As a remote-first company, we love tools that let us collaborate in different, creative ways. We also find, for the sake of productivity, meetings are best avoided unless there’s a strong and clear reason for them. We wanted to share some tools that can be useful for different types of collaboration - for when the standard, janky conference call software won't do the trick. These are tools that are free and with a low barrier to entry.
Yap by Postlight allows real-time chat as close as possible to a real conversation experience - there’s no log of previous comments, and when new people join, they enter at the most recent comments, so they won’t know what’s been said unless you tell them. This is a feature, not a bug.
Chats are limited to six people because ‘seven is annoying’. And chat rooms expire after 24 hours of inactivity.
There’s no logging in, because who you are and what you say is not logged or recorded. Great for quick team catch-ups.
Mozilla Hubs allows you to create your own virtual room. You can then invite your colleagues in to share screens, watch a video, draw and otherwise catch up on important (and not-so-important) things. Sure, you can create a boring boardroom but you can also host your virtual meetings on a river island, in a spiral tower, on a foggy lake or any number of virtual ‘scenes’ you choose.
You can also create your own scene in Spoke, Mozilla’s 3D scene editor that’s compatible with Sketchfab, Google Poly and other 3d model content.
A great tool for getting chat-based customer support up and running quickly. You can get started with a full-featured chat support service pretty quickly either by using a direct link or embedding a widget into your existing site. You can also set hours of availability (anything outside of hours gets automatically sent by email), keep track of enquiries, get reports and manage everything else via the Tawk.to dashboard.
CryptPad is a useful ‘zero knowledge’, collaborative space to quickly create and collaborate on text documents, presentations and even polls. ‘Zero knowledge’ means that your data is completely encrypted so even the people who built the site can’t access it. Read more about it here.
A free, open-source, collaborative whiteboard app. You can invite people to collaborate with you by sending them the URL of your board, you can create a private board, or visit the open, anonymous board.
Glitch have also shared a bunch of interesting tools on their 'Open source, experimental, and tiny tools roundup’. There are small tools for games, coding, web and print design, and more. http://everest-pipkin.com/teaching/tools.html.
And you can find their complete guide to remote work at: https://glitch.com/remote/
(Coffeetime, for example, is a slackbot that pairs you up with other members of your team for a scheduled coffee break together, from anywhere).
Microsoft Teams and Zoom are increasingly relied on for conference calling but there are a lot of different forms of collaboration involved in remote working. Sometimes you want to be able to quickly share an idea, provide support to a customer or otherwise quickly collaborate on a project. These are just a few tools out there that can come in handy when a conference call isn’t quite what you need and you want to collaborate with apps that have a bit more personality.
We spend a lot of time thinking about software and testing different tools and resources and we're always happy to share what we learn - if you need advice about software that can help you continue to deliver services remotely, please don't hesitate to ask.