Remote Work Tools and Technology We Love Using in 2019

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Technology makes remote working possible, and great technology can shape remote work into a dream lifestyle. The right tools will help a remote team function as a well-oiled machine, while the wrong ones can lead to many headaches.

So what are the top remote work tools and technologies that real location independent workers prefer using?

We have a large group of 250+ remote workers in the Iglu community, which I polled to ask this very question. And here’s a list of remote working tools that were found to be the most popular.

Google Drive

cloud-storage

Google Drive was the single most popular technology chosen by Iglu’s International Employees for making life as a remote worker easier. And it’s pretty easy to see why—Google’s cloud storage system for documents just works really well.

Everybody who is anybody has a Google account already, so Drive is the easiest way to share documents with a distributed team. Collaboration on text documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and photo albums are all a piece of cake.

Dropbox is another cloud storage and file sharing solution to consider, although it didn’t see many favorable responses in our survey.

Email

remote-working-email

It shouldn’t really come a surprise that good old email came in tied for first in our survey. Sometimes a simple solution is the best, and you don’t need to go reinventing the wheel.

Email lends itself well to long form communication, such as when you need to describe a specific problem or solution in detailed steps. It’s often the best communication tool to use when you want to form a completed and coherent argument and double check your spelling and grammar before hitting “send”.

It’s the opposite of instant messaging platforms where your content is often spoiled by autocorrect typos and you get hit with a reply and followup question before you even completed stating your original train of thought.

Email can work really well for teams spread across many time zones too, because you generally are not expected to reply immediately to an email message. Depending on the situation, 12-48 hours could be a perfectly acceptable response time.

Slack

slack-app-remote-team-communication

Slack was a close second among the tools for working remotely that we love.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past 5 years, Slack is a messaging tool designed for team communication. Group chats are organized into channels that individual users can be invited to join. You can also set up direct messages as mini group chats with up to 8 other people.

All messages are searchable, and Slack integrates with other services such as Google Drive and Dropbox, making it easy to share any documents with other team members.

One aim of Slack is to keep work fun, with lots of playful emojis used throughout the platform. The clean, intuitive UI also makes it a pleasure to use.

slack-frequently-used-emojis

Although Slack has quickly become industry-leading tool for team communication, it does have its share of detractors. Slack can make working more enjoyable, but it can become a distraction that decreases productivity. From experience, I can say that I do my best programming when I completely ignore Slack for a stretch of several hours.

Whether you find yourself as a Slack lover or critic seems to depend on the size of your organization, the number of hats you wear, and how you implement Slack on your devices.

If you’ve got a relatively small team or you only participate in a handful of channels, then Slack can be quite manageable. I feel it also helps to disable desktop notifications and not install the mobile app. This gives you the power to check Slack for new messages on your own schedule, rather than having it interrupt your current task.

On the other hand, Slack can become a headache for those who have many responsibilities, work with a large team or teams, and generally try to use it as a medium for engaging in many simultaneous conversations.

One specific criticism is that Slack is asynchronish—neither truly asynchronous nor real-time. These users feel that the platform has turned their entire workday into one long meeting with no agenda and no clear idea of who is even participating.

company-meetings

For remote teams spread across multiple time zones, the synchronous side of Slack’s chat channels may also not be ideal. If the chat is a very active one, you may wake up to find you need to scroll back through hundreds of messages to follow the conversation your colleagues in Europe had while you were sleeping.

Despite the negatives, Slack is still the clear favorite team communication tool, making it fun and easy to carry on a conversation with team members who may be hundreds or even thousands of kilometers away.

Mattermost and Twist are two alternatives to Slack that you may want to explore. Mattermost is open-source and can be self-hosted.

Twist was specifically designed for use by remote teams with “asynchronous by default” as one of its design criteria. In the video below, Amir Salihefendic, CEO of Doist, the makers of Twist, gives a talk at the Running Remote Conference in Bali explaining the idea behind Twist and what makes it a good alternative to Slack.