We were curious about how companies that have a telecommuting workforce communicated with each other. Were the effective communication tools that stood out as a common denominator among telecommuting workforces? To learn more, Remote.co posed this question, “What are the most effective tools for remote team communication?” and many company representatives responded.
Here’s what FlexJobs, InVisionApp, and Appen had to say about using effective communication tools:
What FlexJobs uses as effective communication tools:
“We have a few different platforms and standards for communication at FlexJobs. First off, each team has weekly meetings to discuss progress on various projects and what things are happening in other areas that might impact them. Also, managers have regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings with their direct reports to find out how they’re doing and what they need to be more successful.
In terms of platforms, we use Sococo as our virtual office environment. I can’t say enough about how great this has been for us. With person-to-person and group chats, as well as the ability to talk or have a video call with people, has allowed for more natural and impromptu conversations.
We also use Yammer as a knowledge database and a virtual water cooler of sorts. We ask questions designed to spark conversation. We post facts that team members share with us, allowing people to get to know more about one another and find common ground. We also have different interest groups like a Pet Corner and a No Guilt Book Club for people to bond over. Finally, we celebrate things like work anniversaries, birthdays, new babies, and personal accomplishments there. It’s a great resource for keeping people connected.”
Here’s what InVisionApp said:
“Everyone’s on Slack, and we have a lot of channels set up, both work related and just for fun. There’s a channel for just about everything, so if you’re interested in chatting with coworkers about what you’re cooking for dinner, your new workout program, or even just sharing cute animal videos, there’s a place for you to do that.
On a professional level, Slack makes it easy for everyone to keep in close contact. If an issue arises, it’s easy to call everyone’s attention to it and solve the problem right there. And everybody’s always really receptive to receiving direct messages if you need a question answered.
We also use Google Hangouts for video meetings and daily team standups.”
How does Appen communicate?
“We’re Skype addicts. Everyone across the company is on Skype at all times during the work day. In addition to instant communication, we also maintain a digital company newsletter that is open to all employees. It has greatly helped to share news and foster a stronger relationship across all departments, be they remote or in-office.”
Remote.co has compiled a list of effective communication tools mentioned most frequently by those surveyed. Here are seven communication tools useful for a telecommuting workforce:
Sococo is an online workplace where you can work side-by-side with your colleagues each day in a virtual environment. Each person on your team is assigned a “bobble head” that becomes your Sococo image that you use to pop in and out of offices within your virtual Sococo environment. Setting up your workplace in Sococo means you can have separate virtual offices and connect with colleagues as though you’re physically in the same location. Need to speak with your supervisor? Just knock on her Sococo door and have a chat. At FlexJobs, Sococo is used for individual offices, group offices, and team meetings.
In a way, Yammer is like Facebook for the workplace. In Yammer, you can create different channels or pages, such as a page to share photos of your children, and invite your coworkers to share. This type of communication with your colleagues offers a more personal approach to bonding. The pages you set up can be work related, too. Work-related pages allow coworkers to post a question or request, which allows other colleagues to respond with their advice or tips. At FlexJobs, Yammer is used to celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries, share photos of children or pets, start a book discussion, share healthy living tips, and much more.
HipChat is a web service for internal private online chat and instant messaging, making it ideal for a telecommuting workforce. In addition to one-on-one and group or topic chat, Hipchat also features cloud-based file storage, searchable message history, video calling, and inline-image viewing. Each Hipchat user can customize their profile and settings, making the program user friendly.
Slack is a cloud-based program that offers team collaboration and communication tools and services. Slack stands for “searchable log of all conversation and knowledge.” Users of Slack can chat in designated chat rooms, in private groups, or through direct messaging. Slack can be integrated with 150 other programs, such as Sococo, to offer a more layered approach for communication.
Google Hangouts is a communication platform developed by Google that includes instant messaging, video chat, VOIP features, and other options. Using Google Hangouts means you can schedule meetings that will appear on Google Calendar and conduct video conference calls to get your work done more effectively and stay in contact with your remote team more readily.
Skype offers a video calling option that allows you to speak directly to another person in nearly any other country using video technology. With Skype you can share a story, learn a language, hold a meeting, work with colleagues, or use for just about any other reason you might need for work connections during the day. Skype can be used on your phone, computer, or a Skype-enabled television. Skype is now a part of Microsoft.
Dropbox offers cloud-based storage for file hosting, file synchronization, personal cloud, and client software. Dropbox isn’t a direct communication program, but it allows you to share documents with your remote colleagues or to access documents while you’re on the road. Files can be gathered in a central cloud-based location and file updates are synced to all your electronic devices.
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