Tools of the Trade: Communication & Organization for Remote Teams

What Now? Exactly! is based in Seattle, but our small team is actually located in Portland, Seattle, and now, Austin, Texas.

I live and work in Austin from my apartment and coffee shops. I have never met my teammates in “real life” (whatever that means!). When people ask me what I do, I get a kick out of saying that I work for a company based in Seattle.

In my career, I’ve had the privilege of being part of multiple remote teams, and I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way. While the benefits of working remotely are often cited (Working in your pajamas! Location independence! Hanging out with your cats all day!), there are some distinct disadvantages that come with a lack of face-to-face time with your team.

For successfully managing a remote team, communication and organization are key to ensuring that goals are met, team members are satisfied, and that everyone is on the same page.

Here’s a little peek inside our team’s toolkit here at What Now? Exactly!


Gmail – Email Platform

To me, Gmail is the only e-mail platform. With archiving, tags, and customizability, Gmail allows you to set up your inbox in a way that works for you. Why use anything else?

I have to say, we don’t actually e-mail much for our internal communications, and I prefer it that way! But, of course, there are certain things you need an email address for.

Slack – Instant Messaging for Team Collaboration

In lieu of long email threads, we use Slack. We have channels for the different departments of the company, like #content-marketing or #production, but also fun channels like #awesomesauce for sharing fun video content or #watercooler for anything else (but especially Game of Thrones discussions).

Slack works perfectly for checking in on the status of a project or task, or asking a question that needs a fairly quick answer.

I also have set up a few Slack integrations with our other tools — for example, any time that one of my tasks in Asana is updated, I get a Slack notification. This cuts down on the number of emails I get in my inbox and keeps me up to date.

Asana – Project Management

Asana is a wonderful tool for keeping everyone in the loop. The beauty of Asana is the adaptability. If a task is getting too cluttered, make it into its own project. Need to call in someone from outside your team? Tag them to get their attention on the task they are needed on without necessarily looping them into the entire project. We also take notes from meetings directly into the pertinent task in Asana to cut down on communication gaps.

Google Hangouts – Face to Face Contact

One of the trickiest parts of working remotely is feeling connected to your team. Google Hangouts are perfect for a weekly or daily check-in call with your team while getting some quality facetime in. I recommend at the minimum, a regular standing call with your team members — and it’s helpful to be open to firing up a Hangout anytime details need to be hashed out.


Sunrise Calendar – All Your Calendars in One Place

If you have multiple jobs or calendars to keep track of, Sunrise is a must. I use it to keep my personal calendars connected to my work calendars. Like many of the other tools in this list, Sunrise integrates with other tools, so you can add calendars from Facebook, Asana, and multiple Gmail accounts into one view.

We use our calendars to keep track of when everyone is available, so that way, work time is work time and doesn’t leak into personal life too much.

As a bonus, Sunrise is the only tool I’ve found that integrates with Microsoft Outlook calendars.

Buffer – Social Media Scheduling

Buffer is also a remote team, and I feel like their workflow shows in their tool. Buffer makes it easy to schedule and move around social media posts, and allows for multiple users to view who did what.

Google Drive & Dropbox – File Collaboration

You have probably used these tools before, but they’re worth mentioning because they are so useful. Google Drive works best for editing and providing feedback on documents like scripts or blog post drafts, while Dropbox is used for our video and image assets that need a place to live long-term. Having a distinct system for which type of file goes where helps keep our documents organized and easy to find.

With a focus on clear communication and organization, any remote team can thrive. These focuses can help your remote team stay connected, meet goals, and be satisfied with work.

What tools do you use to keep in touch with your team? Let us know in the comments!

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