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Our tools to successfully work remotely

The employees of zauberware technologies live at different locations in Europe. As our company follows the philosophy that competence does not have to be physically bundled at a fixed location, we do not need to restrict our choice of employees on their place of residence. And vice versa, it is no problem for zauberware if a team member changes the place of residence. To be successful with this model, we use certain tools to coordinate our cooperation.

Business

At a fixed company location, the entire team can get together at any time. In a remote team, you need the right tools to ensure that everyone involved is on the same level of information, is working for the same cause and is not feeling left alone or suspended.

In addition to the functionality, it is important that the utilization is fun, the design fits and that you feel at home. This was one of the lessons we had to learn the hard way. Our initial focus on functional scope and flexible adaptation possibilities let us create tools that were not used properly.

Classic tools for the design process and the software development itself, such as Sketch, Zeplin or git will be topic in another article. This article is mainly about cooperation and the execution of tasks.

After an odyssey for years of numerous tools like targetprocess, basecamp, trello and jira, to name really only a few, including a self-development we sometimes used, we are currently using the following toolset:

Teamwork for project and task management

Convincing design and functionality, it's really fun to work with. There are task lists and boards which can be used intuitively and flexibly.

Teamwork Project


In addition to the pure administration of tasks, we can also directly track the time spent and define it as customer-billable or not. The times can be summarized in invoices and exported appropriately. The export is not yet perfect but sufficient. Ideally, of course, would be the immediate creation of the invoices, but unfortunately is not yet possible. Some accounting programs can already be linked, but these are more focused on the US market.

We integrate our customers directly into Teamwork for larger projects. It is extremely simple to use and has not caused any problems, training has never been necessary. However, the range of functions is very extensive, but a few functions cannot be seen at the first glance and therefore they hardly confuse the user.

Price is almost unbeatable for our requirements, as all available subscriptions allow unlimited users and only limit the number of active projects. At the moment, we have between 30 to 40 simultaneously active customers and internal projects, so the smallest option is still enough for us.

We do not use the additional component Teamwork Chat, as this is currently still in beta state and works rather poorly on Android devices.

There is, of course, a free trial version: https://www.teamwork.com/friend/zauberware (you are welcome to access it via our affiliate link, since it will rain money for us if someone uses it).

Teamwork Desk for customer inquiries and as an e-mail replacement

A top integrated service desk that does not offer all the functions of Zendesk, but allows direct access to Teamwork. For example, tasks can be added to customer queries and viewed directly. 


Teamwork Desk


Concerning e-mails, which are also an important information source for other team members, we use Teamwork Desk not only for incoming inquiries, but also misuse the tool as a complete e-mail replacement.

The price is comparable to competitors on the market. It is nice that you don’t have to pay for accounts which only get access to the information, and do not perform any customer communication. 

Really pity is, however, that emails can only be forwarded to Teamwork Desk, so IMAP synchronization is not possible. 

 There is, like for Teamwork Projects, a free trial version: https://www.teamwork.com/frien... 

Workplace by Facebook for chat, internal screen sharing meetings and social networking

Anyone who knows Facebook, knows Workplace.

Facebook Workplace

It is the relatively young business offer by Facebook for companies. Basically a Facebook instance, only for a limited user area.

There are stand-alone mobile apps that are installed parallel to the normal Facebook apps.

In the chat, there is also a video and screen sharing functionality which we use for internal 1-1 meetings. Unfortunately no external persons can be added to the webmeetings and webmeetings with several people are not possible, so we use an additional tool.

Besides all criticism we have towards Facebook: it is used, it connects us, it is fun.

Amazon Chime for Webmeetings 

We use the new Amazon Chime service for web meetings with several subscribers and when a telephone dial-up from different countries is to be offered.

There are only a few solutions which are not based purely on WebRTC, but above all provide a simultaneous audio connection via computer and dial-in via telephone even in many countries.

The price looks ok at first glance, however, the telephone dial-up numbers are quite expensive and won’t look like landline ones.

Currently, for us, the best solution on the market, other possible tools would be Webex, which we used a long time before, and TeamViewer, where not only the remote access to another computer, but also web meetings are possible.

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