A long distance work relationship is similar to a long distance romantic one. You certainly won’t stay up all night watching Jerry Maguire and eating ice cream if an employee hasn’t checked-in for a few days (at least I hope you won’t). But solid communication is the only way to forge connections within and across teams, and between employees and management.
We are no strangers to remote work. Our team is spread all over the world, from San Francisco to New York and even Poland. We rely on a number of tools (including our own 15Five) to help us stay connected and collaborate from across the globe. While 15Five is the hands down favorite :-), here are a five other top tools that keep our remote team in sync:
They were #1 on our last tool roundup and continue to impress. Just look at how happy we are:
We meet every morning (or every evening if you are Krystian, aka the “Polish Ambassador”) for our 15 minute Daily Boost. We share recent triumphs, current initiatives, and the occasional birthday song.
At the end of every week, we have “Question Fridays”. Someone on the team presents a question that allows us to get to know each other on a deeper and more personal level than we ever thought possible. Some questions like “What was your first car?”, result in laughter. “What accomplishment are you most proud of in your life?”, nearly brought some of us to tears.
For us Zoom is more than just an application, it’s the water-cooler, the break-room, and the meeting room. In many ways it is the heart of our company.
Every week, the entire team receives release notes on our upgrades, updates, and new features. Python and iOS are quite literally foreign languages to me, so my explanation for the dev team’s productivity has always been “magic”.
Turns out that Github allows our developers the flexibility to manage software revisions and collaborate on coding from virtually anywhere. This powerful tool has paved the way for releases such as @mentions, custom reports, and the ability to change questions.
Ok, this one is kind of obvious — but Google deserves a mention.
I perform much of my writing from the comfort of my home. Over the last year, our chief editor has been able to assist me in honing my writing skills from afar. Instead of just editing within each Google doc, she used the comments feature to mentor me into the business writer I am today.
I could not share our unique thought leadership articles with a variety of different online publications without the collaboration made available by Google docs. More than just software, this has been the gateway to becoming more skilled at my craft and spreading the ethos of our company.
Not only is Buffer another globally distributed team that is growing rapidly, they have created a tech tool that has simplified our social media marketing while simultaneously strengthening our company culture.
We encourage every employee to share images of team lunches, happy-hours, conferences, off-sites, office visits from advisors, and other fun or collaborative experiences. An employee who posts images in New York takes pride in being part of such a vibrant and exciting company. Meanwhile across the country or the world, teammates instantly feels connected via tweet or Facebook post — allowing the space between us to shrink just a bit.
This one is new for us. It was suggested by one of our new team-members who up until recently was working from Sweden. Sqwiggle has some unique features designed to prevent the communication misunderstandings that develop from text and email communications.
They have essentially simulated the real-time connections that are usually only available when all employees share the same physical office space. Your camera is on throughout your day and updates a still image of each team-member every few seconds. You can click on an image to initiate a video chat, just like starting a conversation with that person at the office who has sat next to you for years and has become more than just a co-worker.
From 2005 to 2012, the number of Americans who worked remotely grew by almost 80%! And that number is expected to climb as telecommuting becomes the norm.
Our remote team is free to discover and adopt the tools that work best for us — the ones that allow us to express our creativity and be most productive. We are drawn to use technology that allows us to collaborate effectively and connect more deeply, no matter what continents we are working from.
David Mizne, is Content Manager at 15Five, the leading web-based employee feedback and alignment solution that is transforming the way employees and managers communicate. David interviews some of the most brilliant minds in business and reports on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to employee engagement.
What are your favorite technology tools for bringing your team closer across continents? Leave us a comment below.