5 Fresh and Useful New Tools for Working Remotely in a Distributed Team

Hannah
October 27, 2020 ·
7 min read
How-to
Inspiration

Recent events have transpired that has led to much of the world now working remotely. As part of that, teams are now more distributed than ever, often across time zones. Of course, there are software tools that have risen to prominence in people’s minds because of these changes to the way we work, but by now pretty much everyone knows the benefits of Zoom, Slack, Asana and Todoist, for example.

That’s why it’s good to take a look at some lesser-known tools that could be equally as beneficial to teams who find themselves collaborating remotely. Working as part of a distributed team can be a challenge, but these fresh and useful tools can definitely help. We have tested them and know.

World Time Buddy: for managing team members in different parts of the world

Distributed teams quite often span different time zones. For example, you can have team members in the US, team members in Europe, and team members in Asia. One of the biggest challenges your team faces is that of time. And more specifically, what time is it for whom?

Sometimes you need to schedule a call across time zones, and this can be easier said than done when you have to manually check the physical time in each location.

Word Time Buddy is an app in which you can add the locations of all your team members. You then get an incredibly convenient timeline display with all of those relevant locations and the working hours of all your team members displayed along that line. 

With this kind of information stacked up in a practical way, it’s now significantly easier to select a time which suits everyone, or just to even check when someone will begin or end work.

Often the best tools in life are the simple ones. This simple tool has revolutionized the ease with which our team could plan simple collaborative efforts.

Toggl: for easy-to-use task management

Of course there are loads of time-management tools out there on the market, and most people will by now know the benefits (and disadvantages) of the likes of Jira or Asana. But at the same time, these well-known tools don’t work for everyone, and can often be overly complex. 

Toggl is a task management tool that operates adeptly as a time tracker, allowing you to effectively allocate time to solving different problems and then seeing your schedule adapted depending on the real amount of time it took to do something. Just because you allocated that amount of time, it doesn’t mean that’s how long it took, of course.

Toggl is great for making plans, but it’s even better for adapting them, something that every worker knows can be really hard to do.

Linguix Business: for improving the quality of team communications in English

Distributed teams may face language barriers. So, while English may be the choice in terms of the language you conduct business in, it doesn’t mean that every team member will have the same capability, or will in fact speak the same English.

Linguix’s extension for web browsers (as covered by Product Hunt) allows the checking and correction of all manner of typos and grammatical mistakes. It’s an excellent tool, but there is also a corporate version that is fantastic for assisting distributed teams.

Just think of some of the challenges that may arise from a distributed team producing content. Not only will there be those differences in English ability (and even dialect), but there will be differences in the voice and style of how those members write. As a business, you need consistency.

That’s what Linguix Business can provide, allowing the setting of writing style parameters that can be sued to ascertain the overall quality and suitability of content produced by team members. A comprehensive array of statistics also allows you to track readability scores and generally understand the consistency and productivity of the team in terms of its writing.

Krisp: for removing background noise from online conferences

Krisp calls itself a ‘noise-canceling app’. And for anyone that has been on a work video conference call in the last six months or so, you can immediately identify how useful something like that can be. With many people on the same call, and potentially kids and other family members in the background, unwanted noises can very easily creep in that negatively affect the quality and efficiency of that call. 

Krisp is compatible with all the most popular conference call apps such as Zoom and Skype, making it much easier for distributed remote teams to have proper conversations that are free from unwanted interruptions.

Chimp or Champ: for collecting employee feedback anonymously

Immediately you arrive on the Chimp or Champ homepage you are faced with an incredibly relevant question: Do you know how happy your team feels this week?

If we are honest, most of us will realize that we don’t really know the answer to this question. Or at least we don’t know as well or as often as we could. That’s because one of the greatest challenges of a distributed team is collecting and distributing employee feedback. And this is vitally important for solving issues and generally contributing to the productivity and happiness of the team. 

Chimp or Champ also calls itself an employee happiness meter. By sending out an anonymous survey every week, and then collecting and collating the results, you can instantly see how your team is feeling as a collective, and react accordingly. Of course, this will not solve the problem as to why your team is unhappy, if it is, but by actually actively collecting feedback you are showing your team that their happiness is important to you. You will need to be proactive too, but Chimp or Champ provides the relevant stats to show you how your implementations are working. 

The workplace is evolving faster than ever before. Tools such as these are really helping our distributed team. What tools are helping yours?

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