More and more people are working remotely to help fight Coronavirus. If you’re not used to working remote, getting used to it can be a pain. Fortunately, I’m already used to collaborating and managing a team remotely. So I thought I’d put together a quick list of all of the remote collaboration tools I use.
I highly recommend setting up a chat server for any remote team. Chat is way faster, easier, and easier to manage than email or Basecamp. Here are my favorites:
Discord – Discord started in the gaming community, and has recently been moving into other industries. It’s simple to use, works the exact same way in the browser and in the app, and has a ton of neat features for managing access. I would highly recommend Discord, especially if you combine public interactions (i.e. support requests) with private ones (i.e. internal discussions).
Slack – Slack is great for internal teams. It’s fairly similar to Discord in some ways, but I found it’s easier to manage access in Discord. However, where Slack really shines is its integrations. Combined with tools like Zapier or IFTTT, your team can get notified in real time of anything relevant. For example:
- A customer submits a support ticket
- A Trello task is done
- You receive an email lead
- A pull request is merged in Github
- And a whole lot more
It is very helpful to list tasks in a single place, so the whole team can see what needs to get done, and who’s working on what. I’m not a micromanager. My project management philosophy is to keep things as simple and light as possible, because I believe time is ultimately better spent on activities that directly serve customers.
Trello – I’ve found Trello to be the most effective project management tool. It lacks a lot of enterprise control features, but that’s ok given my management style. Trello gets to the heart of Kanban in a smooth, user-friendly way. The Trello mobile app is also a great way to check or update things on the go, without spending 15 minutes just trying to find a ticket.
Jira – For complex projects with big teams, Jira is the most powerful project management tool out there. It’s so expensive and complex though, you’ll need a fairly large team with fairly stringent requirements to justify using it.
There comes a time when email and chat just don’t cut it—you need face-to-face. That’s when conference calling is great! I’ve gravitated to simple conference calling, because there’s nothing worse than spending 15 minutes to get a 30 minute call set up.
Google Meet – You can set up a call in about 2 clicks. You can invite others by just sharing a link. Best yet, you can invite clients without giving them the ability to message you at 2am to see if their project is done yet. Google has enabled premium level features through July 1, 2020, in response to Coronavirus. That means you can call with up to 250 people, instead of the usual 100 (for the basic G-Suite subscription).
Discord – Discord also supports conference calling, and screen sharing. If you’re already using it and only want to conference with one or two people, Discord is the way to go.
Zoom – Zoom is not as user-friendly as Meet, but the quality is good, and it has a fairly generous free tier.
Ok, if your team is developing software, you should be using some of these tools, virus or no. They increase your team’s productivity, increase transparency, and reduce risk.
Github – Git is the best platform for managing software collaboration. Github is probably the most popular git host. Their browser-based interface makes reviewing or merging code a breeze. Github also has integrations with a ton of other services, making automation easy.
Gitlab – Gitlab is a newer competitor to Github. Just like Github, you can easily manage code reviews, merge requests, and roll back faulty updates. Gitlab has a more generous free tier than Github, but is newer, and doesn’t have quite as many integration features. Gitlab also has some Project Management features, but it feels a little clumsy compared to Trello.
Bitbucket – Bitbucket is Atlassian’s git platform. Bitbucket has more enterprise access control features, and integrates flawlessly with Jira (also owned by Atlassian). You’ll probably prefer Bitbucket if you already use Atlassian’s other products.
CodeSandbox – CodeSandbox is a tool for sharing code snippets, but it also includes the entire development environment, making it perfect for eliminating inconsistencies between developers’ workstations. While I wouldn’t recommend trying to manage a whole project in Codesandbox, it is great for reproducing bugs, sharing tips, or interview code challenges.
I hope you found these tools useful. If you need more ideas, or want more information on how to manage a remote team (or get out of a sticky remote situation), please let me know. I collaborate with developers and clients remotely on a regular basis. We also build custom remote collaboration platforms for businesses with workflows too complex to manage with the tools I listed. I’d love your feedback on what kind of content you’d like to see here, so please don’t be shy, feel free to say hi.
Stay healthy, and happy remoting!