The Best Web Tools for a Distributed Team

If you want to develop a successful remote team, you need the best tools, right? Here is a list of the tools we use extensively at Formstack to maintain culture and productivity in a remote workplace.

AUDIO COMMUNICATION

Phone
Pro: There is no better way to track people down quickly or have high quality communications … it’s the amazing, wonderful, phone!
Con: You can’t see people.  They might be frowning.

In-person Meetings
Pro: Smiles, laughs, hugs, ideas, consuming food together, ping pong, banter, strong feelings of team-work
Con: Time consuming, expensive (depending on location of participants). Also, the amount of side banter or tangents could leave you feeling productive after an in-person but actually producing very little.

VIDEO COMMUNICATIONThe Best Web Tools for a Distributed Team image community1 300x300The Best Web Tools for a Distributed Team

GoToMeeting
Pro: Best consistency and quality for group meetings
Con: Slightly expensive and often very cumbersome to operate when attempting screen sharing

Google Hangout
Pro: Everyone has it these days and it’s free.  It’s also great to run a meeting and immediately publish to YouTube.
Con: Hard to invite people to a meeting and then navigate them to the Hangout because of the bloated “features” they’ve added. Someone from the Google search homepage should help them trim down a bit!

Skype
Pro: Great for one to one communications and a number of TVs have it built-in these days.
Con: Group communication is bad and it fails/drops calls more than the rest.

TEAM COLLABORATION

DailyStat.us
Pro: Allows you to quickly get a glance of what each member of your team is working on, identify roadblocks and know what’s just been accomplished.  You can even start a Google Hangout and post your status to a number of tools such as Atlassian’s HipChat.
Con:  You have to post updates every day to make it useful for your team.

HipChat
Pro: Quickly IM with team members to discuss work or share information.  You can also create groups (ie…Dev Team) where you can go to ask more specific questions or discuss happenings on your individual teams.
Con:  The noise created by too many rooms or lots of pings on your screen can kill productivity and reduce your focus quickly.

Other Web-based Tools We Use

Ticket/Sprint Management
Internal Wiki
File Sharing
Email
Vision – Internally developed Goal/Dashboard System

What tools do you use on your teams? Do you have any questions about the ways to develop a remote workplace at your company? Let us know in the comments below!

This is a re-post from CEO Chris Byers’ blog, Where is My CEO

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