Over a year ago, most companies pivoted to remote work environments. Without the ability to plan and execute this change in advance, most leaders were left to cobble together a tech stack that supported this new way of working. At first, it was common to lean heavily on tools that were already familiar or being used within a company, albeit on a smaller scale—Slack, Zoom, and GSuite.
Now, as time has passed and organizations of all sizes and industries have worked through the collective issue of supporting their teams remotely, we’re learning about what works, what we need, and what actually exists in terms of tech that enables virtual work.
We’ve compiled a small but mighty list of non-Zoom video-enabled tech that address a range of remote work sticking points. We’ve also included a list of top productivity tools used by our community of doubles who have always supported executives remotely.
Video-enabled tools that aren’t Zoom
Loom allows you to record video messages of your screen, camera, or both. Asynchronized video is an extremely useful way for providing context in a remote environment. The tool helps mimic the quick and easy nature of stopping by a teammate’s desk to ask a question or give an answer. Rather than needing to host a meeting to explain your thoughts, or write out a long document, a video is much quicker to produce and provides a richer artifact.
Weavr is a light-weight, social game that lets you quickly check-in with your team—and have a laugh together. The game asks interesting and playful questions about work in general and about your teammates specifically. The game takes about 10 minutes to play and is great for kicking off a team meeting or taking a fun break during a virtual retreat. There is even an option for teams to write their own, bespoke questions to personalize the experience even more. This is a great tool for kicking off a weekly team meeting or reenergizing folks during a remote offsite.
Parabol guides agile teams through quick and powerful retrospectives, check-ins and estimation meetings. With a built-in facilitation guide, you can host and run better online meetings with a purpose-built tool, and watch your team flourish. Parabol was designed using remote-first principles, and the company has been completely dispersed from the start, meaning detail and time have been poured into thinking through a team’s remote user experience.
Tandem allows you to connect with your team through virtual meetings that don’t require a room code or calendar invite. Unlike static meetings, Tandem creates an environment where it feels like everyone is all in one place. It lets you know when your coworkers are available to talk—with or without video, like an instant phone call or like somebody casually stopping by your desk.
Non video-related tools and tech recommended by our double community
Our community of doubles all work remotely. They’re experts on supporting from ‘afar’ and regularly research, use, and recommend tools that help themselves and their executives thrive in a remote environment. Here are some of their favorites:
1. For visual learners: Notability Notability allows users to take notes specifically on an iPad through a combination of handwriting, photos, and sketching tools. This app is particularly useful for visually organizing projects, thoughts, and information. It allows for annotatining and making live changes and experimenting with how to frame and execute your ideas.
2. For anyone without a landline: Onoff
Onoff provides virtual, dedicated phone numbers that you can turn on/off when needed. This is particularly helpful for executing on tasks that require phone numbers (think: creating a new business account) where adding your personal number isn’t optimal or privacy is needed. This is a great tool for assistants and executives because assistants routinely help open accounts and conduct phone calls on behalf of their executive.
3. For the all-in-one-place organizers: Notion
Notion is a database combining notes, calendars, reminders, and even project and knowledge management. While the tool provides a long list of use cases, there’s a bit of a learning curve when it comes to understanding the features and how you can best leverage them for your needs, once you get a foundation set, you’ll feel like your organization has reached a new level.
4. For the note-takers: Google Keep
There are lots of note-taking apps, but one of our doubles swears by Google Keep as the home for all of her notes. The app allows for voice memos, adding images, and creating task lists that sync across your devices. There’s even a feature to share and collaborate, which works great for teams—especially if they’re using GSuite.
5. For the receipt trackers: Expensify
A top-hated task for most professionals is collecting and submitting expense reports. Expensify helps manage business or personal expenses with automation and ease. It’s particularly useful for those who generate monthly invoices and need to track receipts. For executives, Expensify is a great option because it allows you to add admins like an assistant who can easily (and painlessly!) track, report, and submit expenses on their behalf.
6. For writers-in-practice: Grammarly
Writing isn’t everyone’s strong suit, and in a remote-first world, the written word has become even more important. Grammarly is an integration that checks you spelling, grammar, punctuation and even message tone. Assistants can feel confident emailing and messaging on behalf of their executive and in turn, their executives feel comfortable that their assistant sounds professional in any context.