I recently wrote an article advocating the benefits of working remote. In that article, I evangelized the use of good communication tools. However, even though I named a few, I didn’t really go into detail about what they do and why your company should use them.
So, here’s a list of 5 tools to make working remote easier. Whether you’re a remote worker yourself or an employer looking to allow telecommuting, the following solutions will help smooth out any communication worries.
A high-quality web conferencing service with video and audio options, Zoom can host up to 500 participants in one virtual conference room and offers screen-sharing and remote control. The service can also record your meetings and upload copies to the cloud, along with a slew of other really cool features. There’s a reason Zoom consistently ranks among the best video-conferencing software. As an added bonus, the pricing plans aren’t half bad.
My partner works fully remote, and his company uses Zoom. He has never said a single bad thing about the quality of the service – it’s always been flawless audio and video. He uses the screen-sharing function a lot to present new code / apps to the rest of the team. Zoom comes highly recommended for all your video conferencing needs.
My company currently uses Google Hangouts for all our messaging needs, but with Hangouts end-of-lifing in October 2019, we’ll be looking at other options. At the top of the list is Slack.
I have personally been using Slack for a little over a year for a couple communities I’ve joined, and it’s amazing. The UI is simple to understand – even non-tech people can figure out how to use it rather easily, since it’s so intuitive.
Your company can create an unlimited amount of rooms, in addition to one-on-one chats. You can also integrate a ton of apps into Slack. For example, one of my partner’s previous companies had a chatbot that allowed developers to deploy code to different environments right from the channel. I’ve also seen him do cool integrations for Gatling reports, alerting, etc. Slack is super versatile when it comes to integrations.
The basic version is free, and it’s not half bad. Depending on your company’s needs, you might not even need to get a paid version. In fact, the only feature I wish our free Slack had is full archiving. The free plan ‘only’ saves 10,000 messages, while the paid versions log everything. That’s a bummer, but it’s free, so I have no right to complain.
GitHub ushered in a sweeping change in how software is developed. It’s probably the biggest contributor to why Git replaced SVN as the dominant source control system.
GitHub provides hooks for continuous integration/deployment systems so that tests and deployments can be automatically performed as code is committed. Unlimited private repos are nice, and the pull requests are really well done. The ability to link to specific lines on any file is awesome (example), and the new project boards are great.
Depending on your company’s needs, you might be able to get away with the free plan. Otherwise, it’s not very expensive. We’re talking $9 per user for the Teams version. It’s more for Enterprise, but if you’re at the stage of needing that, you can probably afford it.
Confluence is a content collaboration tool that integrates into other software. It makes it easier to track changes to documents and projects between revisions, which is great for working remote. And there’s an app for it. Price points are pretty good for both small and large companies.
Inexpensive, and makes it super easy to share secret keys and documents securely. And when I say inexpensive, I mean it. The Teams plan only costs $3.99 per user. Worth it if your business involves sharing secrets, sensitive info, passwords, etc. Each user on the Teams plan gets 1 GB of storage, which is probably all you’ll need.