Remote working - tools & tips

Rich Cleeve

Based in Singapore, with a development team in Vietnam and customers in Singapore, Australia, the UK and the US, we have been working remotely for years. So here’s a few tips we’ve picked up along the way for those now having to do so.

Pictures and diagrams convey more than plain text so we use sketches, wire framing & design tools to make sure we are all on the same page. If you have a Mac, then Skitch is a great option for screen capture because it is so easy to annotate and share. Keep a note pad on your desk, draw pictures, snap & share with your phone - whatever works

For general communication we use Slack as it’s easy for people to pick up on conversations and share information, without getting left off of an email chain. It’s also more casual and requires less thought - composing an email still feels a bit like writing a letter.

On conference calls, good quality sound is critical and ear buds with a mic do a good job of cutting out background noise & feedback. We feel it’s important for video to be used especially when communicating with people who’s 1st language is different to our own. It means we can see each others reactions and develop a higher degree of rapport.

We use Google G Suite for spreadsheets, documents and slides because the ability to have multiple people collaborating on documents without having to email them back and forth, trumps all other features.

For project tracking we went through a number of tools before settling, on PivotalTracker. We found it is robust enough for us to track our software projects without being overwhelming for our clients. It enables everyone involved to see development progress without the need for constant status updates.

In summary the tools we use are:

Communication: Slack, WhatsApp
Conferencing: Zoom, Google hangouts
Drawing: Axure, Figma, Skitch
Project tracking: PivotalTracker
Documents: Google G Suite - slides, docs, & sheets

We’ve also worked on a few platforms for collaboration in other industries:

OnTrack for online financial planning to help people meet their retirement goals.

Copronet for tighter integration & information sharing between clients, planners and contractors in the construction industry.

ThreatAware, for cloud based network security with operational checks for compliance with data security policies.

Finally for everyones sanity, there is enough overlap in timezones to arrange meetings at sensible times without eating too much into personal time :)