Working Remote gives organizations huge advantages over their physical bricks and mortar counterparts especially if they use the right tool set in the right way that then gives that team or organization an unfair advantage in the marketplace. In this podcast I talk about my 5 favorite tools for Working Remote and how we use those together to create a collaborative high performance organization that gets stuff done.
Those tools include, Trello, Mindmeister, GSuite, Workplace by Facebook and VirBELA.
If you like this podcast be sure to hit me up on LinkedIn or come say hi in our Virtual World for Business... VirBELA.
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Hi, This is Glenn Sanford. And today I'm going to do my fifth podcast on Working Remote. And as many of you know, I've built one of the largest organizations with a really great team over the last 11 years to over 28,000 people and operating of four countries. And I've done it entirely remote or we don't have a corporate office to speak of. We have no physical office to go by to actually drop into. But we've actually built our entire organization online in a very collaborative, very agile, very dynamic way. So today, on this fifth episode, I'm gonna talk about my favorite tools, those tools that my mind have really been able to give us an unfair advantage over our bricks and mortar counterparts. So we're going to dive of a little bit deeper than we've done in previous podcasts of some of these tools, but also hopefully help you understand why these tools and the way we use these tools really gives us that again that unfair advantage as we looked to scale an organization so really excited that you're on this podcast listening. You're sure to hit that subscribe button and hope you enjoyed this episode Thanks. Hi, Glenn Sanford here and today I'm going to talk about my favorite tools for remote work. And, these are my favorite tools.. Certainly there are other ones. There's a plethora of amazing tools that out available for you to work with your team. But there's some that in my book really are the backbone tools to everything that I do on a daily basis. So I'm either working in, a mindmap, a Trello board, a Google Doc, a spreadsheet. , our workplace platform, a little bit of slack and then also our VirBELA platform.. And so I want to just talk about, you know, the platforms that I'm a huge fan of. Why I think they are great tools, especially if you need to put things in place in a hurry. And you don't want to take a lot of risk on on tools that might require significant amount of subscription expense or other things. And I want to just talk about some things you can use today that you can put in into practice today. And why these are the tools that I think could really help you move into a fully remote work setting with you and your team very quickly. So the 1st 1 and I've talked a little bit about the daily stand up, so I think it's which is really critical if you're going to be working remote. It's the daily touches that you have with your team as to what you're working on. And you need a tool to figure out what it is that you're working on and who's doing what. And a tool too easily track what's getting done. And so there is a book written years ago by a gentleman named Jeff Sutherland called the book, Scrum The Art of Doing Twice as much in Half the Time, and it really came out of the agile movement, and it came out with the concept of a backlog and next actions a doing and a done. It's kind of similar to Kanban it's similar to some lean practices, but the idea of being able to create some sort of very visible way to see what needs to get done, who's doing that work and ultimately being able to check in on a regular basis on that work is really important to team speed of execution dynamics, collaboration and ultimately, you know, getting the getting things done. So for me, that one tool that really is super helpful and and super beneficial is Trello and it's basically free. And what I say basically free most of the main functions that you'll need to use for organizing work you can probably do with the free version of Trello. Now, that doesn't mean that you don't want upgrade, cause I've actually upgraded my Trello to actually add a whole bunch of extra features. But to get you going tomorrow, if you need a tool that you you've just your team's trying or struggling as to how do we work together? You go set up a Trello account, invite your team to a Trello board, set up four columns and and the four columns, as I mentioned earlier, are backlog, next actions, doing, and done and start to throw all of the open loops, all of the things that need to some point to get done. Throw them in the backlog and your team can throw in the backlog, too so you can create cards every one of your team members can create cards, throw in the backlog. And if you're operating using kind of a SCRUM or agile methodology at some point before maybe the first meeting of the week, on the weekend or as a team you're going to prioritize what in that backlog is really important versus what would be nice to do, and then also some of the things that don't ever need to get done. One of the cool things about a backlog in my book is you take all those high priority items, you move in the top of the backlog. You more likely move them to next actions because they're critical to whatever it is that you're doing. And then and then during your stand ups, you figure out who's doing what today, not what they plan to do, but which of the next actions are they actually completing in real time and moving to done and in your stand ups, you're able to use this as a as a really strong tool to help you be more effective. So that's the 1st one. The 2nd one and this is another one that I use all the time. And that's a Mindmeister. And mindmeister is a collaborative mind mapping tool. And so, if you haven't used a mind map before, Mindmeister's got a really easy to use one. You can set up three mind maps for free. I think it's like $3 a month or something super inexpensive to have an account that you pay for it, where you can have an unlimited number of maps. I have tons of maps. Almost every single thing that that I work on goes on to a mind map first, because I find that I can quickly sketch out the design, the dependencies, the elements that ultimately need to get done. And I'm able to put that into a mindmap map quickly. Now what Trello, Mindmeister and all the other things that will talk about today all have in common is that they are fully collaborative platforms, meaning that if you give somebody the edit privileges on those platforms, they could be co editing co documenting co working with you on getting things done. So this is really if we think about it that my favorite tools for remote work are really all about getting things done and then also empowering high performance teams to get things done as well. So the next one and many of you probably already use this one, so it's not that big of a secret. But I'll touch base is on, and we'll talk about some specific reasons why this versus something else is GSuite. Google's collaborative suite of products are, in my mind a must have for a business and fairly inexpensive. You can do certainly through Gmail if you want to go cheap, you can. If you've got a Gmail account, you automatically have access to GSuite, and you can actually create a collaborative documents inside of GSuite. But if you want to have your own vanity domain name or company domain name attached to your Gmail, then it's $5 per user per month for the basic platform on GSuite, which is really not very expensive, pretty inexpensive, but with it you get so much other stuff beyond Gmail, you get Google Docs get Google Sites, You get Google Sheets, You get good Google Presentations. You get Google Drawings, you get Google Keep you get a whole bunch of other tools that are just built into GSuite. And almost every single one of these tools is fully collaborative ready. And so if you've not done this before and I expect that most people that listen to this podcast have. But if you haven't done this before, go create a Google Doc. Something that you're working on, something that you need to be working with somebody else together with in terms of a letter or a presentation or a document, or what have you. Create that document and hit the share button up on the Google Doc and share it with that other person. It doesn't matter whether they have a GSuite account or not. You can invite virtually anybody in to co write co work co develop work together on actually whatever that is, so it could be a document. Could be a spreadsheet. Could be a presentation. Could be any number off of things that you can do. In fact, one of the biggest challenges I have as a leader is when somebody sends me something in Microsoft Word or emails me a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Anybody that emails me a document that I then have to go and either convert to a Google Doc or open up in some other way because I don't have the Microsoft suite of of Products. And I know a lot of people now that don't have the Microsoft suite of products. It drives me. It drives me nuts. Now I do know that Microsoft also has it their version of office that's online. And if your Microsoft oriented used the heck out of those collaborative tools, do not if you can. And maybe some organizations won't allow you to do this. I get that. I would question why. But if you can always work in a document that you can collaborate with somebody else on, and I think it's gonna again increase your speed of engagement, it allow you to work together as a team on those same things together. And it's a really powerful way to think about collaboration and remote work. The next one I'm going to talk a little bit about is then how to self document or organize your content that you're doing in real time. So you're using Trello, which is awesome. Hopefully, that makes sense. And I know many of you will already be using that and hopefully organized what it is that you want to do in some visual way, which is where Mindmeister comes in. You're using GSuite or Microsoft Office or some collaborative platform for creating documents and presentations and other types of materials that you're going to need from an internal or external perspective. And then you need a place to just to overcommunicate with your team. And when I say over communicate, you know, anything that hits your mind that isn't a work item, but at some level enhances the work that we're doing. We need a place to put that, and so there's a couple different places you can put it. One is some sort of group for you and your team. Now a really easy way, and we did this for many years is we created private groups in Facebook. In fact, that was how we ran the company. We set-up Private groups. They're free.. And you could do that on Facebook today so you can go in and create a private group and you can work in there and add all your content that you're doing throughout the day. Now Facebook is a fairly public platform. So in that regard, Facebook itself probably isn't the place to actually put enterprise activities. Now on the other hand, there are other platforms. There's Microsoft teams there slack, and what we use is Workplace by Facebook. And we chose it because everybody knows how to use Facebook. So the learning curve on using Workplace was very, very small compared to... because of the fact that everybody's already using Facebook. They already know how to post. They're already part of groups. They're already they've already liked pages. They've already some extent followed people, et cetera. So all of those activities that they've done through Facebook, generally speaking, translates to the Workplace by Facebook platform and were able to over communicate inside that platform. We will take live videos, will put it right into to Workplace. We'll actually do video presentation is taking place in our VirBELA Auditorium or different offices or conference centers or one on one meetings or what have you. We can take content and stream it right to Workplace if we choose to. We can go live with video. We can do conference calls and those types of things among team members. So it's like having a zoom platform for the enterprise which is always available. You can call people that are part of the enterprise right through the platform. Again, this is not unique to Workplace, but Workplace has done a really good job of creating a platform where you can, in fact, plug in and add your content, your regular cadence of activities to keep the rest of the workplace informed. So one of the things is that you need to over communicate, especially when you're working remote because nobody has a clue as to what you're doing at home. And so when I say home, obviously I'm saying remote when I say home. But when you're home, nobody knows what you're doing. Nobody knows what you're actually completing. So that's where if you're using Trello, and you're adding some documents from some elements or some comments to your Trello card and you're asking questions. You're tagging other team members as to what you need relative to getting things done. Trello is a is a great way to do that. If you are then using you've used Minemeister. You use GSuite. You're using Workplace by Facebook, but the last one and this is really the one. And this is whether is why I'm so excited about this podcast with one that I find glues it all together is again is our VirBELA platform. I've mentioned it before, and I'll mention it again. It's the single biggest enabler to virtual work I've ever seen anywhere. That's why we ended up acquiring the company back in 2018. It is the single biggest enabler, to remote work of any platform that's out there because it gives you a place to go to work. It gives you a place to actually meet with all of the people that are part of your organization in real time, and you're able to bounce up against them in a way that is not distracting. It enhances and then ultimately creates an ability to be totally social with the folks that are inside your organization, by being able to connect with, meet with, go to, have a conversation with, all of those elements and you're able to share all these other tools. So when I'm in VirBELA on the very first thing I do at the beginning of a meeting is I immediately share one of these tools. I share my Trello board onto a screen so everybody can see what I'm doing from my perspective inWorld, and they can see you the update of the Trello card. And so one of the things that I've always coached is that you always share your screen, and there's always somebody that's managing that conversation. There's somebody who's facilitating that meeting, sharing their Trello board going through some of the various items on that board during the stand ups in a way that everybody can see and somebody is truly engaging in the conversations around that work. So if I'm working on a mindmap. If I'm trying to figure out how all this stuff fits together, if I'm trying to figure out where in an organization does somebody fit and and there's never a perfect fit, especially when an organization that ebbs and flows in different directions. But we need some sort of visual indicator as to what projects people are working on, what teams are they associated with, What are they working on? Who is that group of people that's ultimately trying to get things done? How do you create a visual representation for that in a way that makes sense to you the creator, obviously of the mindmap but also others if they're looking at or you're describing it to him, they want a reference at some point and understand what all those elements are, and then you need a place to put all this stuff. And so if you create individual workplace groups in Workplace or it could again any other platform but our case Workplace. We create individual groups for every set of work streams and project groups, and then we attach the various resources right into it, and we do it right in the description section of Workplace so you can attach the Trello board, attach the Mindmeister, you can automatically integrate with GSuite so we can have the documents right there. If somebody has edit privileges, they could make immediate edits and it's easy to access. And then you've got another overlaying documents to some extent, which is the mind map, which then links to each of the groups in Workplace so that you can easily navigate based on work streams. And you can create multiple ways to navigate from from Trello to Mindmeister to Workplace back to Trello, and then you're doing all this work together in a place, an office, a board room, somewhere where you get together on a regular basis, where you walk in and out and vote with your feet to some extent, based on the importance of that meeting relative, the other ones that you could be involved with at any time. And you're able to be a very dynamic organization in a remote work culture. So again, these are, I talked about these being my favorite tools for remote work. However, I think that these tools together our a formidable force for good in your organization, if embraced properly, so you can tell I'm really passionate about this. In my opinion, you know, the remote work culture or working remote as an organization is the paradigm of work that will give you an unfair advantage over those companies that choose not to go this direction. Fully recognizing that there's some organizations, some companies, some type of work that can't work this way, however, I would challenge most organizations that suggests that to actually, truly get down to what really has to be physically done versus what can be done online with your team and over time you'll figure out there's less and less and less that has to be done in the real world that ultimately can't be done in a remote Virtual World for Business setting that moves the ball forward. So sales, marketing, customer communication, branding, collaboration documenting, articles, building content, socializing. So much of the business can be done inWorld that when it comes to, maybe it's manufacturing or working in retail or in restaurants. I get that that those types of things have to be done person a person because your customer is there in physical space. But the organization behind that doesn't need to be done in physical space. The organization behind that can be fully cloud based, can be fully accessible from the people on the front line in a way that makes you as accessible to them as any other person that they're physically engaged with in whatever setting they find themselves in. So if you do this right, you'll find that again this concept of a high performance organization and being able to do more things with more people at a greater velocity is a reality because of the tools and how you use those tools for remote work. So I'm going to sign off today with that particular podcast. Hope you found this one valuable and see you on the next podcast. Thanks. Hi, Glenn Sanford here again. And be sure to hit that subscribe button. Part of this is really just to expose some of the ideas that we've developed over the last number of years. Obviously, we're sharing some really great tips and insights. Hopefully, you're able to put these into your business, but again hit the subscribe button. Hit me on up on LinkedIn and again, Thanks for listening to Working Remote!