By now, many of us consider services like Slack and Zoom to be crucial components of modern work life – especially those among us who work remotely. There’s no replacing in-person time (and meeting planning technology doesn’t replace in-person meetings, either!) but there are other, less-known apps that can help bridge the gap – and many of them are created by people who are remote workers themselves.
Here, we share five tools that help remote workers better connect with their teammates, regardless of their current location.
Standups – Stories for Remote Teams
The stories format has taken over social media – so it only makes sense that a savvy startup translated the idea to the enterprise world. Standups is a web and mobile (iOS and Android) app that lets remote workers share video and voice updates about their progress with the rest of the team. It has the familiar stories interface, but the features baked in (like multiple timezone support, timeboxing, and notetaking) make it an especially well-crafted solution for the corporate world. Now, groups that work closely together (but happen to be far apart geographically) can see team members faces’ as they articulate the headway they’ve made in their work.
World Time Buddy – Smart World Clock Converter
When your team is remote, coordinating times for Google or Outlook event invites can be tricky, especially when you’re dealing with a handful of time zones. With World Time Buddy, life gets much easier, as this simple service lets you easily see what time it is in different time zones, set default locations, schedule events straight from this interface (so you don’t have to go into Outlook or GMail to do it), and be reminded of the little things, like when DST is approaching. It’s an in-browser tool that you’ll only spend a few minutes with each week, but it’ll return many minutes of scheduling and rescheduling with your remote colleagues.
Squad – Group Video Chatting With Screen Sharing
While it’s intended to be a consumer app, Squad’s unique approach to group video chatting makes it valuable in a corporate setting, too. On the surface, Squad may look like other FaceTime and Zoom-like apps, but it has one big feature that sets it apart: it lets you share your iPhone screen during the call. So, if, for example, you wanted to walk your team through some mobile designs or talk them through a sensitive email chain that you’re on, directly from your phone, Squad makes it easy to do so. With a tap of a button, the screen will switch from showing your face to showing your iPhone screen, and you can navigate to any app on your phone, sharing what you see with the others on the call. It’s a surprisingly intimate and engaging experience and could be a unique superpower to use for spur-of-the-moment remote meetings.
Teamweek – High-Level Project Planning Updates
Some project management services provide a detailed look at your team members’ to-do lists – but you may not need to see the nitty-gritty details, and instead, prefer a higher-level look at what the people in your group are working on. That’s the idea behind Teamweek, which shows you the big picture of what everyone is working on now and over the next couple weeks, with the help of a beautifully-designed interface and intuitive color-coding. Whether you’re a manager at a company and want to check up on your remote workers, or you’re a remote worker and you want more context on what your teammates are working on in advance of the big meeting, Teamweek can catch you up on their status quickly, so you can get back to work.
Headspace – Meditation Made Simple
“What’s Headspace doing on this list?” you may wonder. Well, one of the many benefits (and yes, the benefits are clear) of meditation is increased focus – and for remote workers, focus is the name of the game. At the office, you’re at least physically present in your workspace, but at home, laundry calls, the refrigerator beckons, the dog wants to be walked, and so on. Staying on-task can be tricky – not because the remote worker wants to lose focus, but because of the potential distractions. (Though let’s not pretend like working in an office doesn’t present its own set of distractions!) Headspace is an iOS and Android app, and has daily meditations as well as quick “SOS exercises” in case you really need to re-center. Plus, they have plans for companies who want to invest in their employees’ mental wellbeing, both for their own sake, as well as an effort to boost productivity and satisfaction, making their workplace a much more satisfying and engaging environment for all involved.