Beyond Zoom and Slack: Other collaboration tools that will help keep your teams aligned
Additional tools to keep your teams engaged and productive while working remotely
As a small business, we’re in the midst of an increasingly challenging working environment with teams completely dispersed and working remotely. We’ve recognized the first step in keeping teams productive is to make sure everyone is connected. From Zoom to Slack, there are a number of communication tools out there to bring employees together and give them a tool to maintain contact. But then what?
It’s important to think beyond just basic communication and look for ways to keep employees motivated, engaged, and productive throughout this disruptive time. At Koan, we’ve discovered that it takes multiple tools to keep all employees engaged in a remote setting, and we’ve compiled a list of collaboration, communication, and productivity tools that help us stay aligned.
Slack is the lifeblood of our team, keeping us constantly connected and working together in real-time. It’s how we regularly check-in with one another, provide real-time updates, and share accomplishments along the way.
Web Conferencing: Zoom
Zoom is where our teams spend most of our video-conferencing face-to-face time. For one-on-ones with managers to team meetings, Zoom allows us to have conversational interactions with one another, beyond typing through a keyboard. We’ve also started using Zoom as our “social interactions,” by hosting virtual happy hours, trivia nights, and simply just “hanging out” while we work.
Collaboration: Icebreaker Video
Icebreaker is an online event platform that connects everyone at your company — even while working remotely. We've been using Icebreaker for our monthly DE&I sessions to help us have meaningful conversation in a structure way.
One of the things we miss most about working together in an office is the ability to collaboratively brainstorm and whiteboard our ideas. As a remote team, we’ve relied on Mural, a digital workspace for visual collaboration.
Figma allows our team to design, prototype, and gather feedback all in one place, including the ability to see changes in real-time. Our product team uses this tool to mock-up designs for our application, marketing uses this tool to create collateral for the website, and we also use Figma to collaborate with external consultants and designers.
Document Creation: Google Docs
The primary benefit of creating documents in Google Docs is the facilitation of collaboration. Now we can make sure we have the most up-to-date version of a document, collaborate asynchronously, and quickly communicate directly within the document in real-time.
Wiki documentation: Notion
Notion has become the defacto wiki and tracker for our team. Final documentation, resources, and information can all be found in an easily organized, central place for anyone to find. Some examples include tracking our product roadmap, documenting engineering priorities, and maintaining the marketing content calendar.
Project Management: Trello and Jira
For some of the more cumbersome tasks, we use Trello to manage projects and assign tasks. It’s an easy way to monitor progress and track status. In addition, our engineering team uses Jira to plan, track, and manage our software development projects and key updates to the platform.
One of the challenges of having remote teams is scheduling convenient times for virtual meetings and chats. Calendly eliminates the back-and-forth often associated with scheduling. We also use Calendly to manage external meetings, including demos, prospecting calls, and customer success updates. It’s an easy way to show availability among team members and allow others to request an appointment at a suitable time.
OKRs and Status: Koan
Finally (and obviously), we use Koan to track and manage our OKRs for the entire company. At the end of each week, we provide a weekly update (a “Reflection”) related to our strategic goals, about the key accomplishments from the week prior, priorities for the upcoming week, and identify any blockers or anticipated problem areas. We also use Koan Check-ins every day through Slack so that the team knows priorities and what’s blocking progress. We’ve found that this regular habit of communication keeps our team aligned and on track to push towards achieving ambitious goals. Even better, it easily integrates with other tools like Slack, Jira, Zapier, and plenty of other tools to keep your work streamlined.
Some may think “yet another tool?” We’ve come to find that there isn’t one tool that supports all the needs that we have as a team. In order to be successful in working together, it requires the implementation of several tools across teams and making sure they are integrated appropriately. Successful collaboration is an absolute necessity for any business as it grows, beyond just working remotely. All of the tools we use will help keep our team efficient and productive, even when we return to the office.