Shifting Your In-Person Communication Online
Because of the nature of our work, we use SaaS tools (software-as-a-service) for most of our systems. SaaS tools allow you to take advantage of new updates, online collaboration, and maybe most importantly for remote works, ease of access.
When vetting tools for our team to use, we look at the value that it provides to our business - if it allows us to carry out an important function of our jobs in a more predictable, quicker, or more efficient way, then the cost carries itself. If it's a "nice to have", and allows us to do more with less physical resources, then that's also a deciding factor.
Below are a few of the tools we have tested over time, and recommend for your team's remote working set-up.
The benefits of meeting face-to-face are hard to replace, and chit-chat without a doubt has its rightful place through your work, but video conference tools such as Zoom, are a great way to maintain a personal connection while also achieving social distancing. There are different pricing points based on your needs, but the Basic level is free.
Zoom also allows you to share your screen, use a virtual whiteboard, and has phone-in capabilities that keep your whole team plugged in. If you've gone through a project with us in recent years, you know just how important Zoom is for communication!
Use Live Chat
If you don’t already use a live chat platform in your office, now might be the perfect time to try one out. Our favorite is Slack. It allows us to communicate efficiently without clogging up each other’s inboxes. “Channels” created by projects and teams, keeps communication organized as we exchange feedback and resources. Slack also has a basic service level that is free.
Something important that we stress to our team is that while Slack allows you to easily sync up and keep communication flowing, it can feel like you are on someone else's schedule to respond, so setting boundaries and expectations with your team is a great way to prevent the slog that asynchronous activity can create in your workflow.
You’re probably already familiar with email in your day-to-day, but it’s important to note that our most important communication is documented through email.
A digital project management system
We manage projects through an online project management system that allows our whole project’s team to stay in communication from anywhere. We can share files, important project details, contracts, messages, and task lists. The paper trail alone saves a lot of time in the project and keeps our whole team in the loop. We’re dedicated to Teamwork as our PM system of choice, but there are several out there, including Monday and Asana that may be a good fit for you.
An HR-Friendly Goal Tracking System
Our team uses Lattice to track 1:1 meetings with our leaders, goal tracking, and weekly updates. The easy-to-use platform gives a place to track progress, detail important HR notes, and allows us to keep conversations going. With the weekly check-ins, managers get to see a snapshot of what their team is working on, and what frustrations that may need intervention down the road. It's opened up communication widely on our team, and everyone knows that open and honest feedback is listened and paid attention to through this system.
I think as an industry, we’re to the point that Trello is more of a verb than a proper noun. The idea with Trello is that you can categorize and organize anything under the sun, all online! It’s great for workshopping ideas, organizing work for the week, or following the status of a project. Our project management system offers a work view much like a Trello board for us, but sometimes it’s nice to start fresh and get your ideas out in an organized way, and Trello is great for this!
A social media scheduling tool
When it comes to collaboration, a social media scheduling tool with calendar functionality is vital! Being able to schedule review and approve posts before they go out when your team is collaborating from a distance has never been easier! We like Sprout Social to manage several accounts, but Buffer and Hootsuite have great free, or low cost, options for managing a single brand.
Speaking of calendars...
Like email, this one may be a part of your everyday life. Whether you’re Gmail users or have an offline email platform like Outlook, a shared calendar view is the easiest way for our team to plan our production and coordinate meetings. We make a point to keep our own calendars up to date, so if one of us needs to schedule a meeting, we know that we’ve got clearance to look for available time slots. This cuts down on the back and forth of internally organizing, and again, saves countless hours throughout each month.
What tools are your must-haves for digital communication? Let us know!