If you’ve made the decision to embrace a work culture that accommodates remote employees, there are a handful of practical tools you’ll need to invest in in order to make it work. We’ve outlined the essentials across communication, project management and code promotion that constitute the essential must-haves for any remote shop.
Video communication tools
The value of face to face video time in those initial stand-ups cannot be overstated enough. As video conferencing technology becomes more advanced, it’s only going to become a more immersive and efficient way to keep your team connected. Here are a few popular options:
Google hangouts: If you’re using G-suite, then Google hangouts is a good starting point for a video conferencing tool, as it will integrate with some of your other Google apps.
BlueJeans: Blue jeans is an enterprise level conference software that you will really only get the full benefit of if you buy the hardware to go with it. Otherwise, it’s got a lot of shortcomings in terms of connectivity and picture fidelity.
High Five: High Five is another enterprise level solution that is great, as long as you buy all the accompanying hardware to optimize the picture and sound.
Zoom: Zoom is a great solution for small to medium-sized operations that don't want to spend a ton of money on hardware to get decent team connections. It’s also one of the few apps that also work with Car Play in most vehicles these days that have technology packages.
Written communication tools
Slack: Slack is the clear leader in the team chat space right now. Its ease of use, endless integrations and freemium model make it ideal for starting out and scaling up based upon your needs.
Gmail: We would encourage every remote team to have at least one Google app at their fingertips, and if it has to be one, it should be G-mail. Setting up your domain as a G-mail connected account is extremely simple and you pay per user.
G-suite: G-suite gives you all the needed tools to keep everything related to business operations in one place. Calendar, Gmail, Google docs, and Drive allow you to create, collaborate on, and store files and conversations on an “as needed” basis. It’s also only ten dollars a user, and extra memory (should you need it) is remarkably cheap.
JIRA: Jira’s parent company Atlassian makes a whole suite of tools that are great for documentation and software development workflow management. Jira itself is a bit more complex to use than some other solutions, but if you’re in need of the robust features that it offers, it’s definitely worth looking into as it is many developers preferred platform.
Trello: Trello used to be a more user-friendly “card-based” competitor to JIRA, until Atlassian purchased them in April of last year. Nothing substantial has changed except they now integrate more closely with JIRA through things like sync.
Asana: Asana is good for small teams and creating automatic Gantt charts so you can visually track progress on a task with a few simple tweaks. It does tend to get a bit noisy, and conversations, tickets and tasks can become hard to track after time.
Code sharing and version control
Github: Github is probably the most widely used of all the version control code sharing software as a service solution out there. Their feature “GitHub pages” even makes for a fairly good CMS for QA environments. You’d be hard-pressed to find a developer out there these days that doesn’t have a personal GitHub account.
BitBucket: Another Atlassian product, BitBucket (like GitHub) uses git to track version control and keep your code located in one spot and easily shareable between developers. It’s free for up to five users. If you opt for JIRA as your project management solution it could be worth a test drive. If it doesn't work out, you can always commit your code back to GitHub with a couple of lines of code on the command line.
Credentials and access
Nobody can do a single shred of work without access to your network. Depending on the role, a person may need access to code repositories, software as service applications, analytics and lots of other very sensitive locations inside your ecosystem. A good password manager that allows you to share (and revoke) access for users with one-click is a very useful tool.
LastPass: Save all of your credentials in one place. Let people in or lock people out—all with a single click. Lastpass has been around for quite a while. In 2015 they were purchased by LogMeIn. It’s been a relatively positive evolution for them since they were acquired.
If you do use G-suite, it will allow you to give users access to calendar, drive and docs (as well as an @yourcompany.com email address) from your G-Suite admin dashboard immediately upon onboarding them. Giving them access to other Google-related products (Analytics, Search Console, Adwords) is also a breeze.
Check out the other chapters of our Ultimate Guide To Remote Work for tips and suggestions on how to build and lead your world-class remote team.