Working remotely has been getting more and more popular as technology continues to advance. Once Google Docs hit the web, online collaboration skyrocketed. Now there are many different ways for teams to communicate and collaborate efficiently while being scattered across the globe. Here are a few things to be aware of in this case, and a list of tools to help you achieve success while bowling through any geographic hurtles that get in your way!
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Be Aware of the Time
The first big thing to consider when collaborating remotely is the time zones and days of everyone on your team. This can get really confusing as some members might be a day ahead or behind others. Luckily there are tools you can use to keep track of this information. Chrome has an extension called “Figure It Out”that shows your team’s time zones when you open a new tab. If you’re a Mac user then you already have this functionality through a $5 native app, called “World Clock” which also puts time differences in a visual context to make it easier to comprehend.
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Email is still the most commonly used electronic communication method, but it is not the most efficient for remote collaboration. Teams work with all sorts of different tools and host their files in multiple places for one reason or another. Centralizing this entire flow of information is critical for efficiency. This includes tasks from basic communication to project management and flow tracking.
Slack is a phenomenal communication tool that has been growing in popularity due to its broad range of features including its comprehensive compatibility with other applications. You can drop all of your files directly in the chat channels and even instantly create a google hangout for everyone in your team by typing “/hangout.” Basic use of this tool is free making it a great choice for virtually any remote team.
Another great tool similar to Slack is HipChat. It was brought in by Atlassian in 2010 and was popular before Slack even existed. It shares many of the same features as Slack and also has a great interface. It has a vast library of emojis and is GIF friendly. HipChat is also free so if Slack doesn’t float your boat there are other options that provide efficient communication.
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A slightly different approach that may take some team members a bit of getting used to, but definitely reaps its own benefits is Sqwiggle. It aims to aid one of the biggest problems of working remotely which is the lack of face-to-face interaction. This application takes a snapshot at a set interval so members know who is around and who is not. This is the fastest way to get in touch with anyone on your team by initiating a video chat with one simple click of their picture. This app can create the feel of a truly collaborative work environment no matter where team members are located.
One of the greatest things about developing is how easy it is to communicate what you are doing, visually. There are a few great tools that help teams of developers efficiently collaborate. One cloud based solution is Cloud9. This puts your whole entire development environment in the cloud so you can access it wherever you are from any web browser. A basic account is free so it definitely worth a shot for any development team working remotely.
Another great option for this type of collaboration is Koding. This service provides another cloud based solution with robust development environments in the form of virtual machines ran straight from the cloud. This solution comes with a browser based terminal and a vibrant community of over half a million developers.
Testing and Issue Tracking
The most important part of an application being ready for launch is testing. Launching an application without testing it is like buying a used car before you test drive it. You have absolutely no idea if it’s going to work as intended!
Luckily there are tools like DebugMe that allow remote teams to debug applications efficiently no matter where the team members are. This tool not only keeps everyone on track by managing teams workloads with assigned tasks and progress tracking, but also makes communication a whole lot easier by putting issues into context, visually. This has proven to be a truly powerful and effective tool for many teams across the globe. Try it out today.