Trend Tuesday: Tools for Working Remote

photo thanks to flickr user purprin!

While the concept of working remote isn’t new (it used to be called ‘telecommuting’), the tools to facilitate it have grown over the last few years.

The Internet is likely the most obvious tool that facilitates working remote, and the phone may be the most commonly overlooked. Beyond email and phone, consider other  third-party tools to extend your business beyond your home base and help your team continue to feel connected to one another. Let’s review the following tools for working remote:

  • Video Chat
  • Collaborative Tools
  • Web-based Teaching Tools

Substitute Conference Calls with Online Video Chats

Instead of  hearing only your remote team’s voices, enhance your conference calls with video chat so you can see them and experience a more engaging conversation. Skype and Google Video Chat are two free and easy-to-use tools that make meeting face-to-face a practical way to include your entire team in meetings.

Both are easy to set-up and install. You’ll need a stable internet connection, web cam and audio. Many webcams come with built-in audio devices (I have a LifeCam HD-6000 and really like it). All you do is plug ’em in, launch your video chat application and start your meeting.

Use Collaborative Tools to Create and Manage Documents

If you’ve saved, emailed, updated, saved again, and sent a follow-up email to spell out the changes you made, you may want to give collaborative tools a try.  Collaborative tools allow team members to work on the same document, together in real-time.  They’re also a workable solution for newsletter editors that are inundated with email attachments of articles and revisions of articles. This 3-minute video illustrates Google Docs, one of my favorite collaborative tools:

The documents and spreadsheets in Google Docs are very similar to those in MS Office. There’s no new software to learn, so getting started is just a matter of getting over the fear of trying something new. I recommend taking the tour to help get comfortable with the tool.

Use Web-based Tools to Demonstrate

Screen shots are helpful for walking clients and co-workers through online processes. Sometimes, when you can’t be there, talking a client or co-worker through the process is the most efficient way. While both methods work, tools like GoToMeeting let you share your computer screen with others to demonstrate processes in real-time. This tool has proven helpful in our web-based trainings and one-to-one client demonstrations.

What Tools do you use?

These are some of the tools we train our clients on using. Since opening our web marketing office in the San Francisco Bay Area, we’ve incorporated more of the video tools for getting face-time with our leading lady April Kyle. What are some of the tools you use or would like to know more about for working remote?