Handy online collaboration tools for small business teams now working from home
Updated: Nov 24, 2020
I’ve been working from home for few years and ran a remote team for most of them. Even though we were apart we still needed to work tightly as a team and support each other so we tried to find ways of doing so.
If you’ve been sent home from the office, or you’re a business owner who’s had to send everyone home, it can be a jolt and tough to adjust to initially. So I wanted to share some apps that will make your life easier when trying to connect with your colleagues or teams if you’re newly apart. These are good for ongoing remote teams too, but this isn’t an exhaustive list if you’re working remotely on a consistent basis.
Best application for virtual brainstorms
An interactive whiteboard with handy templates and post-its
It can be tricky to run virtual brainstorms or messaging sessions but I like to use this tool when I do so. You can either have everyone sign in and work together on the same board at once, or you can share your screen while you write things on there. It helps everyone see what’s going on when gathering and exploring ideas.
Best application for video calls
Google’s videoconferencing tool
If you're using Gmail as a matter of course in your business and you're paying for a business email address, then Google Hangouts Meet (the new Google Hangouts) is a good videoconferencing option. It now allows you to schedule video calls, gives you a link and also dial-in details for those who need to dial-in by phone.
Pro tip - If you don't want to use Google Hangouts Meet and you set up a conference call on another platform and add it to your Google Calendar with multiple participants, don't forget to get rid of the Google details that automatically pop up. Otherwise there are multiple dial-ins without you realizing it and at least one person in your meeting with go to the wrong meeting room.
A consistent experience across meetings and webinars
If you need something a bit more sophisticated and which can gather together more people, Zoom’s the one for you.
Best application for instant messages
Organizing conversations and sharing files to support remote working teams
In Slack, conversations happen in channels (like groups), which you can organize however you want. It's also good for sharing files and integrates with other things your team might use like Google Drive or Dropbox.
Google's Gmail chat facility
If your company is based around Gmail, Google Chat is a good facility for instant messages, with the added benefit that you can create rooms for different teams for specific topics.
If you don’t want to start up a whole new process and want some informal chat, the consumer platforms your team is probably already using work well too.
The classic app for free calls and chat
Skype is pretty foolproof to use and is good for calls, messages and sending photos/documents quickly – we used this a lot to check quickly check amends to designs on items.
For informal group messages and out and about
Your team is probably already using WhatsApp to communicate with their families and friends so they're used to how it works and can be used nicely to communicate essential news or a quick joke.
Best application for organizing call times with your team
Send out a poll to work out when people are available
Rather than sending round constant emails asking if everyone can make a certain time, Doodle will let everyone say what time they can make so you can just choose the best one for the most people.