April 2020

Top tips on effective communication for remote teams (and our favourite tools to help!)

6 minutes

Whether your team has been working across multiple locations for a while, or you’re still in the process of adjusting to a more remote set-up, there are a wealth of online tools available to make the process smoother and more efficient. We’ve put together a collection of our favourite tips and tools to keeping your team, and customers, connected.

Make use of team chat platforms:

In-the-moment messaging can be great for instantly updating your team on project updates or company news, or to just keep more informal lines of communication open between team members. Here are a couple of our favourites:

Here at Nu Creative and Nu Talent, Slack has been embedded in our way of working for as long as we can remember. It’s an instant messaging platform organised into ‘channels’ (ensuring that team members only receive messages relevant to them). It’s a great way for us to share updates (and the occasional animated gif!) across the company as a whole, and also at a project team level. As an added bonus, the free version of slack also offers 1:1 video and voice calls, as well as file sharing and screensharing.   

Google hangouts chat:
If your team already uses Google’s ‘G suite’ for email, then everyone in your team will automatically have access to the hangouts chat function. Instead of the ‘channels’ approach from slack, Google hangout has created ‘rooms’, which you create and invite your team mates to join, keeping your chat focused. As you’d expect, it also integrates seamlessly with other G-suite tools, such as Google Docs, Sheets and Slides (automatically updating your sharing permissions for any documents shared in your hangout chats).  

Make time for face-to-face conversations too:

Whilst emails and messaging platforms are great for communicating quickly, making time for face-to-face conversation, even over video, makes the world of difference to a project’s progress (as well as team culture). These conversations allow you, your team-mates, and clients to express smaller (more nuanced) details of information that might not usually make it into emails or instant messages. Here are some of the tools that we’ve been taking advantage of:   

Microsoft Teams:
MS Teams can be used as an alternative to Slack, providing similar chat and filesharing features that can be easily organised. It also offers video, voice calls or webinars for whole teams or one-on-ones (and can even host live events for up to 10,000 people). It’s part of the Office 365 package and integrates easily with the other applications within the suite (like Outlook and Calendar). You can also invite callers to join your meeting, even if they don’t have the Teams app, which is very handy! Here at NU Creative, this is how we keep in touch as a team and with our clients.

Offers a whole host of video conferencing tools. The most useful of which is the Zoom Meetings & Chat, for video meetings, voice calls, webinars and chat across teams. The basic package is free (and suitable for small teams, allowing calls up to 45 mins) and you can also record and keep a record of meetings to share with your team or revisit at a later date.  

Getting organised:

Keeping on top of the day-to-day admin can also be challenging when your team are working remotely. But luckily there are a host of tools to help with collaboration and task management. Here are a few that we’ve found useful:

Google Drive:
A great cloud-based alternative to MS Office (One Drive). For document creation, storage, sharing and real-time collaboration on text documents, spreadsheets and presentations (amongst other things) – all for free.

A great visual project management and collaboration tool, that allows you to organise projects from overall phases of work, right down to individual tasks (think digital post-it notes and bulletin boards). Its visual simplicity means it’s super easy to learn and use, and suitable for small teams of 2 or 3 up to large organisations of over 250+.  

The clue is in the name – a smart digital to-do list – with added extra’s like the ability to add due dates, priority levels and comments. It also allows you to assign tasks to others, and can be managed across multiple devices, which is handy when your team aren’t all under one roof. It also works well as a personal planner as well!

Staying sane and taking care of yourself:

Just as important as aiding productivity, we’ve also found a number of tools that help take care of the wellbeing of your team if some of them are adjusting to a new remote set-up.   

A handy desktop timer influenced by the pomodoro technique (an approach to time management). Whilst it’s useful for managing time on work tasks, it can also be used to help remind you to take a break, have a stretch or simply step away from your desk and make a cuppa.

Working from home can take some adjustment as you get used to working in a space normally associated with your private/ non-work time and can be full of distractions. Noisli is a tool designed to help you drown out distractions (perhaps the noise of other family members, your phone or social media) and help you focus and concentrate. It provides a number of background sounds that you can mix and match, as well as curated playlists to choose from – all designed to create a calm, distraction free, and productive environment.

House party:
Houseparty allows groups to live video chat but is slightly different to some of the other video calling tools we’ve mentioned, in that it’s a more casual, spur of the moment approach. You don’t need to plan in advance, or send out invites, but can instantly join a group (as long as you’re connected to at least one person in the ‘party’). The real fun is in the games that are available through the app, including:  Heads Up, Trivia, Quick Draw, and more – they can be played with up to eight people at a time. You can also send ‘facemails’, which are video messages which can be left for your friends to see when they open the app. So, if you’re looking to have some fun with your friends (from a far) then this is a fun way to do it.

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