Communicating and collaborating can be challenging when you have a virtual team. Having the right tools in place will allow your team to work together, be productive and to establish and build relationships. Here we share with you what tools we use at Mad Media and why we love them.
This baby is our main team collaboration tool. It's a real-time messaging, and archiving tool that we've just adopted in the last six weeks. "We spend 47% of our time just reading, answering and searching email to gather what we need to do real work." (Slack team) It really does make a difference for us to be able to group chat live and not have to struggle with juggling those email threads. We love that Slack is searchable, including people, conversations and files. Everything we do on our desktop app is reflected on the iOS and Andriod apps, so everything is in sync. Plus, since all data transfer is encrypted on the desktop or the phone, we make good use of the simplicity of file sharing though the tool as well. Just drag and drop files, and we get immediate feedback and discussion from each other through comments. Seeing the importance in keeping this communication open and frequent, we recently ran fun little contest--I won my own pair of Slack socks for being the most active "Slacker" last week. The other thing our team loves about Slack is that is integrates with a large number of third-party services such as Google Drive, which leads me to our next major tool...
As a virtual company, cloud storage is the only way to go and there are many options for online file storage out there. For us: it was Google Drive for the win. There are three things you need to consider with cloud storage: what is the cost, how much you can store and which features/limitations come along with it. Since there are no restrictions on file types or sizes with Google Drive, that immediately trumps most popular services. File sharing is so easy between team members using our @gmail.com email addresses, however we can also share with users who do not have a google account by generating a secret URL for the file which we can then share by email with clients as well. Being able to create and edit documents online while connecting in real-time with other users is great! No more emailing updated spreadsheets over and over ending up with multiple versions of the same document.
In a virtual agency, sometimes you gotta get face to face, even if you are oceans away. Until Slack gets video integration (which we've heard rumours about--hint hint, nudge, nudge Slack team) we use Skype to connect. We encourage our team to get on video calls as often as they can as they do wonders for avoiding communication breakdown. Sometimes things can get accomplished so much quicker with the tone, body language and speed that come with this type of call. Plus, because we don't get to work with each other in an office everyday, jumping on a Skype call makes our "virtual office" feel less lonely and more like we're all just a cubicle away. Another plus with Skype: it's FREE! (Budget friendly for startups like us.)
We needed a great web conferencing tool that would allow us to connect with clients, conduct team training, share ideas and soon, run webinars. When we came across GoToMeeting, we found exactly what we needed, with HD video and reliable audio. Being able to connect with our clients in real time and having the ability to share applications is just the start of why we love GoToMeeting. Having the ability to give access to your keyboard and mouse makes training calls no different then if we were sitting next to each other and sharing presentations and anything else on your screen is the perfect set-up for walking clients through project updates. Meetings are easy to set up, easy to start and overall this tool is all around easy to use.