In the current situation there are more and more new tools enabling remote work. If you are an entrepreneur or your role is to organize work in the company, but you don’t know which ones will work best, this article will be useful for you. It describes free tools that I personally use. I divided the tools into 4 sections: communication, work organization, brainstorming and file sharing.
Slack will enable you to communicate smoothly with your team within one organization. It is especially useful when a large group of people is involved in the cooperation on the project, e.g. project manager, UX designers, UI designers, developers, testers, and even business analysts.
For me, the biggest advantage of Slack is less emails related to one project. On Slack we can create channels (public or private) – specific sections where group members involved in a given topic can talk freely. You can also write private messages directly to a specific person. You get a notification when there are messages for you. You can also share files through the app.
A number of integrations with external applications such as Google Drive are available. You can also make video calls directly on Slack.
Slack has a free version that has some limits, such as the maximum number of messages that are archived within one organization, and a paid version that does not. For more information, please visit Slack’s website.
2. Gmail, Google Meet
Gmail is a mailbox that is extremely popular. You can create your own filters, labels, tabs or mark important threads. It will come in handy when your project team is small and you don’t use an instant messenger like Slack. It will be especially important if you prefer to keep in touch with people by phone – then it is worth keeping summaries of all conversations in writing. Thanks to this, you will avoid misunderstandings and you will have confirmation of what has been agreed.
Thanks to Google, you can also use Google Meet, which allows you to video chat with multiple people. Nobody needs to install anything, you don’t have a conversation time limit, and all conversations and meetings appear in the calendar. All you need to do is generate a link that you will share with people you want to conduct the meeting with. However, they must use a Google account.
Zoom has become especially popular during the coronavirus outbreak, where we are all often limited to working remotely. You can use it to create group videoconferences that will give you a substitute for a real meeting with your team 😉 For me, it is an alternative to Google Meet, if my interlocutors do not use Gmail.
Unfortunately, in the free version, the conversation can only last 40 minutes. After this time – if you want to talk longer, you need to set up a new meeting or decide to subscribe 🙂
All the above-mentioned tools have a mobile version.
Organization of work
Asana is a one of free tools for organizing work when dealing with a large number of tasks. Even in the free version, you can create an unlimited number of them. For each task you will add descriptions, set a deadline, assign people who work on it. Users can clearly see what is to be done and when – in the form of a list or calendar. On Asana, they can talk to each other, send files. So it is also a good communication tool. By integrating Asana with, for example, Toggle, you can monitor the time spent on specific tasks.
In the paid version, there are additional features such as creating a timeline, milestones, etc. More information can be found on the Asana website.
Asana is great for coordinating a large number of smaller tasks, e.g. graphic designs in marketing agencies.
Trello allows you to create boards. With it, you can organize tasks in a clear and practical way. Using Trello, you can even write a backlog (a list of all tasks that should be done to receive a product) when designing an application.
I also use Trello in my personal life. It’s great for making lists, writing goals, and making notes.
The free version gives you the possibility of creating 10 boards, unlimited cards and lists, and the ability to place files up to 10 MB. Check out the Trello website for more information on paid amenities.
It is a good tool especially for daily self-organization. Todoist is a to-do list that you can divide into sections and prioritize.
An interesting option is the ability to create recurring tasks, e.g. every Tuesday I have to send an email to the team with comments on the correction. What is done, you can check off, and for timely completion you get points, which can mobilize the more reluctant ones 🙂
Todoist allows you to work with a team (for a group of up to 5 in the free version). The team has access to all tasks, so everyone can see what is still to be done, which facilitates the division of duties.
Todoist has also a paid Premium and Business version – find out more here.
All the above-mentioned tools have a mobile version.
If you value a creative approach to design and appreciate the importance of process visualization, mind maps, etc., your team will need Miro. In my opinion, this is currently the best tool that allows you to carry out any brainstorming. In the application, you can create any of your own boards from scratch, or use ready-made schemes: Kanban Framework, Mindmap, User Story Map Framework, Wireframing, Brainwriting, Customer Journey Map. When creating boards, you have many different tools at your disposal – text styles, sticky notes, shapes, stickers, etc.
Several people can work on one board at the same time, which is perfect for conducting workshops. You can also share the finished board with someone only with the option of adding comments. The downside of the free one is that everyone who has access to the link can see your boards.
In the free version, you can create up to 3 boards and you cannot save them on your computer. Here you will find information about the possibilities of the paid versions.
2. InVision, Freehands function
InVision is a tool dedicated to prototyping previously created static mock-ups. It also has an additional option – Freehands, where you can sketch simple lo-fi mockups, load your own graphics. I used it in the initial design processes before discovering Miro, which makes me work much more efficiently. InVision also does not have the option of sharing the created board with the option of adding comments (anyone who has the link can view the board or you can give him the right to edit it). The advantage of InVision is the ability to export created sketches to the .png format.
In the free version of InVision, you can create any number of “free hands”. And you can read about the paid version here.
3. Google Docs
A widely known and extremely useful tool, although sometimes underrated. In Google Docs we find the equivalent of Word (Documents) or Excel (Sheets). It will come in handy when several people are working on project documents. They will be able to edit and track changes, and add comments.
You can upload and share files up to 15 GB on Google Drive. On your hard drive, you can organize your documents into folders. Files stored in the cloud will not be lost, and you and the people who have the appropriate permissions will be able to view them from any device.
However, this is not the most convenient option, as by putting large files on the drive you use up your free space. If files are to be kept there for a long time – consider using another tool.
You have the option to buy additional disk space.
Dropbox is great for storing heavy project documents for multiple people to access. Dropbox Basic (free account) has 2 GB of storage space where you can share files. Additionally, you can restore files deleted within 30 days and manage their versions.
Dropbox has many paid options that you can read about here.
If you have to send large files to someone once and it does not require storing – you can use WeTransfer. With the free version of this application you can transfer files up to 2GB. The paid version allows you to transfer files up to 20GB.
Each of the above-mentioned tools is free in the basic version, so you can freely try them before you decide if you like it and if you want to use the paid extensions I hope it will help you efficiently coordinate project processes in your organization 😉
I invite you to read the other articles on my blog.