As employees and companies see the benefits of remote work (fewer distractions, flexible schedule, higher employee retention, just to name a few), it’s no surprise that working from home (WFH) — or working from anywhere (WFA) — is becoming more widely accepted and expected. Tasks that could once only be done only from the office are now being completed in homes, coffee shops, and coworking spaces around the world. With this increase in remote teams, the need for reliable, flexible technology is at an all-time high.
At Widen, we have full-time remote team members, office locations in the U.S. and U.K., and flexible remote options for all employees — which means we’ve spent a lot of time testing and trialing remote technologies across teams. Our teams consistently count on remote tools for collaboration and communication every day.
With so many options to choose from, here are the remote tools that work best for our marketing and creative teams to stay connected and productive both in and out of the office:
Used for one-to-one communication, company announcements, and topic discussions, Slack keeps us connected, informed, and often entertained throughout the day. With several channels to share ideas, findings, and musings, teammates are easy to connect with even when there isn’t a desk to just “drop by.” Slack also integrates with other technologies, which allows us to streamline our processes and workflows.
2. G Suite
Leveraging several applications from the same suite makes it easier to move between tools and helps with user adoption. Bundling can also save on subscription costs. And the flexibility of integrations is helpful when you want to bring in tools from outside the suite.
Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides
In addition to making it easy for us to securely collaborate in and share documents, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides also keeps us on-brand. The creative team regularly updates templates in Slides with current graphics and images to help teams across the company ensure that any slide deck they create will be on-brand. Employees are also encouraged to set their default style in Docs to match the branded templates so that all documents they create can be shared freely.
Brainstorming sessions can get a little tricky when it comes to working remotely, but with Jamboard, we’re able to “whiteboard” ideas remotely and in real time. Our marketing and creative teams regularly use Jamboard to collaborate on new ideas and gain alignment across teams.
Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, and more
Our subscription includes several other common applications from the G suite as well. The suite is robust and well-known, it’s just a matter of finding the apps that work best for you.
While there are several great options available for virtual meetings (e.g. Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting), we rely on Zoom for our meetings and webinars. With browser plug-in options and a Slack integration, scheduling future and impromptu meetings is a breeze. For teams in the office, we have several Zoom rooms with tablets to quickly start meetings, cameras for full-room views, and microphones/speakers to make it easier to hear remote and in-person attendees.
Zoom webinar attendance also syncs with our content management system (CSM) to update contact lists with registrant information, making it easy to send tailored follow-up emails after the webinar.
Project management is tough but necessary with all of the projects that marketing and creative teams juggle on a daily basis. It’s important to find the right tools and the right process for your team. Asana helps us capture all of our projects, tasks, and subtasks in one location so we know who’s working on what and when. It takes some trial and error to determine the right process in any project management tool, so keep iterating to find the best workflow for your team.
HubSpot powers our website and many of our marketing efforts including email, social, and blogs. Our customer success and sales teams rely on it as well to templatize communications and track conversations with contacts. The sync with our customer relationship management (CRM) tool, Salesforce, also ensures that we have consistent information across platforms. And using a cloud-based, SaaS solution as our CMS and marketing automation platform allows us to access it from any location.
Security is key when it comes to accessing remote tools. Without an IT team just down the hall, remote tools can cause some hesitation for security teams. But with single sign-on (SSO) solutions like Okta, those teams are in control of access to all systems using this software. Okta gives our security team peace of mind. And our employees have the benefit of only having to remember one password to access all of our tools.
7. Adobe Creative Cloud
As with most marketing teams, the Adobe Creative Cloud fuels our creative output. An integration with our digital asset management (DAM) system ensures that files being pulled into Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator are the latest on-brand version of the file. Knowing that designers are working from a central source of truth helps limit creative rework due to the use of out-of-date files and streamlines our creative workflow.
Like the G suite, Salesforce is a robust system with several application options to help build your ideal remote ecosystem. As with many remote tools, integrations are key to creating a flexible solution that works best for your team.
Sales Cloud gives us insight into campaigns and leads generated from our marketing efforts. Easy dashboard views also keep us informed of progress across company initiatives. And the sync with our CMS ensures we’re using consistent information across platforms.
Service Cloud and Community
Salesforce Service Cloud powers support tickets while Community powers our support center (and coming soon, our online user community.) Using our CRM to support customers ensures that customer-facing teams are aware of all customer communications, meaning they spend less time “catching up” and more time helping. And as more tools are added from the same suite, adoption can often move faster as admins are already familiar with the platform.
9. The Widen Collective®
Using a cloud-based DAM system like the Widen Collective allows us to access, share, and manage our digital assets from anywhere in the world. With a central repository to store all of our marketing, creative, and sales content, we’re able to search and consistently deliver on-brand content from any location. Integrations with tools like Slack, the Adobe Creative Cloud, and Okta keep our digital assets secure and accessible while streamlining workflows and protecting brand integrity.
Finding your remote groove
It takes a while to find your perfect blend of remote tools but you’ll get there. And once you do, it’s likely something new will hit the market and you might want to check that out too. That’s how we keep optimizing! When selecting your remote tools, there are a few things to keep in mind:
It’s unlikely that one suite, platform, or collection will serve all of your needs perfectly. And that’s OK! It’s actually better than OK because it allows you to find your remote-tool sweet spot. Adopting applications with integration options will help you optimize and streamline your workflows because all of your tools can work together.
Being able to access all of your tools using only internet access is a big win for your teams. Cloud-based solutions provide a high level of security without the need for a virtual private network (VPN) login.
Training and adoption
Even if the solution is amazing, change is hard. Prepare to train your users and then train them again. If you are going to do a phased rollout or transition from another tool, make sure that you communicate an end date and stick to it. Sometimes people aren’t resistant, they just need a little push.
Sound quality and face time
When it comes to remote meetings, make sure everyone can hear. Especially when some attendees are on-site and some are virtual because this can cause a big disconnect in participation. And it’s easier for remote team members to feel connected to the in-office attendees if everyone turns their camera on, even if you have a Zoom room that shares a video of the whole room.
Working around the world
Remote tools are amazing because they afford us the opportunity to work from anywhere. But that doesn’t mean we’re now working around the clock. Leverage the settings in your tools to notify colleagues of your availability so you can maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Powering your remote teams
With 99% of the respondents from Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work stating that they would “like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their career,” it’s important that we have the right remote tools in place for our distributed teams. And there are a lot of amazing tools out there to choose from! Get your teams involved, optimize and iterate, and find new ways to work from anywhere. Remote team collaboration starts with working together to find the right tools.
If you need help adding a DAM solution to your remote team tool belt, get in touch.