Posted by Casey Porter ● April 03, 2020
15 Free Tools to Maintain Company Culture While Working Remotely
As a leader, you’ve worked hard to set your organization up for great culture. Whether you manage an office of two or two hundred, you’ve put in the work. You’ve hired well. You’ve defined your values and hosted team building events. You’ve designed legendary staff meetings, and you’ve mastered the art of the face-to-face check-in to build relationships with your team. So, what happens now that a crisis has shifted our paradigms and led to over 30% of Americans working from home?
The answer is simple: carry on with what works, but use new tools to achieve the same goals in a digital environment. Birthday parties and staff meetings can shift to video conferences. Whiteboard to-do lists can transition to online project management tools. And the one-on-one check-ins with your team? Those can be phone calls or videos, and they are more important than ever. This is a critical time to make individuals feel connected and valued, so they can continue to create positive “moments of truth” for your customers.
To help you make sense of the web of information out there on digital collaboration tools, we’ve curated a simple list of some of our favorites along with other popular alternatives. And the best part? They’re all free!
Video & Chat
Zoom is a video conferencing tool that includes free meetings up to 40 minutes, individual and group meetings, screen sharing, call recording and a built-in meeting scheduler. If you’re an educator, Zoom has removed the 40-minute time limit on the free version for the duration of coronavirus school closures for K-12. Our team uses Zoom daily to stay in touch.
Slack is idgroup's choice for group chat and instant messaging, where users can create channels for different teams and projects. Slack offers messaging and video chat for individuals and groups, and it integrates with most popular file sharing and project management tools.
If your company runs on G Suite, Google Hangouts Meet is an efficient way to host team and individual video meetings--and it’s already included in your account. The best part? It seamlessly integrates with Google Drive and Google Calendar for easy file sharing and scheduling.
Another tool included for G Suite users, Google Hangouts Chat makes it easy for team members to set up and chat within specific virtual rooms. Hangouts Chat supports group and individual chat.
Skype, like Slack and Google Hangouts, supports both video conferencing and instant messaging. Skype features the ability to call phone numbers, host meetings on the desktop or mobile app, screen sharing, call recording, and even a live subtitles feature for accessibility.
If your business runs on Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Teams is probably already included in your plan. Teams is an all-in-one chat and video conferencing solution that integrates with other Microsoft tools like Calendar and OneDrive. It can be used online or via the desktop or mobile app.
For Mac and iPhone users, Facetime is a quick and convenient way to video call individuals and groups. It is ideal for spontaneous chats from either your iPhone or the desktop app on your Mac laptop or desktop computer. It's so simple and integrated, you can make video calls straight from your contacts or an individual or group text chain.
Teamwork is a web-based project management platform for teams. As idgroup's project management tool of choice, we love Teamwork’s streamlined workflows and emphasis on project milestones. It’s free for up to five users, and includes time tracking functionality.
Asana is a widely-used project management tool that offers a basic free plan for up to 15 team members. Users can create tasks and projects for themselves or their team, and the dashboard is flexible enough to provide a list view, calendar view or board view of your entire team’s project load. It integrates easily with your favorite calendar and collaboration apps.
Basecamp is a highly visual project management dashboard that includes a desktop app, a mobile app, and the ability to share documents and projects with users outside your organization. Its organized file storage system and ability to integrate with Dropbox makes it stand out from similar tools.
Trello’s visual card system and built-in robot butler are features you can’t ignore. This project management tool is intuitively simple, features desktop and mobile apps, and offers a free plan with two-factor authentication for extra security.
File Sharing and Co-Creation
A G Suite product, Google Drive is the place teams go to store documents in the cloud and collaborate in real time on projects. With the ability to create, share, edit and store multiple document types, Google Drive is a flexible collaboration platform for teams using G Suite. Turn your Word documents into Google Docs, and your spreadsheets into Google Sheets, and you can view and edit with your teammates in real time.
Microsoft OneDrive is the cloud storage solution for Office 365 users. This platform integrates seamlessly right into your Microsoft apps like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. With OneDrive, you and your team can share files with one another or email documents straight from inside your Microsoft programs.
Dropbox is one of the most widely adopted cloud storage and sharing solutions, and it comes with both free and paid versions. You can access, organize and share documents from the desktop site, your local hard drive, or the mobile app. Dropbox can install on your desktop and work just like another folder on your hard drive, but with streamlined sharing capabilities.
Just for Fun
We had to throw in our favorite streaming service, Spotify. Featuring both free and paid plans, music streaming is a fun way to unite your remote team during stressful times. The ability to create custom playlists and share them with your team makes for a fun bonding experience. We’re all in this together!