Remote Working: Easier With These Nine Tools

Remote working can be beneficial for both employer and employee. One study found that remote employees are happier, more productive, and 50 percent less likely to quit. But while working from home eliminates distractions you might ordinarily find in the office, it can be harder to collaborate with your team, monitor your hours, and stay connected with your boss. Thanks to technology, though, there are a few online tools that can alleviate those issues, making your remote work easier and more efficient.

Work at High Speeds with the Right Internet

Before you can use any online tools, you need reliable, fast Internet. The amount of Internet speed you need depends on your daily tasks. You want to make sure you have enough bandwidth to handle your needs, especially if you are streaming music and webinars, sharing large files, or holding video conference calls.

Collaborate with Team Members Using Google Drive

Google Drive is one of the simplest ways to share and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in real time. You can see co-workers’ changes, add comments, and ensure your team has the most current draft without worrying about emailing new versions back and forth. You can also store photos, documents, videos, and recordings in your Drive so you can access them from any computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Chat with Co-workers at Any Time with HipChat

One of the biggest potential problems with working remotely is the lack of immediate face time with co-workers. When you’re working from home, you can’t walk over to a co-worker’s desk to ask a question. Luckily, services like HipChat make it easy for you and your co-workers to chat, send files and share screens. When an entire company is on HipChat, it’s as if everyone is working in the same building.

Make Scheduling Meetings Easier with Every Time Zone

It’s noon in California, but what time is it in Arkansas or Colorado? Scheduling meetings with people in multiple time zones can get complicated. By using a time zone converter, such as Every Time Zone, you instantly know what time it is around the world. You’ll save precious minutes each time you schedule a meeting and avoid the “I thought you meant noon my time” confusion.

Find a New Favorite Spot to Work with Workfrom

One of the great parts about working remotely is that you can choose where you work. While some people prefer the comfort of their home, others enjoy the creative boost that comes with new surroundings. If you like to change up your workspace, Workfrom is an essential tool that helps you discover cafes, shared working spaces, and other work-friendly locations near you.

Virtually Manage Projects with Trello

Project management is one of the keys to remote work success. You need to be able to see your team’s progress on different projects. Trello is a simple project management system that allows you to create project boards and lists to chart your progress, from the initial ideas stage to the completed virtual high-five. You can also add people to different lists and stages to streamline collaboration. Trello gives you an easy way to create goals, delegate tasks, and let your boss see what you’re working on and accomplishing.

Hold a Video Conference with Skype

Video conferences, as opposed to emails or chat rooms, make it easy for remote workers to connect with their bosses and team members face to face. Whether you hold video calls daily or monthly, Skype is an excellent option. It’s simple to use, well recognized, and reliable. Download the app on your computer, tablet, and smartphone so you can hold a call at any time.

Share Your Screen Using

Sometimes the only way to troubleshoot or explain a solution is to share your screen. With, you can hold webinars, invite up to 250 participants, and record your meetings. Additionally, allows you to personalize your conferences and send invitations for collaboration, which helps establish a professional and efficient workflow.

Send Large Files with Dropbox

Every team needs a repository where they can share project files too large to send via email. Dropbox is a popular Cloud storage service that is intuitive, secure, and easy to use. Use Dropbox to back up important files, work on presentations with other teammates, and access your documents from any device.

By using online productivity tools and technology, you can successfully and efficiently work with your team members from any location. Get started by trying some of these tools to see which ones help you and your team!

It is NOT Mandatory to Use Twitter

The #TChat that took place Wednesday was titled, “#TChat Communication Tools: You Can’t Use Them All”.   Specifically, take a look at the questions that were posed and discussed.  The focus of this blog post is on question #2, “how do you as a marketer, recruiter, leader or HR pro, pick and choose how to collaborate with your colleagues?”

I am going to attempt to answer this question from my perspective as a human resources expert, because after all that’s where I came from and that’s where my brain is 24-7.

As a starting point, we all know that it is absolutely critical and crucial for business to be strategically leveraging social media.  We also know that approximately 8 gazillion social media platforms exist today, so it’s pretty easy to get confused about which ones are the best, and ultimately which ones to use.  You simply can’t use them all, but you can certainly identify which ones should work best for you.

A Jeff Waldman Psychology Factoid…

I have been saying the same thing to clients since email became mainstream, and that is, “it doesn’t matter what methods of communication you use, face-to-face is and will ALWAYS be king”.  It allows people to pick up on body language—visual cues that are so critical to effective and clear communication.  BUT… yes always a but… you can’t always be face-to-face with someone, especially in today’s highly complex world so it’s as important to complement the face-to-face by using non-visual communication tools.  It’s imperative that such tools effectively satisfy the unique factors (i.e. skills and interests) of those that you work with.  The rest of this blog post is dedicated to talking about a few of these factors.

In thinking about what the factors are, I identified many but then saw that they could all be grouped into 3 categories.  They are physical location, organizational culture and employer brand.

Physical Location

Our business community is global.  Within corporate environments, gone are the days where every single employee works under 1 physical roof.  It’s common for teams to be physically located in various countries around the world, and to have never spent a second together in the same room.

Organizational Culture

How is information naturally shared?  How organizations are structured and the demographic make-up of their workforces can significantly impact which tools will and will not work.  Does your organization support and enable open collaboration between departments, or are departments largely operating in silos?  Do you think a tool like Yammer, which is a highly effective collaboration tool, would work in a bureaucracy?  Or, do you think face-to-face meetings as the primary information sharing channel would effectively work in organizations that are staffed predominantly with Gen Ys?

Employer Brand

We live in a “branded” world with employer brand being a key one.  In effect, how an organization operates, how they are structured, and how they support, enable and measure success are key elements that define their employer brand.  These elements are also key drivers of who they attract as prospective employees.  Work and personal are more intertwined today than ever in the history of the organized corporate world.  As such, corporate workers are placing more importance on how a business operates (i.e. the internal infrastructure, the machinery/tools that run the business) than ever before.

If your organization employs traditional methods of communication then you’ll attract prospective employees who are naturally comfortable and interested in this form of communication.  The same can be said for people who love using leading edge tools.

At The End of the Day…

It was interesting to reflect on last night’s #TChat.  The one glaring thing that I realized is how many different methods of communication I use in my own life, and the final count was astounding.  I couldn’t even imagine how corporations (who are highly complex entities) could survive if they used too many communication tools.

So, where I’m going with this is regardless of what your employer brand is, regardless of where your employees reside, and regardless of your organizational culture, one thing remains consistent with all organizations.  That one thing is “simplicity”.  Keep things simple, do not over-complicate by using too many mediums of communication.  Pick the select few that work the best, stick with them and maximize what they can do for you.

By the way, it isn’t mandatory that I use Twitter… BUT… I use it because it has enabled me to effectively build and promote my personal brand, make awesome new business contacts and socialize with people from all 4 corners of the globe on mutually common interests.  It’s been a huge win-win for me.

My Communication Channels

There are quite a few but here they are:

Collaborative Communication Car Pool Fast Lane: #TChat Recap

I got the invite to chill with someone. And that’s when it hit me: there’s just too much information, too many content curation tools, too many sharing tools, too many communications tools that don’t really help me communicate. Whirlwind. Zoom. Zis-boom-ba. Turn the fire hose off and get me a real drink.

Sure, early adopters are compelled by their very nature to keep the fire hose on their hip next to their smart phones — like six-shooters ready for action. We want to experiment with innovative ideas, build on them and launch our own.

But do we really need this much action and interaction? Or is it creating a lack thereof? For me personally, I probably experimented with over 10 new “communications” tools in 2011, 9 of which I’ll never use again. I’m sure there are dozens more I’ve never even heard of.

When you ask the question, “How many communication tools/services do you use daily both in business and pleasure?,” my answer is, “Too many and not well enough.” I would argue that’s the case for most of us — tasting and playing and using less than 5%-10% of the communications tool capacity no better than an email see-saw. New and old services alike need utilization that sticks, because if you don’t use it regularly, you kill it, and that’s not what the founders of new tools want to hear. That’s why it’s highly subjective and contextual, finding the right daily communication tools that help move life along and not hinder it.

Facebook doesn’t have to worry about that. Neither does Twitter or LinkedIn. But all are anchored in email, the long-standing messy message moving tool. Not a communications tool, a messy message moving tool. The novelty wore off for me in the early 1990s when I worked at San Jose State University and we used email to push messages back and forth. Because it was fun and we could do it. Woot.

Have you ever tried to have a collaborative conversation via email? I know you have. It’s painfully disruptive and a time sink. Back and forth. Wait. Back and forth. Wait. Back and forth.

Hold the friggin’ phone. Literally — hold the phone and call me. It’s easier that way and more productive. Three others that I’ve found for all my iterative work worlds are Yammer and Skype and SocialEars. I’m sure you have your favorites as well. If you’re in a bigger company, your HR software might even have social communication functionality.

Let’s kill email like I want to kill the resume. Please. And no, I’m not a big texter either since I always text in complete English sentences like critical thinking homies. Word.

The good news is that the #TChat collaborative communication car pool fast lane is one that has remained open for over a year now, and the sharing and comparing and contrasting and venting and networking and catching up every week about all things world of work has made the information superhighway a little easier to traverse.

Then again, another value of virtual collaboration and online communication is that I can turn it off and actually get some real creative work done.

Don’t look at me that way. Get back to work. We’ve got communication innovations to invent.


Thank you to everyone who joined us last night! Welcome to 2012 #TChat! If you missed the preview, you can read it here.

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#TChat Communication Tools: You Can't Use Them ALL

What’s your morning communications, social media routine like? Mine’s getting more complicated every day. Personally, just email requires checking at least three accounts on three devices. At least one is Gmail, so I green-light Gmail chat and also Google+. Then it’s on to open a Skype window – many clients, friends reach me through Skype instant message. And to make sure I’m truly open, AOL Instant Messenger and Yahoo Messenger are active, too. They’re a bit old-school, but a few of my clients still use them, so it’s not really negotiable in my world.  Then it’s on to Yammer to check up on the latest and greatest with my teams.

Twitter comes next. Hootsuite, Old School “regular” Twitter, and TweetChat  helps me monitor multiple Twitter streams and also makes it simple to cross-populate Facebook and LinkedIn with content. Another communications tool I’ve been checking out is the open-source Trillian, which automates the  management of multiple chat clients on both desktop and phone.

When it comes to corporate communications, it’s a whole new ball of wax, Facebook page admins, several WordPress log-ins, all the email and communications platforms like MailChimp, Constant Contact, AWeber and more. There are even ways to communicate via song (Spotify) and visual interest (Pinterest). Granted, not all of these apply to professionalism, but in our connected world, they sure do influence it.

The new tools can also be overwhelming; it’s a matter of choosing and experimenting. But when do we finally just pick and stop experimenting? What works best for workplace collaboration and productivity? Do you stop communicating? Ever?

Actually, no. Facebook is saved for stolen moments between calls and meetings on my end. I’m trying to use it more frequently, and in a way that does not make my friends have to deal with all my tweets (always a work in progress). Let’s not forget Facebook messaging – again, I’m trying to make it work into my weekly routine. And LinkedIn – the ole social standby – is a great business communications tool, so there’s always a browser tab open for it. Mind you, this is all before my first cup of coffee.

Does your social blend in a way that feels comfortable and consistent yet? Do you sense a theme emerging here? I think many people are trying to determine the very best way to manage communications tools both for  business and for pleasure.

The irony: in this flurry of activity, there hasn’t been  a single F2F social interaction, not even a cat sitting on the keyboard. Over the past year, actual live phone conversations have dropped off a tad. I’ve been making a point to schedule more meetings in person and to call people via Skype, Google Voice, or cell. Sometimes there is simply no time for in-person meetings. I live my business and social life, increasingly, in the world of social media. Some days it doesn’t seem healthy. Some days it feels just right. Some days I wonder how I ever existed without it. Some days I long for more IRL “In Real Life” contact with people.

In this week’s TalentCulture World of Work #TChat – brought to you through the wonders of social media, of course – we’re looking at the good, the bad and the ugly of social communication and workplace collaboration tools. The beauty of  Twitter Chats are clear – hundreds of people worldwide can have a discussion in real time, regardless of physical location – but it’s not clear which other social and workplace communications tools deliver a similar value.

And we have a hashtag where people can show up and share content, insight and fun with us 24.7. It’s become a unique online community and we look forward to continuing the conversation this year. We are going with the connection flow and enjoying every moment.

So let’s come together to explore which communications tools add value and which merely distract us from being productive. Because you can’t use them all. Or can you? Join us Wednesday night on #TChat The World of Work January 18th from 7-8 pm ET (6-7 CT, 4-5 pm PT), where social media and communication topics are in the hot seat. Join meKevin GrossmanMaren Hogan, Sean Charles and Kyle Lagunas for a very special #TChat.

Questions we’ll be discussing this week are here:



What? No Skype Interviews? #TChat Recap

That was most surprising to me in last night’s #TChat on interviewing.  The fact that most of the participants didn’t think live webcam interviewing was viable.

Here’s a quote: “Skype interviewing is like buying a car on EBay. Saves a trip, but not always worth the hassle.”

Why is it such a hassle?  I understand the U.S. still falls behind other nations in big Internet bandwidth and solid connectivity, but between basic Internet connections, webcams and Skype to Cisco’s TelePresence Meeting Solutions, we can connect so easily these days live and in person without really being “in person”.

Even smaller firms are hiring remote, virtual teams around the world, and it’s just not fiscally feasible to fly folks in for face-to-face interviews.

Phone screening works well for early-on interviews, but a lot of non-verbal queues are missed when you can’t see the person — and that goes for interviewer and interviewee.  Sure you can “sense” verbal queues via tone and responses, but there’s still interpretation lost without “seeing”.

I thank Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter for having my back:  “I think Skyping will become a ‘norm’ for interviewing; is fairly comfy, easy venue, in my experience. Just go to quiet room, dial up.”

Right on.

Otherwise most participants last night agreed that better interview preparation for employer and applicant are necessary to improve the potential hiring exchange rate.

I agree with one of Meghan’s final points:  “Key take away = Questions should be open — ended; avoid questions that can only be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”

That’s the basic premise to behavioral interviewing — probing past performance with scenario-based questions will predict future performance.  You’re not going to get much insight when you ask an applicant “tell what your strengths and weaknesses are.”  But you will when you discover how the applicant acted in specific employment-related situations.

One other point I liked from last night was the fact that interviewing, at least early-stage interviewing, is more about screening out those who don’t make the cut versus identifying hiring potential of those who do.

Here were the questions we asked last night:

  • Q1: Why are interviews so important in the screening and hiring process?
  • Q2: Why are so many employers and applicants “bad” at interviews?
  • Q3: What are the advantages and disadvantages to phone screening?
  • Q4: How much are employers using live video calls for virtual team interviews (Skype)?
  • Q5: Why are behavioral interviews better than traditional interviews?
  • Q6: It’s been said that even the best applicants can train to even best a behavioral interview.  What to do?
  • Q7: How can emotional intelligence be assessed in behavioral interviews?  And can it be?
  • Q8: Any interviews gone bad stories?  Do spill.  I will repeat them in the recap.

I’m going to probe question 7 more in another post, but in the meantime, here’s a Monster article on the subject of interviewing and emotional intelligence.  And it’s hard to tell stories in Twitter because it takes a lot more space that 140 characters, so if any of you want to send me your “interviews gone bad” stories for future fun recapping, please send to me at kgrossman (at) marcomhrsay (dot) com.

The stats from last night were again fantastic.  Who says you can’t engage on Twitter?  We had well over 100 people participating in the actual #TChat hour contributing over 1,200 tweets.


Meghan and her savvy TalentCulture team, the TC community and little ol’ me, are again very grateful for you all and for your participation.  You gave us some great ideas for future topics and we look forward to next week already!

Here are some insightful #TChat tweets from last night: