I work in a distributed company. There are around 35 of us altogether, spread across the UK, Germany, Poland, Belgium, France and Turkey. Far from being a logistical nightmare, it’s actually the most interconnected company I have worked for.
There are a number of digital tools that provides the glue to make it all work. For any remote workers and distributed teams here is an essential toolkit to stay connected and on top of things.
Assembla — project management
Assembla offers a suite of project management tools for sharing projects with customers, contractors and any others who might need to access or view projects with varying levels of permissions. For a remote worker, its task management capabilities mean you’ll never be out of the loop on a project. You can create tickets, assign owners, set task priorities, add large files, create sub tasks, @mention teammates and more. Keep all correspondence or updates about a particular task in one easy to find place rather than laid out all over your mailbox in never-ending email threads that always seem to skip you when it comes to the exact information you need.
Freshbooks — time tracking and invoicing
Freshbooks offers a simple yet efficient way to manage expenses, invoices, reports, and time tracking. It has very affordable price plans starting at $15 per month to bill up to 5 clients and is great for distributed teams because it links time tracking to invoicing so you don’t have to do any number crunching yourself. Team members can log in their time separately for each project and you can transfer timesheet data straight to an invoice in a few clicks.
Google Calendar — diary
We share our calendars with everyone in the organisation, so any colleague can see what our schedule is like when they want to book a meeting. No going back and forth on emails juggling dates and times, just open up the necessary person’s’ calendar in the same window as yours and find a spot that suits. You can share your calendar with specific people or the whole team and also choose the level of access from just seeing when you are free or booked without details to being able to make changes to events.
Google Hangout — video conferencin
Google Hangout wins out over Skype for us because of its full integration with a wealth of other remote work friendly Google services, including Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Drive, and so on. Invite colleagues to meetings via Google Calendar and it automatically assigns a Hangout meeting room for your chat.
Slack — chat
If there is one tool that’s absolutely necessary for us to operate as a distributed team then it’s Slack. It’s our newsroom, water cooler, help desk, company whiteboard and communication highway. We have channels for different projects, channels integrated with Google Alerts to stay on top of goings on in the field, team members can also reach out to any other member directly and we also have our Google suite integrated, so Calendar, Drive and Hangouts. And then if we need to pick up the phone and make a call to a team member in another country we use Slack calls, of course!