Over the past 11 years, eXp Realty Founder Glenn Sanford built one of the largest operating remote organizations, which serves as a workplace to over 28,000 people in four countries, with no physical corporate office space. The entire organization operates online utilizing a VirBELA private campus called eXp World.
In a recent Working Remote Podcast episode, Glenn discusses his five favorite tools that have given the company an “unfair advantage” over brick and mortar counterparts. One of the things that all of these tools have in common is that they’re fully collaborative platforms -- meaning that if you give someone edit privileges, they can collaborate and work with you in real time.
Daily standups are critical for a remote organization to stay in touch with your team’s activities. Regular check-ins impact team speed, execution, dynamics, collaboration and productivity. Trello is a tool to easily track work, creating a visualization of what needs to get done, who is doing that work, and what is complete. Glenn recommends creating four columns on your Trello board: “Backlog,” “Next Actions,” “Doing” and “Done.” Organize all upcoming and current projects and assignments by category, and each week, review and prioritize the backlog. Many of the basic functions for organizing your work can be achieved with the free version of Trello, but there are many additional features available for upgraded accounts as well.
MindMeister is a collaborative mind mapping tool. If you haven’t used a mind map before, this platform is an easy way to get started. MindMeiser allows you to quickly sketch out a design, dependencies, and elements that are needed to get work done. From project plans to organizational charts, mind maps are a useful tool to visualize concepts in a remote work environment. Using MindMeister, you can set up three mind maps for free, or upgrade to unlimited for a low cost.
Many people already use G Suite, so it may not be the best-kept secret on this list, but Google’s collaborative suite of products are a must-have for your remote business. With the suite, you get so much more than just Gmail -- you get Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive, and more. Almost every one of these tools are fully collaborative, allowing you to write and edit in real time with colleagues to increase your speed of execution.
Workplace brings your organization into a private social media platform. It functions much like Facebook, so there isn’t much of a learning curve to get started. Workplace allows you to communicate effectively, sharing live videos, company updates, live streams, groups and more. The platform also has chat, phone and video call capability. When working remotely, it is important to over-communicate, since you’re not sitting face-to-face in an office.
As a reader of our blog, you probably already know about VirBELA, which ties all of these tools above together in a 3D virtual space where you can meet and share your Trello board, Google Docs and MindMaps. VirBELA gives your team a place to “go” to work, providing individual offices, board rooms and collaboration spaces to meet with people in your organization in real time. Additionally, your team will feel a sense of social and physical togetherness that is often lacking among remote teams.
Remote work provides better work-life balance for employees, allows you to hire the best talent regardless of location, contributes positively to the environment, and improves your organization’s bottom line. When embraced properly in a remote organization, these five tools give you an unfair advantage over your competitors.