You asked, so we provided.

The AirSend Team is proud to announce that you can now make voice and video calls with screensharing in AirSend Channels.

Need a team meeting or want to chat with a client? Just click the phone icon at the top of any Channel to start a call with the people in that Channel. During the call, you can easily mute / unmute yourself, turn video on / off, and start / stop screen-sharing.

Keep everyone in the loop with chat and calling.

We envision AirSend to be a collaborative tool where people can get work done all in one place, and the addition of voice and video calling brings us one stop closer to that goal.

Thank you for staying with us on this journey! Feel free to share any thoughts in the AirSend Feedback Channel.

Until next time,

The AirSend Team

The onset of a new and continuous digitized workplace has called for new practices to follow. Rather than getting up and getting ready for work, we now work in our pajamas from home. However, just because we work from home does not mean we can forgo all practices to follow in a work environment. Here are 13 of the best practices to follow in an online work environment.

1. Setting a Morning Routine

Working from home has changed the way we work. Our usual morning routine when going to work is no longer something we can do. Instead, we have to make subtle changes to the way we get “ready” for work. I find that creating a work-from-home morning routine is one of the best ways to start a positive workday. Your morning routine should get you in the conquering mood. I recommend doing things that wake you up, get your mind ready for the day, and have a positive outlook.

My morning routine consists of four steps: Drinking coffee (choose your favorite mug and coffee for the day- helps with boosting your mood), read my book for an hour, take a shower, and put on a movie or the Golden Girls- I find that watching movies help with my concentration. My morning routine requires me to wake up an hour early, but doing so actually prepares me for the planned tasks I have to do.  Your morning routine should be acclimated to fit your needs best. Essentially, do things that help you get in the mood to conquer your workday.

2. Work in 40-minute intervals with 15-minute breaks

An important practice to follow in an online work environment is to work in intervals. I find that it is always best to work in 40-minute intervals with 15-minute breaks. Doing so allows for maximum productivity. By often taking breaks, you give your mind a chance to recharge and ensure focus. Some people do not like working in 40-minute intervals, and that is fine. Work in whatever interval you think will be best for your mind and productivity. 

3. Planning Ahead

Planning your tasks the night before ensures that you stay focused with minimum panic the next day. By panic, I mean panicking on what assignments you are going to do for the day. It is easier to plan the night before, and even to plan your tasks for the entire week.

4. Be Proactive in Meetings

Now that everyone is working from home, it is essential to show your bosses that you are still proactive/productive. Let your superiors know that you can be productive in any environment.

5. Eat a HEALTHY Big Lunch

Everyone says breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, I tend to think lunch is the most important meal of the day. Having a well-balanced lunch personally puts me in a positive and energetic mood for the rest of the day. Lunch is also the most exciting part of the workday, so why not make it even more exciting by making it a big and healthy lunch? 

6. Answer Emails Twice a Day

We all know emails can take an enormous amount of time to sort through. So why do it? Well, before starting a workday, we sometimes feel the need to declutter everything- which granted is essential, and we will discuss why this is important later in the blog post. However, sorting through emails is not a crucial thing in life, nor is checking your email every 10-minutes of the day. It’s distracting. Should anybody need to contact you with an urgent message, they can DM you with whatever chat tool your work uses.

7. Say a Mantra Every Day

Darius Foroux, who wrote, “Do It Today: Overcome Procrastination, Improve Productivity & Achieve More Meaningful Things,” suggests that saying a mantra to yourself every day energizes and changes your state of mind. At first, I doubted that saying a mantra could change your state of mind, but after trying it out for a week, I found myself more excited to start the day. Saying a mantra to yourself also helps during times of feeling helpless and unmotivated. Try it for yourself.

8. Cut to the Chase

If you are that type of person who does not have the patience waiting around for others,  then don’t. The best way to get work done is to do it. If you want to get the job done, jump straight into the action.

9. Record ALL your Thoughts and Ideas

Foroux states, “like all computers, we have a Random Access Memory (RAM),” (Do It Today, 2018). Our RAMS store relevant information, but like computers, our RAM is also limited to storing. When our RAM is full, older information will be deleted to make room for new information. So, how does one fix this type of problem? Record your thoughts and ideas- this gives leeway for more brainpower. It is also lovely to have a place where you can store all your brilliant ideas.

10. Eliminate Distractions

I am sure I do not need to give the whole spiel how eliminating distractions increases productivity, but I am going to anyway. Eliminate all types of distractions that keep you from working, such as your phone, a fantastic book you are reading, cats, etc. The point of eliminating distractions is to ensure you are not distracted! Keep things around you that improve your focus and productivity. For me, it is movies and shows.

11. Focus on One Thing Some Days

If you have recurring tasks, try to do as much of the same thing in one day. That way, you can focus on other projects for the remainder of your week. Also, concentrating on one thing/recurring tasks for a day is a great way to take a mental break from other more intensive projects.

12. Keep Away Clutter

A clean workspace is a happy workspace. Simple. Keeping away clutter minimizes distractions, keeps the mind comfortable, and increases productivity. It also helps to replace a mess with aesthetic decorations and colors. Having an aesthetic workspace gives you a reason to look forward to “going” to work every day. After all your home office should be a comfortable and clutter-free space.

13. Keep Thinking to a Minimum

If you are spending too much time thinking about specific tasks, stop. Just do it and see what happens. If you like the results, great; If not, move on to something else. These are our favorite 13 of the best practices to follow in an online work environment.

What does a next-generation workspace mean? What are the next generation qualities supposed to be?  We answer all these questions and more in today’s blog post. When designing a next-generation tool, one of the more essential qualities is to have a fresh and revolutionary perspective. In other words, what are the current problems we experience in collaborative platforms today, and how can we provide a revolutionary solution? AirSend and Notion have the answer.

AirSend

AirSend is a new collaborative next-generation workspace. Our motto is to get work done better and faster. How do we implement this motto? Through a simplistic and seamless design. We excel as a next-generation tool because we built AirSend from scratch. We planned and designed all features to fit into one workspace seamlessly: 

  • A place to view and upload files
  • Create tasks
  • Write notes
  • Use markup
  • Host meetings

When designing our tool, we knew we wanted the essentials to be easy-to-find and minimized clicks. With this idea in mind, we created a revolutionary solution- everything in one straightforward layout.

The green arrow pointing towards the actions tab. The red arrow pointing towards the files tab. The blue arrow pointing towards the wiki tab. The purple arrow pointing towards the calling function. The essentials are all located in one space.

Sure, you are thinking, “there are already current tools out there that have everything in one space, like Microsoft Teams.” The problem with Teams, however, is that adding features appear as an afterthought. 

Microsoft Teams

The purple arrow pointing towards the posts tab. The red arrow pointing towards the files tab. The blue arrow pointing towards the wiki tab. The black arrow pointing towards extensions that can be added to the taskbar. The green circle is the panel where teams and channels within teams are located. The yellow circle is your menu panel, which allows an external/different view of files, calendar, DM’s, activities.

As you can see from the image, the UI to Teams is complex. The UI is complicated because there are too many things in on workspace. Though these features make Microsoft Teams better, the positioning of them does not. Think of Teams as a renovated house. Sometimes when you enter a renovated home. It looks great, but often when renovations aren’t done right or have unusual additions, it can leave a disappointed feeling.

Picture a house with countertops from the ’60s with stainless steel appliances. It doesn’t look right. That’s what Microsoft Teams is. A renovated house. Whereas AirSend is a brand new house with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances- the features fit the design. Like AirSend, a next-generation workspace, Notion has a fresh perspective on the collaborative workspace. 

Notion

Notion – The all-in-one workspace for your notes, tasks, wikis, and  databases.

Notion is a new tool that blends your everyday work apps into one. It’s the all-in-one workspace for you and your team. Notion is an application that provides components such as databases, kanban boards, wikis, calendars, and reminders. Users can connect these components to create their systems for knowledge management, note-taking, data management, project management, among others. Similar to AirSend, Notion has the fresh and revolutionary idea of putting everything into one workspace- as in fitting everything into one piece- like a puzzle. 

Summary

So what makes a workspace tool the next generation? Ideally, an imagined, then reimagined idea that is designed to add all essential features into one ideal workspace flawlessly. These features are easy-to-find and should involve minimized clicks, like AirSend and Notion. 

While we all wish we could meet with our realtors to help pick out our dream home, there is a particular pandemic happening that prevents us from doing so. However, it is not the end of the world. Because of the epidemic, technology is evolving to become better and more acclimated to our current needs- particularly team chats. There is a heightened reliance on specific attributes in team chats- mainly when working with clients.These attributes are: 

  • Seamless communication via channel and email
  • Fast file sharing 
  • Folder organization 
  • Clear video and audio calling
  • Built-in reminders

When working with clients, it is essential to have the listed attributes above in an easy-to-use team chat tool. We explore five top team communication apps for real estate agents. 

AirSend

From nurturing leads to selling homes, AirSend is a great team communication app for real estate agents. With AirSend, everyone stays in the loop. Realtors and clients can send and receive messages and have voice and video calls in private channels with clients, team members, builders, and title companies.

Having a comfortable and versatile way to communicate is always great. Still, real estate agents need more than just an easy way to communicate. This is where AirSend’s file sharing and organization shine.

AirSend has its own file server, so there is no external file storage required. Having built-in file storage also means no personal files crossing with sensitive documents.

Additionally, realtors can create and organize folders- this helps with finding information more accessible and faster. Further,  esignature and SMS will be coming soon to AirSend- which will make working with clients a whole lot easier. 

Finally, my personal favorite, AirSend, works with email. Clients, builders, and title companies can receive and reply to your messages through email. They don’t need an AirSend account.

So, while realtors can enjoy a centralized and organized space to work and communicate, clients can ease from worry having another communication tool under their belt. Now, let’s talk about the other team communication apps for real estate agents.

Flyp

Flyp gives agents a second phone number for their device to use as a business line. You get an additional phone number, but that number has it’s own voicemail and address book. When using Flyp, realtors can:

  • Organize their life- Adding multiple phone numbers to your device
  • Receive a local number- Realtors can choose their area code for each Flyp line they own
  • View all they need in one space- See all your calls, texts, and voicemails in one place

Using Flyp is a convenient way to securely call and manage clients; however, it lacks the fundamentals needed to get more than just calling. While it is useful to have an app that handles all your calls through a different number, realtors would still need to use other apps to manage files, view conversation history, and set reminders. Our next team communication app does that- Flock. 

Flock

Flock is one of the more promising team chat software. With integrations from Google Suite and a built-in shared to-do list, productivity seems promising. They also carry other features, such as guest accounts, one-way announcement channels, and a five-column interface. They also support video and audio calls. 

Flock also offers built-in tools, such as app integration, polls, to-do lists, the ability to create public and private channels, reminders, and many more. However, as neat as these features may seem, some of them, like polls, may seem useless to real estate agents and clients.

With recent reviews and case studies, a major con to Flock is its five-column interface. Having a busy interface can make users feel overwhelmed. The other con is that to successfully carry transactions with clients, clients also need to have a Flock account. 

For those not looking for the full works of a team communication tool, that’s okay. There are alternatives, such as WhatsApp.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp has a large number of users (over 2 billion). You can use WhatsApp to chat, share files, and have voice and video calls. You can also set an image or video Status that lets your colleagues know how your day is going.

The downsides to WhatsApp are that the images and videos that people share go directly into your phone’s multimedia library, which can get annoying. And the number of users allowed on a group video call at one time is eight. However, the upside is that WhatsApp is a commonly-wide known tool, so using it is pretty straightforward. Finally, we introduce one of the favorite team communication apps for real estate agents- Google Chat. 

Google Chat

Hangouts Chat is the same concept as Microsoft Teams, except it is owned by Google. The perk and perhaps the most significant selling point is the G Suite integrations. Having GSuite is an obvious plus for real estate agents since it covers everything they need. To further add to the benefit, Google has created Google Chat and Meet. Google has also added calling functionality within Gmail, so calling and working through email has never been easier. 

Like WhatsApp, Gmail is widely used, so conversing with clients is familiar. However, for some, tracking conversation history upon hundreds of emails can seem somewhat complicated. Not to mention the unwanted spams in emails. Rather than trudging through tons of emails to continue conversations, it is easier and more efficient to carry conversations within channels. 

Part III: General Best Practices for Remote Work Communication

Once you have a clear communication framework and a team composed of the right people, it’s important to have a clear set of guidelines on what is expected of your team members.

Now that we’ve gone over all of the basics that you need to know about synchronous and asynchronous communication, here are some general best practices for remote work communication to tie it all together.

Incentivize Clear Communication

Rewarding clear, legible communication through frequent feedback is a good way to keep everyone on the right track. An example of this would be requiring detailed weekly activity reports and responding to those reports with good feedback.

Have Core Working Hours

Your ability to implement core working hours depends on the geographical placement of members and team lead preferences. However, if possible, a core working hours policy where everyone is expected to be online and working for around 3 to 4 hours every weekday allows for a good balance of synchronous and asynchronous communication.

With core working hours, there is enough time for necessary real-time discussions. You also still get the asynchronous communication benefits of schedule flexibility and the ability to engage in deep work.

Deep work is focusing on a cognitively demanding task without distractions. It lets people quickly process complex information and produce higher quality results in less time. Examples of deep work include:

  • Writing an article
  • Researching a topic
  • Analyzing data and creating a report

Increasing team members’ ability to do deep work is important in boosting the overall productivity of your organization. Core working hours make sure your team has time to be connected through synchronous communication and time to engage in asynchronous communication and do deep work.

Set the Right Expectations

Once you have a clear communication framework and a team composed of the right people, it’s important to have a clear set of guidelines on what is expected of your team members. This is important for both in-person and remote teams, but particularly so for remote teams where there is less supervision and ability to give and receive immediate feedback.

There are innumerable books on how to manage people, so we’re not going to go into detail here. Just keep in mind that setting healthy expectations and being clear on company policies on communication (and everything else) is essential!

Something that can help with this is having a section dedicated to remote work communication best practices in your employee handbook or having an entire, separate training and guidebook on communication available to team members. Asynchronous and even synchronous communication in remote work, unlike synchronous communication that happens in-person, may not be as intuitive. So, it’s good to have written guidelines available for team members and new hires so that everyone is on the same page.

Hire the Right People

Not everyone is a good fit when it comes to a remote working, distributed situation. Remote work places an emphasis on certain skills and attributes that may not be as important in an in-person office environment.

For example, because the amount of face-to-face, spoken communication is reduced when working remotely, writing skills become very important. The ability to communicate clearly through writing, whether that be writing in a chat app or writing a multi-page report, is necessary for a good remote worker.

So, when you are hiring for your remote team, make sure the candidates are good writers.

Some other things to look for are:

  • Evidence of discipline and self-motivation
  • Pre-existing remote work experience
  • Ability to focus on the job at hand (avoid side-hustlers)

Some red flags are:

  • Evidence of anti-social / loner behavior. Remote work positions can attract people who want to be as isolated as possible. Loners may work well for specific positions that don’t require much collaboration, but generally speaking they are difficult to work with and not a good fit.
  • Experience in only highly supervised roles. You need someone who can get work done without having the feeling of being watched or constantly nagged. This is why hiring someone with pre-existing remote work experience is ideal.
  • Evidence of lack of focus, or the side-hustler. Remote work listings can attract people who are looking to start their own thing but still need a paycheck, or people who engage in many gigs / side-hustles at one time. Make sure the person you are hiring is planning to dedicate enough time, energy, and focus to the job.

Remote Work Communication Checklist

Since we’ve given you a mountain of information to digest, here is a checklist to help you quickly and easily improve or create your remote work communication framework.

We recommend sitting down with your laptop or a sheet of paper and writing down your answers to the below questions. Your answers to these questions will create a complete remote work communication framework for you and your team so you can either start off on the right foot or optimize your pre-existing set-up.

Asynchronous Communication

  • What modes of async communication are you planning on using? (Email, Wiki, Discussion Forum, Task Management)
  • What tool or app are you using for each mode?
  • Is it clear to your team members which app to use for what modes and topics? Do you have a handbook, or do you need to create one to make this clear?

Synchronous Communication

  • How much face-to-face time do you have scheduled for your team?
  • Will you do in-person company retreats? If so, how many times per year?
  • What tool or apps are you using for chat, audio and video calling, note taking, and task tracking?
  • What is your approximate public vs. private message ratio in your chat app? Is it working well, or do you need to adjust?
  • What is your current video to voice call ratio? Is it working well, or do you need to adjust?
  • Have you provided clear guidelines to team members about chat and video/voice calling?

Other

  • What are your core working hours (hours each workday when everyone is required to be online and available)?
  • Are all of your team members meeting or exceeding expectations when it comes to communication and collaboration? Or do you need to adjust with training or hiring?
  • Do you have a clear set of written communication policies available to your team?

Conclusion

As a result of technological advances and global events, remote work is becoming a permanent reality for many people. The ability to effectively communicate and collaborate is the most important factor for a successful team, and the tools and skills needed for communication in remote work are different than those of an in-office environment.

We hope that this guide will help you and your team find the right communication tools and policies for you to thrive as a remote work, distributed company.

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, you can click the links below to read them.

Part I: Your Guide to Asynchronous Communication in Remote Work

Part II: Your Guide to Synchronous Communication in Remote Work

Part II: Your Guide to Synchronous Communication in Remote Work

Meeting with someone instantly feels more personal than sending an email. That is why certain scenarios require synchronous communication over asynchronous communication.

What is synchronous communication?

As mentioned before, synchronous communication is communication that happens in real time. Like a face-to-face meeting, a company meeting on Zoom, or an active chat room. Synchronous communication happens when you send a message and the recipient processes the information and provides an immediate response.

Common examples of synchronous communication include: 

  • In-person Meetings – In-person meetings are the most direct form of synchronous communication. You’re meeting face-to-face, interacting in real-time, and immediate responses are both expected and given, whether those responses are verbal or non-verbal (body language).
  • Video Conferencing / Screen-sharing – When working remotely, online video meetings may be more common than in-person meetings. Video conferencing enables synchronous communication for the same reasons that in-person meetings facilitate synchronous communication.
  • Voice Conferencing – Just like in-person meetings or video conferencing, voice conferencing is synchronous because you are having a conversation in real-time with immediate responses, just without the visual element.
  • Chat – This can be synchronous or asynchronous depending on company culture, but chat communication is often synchronous because, as the term “instant messaging” implies, people expect and provide instant messages or responses.

Why is synchronous communication important for remote teams?

As mentioned before, the best remote teams implement a balanced combination of synchronous and asynchronous communication.

When used correctly and at the right ratios, synchronous communication offers the following benefits:

Easier Collaboration – Synchronous communication is necessary for work that requires close collaboration. This is because team members can provide immediate feedback, which smooths the collaboration process. Other activities that synchronous communication is well-suited for are brainstorming sessions and coordinating meetings or other events. If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of trying to coordinate a meeting through email, you’ll know what we mean.

Synchronous communication is necessary for work that requires close collaboration. It is also important in situations where important feedback is being provided or situations where the goal is to increase team member closeness.

Increased Camaraderie – Synchronous communication is also better for building relationships. Meeting with someone instantly feels more personal than sending an email. That is why certain scenarios require synchronous communication over asynchronous communication, such as situations where important feedback is being provided or situations where the goal is to increase team member closeness and morale.

Now that we’ve talked about the benefits of synchronous communication, let’s discuss the dangers of requiring too much of it.

If your remote team culture requires members be available and connected the entire work day, you reduce their ability to do good work and increase the possibility of burnout. This is because too much of an emphasis on synchronous communication prioritizes connection over productivity and speed over quality.

Too much synchronous communication has the following consequences:

Lower Productivity Because of Too Many Interruptions – We’ve all experienced this at one point whether it be in an office environment or in a remote work situation. In the office, it’s dealing with that coworker who talks to you every time they pass by your desk for a coffee break, and who takes three coffee breaks every hour. In a remote work situation, it’s being bombarded with chat messages every minute. Either way, the interruptions make it harder to focus on the work at hand and decrease your overall productivity.

Unnecessary Stress Leading to Burnout – Lower productivity leads to the need to work longer hours or work faster. And the need to work for longer to complete work in a speedier manner creates stress, which can lead to burnout.

Lower Quality Discussions and Work – The final downside to an overabundance of synchronous communication is that the pressure to respond quickly results in lower quality discussions because there is no time to refine ideas. And lower quality discussions become lower quality work in the long run.

As you can see, too much synchronous communication results in a negative cascade of cause and effect. That is why we recommend you find the right balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication instead of favoring one over the other.

How to Best Implement Synchronous Communication In a Remote Team

Now that we’ve established what synchronous communication is as well as its benefits and pitfalls. Now it’s time to talk about how to best implement it in your team. The next part of this section consists of best practices to follow when it comes to balancing synchronous and asynchronous communication and using synchronous communication with your remote team.

Have Face-to-Face Time

Including face-to-face time in your remote work communication routine is important for team cohesion and morale. It’s easy to feel disconnected when you’re not going to the office every day, and video calls and company or department-wide retreats will help combat the sense of isolation that team members might feel. Meeting people face-to-face or, better yet, in person forms healthy bonds between team members and helps people put faces to names in the largely digital environment of a remote workplace.

The amount of video calling and retreats that you do will depend on your company culture and capabilities, but having at least one video call every week and organizing a retreat once or twice per year is a good baseline.

It’s also important to have 1-1 calls between team leaders and team members every week. This  helps the team feel more personally connected and keeps everyone on the same page in terms of work tasks and progress.

Including face-to-face time in your remote work communication routine is important for team cohesion . Having at least one video call every week and organizing a retreat once or twice per year is a good baseline.

Encourage Chat Best Practices

In a remote work environment, chat makes up the majority of the communication, so it’s important that your team understands chat best practices to reduce noise and confusion and increase productivity.

As mentioned before in the Asynchronous Communication section of this guide, grouping communication by context is essential. This applies whether chat is sync or async for you (as mentioned before, this depends on company culture).

Some chat best practices for grouping communication by context are as follows:

Post in the correct channels or chat rooms to maintain communication traffic. – Too much private, 1-1 messaging can be a sign of cliques, which are roadblocks to productivity. Your team ends up lacking context if most discussions happen privately, and catching people up takes additional time and effort. On the other hand, too much public, large group messaging can be distracting and prevent the completion of deep work. Finding a good balance here is an art and may take some experimentation, but a typical ratio to keep in mind is 30% private conversation and 70% public discussion.

Use tags to notify importance and use them judiciously and maintain context with quotes. – Once you’re in the right channel or chat room, using tags such as @name and quoting other people when you are responding directly to them helps to maintain and strengthen context. This is only necessary in group messaging and not necessary for 1-1 chats.

Consolidate messages for efficient communication. – Another best practice for strengthening context and reducing confusion is putting everything that you want to say on a given topic into a single paragraph of text instead of sending several one-line messages in a row.

Minimize extensive conversations with voice or video calls. – Finally, if something feels too long to communicate over chat, use a voice or video call instead.

Establish Audio and Video Call Guidelines

Although chat will make up the majority of your remote work communication, some things are difficult or too tedious to explain in a text conversation. That is when it’s good to have an audio or video call.

Audio-only or Video and Audio?

A frequent conundrum during remote work is whether or not a call should include video or be audio-only. Here are some good questions to ask to resolve any confusion.

  • Is it a company-wide or department-wide call? If yes, using video is good to gain the benefits of face-to-face time such as increased team cohesion and moral.
  • Is the call pre-scheduled or impromptu? Generally speaking, you only want to use video for pre-scheduled calls. That way team members do not feel the need to make themselves visually presentable every day when it may not be necessary.
  • What is your audio to video call ratio? How many of your calls are audio and how many are video? A good rule of thumb is to have 80% audio calls and 20% video calls for maximum productivity and bonding.

A good rule of thumb is to have 80% audio calls and 20% video calls for maximum productivity and bonding.

Some other audio and video call tips include:

Don’t be afraid to share your screen. – Screen sharing is very helpful when collaborating on projects and discussing ideas. Encourage your team to use this function frequently to add a helpful visual element to your audio-only calls.

Audio is more important than video. – Blurry video is tolerable as long as your audio quality is good (clear, lag-free, and continuous). However, it’s still good to invest in the right technology for improved video quality once your internet connection and audio set-up are good to go.

Use headphones. – The easiest way to get great audio quality is to use headphones with a microphone that’s near your mouth. Wire-connected headphones are best because bluetooth headsets introduce latency, but at minimum you should use something like AirPods. When you use headphones, the audio plays into your ear, so your mic won’t pick up other peoples’ voices. And a microphone near your mouth will pick up your voice so that you get heard as well.

A wire-connected headphone is best because Bluetooth headsets introduce latency, but at minimum you should use something like AirPods.

Use the Right Technology

As we mentioned before, having the right technology infrastructure in place is essential for success as a remote, distributed team. For synchronous communication, you will need a way to conduct audio and video calls, chat, and take and save meeting notes. You may also want to include a task management app so that you can review and assign tasks in an organized way during meetings.

There are a lot of apps out there, but here are our favorites for synchronous communication:

  • AirSend – AirSend is an all-in-one app that allows you to send messages, share and organize files, complete tasks, have video or screen sharing calls, and keep notes in a built-in wiki. The messaging, voice and video calling and screen-sharing capabilities fully satisfy your team’s synchronous communication needs. And the built-in wiki and task management functions provide everything you need to take notes and organize tasks during meetings. We use AirSend for almost all of our team’s communication.
  • Zoom – Zoom is the golden standard when it comes to audio and video calling. In our experience, it’s best for large conference calls with more people (we use it for our bi-weekly company-wide video conferences). It’s also a good way to conduct team building activities remotely like playing Jackbox games. Because the Zoom client pops up every time you join a meeting and is slower than other options, we don’t like it for impromptu 1-1 meetings as the time wasted waiting for the client to load can be irritating.
  • Skype – Unlike Zoom, Skype is great for 1-1 meetings. It’s also nice because you can use it to call phones if you need to, and the chat is permanently connected to your contacts and available. The only negative about Skype is that its audio and video quality can be lacking compared to AirSend and Zoom.

Now that we’ve talked about asynchronous and synchronous communication in remote work, it’s time for some general remote work communication best practices which we will discuss in Part 3 of this guide.

Part III: General Best Practices for Remote Work Communication

Part I: Your Guide to Asynchronous Communication in Remote Work

Introduction

Remote work is a growing trend that has become a permanent reality for many due to improvements in technology and global events. In May 2020, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that employees would be able to continue to work from home even after coronavirus restrictions were lifted. And many other companies — Facebook, Upwork, Shopify, Coinbase — are following suit by transitioning from an in-office work environment to one that is digital and geographically distributed.

There are two major reasons for this shift. The first is that remote work is good for business. Studies have shown that remote work increases employee productivity, improves retention rates, and reduces costs (avg. $10,000 on real estate expenses). The second is that people want to work from home. Therefore, companies that provide remote work options are able to attract better talent.

According to Global Workplace Analytics, 77% of people want to continue to work from home after the coronavirus pandemic is over, and 25 – 30% of people will be working remotely multiple days per week by the end of 2021. But whether or not remote work is the future of business has yet to be seen.

77% of people want to continue to work from home after the coronavirus pandemic is over, and 25 – 30% of people will be working remotely multiple days per week by the end of 2021.

Global Workplace Analytics

There are definite challenges to working remotely. The biggest challenge is the loss of human connection. Are people able to work away from their peers for a prolonged period of time and still remain healthy and productive? We don’t know.

As we run a global experiment on whether or not remote work can become the new norm, the focus sharpens on how to improve processes to increase the productivity and efficiency of remote, distributed teams. And effective communication is at the forefront of these discussions.

The ability to communicate effectively makes or breaks the success of a team. Every business must have a strong communication infrastructure in place to grow and prosper. But the communication needs of a geographically distributed, digitally connected team are very different from that of a team in an in-office work environment.

This is why we created this guide with practical knowledge and wisdom on digital communication for remote teams based on our own experience as an internationally distributed, remote working team of 50+ employees.

Who is this guide for?

This guide is for organizations and team members who are or are planning to work remotely as a distributed team. It is a complete guide to digital communication for remote teams divided into two parts: asynchronous communication and synchronous communication. The first part which you are about to read focuses on asynchronous communication — what it is, its benefits and challenges, and how to best implement it in your team for positive results.

After reading this guide, you will have a clear and practical understanding of communication best practices for remote teams to better navigate the wonders and pitfalls of working remotely as a distributed team.

Part I: Your Guide to Asynchronous Communication in Remote Work

What is asynchronous communication?

Asynchronous communication is communication that does not happen in real time. It is email, or notes posted to an online bulletin. This is different from synchronous communication, or communication that does happen in real time like a face-to-face meeting, company meeting on Zoom, or an active chat room.

In other words, asynchronous communication happens when you send a message with no expectations for an immediate response. Synchronous communication happens when you send a message and the recipient processes the information and provides an immediate response.

There is a time and a place for everything, including synchronous and asynchronous communication while working remotely.

Common examples of asynchronous communication include: 

  • Email – You send an email but may not get a response until hours or days later.
  • Wiki – You create articles in a wiki which are accessed by others at a later date.
  • Discussion Forums – You write posts and / or comments in a discussion forum that others respond to on their own time.
  • Task Management Systems – You create action items with details provided on what needs to be accomplished, which team members may discuss with you if desired.
  • Chat – This can be synchronous or asynchronous depending on company culture, but you may leave messages in a chat room with no expectations for an immediate response.

Why is asynchronous communication important for remote teams?

There is a time and a place for everything, including synchronous and asynchronous communication while working remotely. The truth is – the best remote working teams implement a balanced combination of synchronous and asynchronous communication. This is because what doesn’t need to be synchronous is better accomplished asynchronously.

When used correctly and at the right ratios, asynchronous communication’s benefits include:

Benefits of Time Flexibility

Being flexible about when responses are expected of others is essential for a geographically distributed team (people working in different time zones). Not only that, having more control over work hours results in happier and more productive people. Asynchronous communication allows employees to structure workdays to fit their lifestyles and responsibilities.

Higher Quality Communication

Because it is slower, asynchronous communication provides the time and space necessary to think through and provide high quality responses. For example, more time and thought are put into writing an email consisting of a couple of paragraphs than a one-line chat message.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos takes this one step further in his staff meetings, in which he combines both asynchronous and synchronous communication. No PowerPoints are used in Amazon meetings. Instead, people must prepare multi-page, narratively structured memos which go through a thorough revision process with co-workers before the actual meeting. Then, the first part of the meeting is spent in silence reading through each memo. Only after this asynchronous communication process is complete does the synchronous part of the meeting begin.

Encouragement of Diversity

Some people are better at synchronous communication while others are better at asynchronous communication. And a team composed of people of people with varying skill sets is better than a team where everyone only knows how to do the same thing.

The best remote working teams implement a balanced combination of synchronous and asynchronous communication.

How to Best Implement Asynchronous Communication in a Remote Team

Now that we’ve established what asynchronous communication is and why it is important, it’s time to talk about how to best implement it in your team. The next part of this section consists of best practices in using asynchronous communication in the remote workplace.

Group Communication by Context

In a face-to-face meeting, it’s easy to ask a question and get an immediate answer if you are confused or need more information to move forward with work. With async communication, that is not the case. That is why context and organization of information is even more important than usual. Properly organizing your async communications reduces confusion, increases productivity and efficiency, and creates a clear record of information.

The other benefit of organizing communication by context is that if you bring a new person into the company or project, it will be easy for them to read through the necessary materials and get caught up with less hand-holding. This makes work easier for everyone involved.

So how do you maximize organization of your team’s async communication? There are three main action steps to take.

First, make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of what app to use for which tasks. People need to know where things go. Team members should be clear on where to post status reports, task items, brainstorm sessions, work drafts etc.

Make sure everyone is one the same page in terms of what app to use for which tasks, and take, organize, and store information in a way that newcomers are able to easily access the information.

Second, make sure you take, organize, and store information in a way that newcomers are able to easily access the information and get a clear understanding of what’s going on in a single day. This means choosing the right modes of async communication for your team and the right technology to implement those modes.

Third, pay attention to the public vs. private message ratio of your chat groups. This applies whether chat is sync or async for you (as mentioned before, this depends on company culture). But finding a good balance here is important. Too much private, 1-1 messaging can be a sign of cliques, which are roadblocks to productivity. Too much public, large group messaging can be distracting and prevent the completion of deep work.

Pay attention to the public vs. private message ratio of your chat groups.

Decide on Your Asynchronous Communication Modes

First, consider the modes of communication you want to use. The basic async communication modes you want to consider for your team are as follows:

  • Wiki – A place to make and keep notes containing everything from full article drafts to async brainstorming sessions.
  • Task Management – A good tool for communicating async status updates, action assignments, and even in-progress notes.
  • Discussion Forum – A great place for teams to post status updates and share long-form ideas.
  • Email – Everyone has it; everyone uses it. So, we’re not going to say much about this one or even recommend apps for it. Whatever you’re already using probably works just fine.

Use the Right Technology

Having the right technology infrastructure in place is essential for success as a remote, distributed team.

If you think about it, since there is no physical office — the technology is the office. Your computer becomes your cubicle, your chat app becomes the hallway taking you to your team members’ desks to talk, your video conferencing app becomes the conference room.

So, a remote team having the right technology in place is as important as an in-office team having a functional, comfortable office to work in.

So how do you choose the right technology for you?

After you’ve decided on the modes, you can choose your apps accordingly. There are a lot of apps out there. Here are a few of our favorites for asynchronous communication:

  • AirSend – AirSend is an all-in-one app that allows you to send messages, share and organize files, complete tasks, have video or screen sharing calls, and keep notes in a built-in wiki. The wiki and task management sections provide everything you need for asynchronous communication. While the messaging and conferencing capabilities fulfill your team’s synchronous communication needs. We use AirSend for almost all of our team’s communication, sync and async.
  • Trello – Trello is a task management tool that is great for assigning and keeping track of tasks. Inspired by Kanban, Trello allows you to create unlimited boards, lists, and cards so that you can sort and customize your to-do lists any way you want. The app can be used to provide asynchronous status updates and to organize discussions during synchronous meetings.
  • Discourse – Discourse is an app that lets you create your own online discussion forum. Discussion forums are great because they allow you to write long-form content and organize that content by topic.

This brings us to our other option for remote communication which you can read about in Part II of our Complete Guide to Digital Communication for Remote Teams.

Part II: Your Guide to Synchronous Communication in Remote Work

Part III: General Best Practices for Remote Work Communication

Are you a college student preparing to graduate? Do you have a plan after college? Do you know how to look for jobs during this time? It’s okay if you don’t. We know that finding this type of information can be difficult. And we know that students preparing for life don’t always have the luxury to worry about the proper steps in finding a job. Don’t worry. In this blog post, we will save you some time and share some useful tips on finding jobs for college students. 

Let’s start with the basic rule-of-thumb- talking with your career counselor.

Career Counselors

While in college, it is important to know that career counselors’ are your best friend when it comes to looking/preparing for jobs. I know it can seem out-of-the-way to see your counselor. But trust me, having the proper guidance from a specialist will save you a lot of time and anxiety in finding a job. 

With your career counselor, you will develop vital assets: 

  • Determining strengths and values
  • Setting goals
  • Build support and motivation
  • Identifying options and choices
  • Self-branding

But, sometimes, having a career counselor is not enough to land you a job. Often times, students need a tool for job hunting.

Tools for Job Hunting

It’s 2020, guys. If you aren’t using tools to look for jobs, something is wrong. A lot of jobs are also found on online job websites, such as Handshake and Indeed.

Handshake

Handshake is the ideal platform for finding jobs for college students. It is by far one of the more popular platforms and is partnered with most universities. What’s excellent about Handshake is that there is always an opportunity for newly graduated students. The way it works is that Handshake’s algorithm helps eliminate jobs that are not matched with your major. By eliminating the irrelevant jobs, students have a higher chance of finding opportunities that align with their major. If you already graduated and cannot access Handshake, don’t worry. There are plenty of other job search websites that are great for looking for jobs for college students. My favorite platform, aside from Handshake, is Indeed.

Indeed

Like Handshake, Indeed is a job search platform. Though it is not major oriented, Indeed still has plenty of opportunities worth looking into. I also find that employers are often responsive through Indeed. Finally, based on your job searches, Indeed sends daily emails of current and new job postings, eliminating extra time looking for jobs and more time perfecting your resume. 

Resume Building

Resume building is an extremely tedious process that usually requires 2-4 hours out of your day.  Some would say I’m crazy, but it’s true. To beat your competitors, you need to continually update your resume with the requirements seen in job applications. Employers will be looking for resumes that exactly match their requirements listed in the job application. If employers see the exact same wording as what they are looking for, there will be an increased chance of you landing a job interview.

Now, some would say, “that’s too much.” And you’re right. It is. But, wouldn’t you rather put in the work that guarantees a job? Or would you instead just rely on a basic resume? The next important thing to know when it comes to resume building is the format. The format is everything. It is like the saying, “first impressions are the most important.” A poorly written resume gives employers an idea of what the person is like- messy, inexperienced, and disorganized. On-the-other-hand, neatly written resumes impress employers. However, having a resume is not all you need when applying for jobs. Cover letters are equally important.

Cover Letters

Cover Letters are an introduction to who you are and why you are interested in the job you are applying for. Sounds easy to write, and it is. Some people think you have to sell yourself in a cover letter, and they aren’t wrong. But if you stick to who you are and be honest about what opportunities you could gain from applying, there will be no problem. Stick true to who you are and you will sell yourself as someone who is fantastic and deserves the job- it doesn’t hurt to sound confident. There are hundreds of ways to format a cover letter.

So, now that you have your tools, resume, and cover letter, the final advice I have for you is to buff up your LinkedIn profile.

Building your LinkedIn Profile

You may not believe it, but LinkedIn is THE social hangout for professionals. It’s a place to connect with others in the same field as you and apply to jobs. It’s also a great place to see who is associated with others, and what companies follow other companies. Here’s how to buff up your LinkedIn profile: 

  • Fill out your personal profile.
  • Connect will fellow alumni, professors, previous coworkers (if you have them)
  • State all the skills you know- it looks excellent to recruiters.
    • It is also essential to update your skills regularly on LinkedIn. Matching your skills with LinkedIn’s algorithm will give you more significant results in jobs you are searching for and applying.
  • Upload your most up-to-date resume- makes it easier for recruiters to look at your profile.
  • BE ACTIVE! This means, follow groups, like and comment on other peoples’ posts.  

The largest messaging app in China, WeChat offers users a variety of capabilities beyond messaging, including file sharing, voice and video calling, and even mini-games. The downside to the app is that its users lack privacy, which explains why the U.S. government is considering placing restrictions on WeChat for national security reasons.

As uncertainty surrounds the restrictions that U.S. users of WeChat may soon face, people are looking for WeChat alternatives to help stay in touch. Below are our three favorite alternatives to WeChat.

WhatsApp

Like WeChat, WhatsApp has a large number of users (over 2 billion). You can use WhatsApp to chat, share files, and have voice and video calls. You can also set an image or video Status that lets your friends and colleagues know how your day is going.

The downsides to WhatsApp are that the images and videos that people share go directly into the multimedia library of your phone, which can get annoying. And the number of users allowed on a group video call at one time is eight.

AirSend

AirSend is the best new way to chat, share files, and have voice and video calls. The app’s additional capabilities — screen sharing in calls, file storage and organization, and task management — make it particularly useful in ways that WhatsApp and Skype cannot compete. You can also make each messaging channel special by customizing the chat background and logo.

The downside to AirSend is that there is no place to post status updates in your profile, and it currently lacks fun GIFs and a wider variety of emojis.

Skype

There’s a reason almost everyone has heard of Skype. Before Zoom came along, Skype was the gold standard of video conferencing apps. The reason Skype makes it on our list (and not Zoom) is because it has the messaging components and capabilities that Zoom lacks.

With Skype, you can send messages, share files, have online voice and video calls, and even make calls to phones. It also comes with a big GIF library to make chatting a little more fun.

The downsides to Skype are that it costs money to communicate with people who don’t use the app and that voice and video call quality can be spotty at times.

As you can see, there are a variety of good alternatives to WeChat, so there’s no need to fear even if usage is restricted in the future.

Between WhatsApp, AirSend, and Skype, the WeChat alternative that will work best for you will depend on what you need a messaging app for. If you want an app purely for casual or social use, either WhatsApp or Skype might be the one for you since you can post status updates and use a variety of fun GIFs and emojis to communicate your feelings. If you need an app for business use as well as casual use, then AirSend is the way to go with its additional capabilities that will make your life easier.

AirSend is a versatile digital workspace to share files, send messages, and complete tasks. Click here to see how AirSend can help you.

Do you ever have struggles with learning how to delete messages on GroupMe? Or perhaps, how to search for messages or join a group on GroupMe? The main question we should be asking ourselves is why GroupMe is challenging to use? Is there not a better alternative? Well, yes, AirSend. AirSend answers all the questions users ask of GroupMe and more. In this blog post, we will give a detailed comparison of AirSend and GroupMe. But before we begin, let’s talk about what type of qualities should be in a chat app. 

What Qualities Should Be in a Chat App? 

Chat apps are great for talking with friends and family. Chat apps should be user intuitive, clean, and visually appealing. The goal when using a chat app is to maintain that connection we have with others. Chat apps need several attributes to preserve relationships. Characteristics, such as: 

  • User friendly
  • Clean design

People want to use an app that makes them feel good. An app that makes connecting with others more comfortable. Attributes as the ones stated above are the keys to having a successful chat app. Not only is the app easy-to-use, but it is also aesthetically appealing- so why wouldn’t you use the app? We are going to look at AirSend and GroupMe in each respective category of quality.

User Friendly

AirSend

What do we mean by user friendly? Well, the platform should be easy-to-use, with no questions of “How do I use this? What does this button do?” Anything and everything in the chat app should be readable, clear, and easy-to-understand. We believe that AirSend is successful in this category.

With AirSend, users can easily send messages with our large text bar located at the bottom. Additionally, it is super easy to upload images with the paperclip icon. Furthermore, and what we consider to be the best is that users can easily find their files and photos with the large file tab. Friends can easily create and organize folders and share memes of cats. At the same time, friends can easily hop into their family channel and share family photos and plans for dinner through a video/audio call.

Image of AirSend channel

Or, if you are a student, AirSend would be perfect for a collaboration tool. Students can:

  • Hold project meetings with our built-in video/audio calling
  • Create tasks
  • Customize their workspace
  • Talk with other students in your class
  • Upload important assignments, rubrics, and lecture notes

Finally, AirSend is super easy-to-use both via mobile app and web. Best of all, unlike GroupMe, users won’t have trouble signing in or adding friends/families to channels. Instead, everyone will stay connected all the time. 

GroupMe

GroupMe, on the other hand, is a bit more complex to use. While switching between channels is easy, carrying a conversation is not. With GroupMe, there is a compact design, making things hard to find. For instance, the app isn’t clear when it comes to finding members in a channel, muting a channel, finding your gallery, or even changing your group avatar/name. With GroupMe, there is a lack of distinct features within the app, making it difficult to understand the potentials the app could do.

Additionally, there is a new Skype integration within the app. Having Skype integration means leaving the GroupMe app to have a call within another chat app. This Skype integration can appear confusing for some users- because why use a chat app that uses a calling integration within another chat app? 

Unlike AirSend, there are currently some difficulties with using the web version of GroupMe. Finally, according to some users, notifications fail to alert users of new messages. Next, let’s take a look at both apps from the perspective of a clean design.

Clean Design

In terms of a clean design, a chat app should carry: 

  • Clear and easy-to-find features
  • Visually appealing design- beautiful color matching
  • An organized layout

AirSend

AirSend fits all these attributes. With AirSend, users can easily find their tasks, files, notebook, and text bar. Having this organized design makes these features easy-to-find, build connections with others, and collaborate with peers. 

GroupMe

With GroupMe, there are a few complexities to its design. Because everything is compact, there is a claustrophobic feeling when using the app. Every feature is organized into hard-to-find sections.

Additionally, the different color messages of blue and white are unappealing. Finally, there is a non-professional look to GroupMe’s overall design. Having a non-professional look is suitable for casual conversation. However, if you are talking with professors or holding virtual presentations, it would be nice to have a professional and straightforward design. 

Conclusion

Both platforms are right to use for what they are designed to do. However, looking from a more in-depth perspective of being user friendly and clean design, it is apparent that AirSend may be the better choice.

With AirSend, friends, families, and students can chat all in one place. Students can chat with families, while also chatting with friends, while also hosting a project meeting. Further, getting work done through AirSend is very easy due to its organized layout of tasks, file management, and notebooks.

How to Leave us Feedback

We are always seeking to improve our product, so all feedback is appreciated. To find out where to leave comments and/or suggestions, you can visit our public channel or visit us at our support page.

AirSend is a versatile digital workspace that allows users to share files, send messages, and complete tasks. See how AirSend can help you.