Virtual teams wouldn’t exist, if not for advances in technology. It’d be pretty difficult to work remotely by communicating with carrier pigeons. But while technology empowers remote teams, it also creates new challenges: Remote teams deal with the challenge of selecting the right tools and technology. Of hundreds of available applications and tools, several have risen to the top.
In this article, we’ll share our recommendations for tools teams can use for communication, collaboration, file sharing and project management.
Slack and HipChat are popular messaging tools that winning teams are using. For remote teams, slack can serve as a virtual office. Slack can be used to brainstorm ideas, ask questions, share files, and compare notes. HipChat was developed before Slack and was developed from combined group chatting and instant messaging to give teams with a central place of communication with video calling and file sharing.
Skype, Google Hangouts, Join.me, UberConference, and GoToMeeting are virtual tools that winning teams are using for video and web conferencing. Skype and Google Hangout are similar because they are primarily used for video conferencing and virtual phone conferencing. Join.me works best when teams need to securely screen share with other team members or even clients. UberConference and GoToMeeting are known for their superior phone conferencing service, although GoToMeeting has many more capabilities such as video conferencing and screen sharing.
File Sharing & Collaboration
Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote are popular file sharing and collaboration tool that remote teams are using. Google Drive is a free and powerful tool for file sharing and has the capability of creating native files such as Google documents and Google spreadsheets that can teams and collaborate in drafting and editing. Dropbox is also a powerful file sharing tool but does not have the capability to create and edit files like Google Drive. Evernote does have file sharing capabilities but is better for collaboration and organizing notes.
Trello, Basecamp, and Asana are project management tools that winning teams are using. Trello uses a bulletin board type layout with many boards and lists of cards that can represent a specific task or small project. It can be used to track todo’s, manage projects, or daily operational responsibilities. Basecamp is a powerful project management tool but has limitations when it comes to tracking. Its greatest value is its capabilities of organizing team conversations around projects which can make it a central place for project oriented dialog. Asana is a powerful and user-friendly management tool for remote teams. It has all the key project management functions with additional capabilities for assigning tasks and general team conversation spaces.
Tools in the Toolbox
There are many variables to consider in selecting the right virtual tools for your team. Some tools will be more compatible with your current information technology system while others may not be. Even from a list of the most effective virtual tools, your team may find some tools to be more user-friendly than others. In addition, it could be beneficial to use tools that integrate with those of your organization’s strategic partners. It can be overwhelm to thinking about trying out all the various tools available for virtual teams. Get help from internal and external technology consultants to help you determine which virtual tools are best for your remote team.
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The next article in this series will about how to develop an organizational culture that unifies and
motivates virtual teams.