- Tamas Revesz
(Suddenly) Remote Toolkit*
Updated: Dec 18, 2020
*A continuously updated list of tools, based on practitioners' inputs.
Recent travel restrictions and other events have forced many organisations to experiment with remote work on a larger scale than ever before. This means a new way of working for many people and we want to help agile teams making meaningful connections when they cannot meet in person as well as making "ordinary teams" become more agile in this situation. We need to collaborate around the world in different ways, and we know the challenges and frustration that can arise with remote work. A recent WhatsApp messaging flow of Design Thinkers Academy on the topic brought up a couple of solutions and triggered the need to have the remote working tools collected.
So, here is a growing list of selected digital solutions and toolkits - many of them we use on a daily basis in our work at Agilexec and have a hands on experience with - that can help you effectively connect and collaborate across the globe. By clicking on the names you can directly access the sites. Hope you find something useful!
Video conferencing, webinar & meeting tools
When you need to see and hear each-other, while being far away
Good old Skype has loads of competition these days, but it managed to step up with its Meet Now feature, which is much like Zoom. The ease of setting up for Skype Meet Now is impressive. Skype also maintained a niche by offering international calls in its premium tier. We do not know for how long it will stay relevant, but the tool offers good quality and an easy connection process for free, without download or sign-up needed.
Formerly Google Hangouts, Google Meet is a golden standard in video conferencing. The app is a great choice of video conferencing or one-to-one calls with internal or external participants. No download needed and it works with your Google account smoothly. A solid choice with no fancy stuff, but quality built in.
Zoom quickly established itself as the No.1. option among consumers on the video conferencing tool market. Good quality comes hand-in-hand with many functions and it works great with many participants. For remote teams, it offers valuable face-to-face time and it develops quickly. The free version offers 40 minutes long sessions and limited settings. Using the services from Europe, you might also want to consider GDPR, since the data channeling through Zoom is stored on US servers.
Update: in April 2020, Zoom was under pressure due to security issues and apologised publicly for promoting their services as fully encrypted, although it was not. Many improvements have been made since then and unless you are discussing corporate secrets, Zoom should be fine as of 2020 December.
This multi-platform, open-source solution offers a completely free video conferencing service that is both secure and scaleable. It is fully encrypted and 100% open source, without the need to download a software. You can invite users to a conference via a simple link and share your desktop, presentations or even edit documents together. You can integrate Jitsi as well into existing products to add video capabilities.
The teamwork hub of Microsoft works within Office 365 and requires a download for accessing all features, so that can drive away some users from the start. A more basic version available through web browsers, preferably Google Chrome. However, once you are in, you can keep all your teams chats, meetings, files and apps together in one collaboration place as well as contact each-other via chat, talk and video call. You can build channels by topic, department or other fun stuff. If you happen to work with Microsoft products, this is your thing.
The web conferencing tool from Adobe claims to go beyond conferencing. It offers solutions for digital training, webinar and collaboration experiences. It is flexible and customizable in case you want to brand it your own way. It is a market leader in virtual classroom software and webinar software market, used by SAP and the Department of US Defence, among others.
This is a professional web conferencing solution designed specifically for online learning and teaching remote students real-time. The students or participants are engaged through polling, sharing emoji icons and offering breakout rooms. The tool connects with various teaching platforms through deep integration, offering a smooth management system.
If you like Prezi's creative presentation software, you will also enjoy using Prezi Video, that is a new solution from the Hungarian born company for managing live or recorded video content. It is good for conferences, webinars and trainings, internal communication or editing recorded video for social media even.
With this sleek video conferencing tool from Cisco, hosting is easy and joining is easier—simply click on your link to join. You can even learn about the people you’re meeting for the first time, with instant access to participants’ background and company. You can share your screen so everyone can view your document, spreadsheet, or application.
This platform was created initially to bring people together around games, but quickly grew into something bigger and different. It is offering various forms of communication through different channels on a single platform by setting up a server. Chatting, video and audio calls all in one helps you organise your online events and keep together your community.
Project management & workflow organisation
For project teams working together remotely, sharing information, docs and workflow status
Simplicity is king. Trello from Atlassian is a great application for smaller teams to share lists and kanban boards. It is flexible and incredibly easy to use for less digitally savvy people as well. You can set up accounts in a matter of minutes for free. It is possible to assign tasks to specific users, set deadlines, reminders and notifications, add documents, checklists, labels and other useful stuff. It is a great support if you want to keep track of the workflow in an agile environment.
This is one of the most popular project management platform designed for distributed teams, keeping everyone on the same page. Basecamp offers plenty of features to assign to-dos, exchange messages, set schedules and share documents, without needing to sit in an office together. With a real time chat, charts and templates it offers a full-service product for any remote working company.
The collaboration hub offered by Slack is more than a messaging tool. It helps you channel information organized by topic, project, team or whatever makes sense for your organization. Slack integrates with the apps and services you use every day and that is handy. The app is claimed to be used by big-shots like Shopify, airbnb, Oracle, The Times, etc...so they must know something, right?
This cool project management & digital assistant tool is the No.1. Slack extension for agile teams. It is prompting team members for stand-up meetings, while recording browsable project history. You can go as far as managing a full Scrum lifecycle with retrospectives, automated burn-down charts and data imports from Jira.
This is another bot that automates daily stand-ups, retrospectives, check-ins and more for productive meetings in an agile environment. You can add the tool to your Slack and Hangouts chats for asynchronous daily updates. Having Pixar, Bitcoin and Adobe on their client list, it worths considering.
This sleek work management platform can help your teams plan and structure work flexibly. Visualisation is a key strength of Asana. You can create visual project plans, pinpoint risks and follow projects and tasks through every stage. A modern project management tool at your fingertips used by Nasa and Salesforce, among many.
When you want to collaborate by sharing complex information visually
This great whiteboard collaboration tool is available on any device - and on the web. It is super useful that you can choose from many templates, depending on your need, e.g.: UX designer, customer journey mapping, retrospective, etc...and it is not only for brainstorming together. The tool gives you the possibility to give a quality presentation on everything you worked so far. The tool is free for five editable boards.
This collaborative whiteboard platform is bringing people together for various settings: ideation, research, design, agile workflow management, mapping, planning and whatnot. Instead of digitizing post-it notes, canvases or sketches from paper, these digital workspaces invite you to go digital right away and scale collaboration with confidence. It is a strong team tool with the option to create multiple "rooms" for your whiteboards with different permissions to limit access.
The collaboration platform from Cisco has got all the team collaboration tools you need to keep work moving forward and connects with the other tools you use to simplify life: secure group messaging, file sharing and screen sharing. The files you receive are neatly organized, searchable, and saved right alongside all of your communication. White board or draw on your phone or any device, and share the interactive drawing in chat. It delivers pre-built solutions with third-party applications from vendors such as Microsoft, Google, and Salesforce to deliver complete collaboration experiences for the enterprise.
Interactive polling, survey, quiz and research tools
When you want to engage participants or an audience playfully
Kahoot claims to make learning awesome by gamifyed quizzes and it does deliver it. Super easy set-up and usage makes it an outstanding support for team facilitators. Participants join the quiz through their own device and see questions, possible answers and progress throughout the session. You can play individually or in teams as well. We have run several sessions using a Kahoot quiz and it never failed to create energy and fun among the participants. Try it out!
Menti is a realtime survey tool (and more) that helps you create interactive presentations, workshops and meetings. It comes with an easy-to-use online editor where you can add questions, polls, quizzes, etc...and when you present, your audience uses their smartphones to connect to your presentation and give answers, ask questions, give feedback and so on. If you are looking for radical candor and transparency from your audience, go for it!
Similar to the above solution, Slido also provides easy access to live Q&A sessions and polls through any device, by just entering an event code by the participants. If you host a Q&A session, it helps you crowdsourcing the best questions from your audience and making everyone part of the conversation. The tool integrates with other softwares, such as Google Slides & Sheets, Slack, Vimeo, etc...and you can get insights about your event from the analytics provided.
This one of a kind user research platform helps researchers and designers to record and analyze data, collaborate on insights, and build their research repository. Dovetail's intuitive cloud software offers a super sleek, web based solution for any serious researcher with just the right amount of relevant features for efficient and effective work. Affordable? That is for you to decide, but there is literally no serious competition on the market yet.
Other toolboxes & resources
Inspiration from fellow practitioners for creative problem solving
The Coronavirus Tech Handbook provides a space for technologists, specialists, civic organisations and public & private institutions to collaborate on a rapid and sophisticated response to the coronavirus outbreak. It is an active and evolving resource with thousands of expert contributors.
In this library from the guys at This Is Service Design Doing, you’ll find 54 hands-on descriptions that help you DO the key methods used in service design. These methods include instructions, guidelines, and-tips-and tricks for activities within research, ideation, prototyping, and facilitation. This collection only contains building blocks. It doesn’t detail how to assemble them into a cohesive design process or how to plan or manage it.
This is a toolkit on how to invent, adopt or adapt ideas that can deliver better results. It’s quick to use, simple to apply, and designed to help busy people working in development. The DIY Toolkit has been especially designed for development practitioners. All the tool descriptions include a key reference, so it is easy to trace back their origins and dive deeper into other publications about their application.
This platform of strategic tools provide online trainings, customized programs and guidance for transformation processes. You can use the Strategy Tools Platform to learn, run your programs, host your workshops and deliver large-scale strategy & transformation projects.
This is a curated list of business, design, and organisational change toolboxes built by some of the most influential companies, institutions and thinkers. You can find here tools and methods from such hotshots as IDEO, HyperIsland or UNICEF.
This toolkit holds a number of tools which you can use in your own workshop related to Service Design. For each technique you can find material to help you, including a poster that gives an overview of the service design process, an extensive introduction to service design with a step-by-step plan and a set of technique cards that explain how to best use each of the techniques.
Service Design Remote Collaboration tools
A great collection from Marc (the Dutch guy behind Service Design Show) who collected on Linkedin the best tools, tried and tested by SD experts. Some overlapping with the above, but definitely worth checking out.
Ultimate guide to free video conferencing
This elaborate list of free video conferencing tools is a hack of a collection. Takes time to go through it all, but you will have a complete overview for sure.
Should you have any great solution for remote work, just drop us a line, so we can share!
Keep calm & carry on!