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Now that you’ve got a couple of weeks of working from home under your belt and you’re finding your footing and hopefully settling into a routine that works for you and your family, I have to share with you my favorite tools for remote work.
What’s your favorite new website, app or online tools for remote work you’ve discovered or just started to use regularly with your team? Jump down to the comments and share!
As someone that has been regularly using Zoom and Google Hangouts Meet to meet with teammates remotely for a while, I’m definitely enjoying the funny videos about video chatting faux pas! In fact, even though I have worked with remote teams for years and years, I had my own video chat OMGee moment the other day. My 5-year-old walked into my video chat with a client and asked if I could help her put her “bra” on (aka swimsuit top). I quickly shooed her away and acted like nothing happened but I was 3 shades of red.
Even though you may laugh at the memes and spoof videos that are no doubt popping up in your feed, it’s important to remember that there’s a learning curve with all these tools.
Not only that, but some tools just aren’t right for the individual or team. I’ve highlighted a few different tools for remote work in three major categories. You can then decide which one will work best for your specific needs.
Master Remote Work & Leadership: 8 Tools You Should Know About
Whether you need to host a team meeting, manage your projects remotely or stay in regular contact with your clients and colleagues- there’s no shortage of websites and apps available. These are some of my favorite tools for remote work. I’ve found that they help me and my team stay efficient, organized, and most importantly, connected!
If working from home is your new normal (for now) chances are, video conferencing is a new experience for you. Luckily, it’s pretty straightforward (once you get the hang of it). It’s a great way to feel connected to your team even though you can’t be in the same physical location.
Zoom is a great option for hosting a video conference with a larger number of people. A Zoom meeting can hold up to 100 participants with a free membership. Anyone in a Zoom meeting has the ability to share their screens with participants which I’ve found really helpful (especially for explaining something to a less tech-savvy co-worker).
One of the features I love most about Zoom is the ability to record. You can record meetings and share with team members who couldn’t attend the meeting. Another way I use the recording feature is to have clients use Zoom to record trainings or the audio for their trainings, which simplifies my role.
While Zoom has a lot of extra features and detailed settings you can get into, I find it’s basic interface simple and easy to navigate so I can focus on my meeting. On the downside, for larger organizations and advanced features, Zoom premium can be pricey!
Google Hangouts Meet
Another popular video conferencing tool is Meet, which is part of Google Hangouts. One of the main benefits of using Google over Zoom is that, if you already use GSuite, Google Hangouts is easily accessible. It is also a useful messenger tool for remote work.
Since I use Gmail already, I prefer Google Hangouts Meet for one-on-one video chats to check in with a client or a colleague. Meet supports up to 25 participants on a video call. It also has a lot of the same features as Zoom.
Most of these features require you to download an add-on. This can be a pro or a con. On one hand, if you’re just trying to check-in and stay connected with a team that’s used to seeing each other in person you may not need or want extra features. On the other hand, if you want everyone to be able to share their screens you’ll need to give them instructions for getting the add-on.
Even if working from home isn’t a permanent state for your organization, it’s worth it to look into moving your project management to an online platform like one of the choices below. While they’re all great tools for remote work, they’re also really convenient and easily accessible for office-based teams.
Trello is an easy-to-use, all-purpose tool for remote or online project management of small to medium projects. Trello’s interface allows users to easily see different aspects of a project, tag other team members in notes, and upload files. The best part is that Trello automatically sends an email notification to your colleagues when you tag them in a card. So that’s one less step for you!
Here’s how I like to set up my Trello boards to see the scope of my projects more easily.
I include a section for project resources where I upload or link any important project files. Even if you have a shared drive where these files are stored it can’t hurt to include a link to that file right on the board!
Then I have a to-do section (i.e. a backlog), where I list upcoming tasks that aren’t quite ready to be assigned yet. This allows me to see what I have coming up and plan ahead.
Once I have tasks ready to go with all the necessary resources, I move the card to the “Ready for Work” column. I then assign the task with a due date to the team member responsible for completing the task. Any notes I have, I put right in the comments section of that card, so I don’t have to send a separate email. Keeping the conversations about the project and project tasks right in Trello keeps my inbox clean and keeps all project information localized in one place.
Once a team member is ready to work on a task, they will move the card to the “Working on Now” column. Then, when they believe the task is complete, they’ll move the card to the “Shawntay Review” column. Once again, there’s no need for them to exit the Trello board and send me a notification email.
Finally, there are two more sections off-screen, one for tasks my client is reviewing and my favorite, the ‘DONE’ section!
If you like the idea of Trello but you need something that’s more robust with more reporting options, swim lanes, sorting options, points, etc, Jira is a great choice with a lot of features.
The standard Jira interface is geared towards developers. Nevertheless, you can customize your Jira board to work for your specific project. A lot of organizations might prefer Jira for this reason. If their tech team is already using Jira, they may already have resources (like a premium subscription). They can offer support to departments that find they need to move their flow online! In the last organization I worked for before starting up my own small business, every department used Jira. The tool really simplified the management of my training projects. We had an in-house Jira expert who built a customized board for my team. It was great!
Setting up Jira for the first time will take longer than Trello. However, once you’ve got your template set, it works very similarly. Team members are tagged in tasks that they can push through to the next step when they’re done. No need to use outside tools to notify their colleagues or send files.
I love Jira and the many capabilities that Jira offers. It is just a little more powerful than what I need in my business today. So I use Trello, which provides me with exactly what I need at a really nice price point…$0.00. Jira also offers a free version, but it doesn’t suit my needs.
Both Trello and Jira are owned by the same company. Trello was acquired by Atlassian so it is no surprise that both offer features that I really like.
If Trello seems too simple but Jira provides more features than you need, Kanban is a great happy medium. It’s easy to set-up, like Trello. However, it allows you to see multiple projects all on one screen (whereas, in Trello, to see a new project you have to navigate to a different board).
Kanban and Trello have two main differences: one is that Kanban doesn’t support assigning a task to multiple users. This might not matter to you, but I personally like the ability to tag multiple team members on certain tasks. I find it’s especially helpful after I’ve reviewed and made changes to a deliverable, so the person who originally worked on that task can see the finished product.
The other difference is that Kanban’s free version is very limited (2 boards and 2 users). Unless you’re just doing a trial or you have a very small team with limited projects, you’re probably looking at a small subscription fee.
Sometimes you have a quick question or you want to ping a colleague to make sure something’s on their radar. For teams who are new to remote work, having a chat option is extremely useful. It helps cut back on emails. Here are some popular choices for team chats.
Slack was one of the first messaging apps for business use and it’s one of the most popular choices when it comes to messaging tools for remote work.
With an easy-to-use interface, Slack can be a great way to keep the lines of communication open in a larger organization since it functions similarly to a message board. Users can start new channels, message between groups, or one-on-one. Slack also lets you choose between messages that are public or private.
Two of my favorite things about Slack that set it apart from other messaging apps are the ability to control notifications and file sharing.
In the settings, you can limit when Slack sends you notifications and be specific about what kind of notifications you get, which can really be a lifesaver when you need to disconnect from work.
Slack also lets you share files directly without limiting the size, which really comes in handy! Another nice feature is Slack’s integration with Trello and Jira.
Google Hangouts is newer in the messaging app world but it’s popular with companies that use GSuite already. I already talked about Hangouts’ Meet feature. It’s worth mentioning again that if you can use one tool for remote work for multiple functions (like chat and video) life will be much easier!
Hangouts chat feature is simple, you can message one-on-one or start a group chat. Notifications come through on any device you have logged into that Google account, so you’ll never miss them (but it makes disconnecting harder to do after hours!)
This messaging app can also be integrated with Trello. I haven’t tried yet, but I am going to work on it in the coming weeks. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Skype has a chat feature that allows you to get more in-depth with your messages than Hangouts. Once you send off a chat in Google, there’s no taking it back!
If you want to be able to edit (or delete) your own messages or react to your team’s messages, send voice memos, quote reply, or send a poll. Skype has those features built-in.
On the down-side, since Skype is a completely free service, you will have to deal with some in-app advertising, which can be distracting!
So which of these choices are you interested in trying out with your team to help make working from home easier? Head over to my Facebook community! Leave a comment telling me how these apps are working for you and your team. If you just can’t get enough of my recommendations for tools for remote work, you can check out my post on productivity tools for some other options I didn’t mention here.
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The Testimonials are In:
Working with Shanwtay and Katie at the Instructional Design Company was a dream come true. Their creativity, expertise, and professionalism throughout the entire process was beyond top notch. I engaged them to help turn my first book into a training course, and I could not be happier with how the final product turned out. If you have an instructional design project and you’re considering which company to work with, you can stop your search and thank me later. They are truly the best in the business.
I joined the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program because I struggled to find jobs in instructional design beyond the development phase. I’ve done a couple of training programs with lots of random projects, but I was overwhelmed, not connecting the dots, and not good at structuring my writing to hit learning objectives. I was looking for motivation and direction at beginning a better Instructional Designer.
After taking the Instructional Design & Tech Certificate program and joining my fantastic team for support, I found the structure and approach to be what I need to take my next steps, evening improving my skills in the development stage.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I love how this course let’s you work at your own pace. I got great tips and learned many things. The ongoing support for multiple people and groups is what I love the best. You are never alone in this process. I have been able to adjust my resume and began creating a portfolio of work I’ve completed to add when applying for jobs. I use many of the PowerPoint skills in my lessons and trainings. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to become an instructional designer.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I have searched for the last few years to find some suitable career change where I wouldn’t have to earn another degree and where I could use the talents and skills I already have as a teacher. When I came across the Instructional Design Accelerator course, I loved the fact that Shawntay was a former teacher and could relate to a teacher’s need to transition from the classroom. This was what sold the course for me. Her experiences are invaluable especially when translating teacher duties to instructional designer duties. I would (and have) recommended this program to other teachers I know who are looking to transition out of the classroom. I do appreciate ALL of her feedback on my projects!
L&D Project Manager
The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator certificate program is one of the most comprehensive ID programs out there for beginners. If you’re looking to grow your schools in ID and development then I highly recommend this program. Not only will this program give you an overview of theory, but you will receive a thorough walkthrough of how to apply what you have learned. Although I had already secured a position in Learning & Development when I bought this course, it helped me to move up into a new position as a Learning & Development Project Manager!
Future Instructional Designer
If you have any interest in ID, sign up for this program NOW! Shawntay and her team are top notch! The course content exceeded my expectations in a big way and the encouragement and support continues to be so valuable. You will not feel alone going through this course, you will learn so much, you’ll have many cheerleaders, and you will have fun!
Future Instructional Designer
I am really enjoying this program! It’s prerfect for someone who is thinking about a career shift to Instructional Design and does not have a lot of experience. This is my first real introduction to Instructional Design and it’s been the perfect beginner course to help me get my feet wet. The modules are broken down well and it’s great to go at your own pace and at your own time. The modules themselves are very comprehensive and you learn a lot from all of them. I really like how each one build upon each other and you’re working towards the bigger project of designing your first training course from scratch. I’m learning so much from going through this course! I was provided great feedback from Katie and Shawntay through the process via Trello Boards, comments on the Google documents, and Facebook group. This course has been well worth the time and effort and I appreciate the fact that I will always have the resources available to me after I complete the training (just in case I’m not quite ready to transition yet).
Future Instructional Designer
I can’t say enough great things about the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program! The length of the program is perfect; it doesn’t feel rushed and there’s just the right amount of structure to give you the accountability you need. There are so many opportunities to get live answers to any questions you have related to the course content or anything ID-related! This program gave me the support and structure I needed to both feel affirmed in the relevant skills I already had coming in and to fill in the gaps I had as a career-changer going into ID. Shawntay, Katie, and all the coaches are super helpful and supportive. I now feel confident that I have the tools and access to resources I need to apply for ID jobs without wondering if there’s something I’m “missing” in the preparation process. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to transition into ID or who just wants to brush up on their skills in the field.
Krista Johnson Awomoyi
Freelance Instructional Designer
I’d highly recommend the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program. I’m blown away by how much I learned in just 12 weeks. I had ID experience prior to taking this course and was just looking to get a better understanding of applying adult learning principles. This course well exceeded my expectations! Not only did I gain a clear understanding of adult learning principles, I was also able to apply those principles by creating assets for your portfolio using PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Pro and Storyline. The hands on support that we received was top notch.
This program is one of the most robust yet fulfilling L&D programs I’ve seen. I learned so much about the industry and about the limitlessness of my own capabilities. I am so appreciative of Shawntay and all of the trainers who took part in the program. They went above and beyond with not only guiding, but communicating live and working one on one or in small groups. If you are on the fence, I say take the leap and you will not regret it! There’s so much to learn, not only from the trainers, but also the learners in your group. Everyone comes in with their own skills and can be additional support and guidance for you. Thank you for creating this program!
Instructional Designer Training Facilitator
Shawntay is an amazing individual. She is very knowledgeable in all aspects of ID and eLearning. She is also very compassionate and loves to help and see everyone around her grow and prosper. Shawntay has been a great mentor to me and she has helped me mature as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She has provided me with opportunities when others have overlooked me. I am very grateful to have met and built a lifelong relationship with Shawntay.
I recently got hired into my first instructional design / training position and Shawntay was one of the first people to congratulate me!
Freelance Instructional Designer
My teacher-to-instructional-designer journey began two years ago when I left my teaching comfort zone and started my first freelance ID job. Now, I’m stepping out of the classroom and taking my freelance work full-time, so I’m thrilled to be joining the Tech Accelerator program. Adding technologies like Articulate 360 and Adobe Premiere Pro to my qualifications will help me take my courses to the next level and attract more clients!
Teacher Transitioning into Instructional Design
I am genuinely grateful for this course. I wanted a real-world perspective and feel like I got it. I’m teaching now, but nearing retirement age but can see myself working as an instructional designer well into my retirement years. My other goal is to take as many courses in statistics as possible in hopes of bringing some mathematical precision to the ROI question. Like you say, getting accurate metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but I intend to work on that part. That’s unimportant right now, what is important is the fact that I feel like this course was well worth every penny I spent and I would to it again in a heartbeat. I have too much going on right now, but as soon as I get some time freed up I intend to take your course in project management.
Turns Your Written Thoughts Into a Masterpiece!
Shawntay Skjoldager can turn your written thoughts into a masterpiece. She is great to work with and the most organized person I know!
President and CEO, The Creative Entreprenuer
Shawntay has been incredible!
Shawntay has been incredible and her team is responsive and effective in translating my training programs into professional presentations. Don’t hesitate to contact her for your project.
Beth B. De Lima, MBA, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP
President and Principal of HRM Consulting, Inc.
IDC is My Secret Weapon to Soar Above My Competition!
The IDC team has been my secret and special weapon of success. They have delivered above and beyond with every single project out in front of them. They have met and beat timelines. They have been Uber responsive every step of the way. I keep them on speed dial and have and continue to recommend them to friends and clients. If you are in need of instructional design and plenty more, this is THE ALL-STAR team that will more than deliver and help make you and your project soar above the competition.
LT. COL. Jason O. Harris
U.S. Air Force Officer, Special Operations Pilot, U.S.A.F. Academy Instructor, Motivational Speaker
A Tremendous Asset to the Project Team!
Working with Shawntay and the Instructional Design Company has allowed our university to meet the growing demands of our programs. Shawntay’s expertise allowed for the course development to be completed on time and met all of the university requirements. Shawntay’s project management skills were phenomenal and allowed my team to work on other areas while she completed this project for us. Her work is of high quality and her professionalism and willingness to help made her a tremendous asset to the project team.
Academic Quality Assurance Specialist, Abilene Christian University
Creative & Highly Talented!
Shawntay is a creative and highly talented instructional designer. She brought a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership that enabled her to own the design and creation of a full scale facilitator curriculum and train-the-trainer program. It was a pleasure to partner with Shawntay, her project management and communication skills ensured the project was on time and on budget.
Breaks Down Mammoth Projects
“Shawntay is quick study and carefully synthesizes information for presentations that are clear, concise and captivating. Her personality draws the audience in and her content mastery is excellent. A team player and organizer, Shawntay has the ability to break down mammoth projects, keep everybody on time and on task.”
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach
“I have had many opportunities to work with Shawntay—mainly in the support of implementing new eLearning initiatives. I have been very impressed by her ability to quickly learn how to use rapid eLearning development tools and effectively use them to create multiple courses within a short timeframe. Shawntay’s enthusiastic nature, attention to detail, and dedication to her work make her a pleasure to work with and a great asset to both Texas A&M University-Commerce and the broader training community within the Texas A&M University System.”
Director of Learning Strategy, Caveo Learning
Top Notch Professional
Working with Shawntay has been an immense pleasure. She is atop notch professional who brings enthusiasm and extensiveexpertise to professional curriculum development and execution. Her knowledge of tried and true techniques to maximize the effectiveness of presentations is invaluable.
Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Vice President of Research, CEIR - Center for Exhibition Industry Research
Fortunate to Find Shawntay!
“I was fortunate to find Shawntay when our organization was looking to expand and update our educational offerings. Shawntay proved herself to be an educational and personal development expert who immediately made an impact with our clients throughout Europe. Everyone who came into contact with Shawntay was immediately impressed by her level of expertise and willingness to share her knowledge with those around her. I would not hesitate to recommend Shawntay to anyone looking for an education subject matter expert.”
Director of Qualifications and NSD Services, Mary Kay Inc.
Short Turn Around. On Time. Under Budget!
“We hired Shawntay to develop a training facilitator’s guide and PowerPoint slide deck for an operations manual heavy with technical content. The project was made more challenging by a very short turn around, 5 business days, and the fact that the operations manual wasn’t complete and was being updated simultaneously with the facilitator’s guide and slide deck. Despite these challenges, Shawntay delivered as promised. On time and under budget.”
Dave Beeman, CPP
Vice President, Andy Frain Services
Need an Expert Who Consistently Delivers?
“Working with Shawntay you will immediately notice her professional presence and poise, but over time her tenacious pursuit of excellence and her skills in instructional development and adult learning will really impress you. I worked with her at Mary Kay, and was able to experience firsthand her great rapport with regional partners in Europe, understanding their unique sales force training needs. In addition, Shawntay consistently exhibited grace under pressure, made executive decisions to move business forward. If you are looking for an expert who consistently delivers and goes the extra mile to get things done, contact Shawntay!”
Marketing Director, Academic Partnerships
Quality Products & Solutions!
“I had had the pleasure of knowing and working with Shawntay on more than a few occasions. I found her to be a very good business partner and very committed to delivering a quality product or solution in a timely manner. I have always had a positive experience in partnering with Shawntay and would recommend that you consider leveraging her talent.”
Judy Owen, CPC
Transformational Leadership Coach
“Invest in yourself and take your skills to the next NEXT level!”
Get yourself signed up for Shawntay Skjoldager’s Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program today and be on your way to success! Within the first week of taking her course, you will experience growth! Be sure to plug into her Facebook Q&A sessions for personalized help, too. This is THE course to take if you are new to instructional design or have landed on the training team and need help getting started.
Managing Partner, PHiG
“Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!”
Shawntay has exceptional knowledge and experience with all aspects of creating and implementing effective, performance based training for adults. She is exceptional at needs analysis – identifying target audiences and collaborating with business owners to keep training focused on business needs. And she is great to work with – always providing great support to get projects done on-time and on-target. She is always on the look-out for new and more effective ways to engage learners. Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics
I have known and worked with Shawntay as a education program director and use the expertise of ShawntayMichelle for the development of my presentations. The service has always been “spot on” with professionalism, care and attention. Shawntay’s recommendations to my ideas make me look good to my clients.
Al Lomas CMP, CEM, CMM, CFE
Owner, Certified Consulting Services
“Shawntay Skjoldager reached in and made my training life so much easier!”
I am new to the training design and development world and I was SO excited to get in there, but I really lacked the real-world knowledge that would set me apart from my peers. And, then Shawntay Skjoldager walked into my life with an outstretched hand and a seemingly endless list of ways to knock every training out of the park. From the Training Analysis Form to the Tay Tay tips, this course made my life so much easier and even ironed out the review process that I had been struggling with for months.
Take time to invest in your own learning and make sure to put Shawntay Michelle at the top of your personal development list!
Training Specialist, LegalShieldCourses