Here at SME Digital, we all work remotely, meaning we have no central office or office space. In this post from 2014, Danielle shares some of the tools that we rely on to ensure we stay in touch, stay efficient, and operate at maximum capacity:
In my last post, I shared a few tips to help you set yourself up for success as a remote-worker. But, getting setup is just the beginning. It takes organization, simplification, and the help of several tools to stay efficient.
Here are the seven tools I rely on to be efficient, effective and to exceed expectations during any given workday:
Basecamp There is nothing more stressful than not having what you need, when you need it. Basecamp is a project management tool that helps you keep everything and everyone in one place. At SME Digital, the agency arm of Social Media Explorer, we use Basecamp for all client and internal projects. Having all communication, meeting notes, deliverables and files in one place, accessible to all internal team members and clients makes projects run smoothly. We also use the task feature that allows us to assign “to-dos” to specific people with a due date to serve as a reminder.
Accessible via computer or mobile, Basecamp is the best project management tool I’ve come across. It runs in the cloud on secure servers, so technical issues are few and far between (I’ve been on Basecamp for over a year and have not had an issue yet). There are tons of additional features I have not touched on in this brief summary, so be sure to check it out for yourself.
Boomerang This Gmail plug-in allows you to decide when to send and receive emails in Chrome, Firefox and Safari. This tool has become a lifeline, as I’m often drafting emails in the late evening hours. The ability to schedule emails to deploy at specified times keeps my communication within business hours so no one is disrupted during their personal time and also eliminates the chance of forgetting to actually send the message at a later time. Another cool feature is its ability to “boomerang” an incoming email, which schedules an incoming email to reappear at a later time, as determined by you. Depending on your work situation, your scheduled emails may stack up. At any time you can access a list of all scheduled messages and reschedule or cancel them.
DropBox A virtual company requires a reliable, easily accessible and secure server. SME Digital has found DropBox for Business to be exactly that. Its real-time syncing and accessibility from desktop, web, or mobile makes accessing files a breeze.
Join.Me No virtual company is complete without an online meeting and screen sharing solution. There are several services out there (including GoToMeeting and StartMeeting), but I have found Join.Me to be the most reliable in terms of connection. Most of our internal and client meetings at SME Digital take place via conference call and shared screens and we need a tool that can be easily shared with current and future clients that does not require any downloads or subscriptions. Join.Me is intuitive, simple, and my virtual meeting service of choice.
KanbanFlow Inspired by Toyota’s lean engineering process, Kanban (Japanese for “sign” or “visual board”) boards are a visual representation of project management. The Kanban system uses virtual sticky notes on a whiteboard to give you a visual overview of your current work situation. I love this tool because it gives me a simple way to stay organized, know exactly where I am on any project and sure beats a “To-Do” list. You can fly solo on this or connect with team members for further collaboration. The human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text, so take some strain off your brain and get visual.
Toggl Ditch the outdated timesheet and get on board with this simple time tracking tool. Whether by web, desktop widget or mobile app (Android or iOS), this digital solution offers one-click start and stop tracking in real-time, or manual entry, which keeps this daunting task from being a hassle. Toggl offers time breakdowns so you can see how your time is really spent. Tagging and flagging options help you organize specific projects and designate billable vs. non-billable time.
15five This feedback system plays a vital role in keeping the SME Digital team connected, offering a way to communicate any issues or problems, celebrate wins (both big and small), and get a pulse on the overall team morale. The idea of this tool is to keep all team members engaged and informed by providing every employee a brief digital form to fill out that should take no more than 15 minutes to complete. The form is then reviewed by his or her manager in five minutes or less. Our team is taking full advantage of this internal communication tool and we especially love the opportunity to share exciting happenings that may go unmentioned on weekly calls.
These are the tools that I find most helpful. What tools would you add to this list?