caters to. Is it the jack of all trades? To some extent, sure. But, I believe that specific situations require different tools and approaches to solving communication issues.
So, let’s take a look at what other remote communication tools there are on the market. And, perhaps you find something more suitable for your business type or project you’re working on.
ProofHub: Project collaboration for teams
If you’re looking for a reliable way to manage projects at scale, look no further than ProofHub. These guys have invested a lot of their thinking into making ProofHub as simple and effective as humanly possible. It boasts a clean User Interface that takes less than a minute to adapt to. On top of that, you can easily categorize your entire task lists with a single click of a button.
Any successful remote team needs a tool not only to communicate effortlessly but also to track projects in real-time. Nobody likes missed deadlines, or worse, unresolved issues that affect customers (sales!) directly. And ProofHub deals with this puzzle with its own built-in project tracking tool.
Create a plan, write out the individual tasks, and simply assign the appropriate team members for each task. It’s that simple. And you can repeat this process, directly from ProofHub’s dashboard, as many times as you like.
Each project has its history kept, comments can be made for individual tasks, and you can even export your entire plan either as a CSV file or a chart for the use in presentations or elsewhere.
ProofHub has written a detailed guide on how it uses Gantt Charts to achieve all this but also shows just how much goodness you can squeeze out from this technology.
Other notable features of ProofHub include:
- Kanban boards. If you are familiar with Trello, you’ll already know how they work. You create boards with separate task requirements, and then group tasks from their initial stage to the full completion. Everything from comments to adding files is supported.
- Proofing. This is an exceptional feature for any design team working remotely. You can discuss the specifications of a set color, font, or design element and proof it in real-time through ProofHub’s Proofing feature. E.g., You can upload a live photo of your design, and your team members can then comment on the specific changes required.
- Project management. In ProofHub, you can choose who manages which project. A project manager will receive all the essential notifications for the missed deadlines and overdue tasks and stay accountable.
And so much more. It would be easy to dedicate an entire article to the exceptional features that ProofHub provides for remote teams. But, for this specific roundup, our focus is on highlighting the most prominent remote communication tools on the market.
Let’s keep going.
Codeshare: Real-time development with your team
A senior engineer is going to have far superior programming knowledge than that of a junior. But, how do you bridge the gap between both when working as a remote team?
The answer is Codeshare. With Codeshare, you can create a real-time development environment with your entire developer team in just a few seconds. And this is helpful for a thousand different reasons.
- You can introduce new employees to your overall design style, and how you manage different project files and why you’re doing so.
- Host one-to-one mentoring sessions where you teach employees the direction you’re looking to take with the project.
- Likewise, you can use Codeshare to host a conference call with your entire team to work together on specific problems. More people chipping in on a solution might just deliver a much faster resolution.
The applications for this specific software are truly endless, especially if you factor in things like interviews, mentorship, learning, and more.
All it takes to get Codeshare to work is to open a new session (which will expire after 24 hours) and share it with whomever you plan to code together with.
Now, understandably, this specific tool provides nothing more than a real-time coding environment with your remote team. As such, Codeshare should be used as a supplement with any other communications tool you’re already using.
Atlassian: The gold standard for developer teams
Since we are on the topic of development, it’s worth mentioning Atlassian. Although mostly known as an in-house Continuous Integration management tool, with the recent addition of Bamboo — Atlassian is also making a step towards being a solution for remote development teams.
The idea with Bamboo is that you can assign an entire team from the project start to finish. As a result, everything from error fixing to ticket management can be accomplished within Bamboo’s dashboard itself.
This is an absolute godsend for remote teams as you would otherwise need to rely on helpdesk software, which adds an unnecessary layer of productivity loss.
Needless to say, Atlassian is another one of those tools that integrate exceptionally well with outside software. Any of the remote communication tools we have mentioned throughout this roundup will have some form of interaction with Atlassian. And vice-versa, of course.
Evidently, there are countless amazing tools for managing a remote work environment. I think, overall, we have touched upon some of the best of the best on the market right now. In the end, you have to decide what is a good fit for your specific business, and the type of team you are managing.
Alternatively, you can take a look at the Geekflare Resources page to check out some other niche tools for many different occasions. Getting set-up with your project management environment is always messy at first. But once you get it going, it should be a breeze to steer through projects and individual tasks.
Hopefully, the tools showcased here are just right for your specific needs.