Albert Einstein said, “It has become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity. I hope that someday, our humanity might yet surpass our technology.” We use technology to communicate and collaborate more fluidly, and to maintain interpersonal relationships from a distance. Humanity may not have surpassed technology, but we are definitely leveling the playing field.
We could not function as a remote team without the myriad software applications that we use everyday. The options are so abundant it can sometimes be overwhelming to find and choose the right tools. Whether it’s for coordination and collaboration, productivity, relationship management or just to make our lives easier, these are the ten tools and applications that contribute most to our success.
1) Zoom. We are pretty sure that this app was a gift to our inferior species from an alien race. Zoom allows up to 100 participants or devices to have a video conference, share screens, and even record the meeting or presentation. Our team is not in triple digits yet, but it’s nice to know that the app will grow with our business. We use Zoom to connect for our Daily Boost, a meeting that gives the entire globally distributed team a dose of much needed HD face-time.
2) HipChat. Atlassian has done it again with this all-in-one group chat/instant messaging app. We create separate rooms for our customer success team, marketing, developers, and just about every other company group or initiative. This is a dev-team favorite, since Hipchat is integrated with Github (used for software coding management).
3) Trello. Trying to coordinate tasks among a remote team can be a nightmare. So Trello is a total must for us. The tool streamlines collaboration between all teams, keeps priorities ordered and tasks on track. Create several boards for different initiatives or teams and manage lists within them. You can then create cards for individual tasks and move them from list to list. A daily highlight for all is filling up our “completed” lists.
4) Dropbox. What distributed team would be able to function without a versatile and secure, virtual filing cabinet? Dropbox won us over with their recent announcement that they will be adding collaboration tools for MS Office applications. Multiple users can now download the same file and collaborate in real-time with full visibility, similar to what Google Drive has to offer. Sorry about that, anonymous chinchilla.
5) RelateIQ. Relationship Intelligence? Try relationship brilliance! RelateIQ automatically imports contacts from your inbox into their beautiful interface. And they are putting the $40 million they received in series C funding last month to good use, by adding the Google Chrome/Gmail extension. As you read and write emails, the RelateIQ window gives you detailed information on each contact. See what list they are associated with, and even view and schedule follow-ups for yourself or other team members right from Gmail. Streamline database management while you avoid annoying your customers with redundant emails.
How can any of us stay productive when we are drowning in daily emails? With Boomerang you can remove an email from your inbox and schedule it to return at a future date, marked as unread. When you spontaneously get an idea for a message that you don’t want to send yet, go ahead and draft it now. Then use Boomerang to easily schedule that email to be sent at a later time.
We have found that getting into an uninterrupted flow for an hour at a time is the most productive way to work. How does email fit into that? It doesn’t. Email should be called obstruction-mail. Use Inbox Pause to place emails in a hidden folder until you are ready to receive them. Senders can even receive notifications that you are paused. Or leave the notifications off and receive the satisfaction of knowing that the person who can’t reach you is freaking out about it.
7) ScreenHero. A fantastic app for voice calls and screen sharing, but we covered all that above. What makes this one unique is that multiple users can simultaneously operate their own mouse cursor within the app. This is the safest and most efficient way that we have found to collaborate within an integrated development environment to review, troubleshoot and debug lines of code.
8) Evernote – You might be #8 on the list, but we could never forget you, Evernote. How could we when you store all of our memories ad infinitum? This app brings together a TODO list, clipboard, personal organizer, and notes shared across all devices. If you don’t have time to type your hand-written notes from the meeting, just take a pic with your phone and drop it into your ‘notebook’. When you get a new computer or device, your notes travel with you. The best brain and memory outsourcing we’ve ever found.
9) Toggl. Have you ever looked at the clock during a busy day only to see the ominous numbers “4:53”? Now you can never be blind-sided by time again, and work more productively and purposefully by keeping track of the time spent on each project. And those of us who are contractors can easily manage our time and submit accurate invoices.
10) 1Password. Internet security is a huge deal these days. All of our favorite apps have one thing in common, they are all password protected. Managing 50 different passwords for apps can be time-consuming and frustrating. With 1Password, you only have one to remember. All the others are generated by the app, and stored safely for quick retrieval. Or you can keep using your cat’s name for all of your bank account and credit cards.
As a SaaS company that deals in the art of communication, we at 15Five know how valuable software tools can be. It seems that whatever the task, some brilliant company has developed an application to automate it. That means we can do more in less time, and get back to the business of delighting our own customers.
Photo Credit: Kenny Louie
Did we miss one? Would love to hear about other apps you find absolutely essential. Leave us a comment below.