In the Arab world, having a team across several countries is not uncommon, especially in a tech startup. Whether due to a lack of talent in a certain field in one country, or the need to meet client needs across the region, such startups may even outsource some of their services to freelancers or companies in other regions.
To keep faraway team members in the loop, there are several solutions that provide an easy way to work and communicate between team members, no matter where they're located. Some of these services aren’t just for communicating with employees abroad, but can also be used locally to communicate and organize workflow between team members.
Below are 6 professional applications and services, some obvious and some not so well know, that enable Arab entrepreneurs to communicate with their team members anywhere in the world, on a range of platforms and devices.
This service allows for task distribution and organization between team members. Suitable for employees regardless of the project they are working on, Asana offers simple tools to assign and organize tasks and follow up on their performance, in an interactive environment. Asana is available on iOS, and the website offers an API suitable for other smartphone browsers. The service is free for teams less than 30 members and available starting at $100 a month for bigger teams.
As part of their services for social communication, Google offers users Google+ Hangouts, enabling team members to make video conference calls, watch presentations and contribute to shared documents through Google Drive in real time. The free service uniquely allows up to 10 team members to see each other live at the same time. It also allows people to share their computer screen with other members and is available on iPhone and Android devices. To keep things interesting, Hangouts even let users virtually dress their boss up like pirate, or an array of other goofy characters.
While the aforementioned applications provide social, voice and video platforms for teams, HipChat specializes in texting between employees. HipChat itself is a platform for instant texting, designed for professionals. It enables team members to share files and photos over chat, as well as review a complete archive of everything that has been written. The application is available on the web and on portable and smartphones platforms (iPhone and Android), and can be used as an SMS service as well. HipChat costs $2 a month per employee.
Skype voice chat service is considered by many to be the most popular and most used service in the category of voice communication via the internet. It’s a free service, easily available on nearly all smartphones, computers, and tablets, which is ideal for a diverse team of users. Video Conference calls and voice calls between more than one person are also completely free on the web when using Skype.
Skype is an easy solution to communicate with team members, wherever they are. The service is even available in Arabic too, offering the ability to send instant text messages and make international phone calls cheaply.
Google+ Hangouts and Skype are publicly available for free, and remain the easiest and most reliable services for communication for casual and professional use.
For larger companies, this paid service by Cisco offers communication services for an unlimited number of individuals, allowing for real-time slideshows and file sharing. The service is available on most devices and has a changing price scale: free for small teams (3 members maximum), up to $24 per month for bigger work groups.
Yammer offers an internal social network for companies, allowing them to share documents, discussions, and task management together with profiles and with its full features and functions, specific for employees. Yammer allows users to follow their coworkers and interact with polls, news feeds, connections to other social media platforms, shared files and personal messages. It’s customizable for most business needs, and is especially useful for large companies to keep a sense of team unity. The service is available in different packages, some free and some paid and operates on most smartphone devices.
Are there other apps or services you use to keep your team in the loop? Let us know in the comments section below.