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Image by Annie Spratt from Unsplash

Tools alone can't solve all of a company's problems, but when used effectively, the best tools can add tremendous value and be a game changer.

At Standups, we're 100% remote with team members in the Bay Area, Germany, and Spain. And we need the right tools to help us:

  • Collaborate & Coordinate
  • Communicate
  • Stay Connected

Here are the 6 tools we use at Standups.

Collaborate & Coordinate

Our Workspace: Notion

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Notion is the all-in-one workspace we use which serves as our "content hub."

We use it for:

  • Taking notes
  • Writing product specs
  • Creating company documentation (guides, our values etc)
  • Detailed notes from customer development interviews

Our Database: Airtable

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Airtable is a spreadsheet-database hybrid, with the features of a database but applied to a spreadsheet.

We use it for:

  • Tracking every customer development conversation we have with a customer
  • Capturing feature requests + bugs / complaints from users

It's convenient for having all of the above info in one place because we're laser focused on solving problems for our customers, and feature requests, bugs, and insights we hear during conversations all feed in to our product roadmap / prioritization. The customer owns the problem, we own the solution, and Airtable helps us prioritize how we can deliver as much value to our users as possible.

We also use it for other things such as our Investor CRM + we're playing around with ways to use Airtable blocks (one we're using know is the Gantt view!).

Communicate

Real-time Video Communication: Zoom

Aka synchronous video messaging

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Zoom unifies cloud video conferencing, simple online meetings, and group messaging into one easy-to-use platform. We use Zoom for our real-time team meetings, as well as one-off calls that might pop up throughout the week.

Real-time Text Communication: [TBD] Slack

Aka synchronous text messaging

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We currently use Slack for real-time chat but we are experimenting with other tools. Why? Although Slack can be used for asynchronous (non-real-time messaging) it tends to skew towards real-time messaging. And real-time messaging can sometimes carry along an "expectation for an immediate response." This isn't conducive to creating and promoting an environment that enables focus, and encourages deep work. Messages also get buried and lost in Slack and it's hard to track where certain conversations are happening.

We're testing out a few other tools and are going to be experimenting with Twist in the future. Why? Twist explains two potential upsides to their product on their website:

  1. Slack is fun at first, but quickly becomes overwhelming. Teams get stuck in never-ending group chats. Information gets buried. Stress is palpable.
  2. Work flows naturally when you’re not pressured to respond immediately. Twist gives people the space and time to make progress on work that matters.

In the future when we settle upon a tool of choice, we can update this post :)

Non-real-time Text Communication: Email

Aka asynchronous video messaging

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We actually don't use email much. However there are times when we use it such as when we:

  • are communicating with external parties (such as our legal team)
  • want to forward along information to each other (could be a message from a user)
  • we want to send something and make sure it doesn't get lost in a barrage of messages in Slack 😅

Non-real-time Video Communication: Standups

Aka asynchronous video messaging

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Simply put, there are times when real-time video is:

  • Inconvenient (breaks your workflow)
  • Inefficient (did we all have to sit through a 30 min meeting for this?)
  • Not possible (given big timezone differences)

And there are also times when real-time chat is:

  • Time consuming (it's a hassle to type out a long message and make edits)
  • Ineffective (it doesn't express and capture the true nuance and message that only video can)

For times like this (and we've learned from not only our experience, but from teams, that this happens often) we use Standups.

We'll let our friends at Golinks explain Standups for us 😄

Think of Standups as Instagram stories for work. Record short voice or video updates at your team’s desired schedule to fill everyone in on company or task happenings.

What we ❤️ about it

  • Provide async updates without being tied down to a meeting
  • Works well with teams in different time zones
  • Comment and react to your team’s videos
  • See your coworker’s beautiful faces 💁‍♀️#nofilter

Staying Connected

There's nothing like spending personal time, face-to-face, with someone else, but when working remotely, any type of interaction helps. From leaving a small funny comment on a Notion doc, to seeing your coworkers on a Zoom call.

But there's a certain magic in being able to see and hear from your teammates everyday, whether that's in a work related context or a fun social related one. And this is how Standups truly helps our team stay connected and stay in sync, no matter where we are.

We've sometimes gone a full week where we only communicate via text and Standups (no phone calls or zoom calls) and when we hop on a call the following week, we joke, "Wait, why does it feel like we just spoke?!" That's the magic of Standups ✨

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Arjun & JP on Standups, everyday

What Tools Do You Use?

I hope seeing the tools we use has given you some ideas for how you can better collaborate & coordinate, communicate and stay connected when working remotely. I'd love to hear about other tools you use that you find to be most useful. Let us know on Twitter @StandupsHQ!