The latest COVID-19 outbreak has pointed out the need for productive and effective tools that enable remote work. Although our daily lives and the working methods we use have changed, we know that for the first time you may wonder: What is remote work? How could I work from home and maintain morale without compromising productivity? 

Introduction

Remote teams, made up of people in different locations around the world, are on the rise. As a team, Keitaro is working remotely since our start. We understand the challenges of working this way, and that being 100% virtual isn’t always an easy task! Here at Keitaro, we are very fortunate as we work daily within our own Cloud environment, this is great for us as it covers us in every eventuality for business continuity.

You may find yourself working from home for the first time, looking for the best ways to adjust or stay productive, especially if you are living with roommates, a partner, or kids.  For some the first time is exciting and for others, it’s very daunting. 

But, look on the bright side! Working remotely increases your productivity, focus, reduces stress and is more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than working from the office. 

In order to facilitate the process of adjustment, many companies are implementing new tools and resources. If you are searching for online tools to help you get on track and reach your top performance level, here are a few proposals in different categories. 

Team Communication

Sometimes you need a faster answer than waiting for an email reply or a meeting. There are many applications, which could improve team communication on a daily basis. 

Riot.im  is one of them. It can be downloaded as a desktop application for your computer and your mobile, and in a few seconds, you can just connect to it through a web browser. You and your team will always be close for coordination, consultation and readily available when needed.

Online meetings and Presentations

Many meetings can be facilitated by sharing your screen and presenting those marvelous charts and innovative tech solutions. Zoom conference calls, allow multiple attendees to long in the same call from different locations around the world. 

We can sum up Zoom like this: It’s VoIP that really works. It provides you an opportunity to dial-in on any call from your phone or any other device. In times like this when working from home is a must, Zoom is an effective way to make meetings happen, connect a few times a week with your team, and even have human social interaction. 

Another option for video conferencing is Jitsi. With Jitsi, everyone is just one click away from the next meeting. Another awesome thing is that no registration is required and the URL generated randomly. It offers additional features if the user is registered. 

Working in the tech industry often demands to attend a lot of meetings and an easily handled tool is very much needed for excellent workflow. 

Project management

Managing a team and a project can be organized and facilitated in many ways, so all the team members could really enjoy their work and be satisfied with the deliverables at the end of the process. 

There are many tools which could support your work, my recommendations are the following: 

Trello is all about planning your high-level roadmap. It provides lists, boards, cards that facilitate the process of planning. And, can be shared with other users. In order to make the user experience even better, it provides bot integration so every process can be automated. When working remotely, it’s important that everyone uses the same processes and collaboration tools, which facilitate the teamwork and internal processes. 

Redmine is actually really useful to handle several projects and subprojects, and it can be done on a role basis to provide access to specific people. It supports calendar, ticket creating, monitoring issues, wiki, roadmap and more.

It’s sometimes easier to discuss ideas on a whiteboard or to chart thoughts, or just work out crazy ideas. Although whiteboards are the staples of conference rooms at the workplace, they are more challenging to get to in the digital world. Luckily there’s Drawpile, the framework for collaborative drawing in real-time. Within your own computer, you can hold drawing sessions and invite other users, or you can hold a session on the Drawpile servers.

It’s easy to use — minimal enough to be intuitive, but strong enough to make it a viable creative application in case your raw ideas actually grow into something important.

Everybody has a preferred tool for managing tasks. Nevertheless, finding the right tool for the job can go a long way towards making the team efficient and actually achieving the goals.

Development

From our experience in the past few years, our first choice for recommendation will be GitLab. It is a service that provides remote access to Git repositories. Aside from hosting the code, the platform also includes additional features designed to help manage the lifecycle of software development.

Bit.dev is a famous developer platform for components. It’s where the frontend and products team work together to create apps on their components. Just like Git, Bit is a distributed software, open-source application. With Bit, teams can transform the components of their project into managed building blocks that could be easily used and modified through several projects.

Remote frontend teams get one central hub with Bit.dev, where all their components are hosted, updated, and can be used in multiple projects.

They can easily share new components, identify existing ones, conceptualize and play with examples, and in new projects use the components (package or code).

Final thoughts

Online collaboration tools are a true lifesaver when it comes to working from home. Don’t hesitate to try a few different ones before you choose what suits your team best. And if you know of some other open-source tools that I haven’t mentioned, please share them in the comments below and tell me more about your experience and benefits of specific tools. Also whilst working at home, a small tip is to take short regular breaks and try to stick to your regular working hours in a specific part of your home. 

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