Top 7 Remote Collaboration Tools for IT Startups

Remote Collaboration – you can’t do it right without the right toolkit.  As an IT startup and a company with two offices, we have a lot of remote collaborating going on. We’ve been looking for tools that are budget-friendly, easy to use and compatible with our versatile team. So, here’s our personal top 10 remote collaboration tools list. 

Remote Collaboration Tools: Communication

Slack

remote collaboration tools

Slack is that one tool we couldn’t imagine our workday without. It’s easy to use, it provides lots of integrations and it’s affordable. Actually, we are using a free version for our needs. We use it to communicate with our departments, get notifications from our help desk tool, and last, but not least – to agree on a restaurant choice for lunch.

At its core, Slack operates in channels.  A company can create channels to track and archive conversations around teams or projects. Another great thing about Slack is its search feature. Slack archives all conversations, so you can browse through your conversation history.

Skype

remote collaboration tools

We use Skype for communication with clients and remote collaboration with our freelance associates. It’s our go-to software when we want to add a human dimension to our communication with people. The best thing about Skype is that it’s free. Plus, it is widely used by business people around the world so you won’t have much explaining to do.

Skype provides audio and video calls between multiple devices. It also offers group calling up to 25 people. However, Skype does have some reliability issues. That’s when Google Hangouts enters the ring.

Google Hangouts

Remote Collaboration Tools

Google Hangouts is another provider of video and audio remote collaboration. It’s convenient because it’s free and you can enter it directly from your Gmail interface. We never had any reliability problems with it – so, that’s a big plus, too.

Apart from messaging and video calling,  Hangouts also has a feature called Google Hangouts on Air. It enables Google+ users to stream video calls live via YouTube.

Remote Collaboration Tools: Visualization

AWW App

Whether we want to share some ideas, visualize a workflow or make a  web page wireframe, we use AWW App. It’s simple to use and you don’t even have to register for a free service.

AWW App is a collaborative online whiteboard that helps you visualize your ideas, workflows or business concepts. You can invite as many people as you want to collaborate with you in real time. Premium version offers file uploads, unlimited board storage, and a voice communication up to 5 people for 10 bucks a month.

Remote Collaboration Tools: File Sharing

Google Drive

Remote collaboration tools

A brilliant remote collaboration tool that makes our lives easier. Google Drives offers a safe place for all our important files. A wonderful thing about Google Drive is that you can access your files from wherever you are. Whether you’re in office, at home or on a business trip.

With Google Drive, you get 15GB of free storage, good support and a massive collection of third-party apps. For most of the businesses, that’s more than enough reasons to fall in love with this remote collaboration tool.

Remote Collaboration Tools: File Collaboration

Google Docs

Remote Collaboration Tools

Google Docs is another popular remote collaboration tool from Google’s workshop. Our team uses it to collaborate on the creation of web content. Most of the time we use it in conjunction with Slack or Trello (see below).

Google Docs is a great tool for several reasons: it has tons of editing features, documents are auto-saved and you can export them in a variety of formats. And, let’s not forget to mention – it’s free to use.

Remote Collaboration Tools: Project Management

Trello

Remote Collaboration Tools

Trello is a massive help in our team. We use it on a daily basis to manage our projects and tasks. The visual structure of lists and cards makes tracking progress a lot easier. 

Trello is one of the leading project management apps and among the most popular remote collaboration tools on the market. Trello enables team members to discuss a project or a task in real-time. It keeps everybody informed through task assignments, activity log, and email notifications.

 

5 Remote Collaboration Hacks for Less Stress and More Productivity

Remote collaboration can be stressful. Whether you work in a virtual team or as a freelancer, you have to collaborate with people that are miles away, and sometimes even complete strangers. We have a lot of experience working in remote teams ourselves and we know how tricky it might be. So we decided to help you with these hand-picked remote collaboration hacks that will make your team insanely productive.

1. Go Beyond Written Communication

Communication is a multidimensional structure. It consists, not only of a verbal part, but also of nonverbal cues such as body language, the tone of voice, distance and physical appearance. In fact, it’s the nonverbal part that has the most power in getting your message through. The tone of your voice, your gestures and facial expressions are those that speak the loudest.

When you’re restricting yourself to written communication,  you’re striping your message from its full meaning. Even a badly placed punctuation can defer the true meaning of your message. Have you ever spend a half an hour writing an email, only to learn that your colleague has interpreted it entirely wrong? It happened to all of us. And it happens more often to remote teams.

remote collaboration tools
Remote collaboration tools. Courtesy of: atendesigngroup.com

Well, there’s a simple solution to this problem: whenever you can, ditch the written communication! There are plenty of visual and audio communication tools to help you effectively deliver your remote message. Video communication tools like Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom or join.me can bring your remote collaboration to the higher level.

There are also great visual collaboration tools that can help you visualize your message in real time. Collaborative online whiteboards like AWW App are ideal to get your remote team on the same page. So, instead of talking about your ideas – you can actually show them!

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2. Make Sure Everyone is Comfortable with the Collaboration Technology

You have found a great remote collaboration tool. It’s just what you were looking for and you can’t wait to share it with your colleagues! But, before getting too excited, you need to introduce the software to your team. It would be counterproductive to invite your team offhand before they know how to use the tool.

You can elaborate the instructions via email, but it is even better to invite your colleagues to try the tool themselves. Most of the collaborative tools have a free trial period or a demo. So, before making a commitment, let your team members play around with it a bit. If a majority of the team likes the tool, you can proceed with using it regularly. However, if they didn’t share your enthusiasm, you will need to make a compromise and find a tool that suits everybody.

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3. Get to Know Your Collaborators

Similarly to how you need to do a software preparation, you need to make your get-to-know-your-collaborators homework. You shouldn’t miss this step, especially if you have never met your collaborators.

If you’re a part of an international corporation, chances are you will need to talk to someone from another country or even different culture. In those situations, the name on the screen alone doesn’t tell us much. Learning the person’s gender and the correct name pronunciation is the minimum you should do before starting a live conversation.

remote collaboration team members
Getting to know your remote team members. Courtesy of: growingleader.com

Oftentimes you will need to know more than a hint of basic information about your collaborators – like a company position, prior work experience etc. If the person is your co-worker you can easily check its profile on a company’s webpage.

Should you need to collaborate with a freelancer for the first time, checking its LinkedIn profile would probably be the best go-to site to learn everything you might need to know. If you need information about specific groups of people, there are tons of specialized sites that offer such data. For instance, most of the freelance designers and artists have their profile on Behance. Here’s the complete list of the alternative professional network platforms you can use instead of LinkedIn.

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4. Choose the Suitable Collaboration Time

Working in an international company, you are probably going to have a remote collaboration session with a person from another country. Since different countries have different time zones, scheduling a remote meeting could be tricky. But, don’t worry – you wouldn’t have to do it all by yourself.

time zones in remote collaboration
Scheduling remote meetings within different time zones. Courtesy of: rbth.com

There are tools that can help you schedule a meeting at the best time according to your and your collaborator’s time zone. World Clock Meeting Planner or Timezone Meeting Planner are some of them. With a tool like Calendly you don’t even have to know your collaborator’s time zone, just let your partner pick the time that suits him the best.

If you’re gonna have regular remote meetings, it would be the best to establish a routine. It’s important to stick with the appointed time and day of a remote meeting, no matter how busy you are with day-to-day tasks. Discipline is a key factor for this system to work, otherwise, everyone will start to make excuses and soon you would have no one to collaborate with.

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5. Make Sure Everyone is Engaged

To hit the productivity sweet spot, it’s a good practice to give each team member a role. For example, the minute keeper will have to write down the decisions made in the session and the further steps for the next one. The facilitator should direct the flow and the energy of the session. He/she needs to make sure everyone is participating by encouraging team members to give their share of ideas.

The roles should rotate for each new remote collaboration meeting. That way no one will feel bored with getting the same task all over again.

 

7 Reasons To Use Remote Meetings Whiteboard To Save Money & Time

Complex and cumbersome conferencing software is not only a costly investment, but it also lacks flexibility. That’s why more and more companies transit to another solution – remote meetings whiteboards! These collaborative real-time boards are easy to use and save a lot of money. Most of the real-time whiteboards also have a built-in voice communication solutions which give you a real feel of the face-to-face meetings.

How To Save Time With Remote Meetings Whiteboard

1. Don’t need to travel

You don’t need to actually travel to your subsidiary or a client’s office to have a meeting. Just share the real-time interactive whiteboard with your meeting colleagues and you’re ready to go!

Try AWW App for Free

2. Don’t waste time on keeping meeting minutes

Since you’re all together on the same board, all your ideas and conclusions are visible in real-time. You can also save your boards for a later review in your dashboard. There’s no more need to keep meeting minutes or taking photos of an office whiteboard to have successful remote collaboration.

remote meetings whiteboard helps you on meetings
Stop wasting time keeping meeting minutes
3. Don’t wait for a feedback

Being on the same board creates an environment of an instant feedback. There’s no more waiting for a colleague or a team leader to answer your email or respond to your slack thread. Most importantly, you can give specific feedback, that leaves no room for misunderstandings or communication errors. It’s all transparent and available in real time.

Leave an instant feedback using a remote meetings whiteboard.
Leave an instant feedback using a remote meetings whiteboard. Courtesy of Velcom.by
4. Don’t waste time on staff training/assimilation

Assimilating to a new piece of technology can be really painful and takes a lot of time. Since collaborative real-time boards are very easy to use, assimilation period is much shorter than with complex software.

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How to Save Money With Remote Meetings Whiteboard

1. Cut travel costs

Business travels cost money. Sometimes thousands of dollars. When you’re using a remote meetings whiteboard you’re not only cutting the need to travel, but the travel costs, too.

remote meetings whiteboard cuts your business travel costs
Cut your business travel costs
2. Don’t buy expensive conferencing software

Remote meetings whiteboards are far friendlier for your budget than any conferencing solution. Moreover, monthly subscriptions are much more flexible, too.

Try AWW App for Free

3. Don’t waste money on maintenance

No hardware – no maintenance. No maintenance – no costs. When you buy a subscription to a remote meetings whiteboard you also get an access to technical support. If anything goes wrong the support will fix it with no extra costs. However, if it doesn’t – you can always request a money refund.

These are the seven reasons why I find remote meetings whiteboards better for your business budget and schedule. If you have any other suggestions, I’d like to hear them in the comments.