🛋🥔 : Tools for working remotely.

When all of this COVID-19 intensified, many companies across different industries had to change what they do and/or how they do it faster than lightning. For us at Upgrowth, when we turned the “switch” to fully working remotely, it wasn’t a big change as we were already set up for it and empowered to work remotely as we needed. What you can’t really anticipate though, is that working remotely now and again is very different from the whole company working remotely day after day after day. There are some things we are experimenting with and learning along the way, and we thought we’d share them with you too.

Today, we’ll start with ‘tools’ (from software to techniques) of what we’re using and how we use them.

When it comes to communication…

  • Slack. We’ve always used Slack but it’s definitely increased now that we’re no longer in the same room. And thank goodness for it’s latest update to help us keep things organised on a personally customised level 😉. A downside to real-time communication tools is that nearly inherent subconscious demand of an immediate response. With working from home you have to manage your own time very differently given your home situations and you aren’t “always available.” We’ve been experimenting with really leveraging the status updates to manage expectations and let others know when you’re available. And if you’re new to Slack, this is a great guide to start with.

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Examples of status we’ve been using. The hard part is remembering to clear them sometimes 😂.

When it comes to meetings…

  • Slack calls for quick internal meets have worked really well for us. This is typically just two or three people and often impromptu. The sound and video quality is great and you can screen share if you need to.
  • We’ve been using Google Hangouts quite a bit. Since we use G Suite, a hangout link is automatically added to every meeting which makes it a breeze for our weekly all-team meetings, scheduled internal meetings, and those with clients as well. The video quality can be underwhelming, but it’s nice to be able to mute others when things get too chaotic!
    > Update! We’re also using this extension to have a grid view of the entire team as well as Nod extension to do quick reactions while we’re on mute.
  • Many of our clients use Zoom, and we really enjoy it. The quality is great, you can have many people on the call at once and the view of everyone doesn’t get limited like it does in Hangouts. BONUS: it has fun background you can change and you can even get some more at Canva.
  • Can we talk about Snap Camera for a second? Just the way it sounds, the filters you know from Snapchat have now come to your desktop. It’s an easy download and installation and you can do some fun things in your meetings — a great way to inject a little joy and laughter which is much needed right now.
  • We’ve also been really intentional about keeping our video on during all our calls and chats. Quite simply, it just helps. It feels more like human-to-human connection during this isolation, and you get a peek into your coworkers lives which helps the connection. Plus, sometimes you get to see a cute kid or dog/cat moment which is always worth it 😊.
  • We’ve been leaving a lot of space to just talk about everything going on. Sometimes it’s about the latest restrictions, ridiculous or frustrating things we see happening, or personal challenges we are going through during this time. Every time anyone meets, it starts with a check in on how you’re doing. This has gone a long way on just giving everyone the space to breathe and understand where everyone is at.

When it comes to design…

  • We recently made the switch to Figma at the end of last year and have never looked back. We won’t turn this into a post about why, but is incredible how powerful it is particularly in this situation. With everything being based in the browser, we have no questions about the latest file or progress. But the best part about it is real-time collaboration which empowers our designers to be in the same file at the same time with no issues.

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  • We’re still using Zeplin since part of our workflow is having a distinction between “work-in-progress and exploration” work vs what’s ready to move forward on.
  • For those who are using Sketch, leveraging Abstract and Zeplin is even more critical during remote work. We recommend putting together a process and workflow around this, so everyone understands and are working the same way.

When it comes to other stuff…

  • Password management: We use 1Password, and it’s saved us all so many times. All of our subscriptions, test accounts, etc. are saved so all the team can access and we have separate vaults for different clients to adhere to privacy restrictions. They’ve also extended their trial period to be 6 months free for all businesses during this time.
  • Documentation: We use Notion and it’s been really great during this time for us to be able to share the content we need to across the team easily. It’s also great as it doubles as your own personal note space that you can use as you please and also share as you please. It’s one of those apps that we’ve always used but has been kicked into high gear lately.
  • File Management: As we mentioned, we’re a G Suite company so we use Google Drive. We have had to be a bit more diligent now about ensuring everything is there and are exploring our file structures for an easier path, but overall it works well for us as a small company.
  • Collaboration: Miro is one of those that we’ve always been curious about but this separation has given us an opportunity to really explore. It offers a variety of forms that’s great for the entire team from hierarchies, flows, mapping, and is a great digital form of some of the workshops we run. It’s real-time collaboration enables us to all get on the same board and truly collaborate together despite the distance — #winning.
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Well, there you go! This encompasses the majority of the tools we’re using internally and with our clients that have eased this time. If you have some more ideas we should check out, let us know in the comments.

This is our first post of the 🛋🥔 series, some of the other topics we’ll be exploring are how we are staying connected and getting through all this, what shows are helping us escape from this reality, and more — so stay tuned!

This is part of our “🛋 🥔 Couch Potato Series” where we address some of the challenges we’re facing professionally (and personally) during this strange and intense time, and what we’re experimenting with to take them head on. We may update certain posts as we experiment, iterate, & refine, and we’d love to hear any of your feedback!