At PML, we’ve been running in a virtual environment since our inception in 2009. At that time we had to prove our legitimacy to clients on a regular basis. Being virtual sent a message that maybe you weren’t serious or you were trying to duct tape a team together. We had to overcome tons of stigma.
Fast forward to 2020 and layer in the COVID-19 quarantine, most companies are now adopting some level of virtualness and remote reporting. We think that’s awesome! (even though we wish it was under different circumstances) When done right and when woven into the company culture, running remote teams has tremendous benefits. We’re planning a separate blog article that dives into the cultural and personnel impact of remote working. In this article we wanted to share our favorite platforms that can help you run a smoother virtual operation.
First, a quick acknowledgement: All these tools will help keep your team in contact, but they all expect a strong and consistent internet connection. To that end, when possible, try to have your team members use a wired network connection. Using a docking station or USB hub that allows a laptop to use an ethernet connection can also give extra ports to use for external monitors and other sorts of devices that can help keep everyone productive when working from home.
Group Video Meetings
You might not be able communicate face-to-face in the same room, but these tools will let you keep in touch with voice and video conferencing.
- Krisp – Noise cancelling software to keep background noise from being sent to your voice or video chat. We’ve switched over to using this company wide to cut down on distractions and interruptions.
- Google Meet – Voice and video conferencing for anyone with a Google account.
- Join.me – Video and audio conferencing, screen sharing, and scheduling tools.
- Zoom – Meetings, video webinars, conference calls, chat and file sharing.
- WebEx – Video conferencing, team collaboration, audio conferencing, and webinars.
- BlueJeans – Instantly join, host or manage a video, audio or web meeting from a conference room, your desk or a remote location.
Keeping track of project progress when everyone’s not in the same place can be difficult. These tools help make sure that everyone has visibility into what’s going on with your projects.
- Monday – Online collaboration tool used by teams to manage projects, store information and communicate on tasks. Monday is a visual app that allows you to quickly add team members, assign tasks and manage workflow.
- Trello – Very easy to use tool for managing projects and tasks. Trello is very flexible and allows you to quickly and easily store information, track team member progress on tasks and projects. It also works great on mobile.
- Teamwork – A more comprehensive and robust cloud-based project management solution with a wide range of tools and features, including task lists, time tracking, project milestones, file uploads, messaging and much more.
- Basecamp – Project organization and management tool. Not quite as robust as Teamwork but much more user-friendly. Basecamp has a very nice and easy to us dashboard. It’s a great tool for storage and organization.
Collaboration and chat applications can allow your team to continue to communicate as a team throughout the day as needed.
- Slack – Slack brings the team together, wherever you are. With all of your communication and tools in one place, remote teams will stay productive no matter where you’re working from.
- Microsoft Teams – Work remotely without feeling remote. Chat, Meetings, Calling, and Collaboration.
- Workplace from Facebook – Empower and transform your whole business, with familiar features like groups, chat and video calls.
For taking collaborative notes or making shared notes these applications can give you some additional opportunities (especially while everyone is actively taking part in a video call or conversation).
- Miro – A free online collaborative whiteboard
- Screen – Fast screen sharing with multiplayer control, drawing & video chat.
File sharing, so everyone has access to documents, data, spreadsheets, etc.
- Dropbox – Bring traditional files, cloud content, Dropbox Paper docs, and web shortcuts together in one place—and work the way that works for you.
- Box – Secure collaboration with anyone, anywhere, on any device.
- Google Drive – Keep photos, stories, designs, drawings, recordings, videos, and more. Your first 15 GB of storage are free with a Google Account.
- Microsoft OneDrive – Share files, folders, and photos with friends and family. No more large email attachments or thumb drives—just send a link via email or text.
A number of these tools are included in bundles of hosted software provided by a few different companies.
- Google Suite – Get Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, Meet and more for business.
- Microsoft Office 365 – Be more creative and achieve what matters with Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, Yammer, and more.
Having the right hardware and peripherals can make your online meeting experience much easier. Here’s a few things that our staff use and recommend.
- Built in webcams are good, but we’ve been consistently impressed with the video quality from the Logitech c920 webcam.
- Using a headset can help prevent echos and feedback, almost everyone at PML uses the Logitech H390.