If it weren’t for online tools, there’s no way we could do what we do at Buffer.
OK, technically Buffer wouldn’t exist either, itself being an online tool, but you get what I mean. :)
The power to gather our remote, spread out-all-over-the-world team to do things like talk face-to-face, discuss what we’re working on and connect with our community is incredible, and we love sharing about the tools that make it possible.
Here are 7 new tools that power Buffer’s remote work. I hope they might be useful for you, too!
7 Tools that Power Buffer’s Remote Team
1. Video chat: Zoom
There’s no substitute for face-to-face time with your team, and we’re grateful for so many options for video chatting.
Our current go-to video tool is Zoom. In fact, we spent 1,517,344 minutes on Zoom in 2016 alone!!
It’s got a great capacity for our growing team, and it records the meeting by default (great for anyone who can’t make it!)
Here’s a photo from one of our all-hands meetings (we’re a bit too big to fit the whole team on one screen!)
For one-on-one conversations, we enjoy the ability to hop into a Zoom video chat directly from Slack. We’ve hooked up a special bot that automatically creates a Zoom meeting when we type “/Zoom”!
Google Hangouts is another great option we use every now and then for smaller groups of under 10.
2. Replacing email (sort of): Discourse
When you’re a growing team who believes in transparent email (i.e. a LOT of email), it feels great to find a solution that cuts through the clutter to focus on just what you need to see.
Somewhere between the real-time collaboration of Paper and the formality of email is Discourse, which has become one of Buffer’s major tools for all conversations that might need to be recorded and referred back to.
We created 3,136 threads on Discourse in 2016!
Here’s a peek at some of our topics in Discourse:
By default, Discourse is transparent, which works well with our Buffer values. It’s also organized, with a lot of control over how conversations are grouped.
Now conversations are easily searchable, and communicating even the smallest thought doesn’t feel like a burden to others’ inboxes the way email can.
One thing I especially love about Discourse is that it saves your spot – and your response – even if you finish on a different device.
We haven’t entirely replaced email, but we do rely a lot less on it with Discourse.
3. Community gathering: Slack, Twitter chats
Like many other companies, we stay in touch through the chat tool Slack for our day-to-day conversations.
Slack is also a home for our amazing Buffer community!
You can join right here–we’d love to see you there!
4. Analyzing data: Looker
Thanks to our awesome data team and their tireless work with the data analysis tool Looker, we’ve gotten a lot more data-oriented at Buffer.
The goal with Looker is that anyone—on any part of the team—who wants to find answers to data questions can do so without needing to learn how to write code, or being entirely dependent on someone who does write code.
Looker allows us to create our own “looks” and dashboards with an endless amount of data points. We use Looker to analyze and understand everything: our marketing flow, onboarding, growth, activation, churn and more. Here’s a look at one of our marketing dashboards:
5. Real-Time Collaboration: Dropbox, Dropbox Paper
Being able to stay in-sync on all docs and share the latest versions of all files is essential when working across timezones and remotely.
Dropbox to share files, images and videos has been essential to Buffer from day one.
Paper tracks changes, allows commenting and offers a changelog too of all edits on a document.
6. Tasks, Transparency and More: Trello
Nearly every team in Buffer relies on Trello to track tasks and projects.
There are a thousand and one ways to customize your Trello boards to best suit your needs. There are a variety of “power ups” available — we use the Calendar feature and voting on our Open blog editorial board!
7. Planning meetings and tracking our time off: Calendly, Timetastic
Arranging meetings across timezones can be a bit tricky!
Calendly had become increasingly useful throughout the team to coordinate schedules and grab 15 minutes or an hour here and there.
Calendly syncs with your Google account and calendar to block out times you aren’t available and you’re able to set your “office hours” within your settings.
Along these same lines, tracking who is taking time off is a vital bit of information to share across teams. We have started using Timetastic for tracking and requesting time off. (Read more about our vacation policy here!)
Over to you!
We’re super grateful for all the great tools that keep us connected and productive every day. I’d love to hear about your favorite tools, too.
What tools help you out in your workday, and how? Whether you work on a remote team or in an office with teammates, we’d love to hear your picks!