Nowadays, working from home has become popular, due to many reasons, the latest being to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID19). Generally, developers and designers prefer to work from home. Gone are the days when employees had to check into an office. More companies are allowing their workers to work remotely, but in collaboration with their colleagues. Using online tools to set up your remote team will make managing your virtual team much more efficient.
Collaboration means an improvement in both productivity and efficiency, but only if you employ the right tools. The collaboration tools should be based on communication platforms, which are accessible from PCs, but also on mobile devices such as tablets and cell phones. This means all the employees can keep in touch throughout, and allowing them to understand their teammates in their departments and other departments.
Other than hiring employees who are experienced, self-motivated and have impeccable communication skills, they must be tech-savvy as well and grasp the vital role of collaboration, both digital and none digital. Task management, deadlines, and support need to be inbuilt in communications, making everything easy for employees to understand.
It should ensure all employees can speak to the person who can, and will address their issue, at any time. Design and development are often teamwork and these teams need to collaborate in real-time, which they cannot do without the use of technology. Here are a few collaborative tools that make collaboration that much easier.
Slack is one of the most commonly used collaboration tools by remote teams. Slack is a chat room where whole companies communicate. It intends to replace emails as the preferred means of sharing and communication. Slack has different features that help businesses manage several workspaces.
· Workspace for Teams
Slack’s workspaces allow for the organization of communication via channels for group discussion. It also enables workers to hold private chats to share files, information and more, all on one platform. Slack integrates with various apps, so you can manage your workflow via one platform. Slack allows communities, businesses, etc. to create a dedicated and private workspace that comes complete with a URL.
After a short signup process, you can invite your team to join the channel and start working. For small or medium-sized organizations, you may need just a single workspace divided into public and private channels to meet the company needs
· Public and Private Messaging
Slack messaging id divided into channels and private messaging that allows you to have private chats. The private messaging allows you to organize chats that would be otherwise staggered across text messages, emails or face-to-face meetings. Public channels are open for all members and can include anything from sales and marketing operations and random conversations or even jokes and meme sharing, depending on the company culture. For large teams, you can break them down to their working groups and create private channels, where they can have sensitive conversations or share work material with the relevant people on the team. You can have private conversations from one team member to another if it is something that one does not need the other team members to know.
Slack can integrate with third-party services, making this one of its most powerful features. These features allow you to use your apps within Slack, so you do not need to keep switching tabs. Slack’s integrations include:
JIRA is a software developed by Atlassian, an Australian company. Developers and designers use it for bug and issue tracking and managing projects. The name JIRA is a pun on Gojira, a Japanese word meaning Godzilla. The main use of this tool is for developers to tracks bugs and issues on mobile apps and software. JIRA is a commonly used platform for laying out agile practices. JIRA has features like:
· Business project Template
JIRA has awesome out of the box template that manages from simple tasks to advanced workflows. You can customize the template to match your team’s work style. Every move will be accounted for and this pushes the team forward.
· Task Details
With JIRA, it is easy to see what is going on with the project. The task details, comments, due dates, and attachments are easily stored in one location.
You can use @mentions to catch the attention of a specific team member on the platform. When something is assigned to them, they know immediately, and if the feedback is needed or not.
· Reports and Dashboards
Use the reports and dashboard to show you how well your teammates are faring.
Zoom is a video conferencing tool, which has a mobile app and a desktop client that allows you to meet online. If you have a bad experience with video-conferencing, you know how crucial it is to have reliable video conferencing tools. As a Zoom user, you can collaborate on ongoing projects, record sessions and share or add notes to each other’s’ screens on one platform.
Zoom offers excellent audio, video and wireless screen sharing across Mac, Windows, Linux, and Android, iOS, Zoom Rooms, H.323/SIP room systems, and Blackberry. Zoom unifies online meetings, group messaging and video conferencing into one platform. Zoom’s features include:
This service is primarily designed for training, technical support, and collaboration. It features HD video and audio, whiteboarding, remote screen control, and screen sharing features.
· Video Webinar
If you need to host a webinar, this feature offers access to 100 interactive participants and has packages that can allow close to 10,000 view-only participants. Sharing is via one click and it has dual-screen support.
· Zoom Rooms:
Zoom Rooms are designed for conference rooms, executive offices or huddle rooms. It is possible to include remote participants, using a single touch meeting start feature.
· Developer Platforms
Developers can create stack solutions with voice, screen sharing, and video APIs. Browse in the resources, join the community and turn in your requests for an API.
You have no doubt come across Trello as an online collaboration tool and a project management software. Trello is readily available on the internet and mobile applications. It allows you to organize projects and work on them with your teammates.
Trello allows you to work with lists or boards, which can be organized according to teams and tasks. You can create to-do lists and divide them among the teammates. You can assign a comment to a card, which is a faster way of giving others feedback. Trello integrates well with apps such as Google Drive, Slack, Github, and Evernote.
Collaboration in real-time is crucial in the design process, and Trello allows designers the luxury of wireframing, planning, designing presentations, receiving and giving feedback amongst themselves, and stakeholders.
Loom is a screen-casting software that is available through a desktop app or a Chrome extension. You can use Loom on Windows, Mac, iOS devices and Chromebooks. Loom lets you record your screen and camera with audio. You can download the video, share it as a URL or embed it on your blog if you have one. Its features include:
- Easy editing
- Instant sharing by sending the videos directly via iMessage, SMS, email, Slack, or copying and pasting the link
- Controlled viewing where you can restrict the video to a select group of people.
- Rich reactions where the participants can use emojis, and we all know everybody loves when a bit of fun is included!
5. Daily Standup Meetings
Daily standup meetings or scrum meetings are 15-minute meetings that work towards making teams more productive and efficient. Standup meetings make for an excellent collaboration tool in that they allow the team to keep in real-time touch of the project’s progress. The few questions asked in a standup meeting include:
- What have you accomplished today?
- What will you do today?
- What is hindering your progress?
These meetings make it easy for anyone experiencing any hiccups on the project, and make it easy for them to be helped out by a team member, allowing the project to progress smoothly.
Asana is not new, and it has been around since 2008, which makes it one of the oldest collaboration tools around. Huge corporations such as Pinterest, TED, and Intel use it for their core means of communication. Its design favors easy tracking of an employee’s tasks and getting the best results. Using Asana, you can create to-do-lists for current projects, send requests to colleagues and set reminders for approaching deadlines. Team members are allowed to post comments to posts in the app.
Asana makes it possible to organize all projects in a board or list format, and there is a search function for locating past tasks easily. Asana is more suited for management, is an amazing way to stay organized, and allows people to have conversations on work progress.
Working remotely is becoming more popular as the world becomes more tech-savvy, and people try to avoid overheads that come with brick and mortar offices. Technology allows employers, employees, and stakeholders to hold meetings without ever having to leave their respective offices or homes. Video and audio calls are made possible by the various available technology such as Slack, Jura, Zoom, and many others not mentioned here, but equally important as collaboration tools. There is so much to choose from, but you can make a choice depending on why you need the tool, for either management or development purposes.