Blog

Keeping in touch remotely

18 March 2020

When working from home, it's really important to talk to other people frequently throughout the day. It helps minimise any sense of isolation, and keeps everyone feeling connected.

We wrote a bit about it in the post How to go remote a few years ago.

More recently, Michael Grimes, all-round good egg and Marketing Manager from BetterPoints put together some ace insights about keeping in touch with colleagues when working from home, over on LinkedIn. Also on LinkedIn, Andrew Recinos from Tessitura's 8 Tips for Highly Effective Remote Meetings is an excellent resource.

There're an ever-growing number of online tools available to help us all collaborate and just generally stay in touch with each other, without being in the same location.

Skip to the list of handy tools ⚒️


Video calls 📹

We're a remote team, and find video calls the closest thing to being in the same room as colleagues throughout the day. There's everyone! In real time! On the screen in front of me!

This means you can stay in touch easily and have proper, in-depth conversations via your computer – if it has video / audio capability – or your smart phone / tablet.

We use Whereby for video calls with each other, and with clients. But there're lots of other options – such as the increasingly-popular Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts.

Our prediction is that, in the pretty near future, telepresence* is going to be more widespread, and more sophisticated. Video calls are great – but just wait until we can explore a venue remotely. Or use robots as tour guides. Say whaaaa?!

*a set of technologies which allow a person to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance of being present, or to have an effect, via telerobotics, at a place other than their true location.

Other tools ⚒️

You probably don't want to sit on an open video call with colleagues all day, though, and there're other ways to stay – and feel – connected.

Instant messaging

We're massive users of instant message app Slack. It lets you have quick conversations with individuals, and/or groups of folks – and you can add specific channels for certain subjects. Among others, we have channels for #general, #design, #dev and #random*, for example.

*This one mostly consists of various pets in varying positions. It may seem a bit daft but we've found it incredibly important to have some of these 'watercooler moments' – especially while we're having decreased contact with other people day-to-day.

Soph's Everglades Rat Snake, Dan on the floor - part in but mostly out of an upturned boot
Soph's Everglades Rat Snake, Dan
Black and white cat perches on a bannister, looking down at cacti on a desk
Kate's pal Evie loves cacti
Long dog on a sofa
Floki – who is in Josh's spot

VOIP Phones

Sometimes it's good to talk, and we like to be available at the end of the phone. Instead of regular ol' landlines, we use a voice over internet protocol (VOIP) service called Dial 9 for phones. We're able to use either desktop handsets, or can divert the line to mobile – all via an easy-to-use dashboard. Simple.

Project / task management

For big projects we use Basecamp to share and collaborate with clients. It's great for keeping all information in one place, where everyone can have eyes on it.

But for day-to-day detailed tasks and keeping stuff organised within the team, we find Trello – based on the kanban method of managing workflows – a great tool.

It gives everyone a clear overview of the progress of even the tiniest of tasks, who's responsible, when the deadline is etc. It can take a while to design a workflow that … works for you. But it can be super-handy once you've got it right.

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