Want to drop by our office to talk keyboards and games, while enjoying a barista-prepared coffee? Go by your local coffeehouse and grab your laptop; we are entirely digital.
Everybody of the Wooting team lives and works remotely from each other. Two of us are located in the Netherlands, and I in Taiwan. We heavily rely on internet, communication and planning applications.
Not too difficult in our modern world, but there is one struggle that will never change…Time difference. While everybody in the Netherlands lives in GMT+1, I’m in GMT+8, 7 hours difference. Therefore, we have to plan our collaborations ahead of time, otherwise, we’ll miss out on each other’s working time slots.
We would be nowhere if it wasn’t with some amazing (free) applications that help us in this entire operation. Let’s take a look!
The core of all business and also the hardest to get right.
This is our bread and butter. We mainly use Slack for all our textual communication. At the same time, it’s also an archive of different topics we discuss. For each topic, we make a new channel and thereby separate all our communication. In this way, you already know the context of the message before reading it. We avoid talking business through messaging apps such as Whatsapp or regular text. Information gets lost, it’s linear and mixes with personal.
A problem with too much textual messaging is that a lot of (micro) information gets misinterpreted or not reported over time. After a while, it clouds the mind and slowly influences overall moral. The best fix is having a good old conversation with each other, over the internet of course. We’re not Skype advocates, but due to its popularity, it is sometimes hard to get around when we schedule meetings with others. We prefer lightweight communication applications such as Teamspeak but that ends up in gaming most of the time, oops.
When we’re really keen on seeing each other or, more importantly, share our screen, we use Skype, but in group calls, this feature often fails on us. Appear.in is our reliable backup, works like a charm and makes me wonder why we don’t use it more often… Oh wait, it uses more ram-power then 20 tabs open in google Chrome.
Experienced consultants know that words are equal to air without good visuals. Usually, a whiteboard is a great aid, it allows you to illustrate ideas, make notes, and visualize concepts. It’s all temporarily (months) recorded on a whiteboard, as a collaborative notebook. Getting the same result over the internet is a bit tough.
Usually, we will often share our screen, google images, videos or other content to visualize a message. But it greatly lacks in recording anything, so the next time your back on it, you’re heavily dependent on individual made notes.
That’s where RealtimeBoard jumps in for us. It’s literally a digital whiteboard, on which you can draw, note, dump images, make sticky notes or you name it on an immense big white board.
A planning only works if you tend to follow it. On that note, If there is one thing I’ve learned from my obsessive app scavenging for productivity, it doesn’t matter what tool/app you use, it will never make you more productive. These tools/apps merely aid you, not shape you.
Hail mother of all to-do, planning, note taking, scrum, info dump or whatever you shape it for. We use Trello for our scrum board, resources, and info dump. Just keep in mind that this tool is as good as the user managing it.
The level of compatibility of modern calendars are so great, you really don’t need the whole team to use the same thing. The real consideration here is often personal preference. I personally prefer using Sunrise calendar for its planning mechanism, Erik likes to use Mac’s Calendar app for the simplicity of things and Jeroen sticks with Google calendar for its lightweight.
How about you?
You’re welcome to share any tips, tricks or your opinion.