As companies across the world continue to take precautions against COVID-19, many teams find themselves "suddenly remote" and adjusting to a new set of challenges on top of their daily work. At Exponent, we've been operating as a remote team for most of the past year, with engineers, designers, and PMs spread across several time zones—not to mention thousands of users around the world who are part of our Slack community and Interview Practice forum.
While we don't have all the answers, we wanted to share a few of our favorite tools that we've been using to keep our team together:
The largest obstacle to progress as a remote team (or any team for that matter) is the lack of direct communication between team members. When you work in an office, you know when people are around, you can tap on someone's shoulder when you have a question, and you feel like a part of the same team.
Tandem gives you back some of this convenience in the form of a lightweight 'remote office' where you can instantly chat and share your screen with coworkers. To be honest, the always-on nature of the app is a bit off-putting at first (read: lots of mouth-sounds), but it's so much faster than setting up a conference call or pinging someone on Slack to see if they're available.
Another major problem with working remotely is that it's hard to communicate visually with teammates on rough ideas, sketches, and designs. Figma was a game-changer for our team in the way that we iterate and share designs at Exponent, allowing us to quickly gather feedback and create a source of truth for final design on our team. And even though Figma is technically meant for user interface design, we've found it to be useful as a more general collaborative workspace, where we can share inspiration and organize various projects that we're working on.
There are tons of products for writing and organizing docs—Google Docs, Paper, Coda, etc—but we've found that Notion has the best balance of organization and ease of discovery (you'll learn to love the Cmd-P search bar). It's not perfect for everything, but it's quickly become our home base for meeting notes, product specs, and even drafts of blog posts like the one you're reading. Plus, we love the ability to quickly publish beautifully formatted docs online and share them with anyone.
Do you have any tips or favorite tools for remote work? Share your thoughts with us below in the comments!