Virtual teams wouldn’t exist, if not for advances in technology. It’d be pretty difficult to work remotely by communicating with carrier pigeons! While technology empowers teams to work together more effectively, it also provides its own challenges. One of the more pressing questions may be, out of the hundreds of available cloud-based applications and tools, which should you use?
Read on to learn about cloud-based technology tools that growing businesses (and the teams who make them work) are using to collaborate with file sharing, messaging, project management and video and web conferencing.
Google Drive, Dropbox and Evernote are popular cloud-based tools for file storage and sharing:
- Google Drive is a free and powerful tool with the capability to create native files such as Google docs and spreadsheets. Business owners or entrepreneurs and their teams can view and collaborate while editing in real time.
- Dropbox’s features are just as powerful. While Dropbox does not allow file creation and editing like Google Drive, it is an easy and secure way to share files with a client or customer.
- Evernote does let you quickly and easily share any of your notebooks with other people, but it is primarily focused on collaboration and organizing notes.
Slack and HipChat are popular messaging tools that winning teams use to communicate across the cloud. For remote teams, Slack can serve as a virtual office. It can be used to brainstorm ideas, ask questions, share files and compare notes. Though not as widely used, HipChat was developed before Slack. It combines Group Chat and Instant Messaging to give teams a central place for communication with video calling and file sharing.
Any business owner or entrepreneur will appreciates Asana, Basecamp and Trello as budget-friendly, but feature-packed project management tools which can help keep teams on track.
- Asana is a powerful and user-friendly management tool for remote teams. Even at the limited free package, Asana comes with key project management functions with additional capabilities for assigning tasks and general team conversation spaces.
- Basecamp is a powerful project management tool, but has some limitations when it comes to tracking. Its greatest value is in organizing conversations around projects, which can make it a central place for project oriented dialog.
- If you are into Agile practices, you will appreciate Trello’s Kanban style layout with many boards and lists of cards that can represent a specific task or small project. Teams use it to track to-dos and manage projects or day-to-day work.
Video and Web Conferencing
GoToMeeting, Hangouts (Google), Join.me and UberConference are tools many people use for video and web conferencing. Similar to Skype, Google Hangouts is primarily used for video and web conferencing. Join.me works best for team who need to securely share screens with other team members or even clients. GoToMeeting and UberConference are known for superior web conferencing; Though GoToMeeting offers additional features — such as video conferencing and screen sharing.
It can be overwhelming to think about all the technology tools and features available to support your growing business. Because there are so many nuances to consider, it may be wise to try them out in a smaller trial period before committing the entire team.
Even with a list of the more popular tools, you may find some more user-friendly than others. You might also consider using tools that integrate with your strategic partners. Be sure to reach out to your IT Professional for help determining which best suit your needs.
How can flexible workplaces and virtual teams give you a competitive edge? In our Flexible @ Work series, we discuss the tenants of flexibility: What it is, why it’s important, how you can determine if your team or company is flexible and if not — what you can do to get there.