9 Underlooked yet Awesome Collaboration Tools for Remote Teams to Stay in Sync
Remote work is growing in popularity as businesses adapt to the changing needs of the workforce that demands more flexibility than ever before.
While the benefits of remote work are plenty, building and managing a remote workforce while ensuring that everyone on the team is motivated and productive is nothing short of challenging.
A plethora of tools is built on the very premise of bringing remote teams closer and making them more productive. But at the very least, it can be overwhelming to choose the right tools that facilitate collaboration while allowing teams to stay productive.
We dug deep and found these 9 lesser-known tools that all remote teams must have in their repertoire to collaborate better.
Twist replaces cluttered chats with organized conversations
Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge — yup that’s what Slack stands for. The wildly popular team chat app rose to fame due to its promise of productivity, playful copy and slick design.
However, fast-moving conversations on Slack channels are difficult to keep pace with. Rather than being more productive, users feel overwhelmed and end up constantly searching for messages that demand their attention.
Here’s the Twist: A Slack alternative built around the needs of remote teams to reduce clutter, ditch distractions and prioritize deep work. Twist replaces channels with topic-specific threads that make it easy to keep track of conversations and allow you to chime in at your convenience.
‘Always on’ can finally be a thing of the past.
Doodle takes the pain away from choosing meeting times
A universal challenge facing all remote teams is choosing meeting times that suit everyone on the team. Suggesting slots one by one is time-consuming and gathering votes is tedious.
You create a poll by suggesting a few slots, each team member selects one or more slots as per their availability and bam! You can see the option that works best for all the participants and invite them by directly from Doodle or share the participation link. You can also connect your calendar to sync the final slots and delete the tentative ones.
It’s simple, elegant and it does the job.
Whereby makes conducting meetings simple and straightforward
“Will you schedule it or should I?” “Did you forget to invite Jules from accounting?” Those questions pretty much go hand-in-hand with team meetings. But Whereby (previously Appear.in) changes that.
Each team member gets their personal meeting room that anyone can join from the browser without the need to register. Team rooms are shared meeting spaces meant for teams to connect over specific topics or projects. Each room you create comes with a personalized link that’s easy to remember and share.
Team meetings should really be that simple, shouldn’t they?
Coda For Meetings enables less boring and more productive meetings
While scheduling and conducting meetings have gotten easier, making meetings engaging is a constant challenge for most. A lot has been said about running effective meetings but there aren’t specific tools that actually make them productive and fun.
Coda, a tool that dubs itself as one that is meant to create docs as powerful as apps, recently launched an interesting toolkit to have more productive and less boring meetings. It comprises meeting templates in the form of Coda docs which are highly customizable.
Each template comes with detailed instructions and dummy data for you to get acquainted with its elements as well as Coda’s core features. Building blocks like buttons, scales and tables enable you to easily design your own doc and even gamify it like this Coda doc.
Looks like a new day for meetings is finally here!
Timezone.io tells you when to not bug your teammates
Time zones haven’t evolved in over a hundred years and keeping track of the ones that affect your team is a real PITA. Nobody wants to be that person who sends a string of messages to a teammate without realizing that it’s past bedtime at the recipient’s location.
Well, Timezone.io helps you do that by showing the current time in the cities or countries your team members are in, at any point in time. People can easily update their current location without making an announcement every time they move from one time zone to another.
Standups makes regular face-time amongst teams a possibility
Knowing what your team members look like and engaging face-to-face with each other regularly are important aspects of teamwork that many remote teams lack. Real-time stand-ups are inconvenient for distributed teams and video meetings is hardly a solution.
Standups solves all that by enabling team members to record 2 to 5 minute videos available for others to watch in a familiar Snapchat-like story format. One can also send in an update in advance to avoid recording one in the middle of a dentist’s appointment.
That sounds like a convenient, fun and must-have tool for remote teams.
Screencastify is the screen recorder that does it all
Since you’re reading this, you already know that a screen recorder is an absolute must-have tool for remote teams. But choosing one that fits the needs of your team is rather cumbersome.
Screencastify is an easy choice as besides the essentials, it comes with a host of annotation tools, autosave to Google Drive, YouTube integration and GIF export.
What’s more? It enables you to record videos offline too. I’d say it packs quite a punch for a mere screen recording tool.
Lightshot is the last screenshot tool you will need
I don’t know about you but I’d rather share a screenshot when words aren’t enough and a video isn’t necessary.
With Lightshot for Windows or Mac, you can take a quick screenshot of a part of your screen, annotate it, save it only if wish to, or simply copy it to your clipboard and paste it wherever you need to.
I’ve tried them all and haven’t found anything easier.
FYI helps you find documents in 3 clicks or less
Remote teams thrive on collaborative documents but with every new document comes the pain of searching for it on multiple tools that your team uses.
Then there’s the problem of recalling whether it was created by you or someone else shared it with you. Even Google Drive is yet to solve this problem.
Enter FYI: A simple Chrome extension that opens in a new tab and allows you to effortlessly search for a file across connected apps and even create new ones without leaving the tab. Switching between official and personal accounts is easy and you can create a company workspace for your entire team to search for each other’s documents. While FYI normally searches through document titles, full-text search is available on enterprise plans.
FYI, there is nothing left to ask for.
Working together effectively is always a challenge, especially if your team isn’t together in one physical space. And when you have several projects assigned to different teams, losing track can happen quite easily.
Hubstaff Tasks utilizes a Kanban board to help you keep your tasks and projects organized. You can quickly view who’s working on what from the dashboard, assign tasks and notify teammates via comments, and create checklists within tasks for easy progress tracking.
Plus, it lets you create custom workflows that let you move a task forward and automatically assign it to the right people with just one click.
Bonus Tool: 10to8 makes scheduling meetings across time zones easier
This calendar booking software allows team members to see each others' availability and book meetings without the whole date-and-time back and forth. What's more, you don't need to deal with time zone differences either - it's all added to the booking system.
How does it work? Once a meeting is added, attendees receive email and SMS notifications, plus meeting reminders. It’s also possible to set up push notifications for Google Calendar, Outlook, and other apps as well.
On top of this, 10to8 integrates with Zoom Video Conferencing and Microsoft Teams, so you can rest assured that even remote meetings will run on time. Meeting links are automatically created and invited attendees can join them from their 10to8 account, synced calendars, and reminders.
The same process can be implemented when scheduling appointments with clients. Be it a doctor's appointment, sales demo, or online lesson, 10to8 is a powerful, highly customizable, and secure platform to manage meetings wherever, whenever.
Speaking from my own experience working remotely for over half a decade, I can boldly claim that the success of remote teams depend on the tools they have access to.
Take ’em away and you will see the difference. If you work remotely and know of an awesome but not-so-popular tool, I’d love to know about it.
And if you’re an enthusiast who is always looking for new tools to try (guilty), you will love this list of 55 collaboration tools that can improve team productivity. You’re welcome!
While most of these tools are not yet available on Make, you can still integrate them with other services using the inbuilt HTTP app that enables you to connect to any web service or API without writing a single line of code. Make’s free plan comes with all its powerful features; give it a go and you might just fall in love.
This article was last updated on February 3, 2021.