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    4 Must-Have Collaboration Tools For Remote Teams

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    Vithya Subramaniam

    We predict the trends towards remote working around the world is going to be more prominent. And credit for this should be given to the collaboration tools for remote teams that are readily available to anyone around the world.

    These tools have helped companies ensure their employees’ productivity remain unaffected or even improve. 

    The need for collaborative tools has been constantly evolving and growing, even before this surge of remote work. In a modern workplace, we each receive about 121 emails every single day. And this is not including the collaboration time spent on calls or in meetings. This goes to show how much collaboration is required among our teams.

    Below, we examine the 4 categories of must-have collaboration tools for remote teams, and give examples of each:

    Collaborative tools used for remote work

    1. Video Conferencing Tools

    Compared to voice calls, video conferencing tools have really changed the game when it comes to remote work.

    These are the advantages we see. Video conferencing is:

    • More engaging:
      Compared to voice conferencing, video conferencing, especially with the webcam on, produces a higher level of engagement from employees. People tend to get more distracted by zoning out and multitasking while on voice call. Video calls encourage consistent virtual contact, keeping communication close and engaged
    • Improved communication:
      Video conferencing closely replicates actual physical meetings. Participants get to see any visual cues or body language changes happening during the meeting. Eye contact or facial expressions can convey the message of agreement or shared understandings or otherwise. 
    • Better information shared:
      Participants tend to feel more engaged and receive clearer messages. This makes them feel like their time put in for the meeting was worthwhile.

    It’s also worthwhile noting the popular video conferencing apps, many of which are free to use at their basic tier:

    a. Zoom for Video Conferencing

    Zoom is an app that boomed during the multiple lockdowns that happened across the world. Many companies have started using Zoom as one of their main platforms for communication and collaboration for remote work.

    Zoom became a popular choice due to multiple reasons:

    • Easy setup:
      Just click on the invite link to connect to your meeting. You don’t need to install the Zoom software on your device. Moreover, Zoom can also be used on your computer, laptop, tablets or mobile phones. 
    • Affordable:
      You do not have to pay to use Zoom. However, do note that Zoom limits free video calls to 45 mins. If you usually have shorter video calls or do not mind some interruptions, then it’s free.
    • Reliable:
      Zoom doesn’t require a large amount of bandwidth or data processing to deliver uninterrupted video calls.
    • Personalisation:
      Zoom offers a variety of customizable features such as background options, calendar integration and breakout rooms for more personal discussions. 
    Engagement via collaborative tools

    b. Microsoft Teams

    Microsoft Teams is a collaboration platform that is part of the Microsoft Office 365 suites of services.

    It combines chat, files management and, meetings all in one place. It also can be integrated with various platforms such as Google calendar, Zoom, Asana, etc.

    2. Chat Apps

    a. Slack for Instant Messaging

    Slack is a great internal communication tool that many companies choose to use.

    It works as an instant messaging tool, where chats can be organized into private and public channels. There is also the option of direct private messaging, which allows messages to be relayed to the intended recipients.

    On top of that, users can drag, drop, share files within conversations, share Google drive or Dropbox files and search for any of them when needed.

    Another additional feature of Slack is that it allows integration with other apps such as Trello or Intercom.

    b. Google Hangouts or Teams

    If you are currently a Gsuite or Microsoft users, you can also consider using the communication tools specific to those ecosystems.

    The added advantage of doing so is that they will integrate straight into your shared drives.

    3. Cloud Storage & File Sharing

    Storing information on the cloud is one of the most effective ways to safely share information with your team when working remotely. To us, this is one of the basic collaboration tools for remote teams.

    Cloud storage and file sharing services provide you unlimited and seamless access to your data. Spreadsheets, PDF, documents and other digital assets are available anytime and from anywhere.

    Here are some of our top picks for cloud storage:

    a. Dropbox Business

    With Dropbox, you can create, upload and organize your documents into various folders allowing you to share them with ease. Other features include sending messages across in Slack as well as placing comments on those files.

    However, the free storage allowance is only 2GB. You will have to pick a plan and pay that is suitable for your business and your budget.

    Some of the other key features include file recovery, team management (for enterprise account with admin console and admin log) and remote data wipe.

    b. Google Drive Enterprise

    If you are already a Gmail user, Google drive is part of the Google ecosystem. It allows you to backup and sync your desktop from your Windows or macOS computers.

    It comes with various applications such as Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides. This application even allows ease of market research with applications such as Google Forms, which you work with on the go.

    On top of that, you can also scan documents such as receipts, letters or statements and Drive will save as PDFs for you.

    Google Drive also allows you to work offline, should you suddenly have bad or no network. However, do note that work done offline will only be saved once connection is restored.

    Every user enjoys a complimentary 15GB space when they first sign up. Subsequently, you can always upgrade if more space is needed. On a more professional level, you could opt for an enterprise account. This allows you to enjoy enterprise-grade video conferencing, 24/7 phone and email support, as well as security control and centralised admin management. 

    c. OneDrive for Business

    Microsoft’s OneDrive focuses on cloud storage and file sharing solutions. The features include collaborative functions and artificial intelligence (AI) that helps organize files, folders, and projects. This helps increase security and governance options. Microsoft OneDrive can also be combined with Microsoft Office 365 for highly-integrated productivity. 

    It includes a built-in search and discovery capability that easily allows users to find the most relevant apps, folders.

    Here’s the pricing plan for OneDrive for Business.

    Different collaborative tools can serve various purposes

    4. Project Management Tools

    When you cannot tap on your team-mate’s shoulder to ask where they are on a project, it’s time to use a good project management tool.

    A good project management software will help your entire team have visibility on milestones, progress and KPIs.

    There are a few things to look out for, when choosing such a tool. One is the ability to customize access rights. For example, different parties in the project should have access to specific information. Also, each member should have access to their own timesheets.

    Also look out for task allocation features. Project managers should have the ability to allocate tasks and have the system keep all members engaged and informed of the ongoing developments.

    A third feature is reporting. This allows project managers to get instant feedback on the overall progress. This helps ensure that the project is on track and let’s them know to fix any issues that arises.

    Here are some of our picks for good project management tools:

    a. Trello

    Trello is available on mobile or on personal devices. It allows you to easily organize projects and work on them with colleagues.

    The beauty of this software is its clean and easy-to-use interface. Each team can create their own lists or boards and assign different tasks to each member. You can easily set up to-do lists and delegate jobs among team members. 

    Apart from that, Trello can be integrated with apps such as Evernote, GitHub, Google Drive and Slack. The Trello app is available for free but there are premium options available which gives access to more features.

    b. Asana

    Asana is a great tool to organize and facilitate your work especially when you need to know the progress of each project.

    It provides an easy way to track employee’s work and generate reports from that. Users can create to-do lists for projects, set reminders for any deadlines and send requests to other colleagues. It is also designed in such a way that users can also comment on the app.

    The projects could be organized in a list or board format. The application also it comes with a search function that helps you locate your previous tasks with ease.

    Final thoughts on collaboration tools for remote teams

    It’s unlikely that remote work would have taken off the way it did, if these remote tools were not available.

    It was only the availability and accessibility of these collaboration tools for remote teams that makes it a much better experience for users everywhere.

    These tools created the ease in working outside the office because it provided both the functionality and visibility for employees and employers to perform and keep track of work tasks.

    We believe that these remote work collaboration tools will only improve in the near future, and further enhance the experience of remote work.

    About Esevel: 

    Esevel is an on-demand remote work platform that enhances your WFH experience and comfort with ergonomic solutions so you can work safe, comfortable and productive at home.

    To learn more about how Esevel can bring a comfortable working environment into your home, see here.

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