COVID-19: Building a First Class Remote Work Environment – Part 3/6

In Part Two of this six-part series we learned about the best workflow, teaming, and virtual collaboration tools available to operate more efficiently and productively in your new Remote Work Environment (RWE). 

In this Part Three installment you will learn about the best productivity and project management tools and software now being used in RWEs.  Let’s break them down:

Productivity: 

  • Microsoft Teams:  This is part of the Premium Office 365 subscription and is a cloud-based full service collaboration and communication suite for Windows users.  It is not as easy to set up as, say, Slack, because it is targeted mainly at the larger enterprise solutions.  You can make video and VOIP calls within Teams, direct and group message with other users, and share work from other 365 apps such as Power Point and Excel.  This is a great tool, but is limited to Windows users.  The other downside I see with Teams is that it is somewhat complicated to set up if you are not familiar with the 365 Suite.  If you are already a fully compatible MS 365 Suite shop you may want to just use Teams because everything will be fully integrated.  It just makes sense.  By comparison, I set Slack up in literally ten minutes.  Think of Teams as Corporate and Slack as Freelance.
  • Trello:  Whether it’s for work or side-hustle project, Trello keeps you organized and on task.  A website and app that creates a real-time bulletin board.  Action items can be drafted from one category to another eliminating unwieldy email chains and sticky notes which can pileup with team projects.  The Trello system is unique in that project cards are assigned to specific team members, labeled, stamped with a deadline, and crammed with comments and attachments.  The hierarchical nature of the system makes it flexible while preserving a baseline simplicity.
  • Evernote:  Evernote has always been a productivity powerhouse.  This desktop (or smartphone) app allow you to keep all your notes and memos organized, searchable, and synched up across all your devices.  You can even scan in handwritten notes into the app alongside your typed ones.  Like Trello, it lets you create a virtual vision board with lists and cards that can be organized on a project by project basis.

Project Management:

  • Asana:  Worried about keeping your team focused?  Asana is one of the top tools around for workflow and task management.  Its unique timeline feature makes it an excellent project management tool as well.  Asana will help keep everyone on task allowing different teams to track projects and assign tasks and sub-tasks.  It also includes a handy virtual to-do-list, letting team members know when it’s their time to review a project, or keeping staff on task due that day or week. 
  • Basecamp:  I love this company.  This project management platform was actually born out of their own system developed just for themselves – 37Signals.  It is a web-based project management platform that includes: task management, messaging & collaboration, file sharing, scheduling, reporting, and a universal search function that makes everything easily and quickly retrievable.  It is cheap too.  $99 per year with unlimited users.  Perfect.

In soon to follow, Part Four, I will discuss Remote Management & Accountability.  How do you keep your team accountable?  How do you make sure your teams don’t go off the rails?  How do you enforce deadlines?  How do you make sure everyone is on board and moving in the right direction?  How do you make sure your team is not just goofing off surfing the internet?  I will discuss all these issues and more in the next installment soon to follow.  

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