/ Tech /  3 min read

4 Tools for Remote Teams

As a company which peddles a remote collaboration product, and a team that works 100% remotely, it seems appropriate to talk about tools we use and recommend for getting the job done.

1. appear.in

For video chats, few tools are as friction free as appear.in. You create a named chat room, go to the URL in your browser and you are talking to someone face-to-face. Done! We use it everyday for our daily standup meetings, and for most remote client meetings. Just use any relatively up to date, modern web browser (Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Vivaldi are definitely supported. With Safari or Microsoft Edge, YMMV). You can even share your screen with only a little bit of extra work.

2. Slack

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard of Slack, so I don't feel much need to go in depth about it. Suffice it to say, if you are working remotely, you need an instant chat client. If at all possible, use a chat client geared toward businesses (a la Slack). Slack is one of, if not the most, popular business focused chat systems. It has a huge number of integrations making it a good central meeting place for most of your company information.

3. Gitlab.com

If you work on anything related to code, Gitlab.com is pretty great. I know that Github gets most of the love these days especially when it comes to open source projects, but here are a few of the ways Gitlab.com wins:

  • Unlimited private repos: I don't know of any other hosted code service that offers this. It alone puts it head and shoulders above the rest.
  • Open source code base: You can run it on your own hardware if/when you feel that is necessary. You can also fix bugs yourself as they come up, instead of hoping someone else deals with them at some point. It being open source also future-proofs our code hosting software ever becoming abandonware.
  • Integrated CI/CD: with Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment as first class features, automating repetitive tasks becomes completely trivial.
  • Pretty good issue tracker: I think Gitlab.com's issue tracker is generally superior to Github's, and for being free of charge as well as open source, it is better than most options out there. We find it good enough to use even for project and task tracking not related to coding.

4. Hours Tracker

Even though you work remotely and you probably don't need to track your hours, you should anyway. Humans are notoriously bad at keeping track of time. Many days when I thought I had worked a lot, I had barely done a half day (and was simply interrupted with other things all day), where as some days I feel like I hardly worked at all, only to later find I completely blew past my planned number of hours for the day. In the end, this is about being honest with yourself about where you are spending your time. It is also about making sure you don't build bad habits of constantly under or over working yourself, neither of which are healthy in the long run. Hours Tracker is a solid mobile phone app for tracking time. Although you can use it with limited features for free, it costs somewhere around $5-10 for a lifetime purchase. It is well worth it. I have yet to find a better time tracking app, paid or unpaid. It is available for both Android and iOS.

Conclusion

Although short, this list should be enough to get you started on your journey of finding the set of remote tools that best fit the needs of your company and workflow. Good luck! And let us know if you want any help with figuring out your remote workflows by emailing us at info@metapipe.com.