Hackernoon logoAll the Tools You Need to Emulate the Experience of Being in a Physical Office by@anupamapanchal

All the Tools You Need to Emulate the Experience of Being in a Physical Office

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@anupamapanchalAnupama Panchal

Co-Founder @ Clientjoy.io; An entrepreneur; Passionate about creating useful applications;

On managing remote teams and creating an atmosphere similar to your office: Recently, I did a webinar with TIE and fellow women founders on Managing remote teams. A lot of you asked for the extensive list of tools that I mentioned in the webinar. So, here it is!
When we are in an office environment, we have the luxury of meeting each other, share our learnings, provide instant feedback, infrastructure, facilities, etc. which helps teams to be productive and well-bonded. Unfortunately, we don’t get all these facilities in a virtual team and environment.
Here's my list of the best alternatives to in-person situations, for remote teams:

Best alternatives to Physical, In-Person Team or One-to-One Meetings

When working virtually it’s advised to avoid channels that can cause misinterpretation. It’s better to avoid textual channels when doing important discussions. Make a practice of using the following channels in the given order: 
1. Video Calls (even if it is a 2 min conversation, prefer this mode)
2. Audio Calls (only if the video call is not possible)
3. Chats (nonurgent & important communications)
4. Emails (only for official communications)
For video calls, you can use tools like
Zoom — In a free account, it allows up to 100 participants for 40 mins. After 40 min, you need to rejoin the meeting. It also has features like Recording the meeting, screen sharing, whiteboard, private meeting links, chats, file sharing, etc.
Webex — During Coronavirus pandemic, they’ve made it free for up to 100 participants and there is no limit on meeting duration. Features are similar to Zoom.
Others: Google Hangout, Skype, GoTo Meetings, Doodle (Paid), etc.

Best alternatives to replace Water Cooler Conversations

For co-learning & team-bonding, it’s important to create virtual spaces where people can share their learnings, hobbies, good reads, etc. You can know who is active, who is working, online, offline, etc in such tools. You can create channels or virtual groups in the following tools. 
Slack —In the free account, all standard features like …….. are available with limitation of search possible in only recent 10k messages.
 Microsoft Teams — In the free account, they have unlimited chats and video callings. Meetings can’t be scheduled in the free plan.
Others: Flock, Discord (for geeks), Fugu,
You can also organize games for your teams on video conferencing tools. Let me know in the comments if you want to know how we did it in our company?

Best alternatives to White-boards & Brainstorming

Being able to visually represent your thoughts, research, and ideas is the core of a team brainstorming session. It gives clarity to the other person. 
Miro — It's very easy to use and has features like mind-mapping, flow charts, sticky notes with the ability of real-time collaboration. It has 100s of use cases that you can find in their templates. the free plan, you can have up to 3 boards. 
Whimsical— You can do flow charts, wireframing, sticky-notes, and mindmaps. In the free account, you can have up to 4 boards. 
Others: Lucid charts, Draw.io, Awwapp, Witeboard, Mindmeister , Mural (Paid)

Best alternatives to In-Person Feedback: Recording your screen to provide feedback effectively

If you review your colleague’s work use a video medium to provide the feedback instead of screenshots or texts. 
Loom— You can do your screen recordings along with your audio and video. It generates a cloud link that can be shared. It also gives statistics if someone opens or watches the recording. It’s easy to use and during Coronavirus pandemic they’ve increased the limit of recordings from 25 to unlimited. 
Screencastify— Similar to Loom. In the free account, you get 50 videos with each video being 10 minutes long.

Best tools for remote Documentation & Collaboration

Documentation is key for working remotely. Using a cloud tool makes it easy to share and access anytime.
Google Drive — Simple to use, create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. It allows multiple people to edit the same document in real-time along with the version history. It’s free to use for up to 15GB of storage.
Notion — You can create notes, docs, knowledgebase, databases, etc in one interface. No juggling required. In the free account, you can use up to 1000 elements. 
Canva: Collaboration on social media posts. It’s free and has numerous attractive templates.

Best tools for remote Task Management

You need a tool for managing all team tasks and goals. It’s an old saying that What Doesn’t Get Measured Doesn’t Get Done. You can use the following tools to track your tasks
Trello— Easy to use and free to use. It helps you organize, assign, and prioritize the tasks. It also shows them in a calendar.
Freedcamp— Unlimited, tasks, calendar, users, discussions.
Others: GoodDay, Quire, Basecamp, Asana, Startinfinity, Jell(Paid), etc.

Best Tools for Recording Productivity & Time spent on each task

If you want to know how your team is spending their time without indulging in micro-managing. It’s good to know where the money is flowing and can help in making smart decisions. Use the following tools: 
Toggl— Create timesheets in a simple interface. Just press the toggl button when you start working on a task and do the same to stop. It has browser extensions and desktop apps. Free to use  
Time Doctor— Advance time-tracking, automated screenshots, web and app usage, etc. It’s a paid tool starting at $12/user/month. 

Best tools for Scheduling Meetings and Managing Calendars remotely

Fixing a meeting requires a lot of to and fro communication. In the virtual team’s meeting scheduling tools saves a lot of time which is wasted in such conversations.
Calendly— Put your available meeting slots and let others book it. It’s simple to use and directly integrates with your phone or PC calendars. It’ll not let someone book slots that are already booked in your calendar. In the free account, you can use it for one type of meeting only.
Teamup— Shared calendar for teams to know who is working on what. Free for up to 8 calendars for 8 users. 

Best tools for Getting Signatures on contracts remotely: Use e-sign instead of physical signatures

Speed up your approval processes by using an e-sign solution for your business documents, contracts, proposals, etc. You can save up to weeks of time which is wasted in transporting a document from one location to another. 
Adobe e-sign— Adobe eSign Services helps you to electronically sign and send business documents. It’s free for 3 months than at a very nominal price annually. 
Gridle.one —Sales teams can share branded proposals, contracts, quotations, etc. with clients over email and can get it digitally signed. They can know when the email is opened or the document is opened. During Coronavirus Pandemic you can pay for one year and use it forever. 

Best tools for remote HR Management and Tracking Team Attendance

If you want to manage your team’s attendance and leaves, use the following tools:
Jibble — it allows check-ins and checkouts with selfies for unlimited users in the free plan. 
Other: Keka

Best tools for To-Do Lists and Checklists

If your team does some repetitive works and there are no processes then productivity will leak through cracks and you will not even know. If not complex processes, you can start with simple checklists for publishing content, doing a release, creating videos, etc. 
Few checklists tools: Trello, Todoist, Any.do, Pipefy, ProcessSt
If you have found any tool which is helping your Team to work effectively, do share in the comments. We will add them to the list mentioning your name, and it’ll help others. :)

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