• Ben E

Our Top Tools for Running a Remote Team

Updated: Apr 17, 2020

Roughly a year ago I left my agency job to venture out and build Videoprawn.

One of the key criteria I had for the business was to make sure that whatever happened, it could be run from anywhere in the world - so I knew I needed to build a distributed team to do this.

Needless to say, I’ve learned a few things about running a remote workforce along the way and have gathered a few handy tricks and tools to help keep things running smoothly and efficiently, while striving to build and maintain personal relationships between team members.

Now that much of the world is being forced to work remotely, I think it’s a good time to share some of my favourite remote working tidbits in the hope they might offer some help in these turbulent times.

Use Wipster for Creative Feedback

Videoprawn is an unlimited video editing service, so it goes without saying that we deal with a lot of video revisions and feedback. We use a variety of methods to ensure the process runs quickly and seamlessly, but one of the key tools we use for this is Wipster.

The software allows us as a distributed team to instantly connect with clients and get their feedback in the simplest possible way. Clients just click on any area, on any timecode of the video and drop in their comments where needed.

Any of their team with the review link can join in, allowing all stakeholders to put all their feedback in alongside each other - it’s a massive time-saver.

There are other alternatives like, but so far in our experience, Wipster is the most robust and reliable product we’ve found.

Project Management with Asana

A big part of our internal operations revolves around the need for really effective project management tools. The past year has seen us tinkering with and testing out a variety of solutions - everything from Trello to Monday.

We’ve finally settled on Asana as the tool for keeping track of all briefs and revisions. The UI makes it incredibly easy for all team members to know exactly the status of each job in their queue, as we all keep track of all feedback.

There are a number of handy tricks you can do with Zapier integrations which allow Asana to link up with other programs for automating tasks.

For example, we integrate Google sheets with Asana to supply our clients with a live dashboard of all jobs in their queue - both past and present - alongside their latest Wipster review links.

Slack for Communication

I think by now most people know of Slack as one of the best ways to instantaneously communicate with team members, wherever in the world they happen to be.

I recently put together a short blog covering the best tools and add-ons available for Slack, which goes into a bit more depth about how Slack can be used for a variety of different tasks.

As with any tool there are a few drawbacks with Slack - for example the video call function not being available on its mobile app is a nuisance, but overall even on the free plan Slack is about the most feature-rich and powerful instant messenger for professional teams.

Google File Stream for Live Collaboration

We regularly require our editors to collaborate on the same project files, meaning that we need the latest versions to be accessible constantly by any member of the team.

Using Google File Stream (which is essentially an enterprise version of Google Drive), we’re able to have the editors save all work on the Google shared drive, rather than saving anything locally.

This means even if the editor is unavailable for whatever reason, another member of the team can jump in and pick up where they left off.

The entire Google Suite is fantastic for collaborative working, especially on documents, spreadsheets and presentations which require multiple different team members working simultaneously with live changes.

Team Building Using Online Games

One of the key challenges for remote working is building and maintaining a meaningful social culture, and fostering intrateam relationships.

However, thanks to the various products that exist, there are any number of ways to keep things social, even within a distributed team.

It goes without saying that regular team video calls are essential, and thanks to Zoom this can be achieved in a number of fun ways. But there are some other interactive ways to build team culture and relationships.

One of these is to host group gaming sessions. These can take place using Twitch and Discord, where you can stream an online gaming session (via Twitch) for all the team to see, while everyone can voice chat over Discord - even those not actively participating in the game itself.

This is a fantastic way to virtually bond and team-build from anywhere in the world, while having tournaments between different groups in the team as others spectate.

Social Video Hangouts for Fun

Sometimes it’s good to just chat, regardless of the topic.

Putting time aside each week for group social calls allows everyone to grab a drink and have a lighthearted conversation - it’s a great chance for everyone to get to know each other better, and keep up with what’s going on in each others’ lives.

In fact, during these calls, you may well find that enlightening ideas or suggestions arise which might not be brought up in more formal one-on-ones and team calls, so they are well worth doing regularly.

Pro-tip: Fancy dress themes are always a good laugh.

The New Normal

After the coronavirus passes and the world returns to relative normality, I wouldn’t be surprised if many more organisations turn to remote working as a new form of normal.

I expect there to be an increase in flexibility for working from home now that we all know that everything can still function pretty well without the need to all be in the same geographical space.

In fact, in a Chinese study it was found that workers were on average 13% more productive when allowed to work from home than those stuck in the office.

When more businesses cotton onto the fact that they could have a happier, more productive workforce for a lower cost of employment, I would hope things might change.

And while most organisations might not be ready quite yet to completely overhaul their ways of operating, the bottom line is that not only is remote working clearly viable, it may actually be preferable in a lot of cases.

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