The Perfect Toolbox for Remote Teams During Time of Uncertainty — and for the Future

We are living through a worldwide crisis.

While not all countries are impacted equally – Thank God – everyone should be ahead of that scary hockey stick curve and take precautions. One of the recommendations made by governments around the world is social distancing and that may include sending back home everyone who can work from home.

Some companies already have a very solid setup for remote work, but there are a large number of companies who hardly know where to begin. They may even be scared to take that leap because they know they don’t have a proper setup.

At Botpress, we are not a remote-first company, but we do have a few team members overseas and across the country. Overtime, we’ve chosen a basic set of tools allowing us to work efficiently regardless of our geographical location. It’s obviously not perfect and it’s going to change as the team grows.

I believe starting small is the way to go. Keep in mind that the more complicated is your stack the less productive it becomes for the company. Your team will start wondering what to use and when to use it.

Let me walk you through the categories of tools you would need regardless of your size.

Instant Communications

This is the very first and obvious place to start.

In 2020, most organizations have a messaging app for communications. Instead of cluttering the inbox of your colleague, you send an instant message.

Some will argue that it is not better to receive a bunch of notifications and it can be true if you use the default settings.

However, you could take the time to customize your setup and avoid receiving notifications at any moment.

Slack, Microsoft Team & Telegram all have settings allowing you to manage your notifications.The bottom line is that it creates a platform where the whole company can exchange information asynchronously and organize group chat around your organization’s projects.

Instant messaging allows team members to communicate instantly with each other, but still decide to wait until they finish their task or meeting to answer a colleague. You usually get a much faster response than email.

Team Productivity

Communication is one very important thing, but sometimes it’s not enough to manage complicated projects.

You might want to use something to track the different initiatives you have going on and what are the actions that need to take place to reach your final destination.

Depending on the kind of project, you might want to use something like Jira or Asana, but you could also use something simpler like Trello.

A productivity tool can be unproductive if you don’t set a structure around it. Regardless of the tool you pick, you need to be thorough in the way you use it. A few simple rules can go a long way.

Here three that we use:

  1. Always assign yourself the task you are working on. It sounds very trivial, but sometimes you forget and you end up having two people working the same task. It also makes it more difficult to know if someone is taking care of tasks flagged as priorities.
  2. Use sub-task to the fullest. Breaking down your tasks in smaller bites is a well-known tactic for managing work. It makes it easier to see the path to accomplishing a goal.
  3. Make sure you leave a note on your progress regularly to allow people to get context if they need to pick up your tasks.

Motivation & video-conferencing

Do a lot of video-conferencing.

There can’t be too many to help your team stay motivated. You can have all the tools in the world, but if your team loses momentum because they lack social interactions you are doomed.

Google Meet, Whereby and Zoom can all be used for free. Some of them have a limit to their free tiers, but it can still do the work for a while depending on the size of your team.

Having regular conversations face to face can help your team keep their motivation while they are working from home. Working remotely doesn’t have to rhyme with solitude.

BONUS: How chatbots can help?

We are a conversational AI platform so you can’t be surprised that we even talk about this. I mean we are doing what we are doing because we believe it can help.

Chatbots with employee-facing applications are without a shadow of a doubt of great help with remote teams. They don’t sleep, they don’t eat so they are always available to answer questions.

When you are in the office, you can tap the shoulder of your veteran colleague and ask a question. When you are not in the office, and everyone else is busy doing their thing, you still need an answer to some of your questions.

The first step of any chatbot is automating FAQs.

“How can I do this or that?”

“Where can I find that information?”

Building that knowledge base can be helpful when you are in the office, but it’s even more useful when you are not.

Closing Statement

If the situation we are going through right now is teaching us anything, it is that we need to be resilient. Not being dependent on a physical location to be productive can help your organization being more resilient.

To do that, you need to put in place a culture to support it and the tools to empower it.

The amount of knowledge that needs to be stored and shared inside organizations is stunning and that task falls in the hand of the humans who could use their energy and brain power to do something a lot more productive than answering documented questions.