Aug 30, 2016

11 Tools to Improve Collaboration on Dispersed Teams

How to make every team member feel included, valued and motivated to give your project their all

These days, it’s commonplace to have members of your team scattered across your global offices or completing tasks at home. But having team members outside your office no longer limits your ability to collaborate in real time.  With today’s technology, your peers are never more than a few mouse clicks away. Communication tools, project management programs and virtual workspaces keep everyone organized and on the same page, regardless of location.  Whether your colleagues are in the next office over or across the ocean, these tools enable your team to operate more effectively and efficiently than ever.

 

1. Highfive

Incorporating distant team members in office meetings can be challenging. Including an option to join through video conference is a way to bridge that gap, but it’s important to have the right equipment. Laptop mics and cameras fail to capture the full room and most conference room systems are expensive and difficult to use. That’s where Highfive comes in.

Highfive’s integrated camera and microphone hook up to any television without the help of IT. Just mount the sleek device above the TV in your conference room, plug it in, and you are ready to go. Launch a meeting and share your screen wirelessly from any device with just a couple of clicks. The HD camera and powerful microphones capture the full room so everyone can participate, no matter where they are.

 

2. Trello

Trello is quickly taking the tech world by storm. This virtual whiteboard full of post-it notes allows teams to visually organize anything from agile sprints to complex product roadmaps to marketing content calendars and even your team’s social calendar.

This powerful but simple workflow tool allows team members to create boards for each project with lists representing different completion stages. Or it can also work as an idea repository. Team members create cards detailing tasks or ideas to add to the lists. Once there, these cards can be moved from one list to the next as tasks are completed. Users can share boards with other colleagues allowing the whole team to monitor the project workflow and updates in real time.

Users can add team members to a card, comment on or start a discussion, and attach files and images to communicate with others right through Trello. Trello’s numerous integrations with tools like GitHub, Slack and Dropbox make it easy to add cards, keep files organized and ensure you never forget an important task.

 

3. Lingo Live

Here at Lingo Live, we know that communication is the key element to any effective collaborative effort. Teams with people using a second language at work often see communication barriers heightened. Even highly advanced second language speakers often face challenges fully articulating a brilliant idea or speaking up in meetings in their non-native language. Lingo Live solves these challenges through live online language coaching.

Lingo Live improves employees’ communication skills through highly personalized task-based coaching via video conference. Coaches create relevant lessons that target each team member’s specific workplace needs. Need help presenting your work in your agile meetings? Work on using persuasive language to form arguements. Having trouble articulating your ideas during conference calls? Practice using more concise language and eliminating filler words. Expert coaches are available in every time zone, so one-on-one lessons can happen at any time convenient for the employees, regardless of where they live.

Request a free demo to learn how Lingo Live could work for your team.

 

4. Jing

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. No more explaining difficult concepts through written email. Jing’s video capture feature allows you to record what you see and do on your screen while narrating your actions. Give instructions on how to complete tasks, explain difficult concepts requiring visuals, or show off new product features to the rest of the team.

Once you have created your video, you can either save it to your desktop or to Jing’s cloud where you can quickly share your video by sending a simple link.

 

5. Slack

Designed to reduce the need for internal email, Slack is an advanced but simple to use chat program for communication within your team. Create channels for different topics, or even different teams. Invite everyone, a few members or message a specific team member directly. Files, images and videos can be attached to discussions for easy sharing and commenting. And Slacks indexing system makes all discussions and content from attached files completely searchable.

Like Trello, Slack integrates with hundreds of apps and keeps all of your notifications and information in one location.

 

6. Ziteboard

Ziteboard acts as a virtual whiteboard, allowing you to draw out difficult concepts and share it with your team in real time. Draw on the board together during brainstorming sessions, explain difficult concepts to a remote group, or sketch out logo ideas on a whiteboard that can be saved as a PNG for later reference. Ziteboard makes it easy to collaborate visually whether your team is in one location or spread across the world.

 

7. Beegit

Does your team consist of content writers with varying degrees of programming ability? Look no further. Beegit is a collaborative, cloud-based markdown editor that focuses on clean organization of contributions and the easy management of document versions at every step, from creation to approval. Projects are viewable from any device to anyone with the link ensuring changes can be tracked and approved easily, anywhere, and on the fly. Previous and current versions of your document can be displayed side by side, making it simple to track your progress across users. Beegit doesn’t stop there. Projects can be downloading as the file type of your choosing, making exporting a project to print or online a breeze.

 

8. Red Pen

Everyone knows that working remotely isn’t conducive to quickly receiving and addressing feedback of your work.  Especially when you’re constantly sharing files via FTP or email for review. Redpen.io addresses this problem head on in glorious, grade-school fashion. Instead of receiving notes and having to organize them within the context of your project, Red Pen acts as a digital (you guessed it) red pen, allowing colleagues you invite to make notes and comments anywhere on the page. Simply click anywhere on a page to leave a comment that can be viewed in real time allowing everyone who has the page open to deliver feedback collaboratively.

 

9. Sococo

Sococo takes remote collaboration to the next level. Using Sococo, a company can create and customize a virtual office complete with meeting rooms, conference rooms, individual offices for employees or even a virtual water cooler. Busy? Close your door and your peers can knock if they need to meet with you. Looking to chat about weather? Hit the water cooler. Once users are in the same space they can chat and share their screens just as if they were in a real office.

 

10. Google Drive

Simply put, Google Drive is Google’s answer to what lies at the intersection of office suite and cloud storage. Generously, the first 15 Gigabytes are free with your existing Gmail account. Google Drive provides online access to Google’s suite including docs, Sheets, and Slides. Files created here can be edited online, or synced seamlessly at work or home, computer to computer. Drive also features a well established ability to collaborate. Simply email anyone (with or without their own Gmail account) a link to your document, and they can edit and comment in real time. Looking to upload and edit a file you’ve already created? Compatibility is no concern with Google Drive. Files can be imported or exported across common file types. All of these features combine to make Google Drive a viable collaborative word and spreadsheet processor.

 

11. Zapier

Zapier is an online tool that allows for the intuitive inter-mingling and automation of actions between apps you already use in the workplace. Each automation, called a “zap,” has a trigger and an action or series of actions. For example, your trigger could be “I have posted a new blog entry.” Your actions could then be “save a text copy to Dropbox,” or “share my post on LinkedIn.” The best part is all of this can be done without any programming knowledge or having to bug your programmer friends. With compatibility across more than 500 apps, Zapier can pave the way to increased office efficiency by automating the minutiae of your work day.

 

– Jenny Tannenbaum