The secret to working together successfully – best tips and apps
The twindly team lives literally all around the world. So how do we do it? I’ll tell you our best tips and tricks to work together – on a project, however short- or long-termed – that helped us a lot. These are helpful for all kinds of working situations – if you’re working in a team, are a freelancer, or just trying to find some good apps that’ll help you to stay organised – I’ve covered it all.
When I started to work with Astrid on twindly, she was living in Berlin, while I was living in Frankfurt. No big deal, right? Totally possible to work together while living in two different German cities, roughly 500 kilometres apart. But then, two years later, I moved to China. Now we were actually living on two continents, thousands of kilometers apart with different timezones.
Talk talk talk
Talking to each other should be really obvious – communication is especially important when you can’t just pop into the neighbouring office for a quick chat. For us, the best-working solution are weekly Skype/Facetime sessions when we both sit down and talk about everything. And that means everything – from strategies to our latest discoveries and hauls. (Beautyjunkies central!) If there’re pressing matters, we schedule in a second session – sometimes that can be slightly difficult because of different timezones, but we both know how important that is, and we always make it happen.
Also, English isn’t our mother tongue, but the language we communicate in – and sometimes, undertones are lost in translation. If in doubt, just talk – don’t message. It helps with diminishing the chance of misunderstandings. That actually happens for everybody, shared language or not. Again, the key is communicating. Also, while it is great to have a face to face communication, it’s sometimes not possible (time zones, shaky wifi connections, etc.). The team needs to constantly learn what is good for them and continue revising what works and what not.
Talking is definitely mandatory, but meeting up is important as well. We’re a three-person team, and it’s great when we actually are all in a room. We usually try to meet up twice a year. While those weekends are also spent eating, sightseeing and beauty shopping, we usually have one whole day during which we mostly recap what happened during the last months. What did we learned from that and what are we planning for the next few months? For us, it’s always important to get together to regroup once in a while. We have a look at what we actually have managed and what we’re planning to accomplish next – on a short- and long-term basis. (More about that below.)
Stay in touch
Needless to say, there’re days when we don’t talk with each other. Nevertheless, it’s not only nice to know what the other people on the team are doing, when you’re working on the same area, it’s mandatory. We use a plethora of apps that help us with that. Working On is great for little glimpses into each other’s workday, while Slack is a great device for both chatting, sending documents and tracking projects – it’s a simple communication tool that’s much handier than endless emails. Slack can be synchronized with both Working On and Trello, another great app that allows us to schedule projects and help us with keeping goals in our minds and not going off track.
Yes, really. The thing that could easily be missing from having a team working all over the world is that connection that stems from office chit-chat. When we allow ourselves to talk about other things than work, we bond better as a team. This might not be so easy when you have 20+ people in your team, but I do still think teams should have such chit-chat time, like lunch or coffee breaks.
Identify short- and long-term goals
We’re a team of geeks. While that can be helpful in some areas (we’re extremely knowledgable in our respective niches), it also means that we all love to burrow into new research. Sometimes, we’ll get lost in all that information, and while it’s nice to deepen our knowledge again and again, it can be hard to stay on track. That’s why it’s so important to identify goals, both for the next week and the next year. Then incorporate those goals into a good app like Trello which makes it easy not to forget about them.
Have a schedule for everything. Really. It helps so much! We use Buffer, for example, to schedule our social media channels, especially Instagram. For long-term goals we also use Trello. Btw, you don’t have to be a team to use Trello. You can totally use the boards to schedule all kinds of things, either if you’re a stay-at-home Mum or self-employed. You can even bring some kind of organisation to your sports or book club or that idea you’re working on.
Working together successfully
For the twindly team, working together is all about communication and the right tools that help us connect when team members are actually living all around the world. Great organisational and communication apps are Buffer, Slack, Trello and Working On. You can use most of them, no matter if you’re working in a team or are self-employed or just want to boost your productivity.