As technology advances, so does the way we work. With so many people working remotely, it's important to have the right tools and best practices in place for virtual collaboration.
Here at CoffeePals, we're passionate about maintaining collaboration in a world that is quickly moving towards remote work. Thus, today we'll explore the different tools and methods for remote collaboration, as well as how to make the most of them.
Let's get started!
What is remote collaboration?
In a nutshell, remote collaboration (a.k.a., virtual collaboration) is working with others on a project or task without being in the same physical space. This can be done using a variety of tools and methods, which we will explore in this article.
With so many people now working remotely, it's more important than ever to have the right tools and best practices in place for virtual collaboration. By understanding the different options available and how to make the most of them, you can ensure that your team can work together effectively no matter where they are in the world.
So, let's take a look at the different tools and methods for remote collaboration, as well as some tips on how to get the most out of them.
What kinds of tools can benefit remote teams?
There are a number of different tools that can be used for remote collaboration, depending on the needs of your project or task. Some of the most popular options include:
- Communication Tools: These allow team members to communicate with each other in real-time, whether it's via text, audio, or video.
- Project Management Tools: These help teams to stay organized and on track by assigning tasks, setting deadlines, and tracking progress.
- File-Sharing Tools: These enable team members to share files and documents with each other easily and securely.
- Team-Building Tools: These help remote teams cultivate a sense of community and shared purpose while they're separated geographically.
The kinds of tools you use will depend on the kinds of teams you manage, as well as your goals. However, there's certainly something available for everyone when it comes to aiding remote collaboration!
What are the best tools available for remote collaboration?
Now that you understand the variety of tools out there, it's time to get specific. Here's a list of some of our absolute favorite remote collaboration tools:
Working as part of a remote team can be isolating. It often feels like the only face-to-face time you have with your coworkers is during scheduled meetings, where the topics of conversation are determined by the agenda.
That's why we created CoffeePals—a tool that helps remote workers connect with each other over a virtual cup of coffee (or tea!). CoffeePals works by selecting coworkers—either at random or according to a set rule—and adding them to a 1-on-1 or small group video call. These chats are spontaneous and informal, so people are free to express themselves and make meaningful connections!
How employees are matched is customizable. Want to break down organizational silos? Create groups for your marketing and sales departments, and tell CoffeePals to set up intergroup meetings. Want to make sure your new hires are feeling welcome? Match them with mentors through CoffeePals!
Bonus: Want to spark a discussion? Enable the Coffee Maker feature and CoffeePals will occasionally pose thought-provoking questions in your Microsoft Teams channels!
Polly is a polling, survey, and quiz tool that allows you to create polls, surveys, and quizzes for your team. It can be an extremely helpful tool for quickly gathering feedback from team members.
With Polly, you can create surveys with multiple-choice, open-ended, or rating questions, as well as polls with custom fields that allow people to enter custom responses. You can also add images and videos to your surveys, making them more engaging for respondents. We turn to Polly whenever we need to quickly gauge our team's feelings on an upcoming decision!
Feeling appreciated at work has been linked to better physical health, higher levels of engagement, and greater workplace satisfaction. Despite these obvious benefits, many companies fail to establish recognition as a core element of their culture. This is a problem—especially for remote companies and teams, who have less opportunity to show appreciation in the first place.
Karma provides an innovative solution that allows team members to reward each other for good deeds and positive ideals like teamwork, reliability, and communication.
If someone on your team sees a teammate going above and beyond, they can reward them with Karma using simple in-chat commands. The Karma a person earns is stored in a wallet and slowly builds up as they continue killing it at work. Eventually, when they've collected enough, they can cash it in for a prize (e.g., a small bonus or half-day).
All-in-all, Karma is an incredibly fun way for your team to show appreciation to each other for a job well done.
Evernote is a popular note-taking and productivity app that can be used for a variety of purposes, including remote collaboration. With Evernote, team members can easily share notes, documents, and ideas with each other. Additionally, Evernote offers a variety of features that can be helpful for remote teams, such as:
- Checklists: Team members can create checklists to help them stay organized and on track.
- Notifications: Evernote can send notifications to team members when new documents are added or when tasks are due.
- Offline Access: Documents and notes can be accessed even when team members are offline.
Overall, Evernote is an excellent tool for remote teams, as it allows for easy communication and collaboration.
Trello is a visual project management tool that integrates beautifully with Microsoft Teams. It offers a variety of features that make virtual collaboration easy, including:
- Board Views: Team members can see all of the projects they're working on in one place.
- Drag and Drop: Documents, images, and other files can be easily added to Trello boards by dragging and dropping them.
- Comments: Comments can be added to individual cards on Trello boards, making it easy for team members to communicate with each other.
- Task Assignments: Tasks can be assigned to specific team members, making it easier to track who is
- Delegation: When a team member is unavailable, tasks can be easily delegated to someone else.
All of the features above can be used from within Microsoft Teams, but if you're looking for even more functionality, we also recommend the Trello web app!
Decisions is designed to make remote meetings more productive, engaging, and collaborative. The app has tons of tools and features that make planning and executing meetings significantly easier, including:
- Time Tracking
- Collaborative Agendas
- Minutes Templates
- Presenter Assignment
Decisions help eliminate many of the pitfalls that tend to come along with remote meetings by providing a range of purpose-built solutions. It's great for making sure your team is on the same page.
What are some best practices for effective remote collaboration?
Now that we've looked at some of the best tools available for remote collaboration, let's take a look at some of the best practices:
1. Establish clear communication protocols
One of the biggest challenges when working remotely is ensuring that communication is clear and efficient. This can be done by establishing clear protocols for communication, such as which tools to use, how often to communicate, and what to communicate.
By setting these guidelines upfront, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and that communication is smooth sailing from start to finish.
2. Use video conferencing whenever possible
When working with someone remotely, there's nothing quite like being able to see their face and interact with them in real-time. This is why video conferencing is one of the best tools for remote collaboration.
It allows team members to see each other, communicate effectively, and build relationships that are crucial for successful collaboration. So if possible, try to use video conferencing whenever you're working with someone remotely.
3. Take advantage of collaborative tools
There are a number of different collaborative tools available that can make working together remotely much easier. These tools allow team members to share files, documents, and ideas easily and efficiently.
If you're looking for ways to improve your team's productivity, be sure to take advantage of the various collaborative tools that are out there.
4. Make time for socializing
When working remotely, it's sometimes hard to build relationships with teammates and management. That means it's all the more important to find creative ways to facilitate socializing.
With CoffeePals, employees are randomly matched with coworkers for informal video chats—kind of like the chats you'd have around the office coffee maker! These spontaneous connections help your team build meaningful relationships that keep them engaged, accountable, and happy.
5. Set clear goals and expectations
When working remotely, it's important to set clear goals and expectations from the outset. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows what they need to do in order to be successful.
Before starting any project, be sure to take some time to sit down with your team and go over the goals, tasks, and roles, as well as the metrics that will be used to measure success.
Enhance your team's remote collaboration
Remote collaboration is becoming an increasingly important way to work, and with the right tools and best practices in place, it can be a very effective way to get things done.
By understanding the different options available and how to make the most of them, you can ensure that your team can work together effectively no matter where they are in the world.
To see how CoffeePals can help your teams build meaningful connections through spontaneous chats, download the app for free and give it a try!