Adapting to working at home: the best tools you need for collaboration.

By
Somo
Date:
19 March 2020
Photograph:
Author placeholder
Listing image remote working tools

With Coronavirus impacting our everyday lives, working remotely will pose a considerable challenge for companies who are not set up for these changes.

At Somo, we have always operated in a distributed manner between our global offices and often our teams have been embedded at client offices. We see ourselves as an agile organisation, so for us the transition to work from home has come easy and it's business as usual. However, for many companies we know it's tougher so we’ve put together this simple guide to help you navigate the best products and platforms that can be used to help with remote collaboration, sharing information and staying in touch.

Top three tools for communication

1. Slack

For team communication, Slack is high up there on our list. This messaging tool – which works like a modern version of a chat room designed for the working environment – allows us to be in multiple groups for different work streams, create hashtags for projects and keep Somo fully connected! We find that Slack helps to maintain our sociable company culture and avoids possible isolation resulting from remote working by allowing all Somo-ers to talk both formally about work and informally about life during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

2. Zoom

This is our #1 tool for remote working; to keep the collaborative nature of our work going and keeping teams connected. Zoom is a well-loved and well-used tool for Somo-ers, enabling collaboration across our five global offices. Some of our favourite features is the ability to record your call, the ability to have a collaborative session with screen sharing capability, and last but not least - the great integration it has with Slack.

3. G-Suite

These tools are a great alternative to Microsoft Office that contains many of the same familiar features, but also enables several people to work on the same document, presentation or spreadsheet simultaneously and in real time. These are ideal tools for collaboration and increased visibility over what your team is working on. 

 

Top three tools for Product Management

For many, core product task-based tools such as JIRA and G-Suite (or equivalents) suffice for remote working, but some more distinctive and in-depth activities call for specialist tools. Some of our favourite ones include:

1. aha.io

This is a good example of a new breed of tools specifically supporting the Product Manager’s worldview, as opposed to more traditional Project tools such as shared task lists. It helps structure thinking around the vision, goals and value of a product, and makes it easy to collaborate on options at feature / epic level. It also integrates nicely with JIRA.

2. Amplitude

Analysing data to build up the evidence base for decision-making is central to Product as a discipline. Of course, you can’t just change analytics systems because you’ve gone remote, but we want to take this opportunity to call out this particularly powerful behavioural analytics tool which helps businesses uncover meaningful insights to drive engagement and conversion. 

3. Miro 

Miro is a leading virtual whiteboard tool that is used by all types of business from start-ups to large enterprises across the globe. Our Product & Design teams here at Somo love it, as it allows us to work collaboratively on activities that are difficult to handle remotely such as  running workshops and carrying out customer research.

 

Top three tools for Engineering 

1. Atlassian Cloud

The undisputed king of SaaS collaboration tools for software development is Atlassian. JIRA is the gold standard for issue workflow management. Confluence is the easy default choice for wiki-like documentation. The tools in the suite integrate beautifully with each other and with other common tooling like GitHub and Slack - in fact, it is hard to find a serious modern development tool that does NOT have an Atlassian plugin.

2. GitHub 

Quietly famous as being the home for the vast majority of the world’s open source projects, GitHub is very widely used to manage non-public software development as well. The Pull Request has become the standard vehicle of source change management workflows and with good reason - it works well and is understood throughout the coding community. As a high quality leader, GitHub also integrates smoothly with a very wide array of other common tools.

3. Docker Hub

Containers and container-based tech has become a standard for maintaining good comparability between development, pre-live, and production systems. Docker Hub is the original and the best when it comes to management of public and private containers, presenting as an “always available” secure source for consuming and publishing new builds.

 

Top three tools for Design 

  1. Figma 

Figma is a cloud-based design tool that allows anyone with the link to collaborate on a design project. It allows for easy commenting, co-creation amongst team members and also allows clients to view WIP as well.

2. Zeplin 

Zeplin is a collaboration tool used by many agencies to share designs with developers. Once complete, designs can be uploaded to Zeplin where our developers can readily access them and be able to extract any assets and design specifications from them. Both designers and developers are able to comment and tag people within the program if any questions or issues arise.

3. Abstract 

Abstract is essentially GitHub for designers. It’s a version control tool that ensures designers are working on the latest version of a file, allowing them to 'branch' the Master file and safely explore, create and iterate, without worrying about losing the original file. When ready, they can then merge it back with the Master file for others to see. Commenting and workflow are built-in, making everything that much smoother. This allows designers to work independently when needed, with an easy way to consolidate their work.

If any of our clients or partners whom we work with would like any additional advice on these tools then please do reach out to either your day-to-day contact or Rebecca Crook, Chief Growth Officer at rebecca.crook@somoglobal.com and we can set up a Zoom call to talk you through the best options for your organisation to help you continue working as normal.