As more people begin working remote companies are producing more and more tools to make the workflow seamless. We're seeing the next generation of remote working tools appear quickly and some of them have some great benefits. More and more of the products we use are starting to integrate together making the transition from sitting in an office to sitting wherever you please easier and more productive.
We have an asynchronous team separated by a 12hr time difference. Generally we don't wake up or work at the same times either which could cause problems if it weren't for the tools we use.
The Command Center / Water Cooler
HipChat is our command center, most discussions start here and almost everything we do gets fed into it. Every time one of us pushes to git all of us can see and then see if the latest push passes our CircleCI tests. This is great for seeing which branch one of our devs is working in or has just created. HipChat also adds a bunch of accountability to our team, we see when phone calls are coming into our support number and who is answering them. Intercom.io also feeds into HipChat so we can see when one of our customers wants to chat with us and since everyone sees it we can move quickly to resolve the issue.
HipChat also acts as our watercooler with the integration of Hubot. Hubot, or Hugh McBottington as he's known to us, lets us liven up our HipChat discussions with images or videos (mainly pugs). I often find myself typing "hubot image me pug" into other chats and am kind of sad when it doesn't work.
Mastering Our Inboxes
Streak is how we master our Gmail inboxes. Streak allows us to track all of our customer interaction so the whole team can see it. This makes customer support and sales much easier since we don't have to forward emails back and forth when it comes to one of our personal boxes. We can funnel most of our sales process through Streak as well by creating different stages. Converting from a lead to new customer is all tracked in Gmail with Streak.
Gmail also allows us to use Hangouts. Sometimes there are things that are easier to just discuss with voice or video. We have our Monday morning company meeting over Hangouts which is nice because we can create a recurring calendar tasks that automatically notify us when it is about to start. Hangouts also lets us help each other out; we can share our screens and even remote into a machine if we need to.
Keeping Customers Happy
We use Intercom.io for our customers in-app tracking. Our customers can message us through intercom for an immediate response. Since this feeds into our HipChat one of us is bound to see it almost immediately. Streak also allows us see all of our past email interaction with a customer.
Twilio and Google Voice allow us to ping multiple people when a support or sales call comes in over the phone. Using HipChat and webhooks we can ping the chat whenever someone calls and see who answers. Google voice also makes it easy for us to answer wherever we are since it will ring in our Gmail or straight to our phone.
Keeping Tasks In Order
Asana is our go-to task manager. Our whole teams uses it on our domain and it makes tracking tasks pretty easy. We can assign tasks to each other and create subtasks. It is always nice to have feedback when you're working on a project and checking that little checkbox always makes you feel good when you finish something. We also use it for passing ideas back and forth as comments on a given project or task. The apps for Android and iOS are also pretty stellar so we check up on things while we're on the go. In HipChat we can create task for people in Asana for people by simply typing "todo: @eric find more pictures of pugs." We are hoping for deeper HipChat integration with Asana but since there is an API we may just write it ourselves.
Once we've boiled down a given to project or task down to exactly what we want we write it up in Hackpad. Hackpad allows us to quickly and easily collaborate on documents and they're easy to pass around.
As our team grows the tools we use are becoming more central to the way our company works. Onboarding a new employee and getting them used to our workflow is easy with most of the tools we've chosen but we are always on the lookout for new ways to do things. Keeping our finger on the pulse of new remote work and collaboration tools is essential as we keep moving forward as a company.
Photo by Flickr user martin_nikola