One of outsourcing's top challenges is communicating and collaborating across different timezones. Distance doesn't have to be such a big deal when both groups of employees are in the same region or country. But, a time difference of eight hours and differences in language and sociocultural backgrounds can be difficult to conquer when you don't have the right tools. Here are the popular tools that outsourcers use to check on their staff, communicate with them, and help them with their work.
Chats, Calls and Video Conferences
When you're selecting a communication tool these days, it's important that you take into consideration whether or not it has a mobile version aside from a Windows or Mac desktop client. And, whether it can be integrated with your other apps or software.
Skype is widely used for chat and video calls by consumers and small businesses. It can be integrated with Outlook, OneDrive or another cloud storage option, and a PBX system for phone to mobile exchanges. The only problem with Skype is that it demands a lot of resources, making some devices slow and unresponsive. It also fails to load or function well when your internet connection is too slow.
This app is free to download, but you'll need to pay for credits to call someone's mobile or landline number, or to send an SMS message anywhere in the world.
Since it was acquired by Facebook in 2014, WhatsApp has shown tremendous growth in usage and popularity among the younger generation. It has the same features as Skype, but with better connectivity on a 2G or 3G network. Plus, users like the uncluttered interface and easy-to-use features.
You may send and receive documents via this app. Your device will need to connect to the web before you can send messages, make calls, or send documents.
Viber has an advantage over Messenger by Facebook. It allows you to send up to 200 MB worth of files to someone, your group, or a public chat. Users can share photos, videos and documents. Like WhatsApp, this app provides end-to-end encryption for every photo, video, voice and video call you send. And, you can even share your screen when you use Viber's desktop version.
Hangouts or HO is easy to use. It comes free with a Google account along with email, Docs and Sheets, Drive, Picasa, and other Google products. You may not be able to send a file other than an image in JPG, PNG or GIF format. But, you can send a link to a file in Google Drive to your group or to a co-worker.
Video calls and chats are kept secure and chats are automatically stored in your email. It's also difficult to participate in a video conference when your web connection is too slow.
It has a separate dialer app that lets you call any number in the world. However, it doesn't have a desktop version. It functions mainly as a browser-based app.
Slack is a communication and collaboration tool that's designed for use by small teams. It allows users to send messages, photos, videos, and even GIFs to each other. Users can also share files, send links, and call each other. It can be integrated with other productivity, project management, accounting, and administrative apps.
Collaborate and Share Documents
Communicating with your team mates is part of collaboration. And, here are a few collaboration tools that you can use along with the communication apps previously mentioned.
Google Docs and Sheets
Google is a premier provider of collaborative apps. Part of its G-Suite are Docs and Sheets, which allows users to edit one document together in real-time and to leave comments for others to read and reply to. These documents and spreadsheets are stored in Google Drive, which has exemplary security measures to keep your data private and safe.
Zoho is an impressive alternative to Google Docs. It also allows users to create and edit documents and spreadsheet in real time. It even has CRM and Accounting software for businesses. You can integrate Zoho with Microsoft Office 365, G Suite, or mobile apps.
Wikis for Teams
Yammer is a collaboration platform that is embedded within the Office 365 ecosystem. It can be used as a standalone product or integrated with other apps, such as Box and Salesforce. Yammer is not just a collaborative workspace; it's also a secure social network for your employees.
Workplace by Facebook
Workplace is relatively new, but it's gaining attention from big companies because of the Facebook brand. It's integrated with G Suite, Salesforce, OneDrive, Box, Dropbox, and Office. security and compliance services. It's also integrated with cloud security services, such as Skyhigh and Netskope.
If you're interested in using OpenSource platforms for communication, collaboration, and project management, then check out Top 11 project management tools for 2016 for ideas.