By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer
In an office, it’s easy to sit around a conference table or congregate at someone’s desk to discuss work. For decentralized teams, lack of proximity is a problem. Team members scattered across the office, at home, in a coworking space, or across the globe can’t assemble in a few minutes. Instead, they rely on remote working tools to give them the same collaborative opportunities.
Collaborative software has changed how decentralized teams work together. No more lengthy email chains. No more individual note keeping or communication gaps. No more files scattered throughout individual team members’ hard drives. Digital tools bring remote teams together in the same way the office does—the only thing missing is physical proximity.
Here’s a look at some of the best tools for remote teams and how they remove the collaborative barriers decentralized teams face. Keep in mind, this is just a smattering of the most-used, most-trusted apps on the market today. There are hundreds of viable tools for teams big and small.
- Slack: Slack’s organization of channels, direct messaging, and numerous integrations make it a central communication hub for some of the largest companies in the world. It’s more than a messaging platform; it’s the de-facto platform for chatting, collaborating, planning, and sharing for decentralized teams.
- Zoom: Video chat is the next best thing to a face-to-face meeting. Zoom stands as a leader among video-based remote collaboration tools for many reasons. It supports large groups, offers low-latency video, and delivers screen-sharing features. It’s a platform far beyond other video-based sharing apps.
- Trello: Decentralized teams love the Kanban-style project organization capabilities of Trello. With various boards, tasks, and workflows, it’s the visual tool keeping teams on-track, organized, and focused. Assign boards and cards to group members and stay up-to-date on progress with an interface that’s easily synced to numerous other apps.
- Salesforce: A cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) tool, Salesforce brings powerful client information to teams, for concerted efforts to close sales, deliver projects, and negotiate contracts. Salesforce supports decentralized sales, marketing, and account management teams, for vertical integration across the company.
- G-Suite: Google’s app suite is the gold standard in remote working software because it has the widest user base and the simplest baseline functions. Google Docs, Sheets, Drive, and Forms offer real-time collaboration, easy sharing, and seamless integration with virtually every other major platform.
- Dropbox: Dropbox continues to evolve as a must-have tool for remote teams. It’s first and foremost a file storage and sharing platform. But it also works as a collaboration tool, visual file viewer, secure delivery platform, and much more. Dropbox bridges many of the gaps inherent to sharing numerous files across remote teams.
- Asana: Project management tools are essential for remote teams. Asana’s unique interface puts a visual workflow together for real-time monitoring of team member progress and tasks. Everyone knows what everyone else is doing, when they’re doing it, and how individual efforts impact the overall project.
- Monday: Monday’s broad customization capabilities make it useful for decentralized teams with unique project management needs. Build workflows and databases for each person or project, so the whole team can see where priorities are and what’s upcoming. It’s an important app for long-term planning by remote teams.
- Airtable: Airtable combines the demand for everyday spreadsheets into a database-style system with powerful capabilities. For remote teams sharing large amounts of data—marketing, sales, and finance—Airtable’s broad customizations help teams aggregate, sort, and look up data that’s vital to the big picture.
- Basecamp: Basecamp is a digital workplace. It offers teams an inclusive array of features to give them everything they need to communicate and collaborate in one place. It’s a task manager, messenger, project tracker, data log, and more, all rolled into one. For teams that miss the workplace feel, they’ll find it in this digital ecosystem.
There are infinite variations of these platforms, as well. What works for some teams might not work for others, and there are always alternatives to try. Teams need to find pillar programs that facilitate important aspects of collaboration: communication, organization, project management, information, and accountability.
Think about how people collaborate when they’re face-to-face with each other. That same dynamic is available to decentralized teams through the right suite of remote working tools. It’s a matter of understanding what people need to collaborate effectively.
Keep reading: 8 Apps for Remote Workers Productivity and Success