For Seamless Collaboration With Your Remote Team
“The right tool for the right job”, the saying goes. Whether you’re remotely parsing Apache log files or collaborating with a remote WordPress admin, the right tools can help you air the virtual waves flawlessly…well almost. Also, remote employment is growing in popularity. Keeping up to date with a few of the more common tools and platforms will pay off in the long run.
Tools to Keep You Moving Forward
Depending on experience, many Virtual Administrators have a plethora of tools up their sleeves. Storage solutions, productivity, remote access and some shell magic. The right set of tools is essential for managing an efficient work day, accountability and keeping your team in the loop. Here, I list some of my favorites which can help with optimizing performance, collaboration, and remote administration.
Communication and Collaboration
Trello collaboration tool
Trello is a unique and versatile project management tool. Perfect for team forecasts, program assignments, or personal projects like vacations. Trello’s web-based interface works as a system of cards or columns with rows of tasks in each column. Users may see them as index cards. Each card and be moved from board to board as tasks are completed and move further along the production line. Each advancement indicates the progress and status of team members assigned work. Trello is great for implementing Getting Things Done. Also, it is a true Workflow monitor for the Scrum, Kanban or Agile inclined. A few other features include:
- Free or paid service.
- Cumulative flow diagrams (CFD).
- Drag and drop feature.
- Burndown Charts.
- Board Templates.
Asana web-based task tracking
Asana, a tasks management tool, for the most part, that allows team communication and collaboration. Asana is great for tracking lists of tasks that are part of a larger project. Members can follow the progress of those tasks from a device or web browser. You can add team players and share project files. Asana also integrates with Slack for communication with colleagues and task clarification. Just a few Asana features:
Of course skype. Although everyone seems to be getting into the messaging game, Skype remains one of my favorites. According to Statistic Brain, Skype as a total number of 74,000,000 users. Therefore, whatever team you may find yourself on, there is a good chance Skype is somewhere in the house. Versatility is what I love about Skype. You can connect with IM, call or video chat. A few good Skype mentions:
Although Skype has conference call features and GoToMeeting and Adobe connect perform well, I prefer UberConference
. It simplifies the whole conference hassle. There are no numbers to remember or pins to enter just a simple URL. The HD call quality is also far superior to that of traditional functionality. Although a number is not required to attend an UberConderence you can receive a US-dial-in number and connect it with your address book. Members joining familiar faces instead of you having to ask, “did someone just join in?”. No more wondering who is who. UberConference
- Screen sharing and chat features.
- HD sound quality and recording.
- LinkedIn and Evernote integration.
- Free or business version.
- Call from Slack.
Google and G Suite
For virtual collaboration, a web-based office suite can be a fantastic source to keep groups connected and up to date. Consequently, if you have used Google web based products before such as Google Docs or Google Drive, the G Suite will feel familiar. It’s basically the same products bundled together with a few added features under one umbrella (machine learning, Natural Language Processing).
If you need more horsepower, Microsoft Office 365 has a paid subscription with all the bells and whistles including storage. For Office power user, learn more here.
Time tracking software
FreshBooks, a cloud-based accounting program normally used for invoicing, also has time tracking features
. A perfect bookkeeping tool for freelancers, it works great for those managing a team as well. To use time tracking features, projects and tasks are required, but once everything is setup, you can see exactly where your time and money are going. Just a few reasons to consider FreshBooks:
- Free and paid versions.
- Export bookkeeping reports.
- G Suite integration.
- Works with HubSpot and Stripe.
- Tax preparation help.
If you happen to be in charge of a remote team and need to track group productivity as well as hours, HiveDesk
is the answer. There are many features packed into HiveDesk, but it excels in team member time tracking. Although HiveDesk has a website where you can track your production, you will need the client software installed on your system. Fortunately, HiveDesk supports Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. Like an online time card, you log on, clock in and get to work. Screenshot frequency monitors and randomly records activities. Check out the LinkedIn
- Free trial.
- Screenshot recording.
- Set default pay rates.
- Activity reports.
- Auto idle time checkout.
If you find yourself in a virtual systems administrator role a collection of remote tools can come in handy. In most situations, you can’t work without them.
Connect with OpenSSH
is an open source version of the Secure Shell (SSH) protocol. It is a command line utility that allows system admins to remote
into Linux/Unix servers. The OpenSSH server software sits on the server listening for requests. Authorization to connect is handled by passwords, Kerberos tickets
or more commonly a public key. PuTTY allows for a Windows version
of the SSH client. Once connected commands can be typed in as if you were physically on the server.
A Remote Desktop Viewer
There are several remote desktop connection platforms out there, but they all basically do the same thing. They allow you to connect and control computers on the same network or the Internet. Windows
and Mac OS
have this feature built in as does Linux with the GNOME desktop
. Most allow for network-wide updates, configurations and user messaging.
Git Version Control
is highly popular amongst programmers, but you don’t have to push code to use it. Groups that collaborate, but need a way of controlling updates also use it. Git is now used by writers
, musicians, designers and more. Although, it’s an open source system you will need the aforementioned PuTTY program to use it on a Windows PC. Familiarity with basic Linux commands is also helpful.
A software configuration management tool
is one such tool. It runs on both Windows and Linux/Unix systems. Puppet has two versions, Open Source Puppet
and Puppet Enterprise
. Puppet alleviates tedious repetitive tasks on a large scale. In centralized cases writing scripts could address this, but as infrastructure complexity grows and software rapidly advances, workflows and software control can be overwhelming. Puppet handles users, data, packages or any resource defined by the admin. It brings all resources under one strategy. Furthermore, if you do virtual administrative work it is likely that you will soon run into Puppet. Experience with a some Linux command line basics and Git experience will certainly come in handy.