In this second paper of our “Stoomlink’s Practical Guide to Remote Work” series, we open up our toolbox and share our latest discoveries to make remote collaboration smooth and happy. From our daily life at our (virtual) office to advanced knowledge and project management software, we’ve got your back!
Keeping a happy and connected team life is probably the biggest concern when thinking about a going fully remote. Cultivating a remote-abled team life is mostly a matter of culture (see our next paper covering that topic). However, some tools can help along the way closing the gap with your dear colleagues.
- Slack — The famous internal instant messaging app is considered our office at Stoomlink. Slack is organized around communication channels with defined objectives and members. It is then well-suited for both professional tals and less formal ones (hello #random 👋🏻👋🏻)
💡Pro Tips: the key to a proficient Slack is to organize your channels properly. At Stoomlink we have a well-defined nomenclature for that (#c- for client-related stuffs, #d- for devs …).
- Google Hangouts — Hangouts is the video conference solution of Google. It allows you to quickly set up a meeting and offers everything you can expect from a light video conferencing solution. One good point is that no app is required to join, which makes it easy with external stakeholders.
- Friday Pulse — One key ritual at Stoomlink is the “personal weather”, happening once a week at the beginning of our WeeklyBrief. This is the time where everyone expresses how they feel and what their mood is. Friday Pulse does exactly that, sending out an anonymous short survey once a week to assess your team’s overall mood and energy.Some great alternatives:
- BaseCamp — An all-in-one messaging and collaborative platform organized around teams and projects rather than channels.
- Microsoft Teams — Microsoft has made some huge progress in integrating an internal messaging tool with collaboration capacities. Worth the pick for Microsoft-centered companies!
- Zoom — The famous video conferencing solution is still ahead in terms of advanced features (automatic split in smaller groups, advanced hosting capacities …).
Knowledge Management & Collaboration
A happy team is of the utmost importance, but remote work comes also with some challenges in terms of effective collaboration. Once again, a culture of transparency and openness is key (more on that in our next paper) but some good tools will help smoothen the process.
- Google Drive — Google Drive is our online storage and collaboration tool suite. While our culture is towards transparency, GDrive allows for precise role access management and comes with powerful online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
💡Pro Tips: Google FileStream allows you to seamlessly backup your files and folders with your desktop, allowing you to collaborate with external tools as well (Keynote, …).
- GitBook — GitBook is our knowledge management platform, where we store all our procedures and key documents. GitBook allows anyone to suggest edits and offers very handy search capabilities.
- Todoist — Todoist is a collaborative to do list with advanced capacities in terms of task organization (per project, with labels, per due date …). We use it for smaller task assignments and management within business units.
Some great alternatives:
- Dropbox — Originally a cloud storage, Dropbox has evolved with collaboration capacities in recent years. And now offers the full features Google Drive does.
- Slite — Slite is a collaborative knowledge management base, suited for teams of any sizes.
- Trello — The famous kanban board tool (to do, doing, done) is still a great alternative for organizing day-to-day tasks amongst teams.
Project & Product Management
One often hears that creativity workshops and brainstorming are definitely best organized in-person, as they require the full and active participation of all. At Stoomlink, these used to be the last meeting we would allow ourselves for that exact reason. Until we met Miro.
- Miro — Miro is an online whiteboard. Period. Which means you can do whatever you would dream of doing with a whiteboard: draw, stick post-its, erase, redraw, … The possibilities are infinite and Miro comes with a LOT of templates to make your life easier.
💡 Pro Tips: You better prepare your creative session in advance the exact same way you would do for an in-person session. The good point is that you’ll be able to reuse your prep work for any subsequent workshop.
- ZenHub — There are hundreds of kanban board tools out there (see Trello above). We chose ZenHub because it is tightly integrated with GitHub, our codebase tool but it offers everything you would expect from a proper kanban: roadmap overview, hierarchy of information, timing estimates …
- Airtable — Think of Airtable as a kind of Excel on steroids. You can organize and link datas easily thanks to its drag-and-drop user interface to ultimately build a CRM, a basic ERP …
Some great alternatives:
- Mural — Mural is a direct alternative to Miro offering the same feature set.
- Monday.com — A widely used project management tool, best suited for less technical teams.
Bonus: our team members’ favourites
- Spark Mail — Most intuitive email client with nice perks as smart inbox and easy swiping.
- 1Password — A well-integrated credentials manager, to ensure accesses are shared among your employees.
- Command E — The fastest way to navigate your workspace.
- Coolblue — Efficient remote is also about getting the right pieces of hardware. Coolblue can help. Fast.
- DeepL — An efficient translator to ensure whatever you say is contextualised and readable.
- Proxideal — Because sometimes a good lunch is exactly what you need to keep your productivity high.
- Grammarly — Not all of use are born Shakespeare, luckily help is available.
- Pocket — When you find something you want to view later.