The coronavirus pandemic has significantly accelerated the rise of remote working – even in organisations that might have been reluctant to allow flexible employment options previously. While working remotely is shown to improve productivity and efficiency – despite fears that this may not be the case – there remain two clear issues for teams charged with working on a project together in real-time yet sat in different locations: communication and collaboration.
Of course, this doesn’t need to be a barrier to productivity as many organisations are finding out. There are thousands of applications and online tools designed to facilitate information sharing and communication online and in the cloud. The trick is choosing the right one for your team and your needs. To help you get started, try my shortlist for the top five most useful and most widely used collaboration tools.
For more personalised communication, important meetings, or even online training, Zoom is a winning online tool and a fantastic video and audio conferencing application. Zoom offers consistently good quality sound and video quality but despite grabbing headlines worldwide during the pandemic, and becoming a part of the 9-5 for millions of people, Zoom can be used for much more than video calling.
It also lends itself well to voice calls, web conferencing, can be used to host webinars, and offers screen sharing and messaging for ease of collaboration. Calls and videos can also be recorded, which is a useful touch when it comes to interviews, client briefings, and team brainstorming.
Microsoft Teams offer a host of tools that makes collaborating from anywhere possible. You can chat with words, gif, stickers etc, meet via video conferencing with up to 10,000 people, make and receive calls and also collaborate using apps like Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
For the best experience, you will need a good pair of headphones with a good microphone so people can hear you clearly. The new Epos ADAPT 660 headphones are not only designed to maximize focus and productivity but also use Artificial Intelligence, adaptive noise cancellation, and can also be used for calls, whether using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or your phone. It has microphones designed for the best call clarity.
Using machine learning developed algorithms, your voice is picked up clearly using the three microphones. What I also find myself doing is taking calls on my smartphone then switching effortlessly to my PC. The Epos ADAPT 660 has a dedicated button for Microsoft Teams, so one press launches Microsoft Teams on PC via BTD 800 USB dongle.
When it comes to quick and simple real-time internal communication, Slack is hard to beat. Recognising that teamwork can sometimes be a complicated, chaotic uphill struggle, Slack has spent the last eight years helping teams work smarter. A part of Salesforce, Slack is currently used by 750,000 businesses of all shapes, sizes, and geographical locations. Think of it as a virtual workplace. Each team can create multiple channels, with access managed at channel level., for any given topic, project, or business unit. Channels can be used to share files, updates, status reports, and even automate workflows. Plus, with lots of integrations, it can streamline communication in other areas too.
Basecamp is a project management tool popular with remote workers and freelancers, thanks to its simplicity and intuitive interface. Users can create individual projects which act as a self-contained hub with the ability to create to-do lists, assign tasks, share files and send messages. There’s also a calendar function and app and online access for convenience.
Another great tool for ensuring organisation when managing projects remotely is Trello. You can create a different card for each project, or a board if you’re working on a more complex project. It is also great for keeping track of what has been completed, is in progress, and what is yet to be started and displays this visually, ideal for any visual-orientated people.
When it comes to sharing collaborative files and documents, Google Drive is a great and inexpensive solution. All files can be worked on collaboratively in real-time and as the documents are saved online, they can be accessed from anywhere by multiple team members. Each file has its own sharing, viewing, and editing permissions, so you can ensure only the team members or clients that these documents are intended for have access.