Tools for Long-Distance Collaboration
I wrote last week that my ROAR team is spread all over the world, and it’s actually working out really well for us to collaborate long-distance. So I thought I’d share some of the tools we use to communicate and stay on the same page no matter what time zone we live in.
This is a no-brainer, but it’s what we use the most for communication, so I felt like it should top the list.
We have a weekly conference call with the entire ROAR team using this free online service. It even has the capability for recording the call for download and playback later as well, all for free. It will also give your international team members an in-country number to call to patch into the same conference call from a limited number of countries!
- Google Voice
Although a lot of people in the US have cell phone or landline plans that allow them to make unlimited long distance calls or texts, for those who don’t, Google Voice is a great free service for sending and receiving calls and texts. It also works internationally. My international team member can use her US-based Google Voice number to call and text the US from the internet for free, even though she lives on a different continent.
This is a great tool for storing and organizing data, but our favorite feature from it may be lesser-known. From the Evernote iPhone app, I can record a voice message that it will then email to my intended recipient. I love this feature because it is much faster than typing out an email, and I can do it safely while driving to take advantage of travel time. This is a great way to get explanations to somebody that would take too long to do over email, if we can’t coordinate a phone call right then.
This is like a private instant messaging network for your company. You can have chat rooms that are open to all or private to only the people you choose, or you can have just a 1-on-1 chat with a single person. If a person sends you a HipChat message when you aren’t signed in, it will just send it to your email to let you know. This is a really cool service, and one of the things we like the most about it is its iPhone app is really great. It’s not free, but the price is minimal and we think it’s worth it.
This is our major heavy-hitter when it comes to actual project management and collaboration. It is an amazing and superfast site for coordinating project details, to-do lists, files and data, and the people working on them all. There is a color-coded group calendar, plus the ability to track what gets done on your projects each day and by whom. Stellar stuff.
The same folks that made Basecamp also made the Highrise contact management software, which we also love. Through this software, our team is able to track who contacted whom, when, and what was the result. Plus, we can manage who needs to be contacted and by whom.
So with these collaborative tools, it doesn’t matter that my team doesn’t live near each other, and half of them have never even met! We’re able to work well and function smoothly with the help of these amazing tools.
I hope this helps anybody out there looking for a way to get a team off the ground! Please let me know if you have any questions or something I didn’t cover.