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Choosing a tool for your remote team in 2020

Whatever your work looks like now, get ready for it to drastically change in the next decade. With all the new remote tools currently underway and more teams than ever switching to a remote structure, it’s safe to say communicating in 2020 will be very different. Below is a shortlist of the top 7 criteria you'll need to consider when selecting your next communication tool - Enjoy!

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1) Presence simulation

Many employers are still skeptical of letting their employees work remotely. This is where presence shines, with tools such as AR or VR video calls used as a way to bring the office atmosphere from the comfort of home. For example, productivity startup High Fidelity has adopted a clever virtual reality version of an office space, so you feel like you're working alongside coworkers. One downside to presence is when attempts to create presence with an always-on camera or access to employees' apps. Although this makes managers feel better about "trusting" their employees, teams often feel as if they are being watched which creates an uncomfortable atmosphere for working. Your remote team should be focused on work results and efficiency, not necessarily the appearance of working.

2) Focused on work and efficiency

It's no secret now that employees who work remotely are more productive than their office dwelling peers. The problem when companies attempt to go remote is they lack good communication tools, so many remote workers are having to find workarounds. This forces distributed teams to resort to consumer apps such as iMessage, Whatsapp, and Discord. Some have even opened up permanent Skype calls so they don't waste a single second planning a call with their cofounders. The communication tool you choose for 2020 should be one that is focused on work and solves the problems of traditional tools, including being available on all devices.

3) Mobile & OS friendly

There are many benefits to remote work, among them, being able to wear whatever you want, work from wherever you want, and even saving gas money and time. But if it sounds too good to be true, that’s because everything has a price. In this case, it’s that you might not be at your computer when a pressing project update comes up. This is why many teams resort to messenger apps such as WhatsApp have created seamless mobile apps across operating systems that provide a similar experience to the desktop.  It will be crucial to allow teams to run errands while staying in touch with their team, rather than having to remain shackled to their desks.

4) Works with a limited or poor connection 

A good remote team simply can’t work without a good internet connection. If you’re working from a coffee shop, home, or abroad, you can’t rely on WiFi being reliable, or even available. This means apps that seem to function fine may take a nosedive once you turn on video, forcing the team to settle for audio-only. And why fail at a video call when you could just have a conference call at that point? Apps like Slack and Yac have done an excellent job of handling network issues. They automatically try resending messages if there's a failed connection which allows you to send your message without thinking twice about your internet.

5) Relationship development

Despite all the benefits of remote work, one common complaint is that people feel like lone islands. It's important that remote team communication tools are not just avatars and text. Whether you're outsourcing to Fivver or Upwork, or just communicating with your distributed team, video and voice will be essential for keeping employees on long-term. How can you see or hear your team without scheduling a call at 11pm or in low connectivity areas? Aysncronous is the secret sauce.

6) Asynchronous functionality

Tools that work asynchronously unite teams, regardless of poor connections, time zones, or busy lifestyles. Right now, an NYC team can’t conference call a team in India without staying up until 11pm. But with asynchronous tools, teams across the globe can collaborate easily and effortlessly without sacrificing sleep or time spinning up calls. One beautiful side effect to asynchronous technology is the ability to create historical context.

7) Historical context

As we’ve covered before with ZAPIER, teammates on remote teams need to be able to go back and see how and why certain decisions were made. Tools with only voice or video struggle to offer historical context due to the lack of searchability, external sharing, and other features that keep everyone in loop now or in the future. Coming soon to Yac will be a transcriptions feature will let you send voice or screen recordings to a teammate with a click and transcribe in app that you can forward over to Slack, Asana, or any of your favorite apps through Zapier. Exciting stuff!

Below is a list of the top tools remote teams are using to communicate. Each have their own strengths and flaws — check out how your favorite tools stacked up against the competition below!

2019 Top Remote Tools
Remote Tools 2019