In line with social-distancing measures for preventing the global spread of COVID-19, governments around the world are encouraging companies to let employees work from home wherever possible.
Companies must get to grips with using digital tools to stay connected – and fast.
Sharing documents, holding meetings, and collaborating on ideas will need to go digital if companies want to adapt to new socially-distant ways of working.
Having reliable, adaptable and useful means of digital communication is key for any company that wants to stay agile and competitive.
For businesses, there are lots of pieces of software which make having remote teams a whole lot simpler.
Not sure which ones are right for your team? Read on to explore the key features of our top three favourite platforms for remote working.
Google Hangouts is a free, video conference tool which allows you to hold team and one to one meetings remotely.
In typical Google style, it’s nice to look at and easy-to-use, and can support up to 250 users in a video meeting.
At the bottom of every call screen is a ‘Present’ button which lets you share your screen or a chosen window as well as your webcam, replicating real-life presenting pretty nicely.
Aside from simple voice and video calls, Hangouts boasts an auto-generated closed caption feature.
This means you’ll see subtitles for whoever is speaking in real-time – ideal if you’re tuning in from a loud location or you’re struggling to understand the person talking.
Plus, if you’re company already uses Gmail or Google Calendar, Google Hangouts will slip seamlessly into your existing comms, as Google products are designed to work together.
For example, when you invite someone to a meeting on Google Calendar, it will automatically create a Hangout link.
Google will even attach a phone number to the meeting which anyone can call to join the meeting from a phone – perfect for remote workers on the move.
Similarly, Zoom is a free video conferencing tool.
It supports up to 100 users in a call for free, and up to 500 users with their ‘Large meeting’ paid for add-on.
With HD video calls and audio meetings via Zoom Phone, the software can support up to 49 videos on your screen at one time. Perfect for seeing friendly faces at all-hands meetings and lessening the more isolating aspects of working alone.
On Zoom, whoever sets up the call (the presenter) has ultimate control. This means they’re able to mute microphones and control other users’ ability to present or screen share.
Zoom still encourages interaction between the presenter and other users through features like virtual hand-raising, screen-sharing, and group chat – so everyone can get stuck in and involved when they wish.
The different subscription tiers allow you to buy longer calling times (meeting with 3+ participants automatically end at 40 minutes with the free version), as well as change user settings, manage reporting, control customisation and record meetings.
Tandem is a self-described ‘virtual office for remote teams’. This app works to facilitate and encourage the casual conversations and collaboration that happens naturally in the office.
Tandem hooks into all of your workplace communication tools (they’re integrated with over 40 apps) and lets you see what your team members are working on, speak to colleagues almost instantly and collaborate on work projects.
The Tandem homepage displays each team members’ name beside the app which they’re using in real-time.
This is ideal for looping in on work with team members and collaborating if you see someone working on a shared project.
The beauty of tandem is that it replicates real office life.
Where in your office you might walk over to someone’s desk to ask them a question, on Tandem you can similarly speak to get someone’s attention without having to call them.
The person you speak to will hear what you say through their computer audio or headphones and can choose to unmute their microphone to respond.
As well as private 1-to-1 chats, you can also create voice chat rooms which are designed to replicate working at a shared desk space.
The video or voice chat stays open in the background as you work so you can keep conversations going with your team all day if you fancy.
With plenty of free and affordable platforms to choose from, keeping teams in sync, working together and socialising has never been easier – even at this time of social distancing.
If you’d like a more in-depth guide to remote working, join the Institute of Coding and University of Leeds’ program on Collaboration, Communication and Remote Working. You’ll learn practical online project planning and collaboration tools and get tips on effectively communicate with your colleagues, no matter where you are in the world.