Communication tools for remote working

Communication tools for remote working

White Fuse is a fully remote software company so we’ve learned a few things over the years about working remotely.

This post shares the tools we use and the tricks we’ve learned that help us communicate internally and externally in a remote context. 


Slack

For internal team communications

One popular way to manage internal communications with a team is an instant messaging app like Slack. The default approach with apps like this is that all communication is open to the whole team, unlike email where you actively need to include people. People can choose which channels they participate in so as not to be overwhelmed with irrelevant notifications.

Slack is good for

  • Asynchronous communication
  • Group conversations
  • Brief and focussed conversations
  • General updates and announcements

Pro tips

  • Use open channels where possible to keep other people in the loop
  • Avoid too many @mentions of people as this can cause distracting notifications
  • Check in at the start of each day to let people know you’re there and working
  • Don’t be afraid to share the odd personal update
  • Snooze notifications when you’re in the zone to avoid being distracted

Alternatives


Google Drive

For file management and sharing

One of the great benefits of remote working is it can release people to work without the distraction of constant questions. It’s important, therefore, to be careful about how you use something like Slack.

For more long-form, considered communications something like Google Drive can be more effective. Strategy docs, draft content or report analyses can all be created online for everyone to access and discussion about specific documents can be done through tracked changes and comments. This allows a few people to focus on an important task without distracting other people who don’t need to be involved.

Google Drive is good for

  • Strategy documents
  • Draft content
  • Reports and analysis
  • Collaborating on copy
  • File management and sharing

Pro tips

  • Always share links to files rather than emailing attachments
  • Use @mentions in comments where it is important to draw someone's attention to the issue or question
  • Files can be located in more than one folder by using the Add shortcut option

Alternatives


Zoom

For online meetings and video conferencing

Some things require real-time discussion. There are loads of conference calling options available but real-time video is a nice benefit and Zoom is one of the best options for setting up a trouble-free online meeting. If you’re used to lots of face to face meetings this may help ease the transition to using more asynchronous communications. 

Zoom is good for

  • Strategic and/or large meetings
  • Webinars with lots of participants
  • Screen sharing and presenting

Pro tips

  • As the meeting organiser you can mute other people
  • For large meetings or presentations, one person should chair and another should manage Q&A and note taking
  • Turn on video if bandwidth allows as it helps to be able to read a little bit of body language
  • Set expectations for etiquette such as not all trying to talk at once
  • Use the chat function to quickly gather feedback and questions from lots of people at the same time
  • Online meetings can take a lot of concentration so don’t overload your diary

Alternatives


HelpScout

For shared email inboxes

If you support lots of clients, service users, members or customers you may be used to lots of inbound communications. An office environment with a fixed phone line and dedicated support staff and even a receptionist can make it easier to route enquiries to the right place. Going remote requires a slightly different mindset.

Setting up one or more shared inboxes using HelpScout, or a similar help desk application, enables people to email you directly or through a webform but anyone on your team can respond. It’s easy to assign questions to different team members and have internal discussion about them through notes before replying. Everything is visible to everyone in the team so if someone is away or falls ill, someone else can easily take up the slack.

HelpScout is good for

  • Managing inbound enquiries and emails
  • Sharing the support burden across your team
  • Providing good, fast customer service
  • Minimising the number of incoming phone calls

Pro tips

  • Set up saved replies to answer common questions more quickly
  • Use coloured tags to label conversations to help ID them later
  • Use automations to remind you if a person has been waiting too long for a reply

Alternatives


Moneypenny

For out of office phone systems

If you want a single public phone line this can cause problems when moving to remote working. Moneypenny offers a simple online system for directing calls and a reception answering service staffed by friendly real people based in the UK. 

Moneypenny is good for

  • Routing calls to different people or departments
  • Ability to tweak routing settings on a daily basis

Pro tips

  • Record a friendly out of hours message
  • Explore the call routing preferences to improve your answer rate

Other software useful for remote workers

This post reviews popular forum software that is easy to integrate with your existing website.

This post reviews and compares some of the most popular event management software options.

This post reviews online room/facility booking software. Useful if you have space to rent out.

A comparison of the mostpopular online donation software tools and how much they each cost.

 
Date: 
30 March 2020