Stay connected with your team

Since the COVID-19 lockdown began, thousands of businesses and organisations, (including us here at State Library Victoria), have flocked to team collaboration software to help us work from home. For some this isn’t a new way of working, but for others it has been a steep learning curve. Post-COVID we’re highly likely to keep using these platforms, and to do so more selectively, extensively and proficiently.

But with so many different tools out there, how do you know which is the best for your team? Here are our thoughts and recommendations.

Slack

Slack – or Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge – is one of the most popular software tools used by teams working remotely. Quicker and more efficient than email, it allows structured conversation threads, direct messages and file sharing. You can send messages and files to a single person or a group, and conversations can be organised into different channels for specific projects, giving everyone a shared view of purpose and progress. Hashtags (#), mentions (@) and emojis contribute to the effectiveness and informal feel of the tool.

These short, punchy video tutorials give a good overview of the features. Best of all, Slack has a free version that gives your team access to the basic features.

The story of how Slack was formed is a great read. Check out this article about how CEO and Co-founder Stewart Butterfield created Slack to solve the struggle of team communication while primarily working on game design.

Microsoft Teams

If you’re using Office 365, Microsoft Teams is a great online hub for remote teams to chat, meet, call, collaborate, co-author, share and store files. Like Slack, you can set up channels for teams working together on specific projects.
It offers high grade security features and integrates seamlessly with other Office 365 products such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook . Outlook and Teams work well together so setting up a meeting via audio or video conference call is easy. Meeting participants can also draw and write together on a virtual whiteboard.

You can use lots of different apps such as Yammer, Zoom and Trello within Microsoft Teams and gifs, stickers, and emojis are an option in a group chat or in direct messages. To give your eyes a break, you can tap the toggle switch to dark mode.

Teamup

Teamup is a calendar designed with groups in mind, to help manage their shared time and resources. It’s useful for teams in large organisations, small business owners, project managers and schools – as well as families!

In Teamup you can use colour-coded sub-calendars to organise people (team members), places, resources, events or a process. It shows a clear overview of staff shifts and duties to avoid double bookings. It’s easy to share a Teamup calendar and you can control the level of permission from read-only to various levels of modifier access. It also offers a range of calendar views to suit your needs and gives you a view of the bigger picture as well as the detail.

These Live Demo Calendars show useful snapshots of what Teamup can do, including team calendars, staff scheduling, events and room reservations. You can also integrate Teamup with Slack, to quickly notify your team of changes to your calendar.

Yammer

Yammer is a social network for companies that aims to help employees connect and communicate across the organisation. It’s fabulous for colleagues to post updates (not always related to work), questions, conduct polls and show appreciation. A new Yammer app called Communities can be integrated with Microsoft Teams.

More to explore…

Software for remote teams combines the technology that has shaped the modern office (such as the telephone, email, photocopier and PC) with features designed to mimic the workplace, such as the coffee/watercooler catch-up and celebration of milestones. With the current proliferation of options, you can choose the remote office style to suit your team.

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