The Remote Toolbox

Useful tools for the remote team

Working remotely doesn’t have to be a technical nightmare. When 84codes first began, finding the right combination of user-friendly and effective tools to run a remote, tech-based company smoothly took years of trial and error. Don’t re-invent the wheel to manage your working life! Check out this blog post on the remote toolbox 84codes uses to manage our global team and spark some ideas for your own remote toolbox.

The Big Five

Slack as a remote tool

1. Slack

Slack is a communication application that allows conversations to happen in channels organized by topics, projects, teams, interests, or whatever suits the organization. It replaces email, chat, and videocalls and is highly integrated with applications that most companies already use such as Google and more.

Pros: We love Slack! All our teams consider it one of the most important apps to maintain good, up-to-date communication between team members. Slack also replaces the coffee machine hangouts and social bonding that is so important to any team - remote or otherwise. We love our #random channel and #animalplanet channel where we post images of our pets. Channels in Slack

Cons: Even though we do take some video calls in Slack - we prefer Google Hangout since its more reliable in our experience.

Read more about Slack here

Trello as a remote tool

2. Trello

Trello is a collaboration tool where you can organize projects into boards to make it easy to monitor work in progress, who’s working on what, and the stages of projects in process. It replaces lists and to-dos and centralizes all the information in one place.

Pros: All our teams use Trello as much as they use Slack. Our goals are set and added into a Trello board and that’s how everyone can see how we’re doing - what needs to be done and what has been assigned to us. Trello truly replaces all the private to-do lists that usually are lying around on desks and makes the progress of a project transparent and clear.

Cons: As a tool, we have not yet identified any cons with Trello, but keep in mind that each team member is responsible for their workspace on Trello, which can sometimes be tricky. For example, it’s very easy to create a bunch of cards, assign them to no one and then all of a sudden have an out-of-control Trello board. A good structure that’s accepted by all team members and used in the same way is critical to achieving a good result with Trello.

Read more about Trello here

GSuite as a remote tool

3. G Suite

G Suite is the enterprise version of Gmail and Google Drive. It holds all the necessary productivity and collaboration tools for communication, creating, storage and administration. Presentations, Google docs, spreadsheets, calendars, email, forms and so on.

Pros: It would be fair to say that this is our most important tool and our team feels safe and secure using G Suite. It makes collaboration, sharing, and editing of documents so easy that you almost take the simplicity for granted.

Cons: When it comes to documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, G Suite often acts as a replacement for Microsoft Office or Apple equivalents. While it will get the job done it sometimes feel a bit too “basic” - meaning, if you are into making fancy animations in Keynote or if you are working on huge spreadsheets, then the corresponding G Suite tool will probably fall short of your requirements.

Read more about G Suite here

GitHub as a remote tool

4. GitHub

GitHub is one of the world’s most popular software development platform. It provides hosted version-control using Git. In plain English, think of GitHub like a safe to store code, track changes and collaborate.

How our Dev-team Uses GitHub: When it comes to the actual code, we use Git and GitHub for source code management and code reviews. For testing, we currently run on a few different platforms including Heroku CI, Travis and, most recently, GitHub Actions. We don’t have any dedicated configuration management person or team; in fact, all developers are involved in tuning our setup and we encourage people to try different solutions. However, our team is trending toward GitHub Actions.

Read more about GitHub here

HelpScout as a remote tool

5. HelpScout

HelpScout is a tool for handling and managing support. The 84codes support teams are big users and fans of HelpScout since this is where the bulk of the work takes place on incoming support cases.

How we Use HelpScout: We have built some custom integrations allowing easy access to customer’s servers. When a customer has a question about one of the servers, we can directly jump into the dashboard and see the metrics and other important facts about that server. In HelpScout, we can write notes to each other as we are working asynchronously on longer-running support issues. HelpScout is also where we use the functionality to save replies and documents internally. This really saves a lot of time because we often get similar requests, and we can reuse a solution we’ve provided to other customers in the past.

Read more about HelpScout here

More great applications for the remote team

  1. Tuple.app and Screen.io - for collaborating while writing code. For smooth pair programming remotely, it can be a challenge trying to explain, “Extract that block to a method, from line 35 to 41, no - pass X… etc.” To make it easier, Tuple.app and Screen.io allow us to take control and enable us to demonstrate best practices and solutions in real-time.

  2. Krisp.ai is an AI-powered noise-canceling filter that removes the background chatter from your colleagues’ kids, pets, the road noise from the traveling team member, etc. It makes a huge difference!

  3. Rubocop To assist in keeping code clean and adhering to the guidelines we use linter tools such as RuboCop, standard-js, and others.

  4. Figma - for creating illustrations and images. Figma allows us to collaborate using the same images and see the full version history and is perfect for development team use.

  5. Ahrefs,Google Analytics & Metabase - These members of our toolbox keep track of keyword and data analysis and other tasks.

  6. PagerDuty For critical issues, we have a 24/7 PagerDuty schedule that follows the sun so that our on-call engineers can handle issues during regular office hours. As we have engineers working in Europe, the US and New Zealand, PagerDuty really helps coordinate the time zones for critical support personnel.

  7. Office Vibe Our employees’ opinions and thoughts regarding our organization are essential for us. Office Vibe gives us the opportunity to, on a weekly basis, ask our employees five randomized questions regarding culture, relationships with peers and managers, stress level, health, and working environment. The answers are anonymized and give us a hint on the employees’ well-being.

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