Even as some offices begin to bring employees back in early 2022, remote and hybrid models work isn’t going to disappear.
But how can you make it more productive, efficient, collaborative — and even energizing?
At a recent members-only Zoom meeting hosted by InnoLead, members from around the world who run consulting and advisory firms shared some of the tools they rely on regularly — from AI transcription to noise-canceling software to project management platforms. Here’s a curated list, with a special focus on tools we haven’t mentioned in our previous pandemic-era rundowns (including 7 of the Best Tools for Bringing Serendipity Back and 12 of the Best Tools for Real-Time Collaboration.)
For Design & Ideation
Miro – Miro is essentially a way to bring the office whiteboard into remote working, enabling a collaborative environment in a virtual space meant to mimic those of in-person meetings. It also comes with a wide variety of templates and designs to suit your liking. Another nice feature is that it can integrate into several other apps used by remote workers, such as Zoom, Slack, and Trello.
Mural – Mural is another digital whiteboard app, in the same vein as Miro and Figma, and is one of the most commonly used in larger organizations. It contains several different templates depending on your team’s particular needs, such as storyboarding, thumbnail sketching, and “mind mapping” for brainstorming sessions. It also contains several fun templates that can be used for “icebreaker” occasions, such as a “Sketch Your Neighbor” exercise and its own version of the game show “Jeopardy!”
Our members were divided on the merits of Miro vs. Mural, which have emerged as the two leading whiteboard tools used by consultants and corporate innovators. “I’ve used both Miro and Mural extensively,” said one, “and have moved almost exclusively to Mural. It’s more user-friendly, so [there’s a] quicker ability to adopt for new users, such as participants in a workshop.” But another chimed in: “Miro works better for me, since it is more stable with large groups, and the apps and templates are very diverse and growing.” A third member opined, “They are really equivalent; each has its fans.”
Figma – Figma is a collaborative design tool that also has its own online whiteboard, FigJam, similar to Mural and Miro. It includes features such as a pen tool for drawing, arc designs for pie charts and watch screens, and numerous plug-ins for things such as stock imagery, charts and icons.
Google Jamboard. Another digital whiteboard solution — this one part of the G Suite. “It’s a little more manageable, as it’s slides rather than one big board,” said one member.
For Project Management
Basecamp – Basecamp is a way to keep all aspects of a remote project into one convenient space. It features a message board for team members to chat and discuss ongoing projects, to-do lists to keep track of upcoming tasks for each team to complete, and group chats for individuals to talk one-on-one with each other. In addition, you can share files with each other, set automatic check-ins to stay on top of what people are doing, and schedule events. It’s like Slack, Google Calendar and Google Drive all rolled into one convenient application.
For Cancelling Background Noise
Krisp – Krisp is an absolute savior for any dog owner whose pet sometimes gets vocal during Zoom meetings. It’s a noise-canceling application that mutes all background noise while still allowing the user to speak normally, meaning you don’t have to keep a finger hovering over the mute button whenever there are unwanted sounds coming from your surroundings. Like barking.
For Graphic Design
Canva – Canva is an online graphic design tool that simplifies the design process, whether you’re creating presentations, videos, or Instagram posts. Collaboration is made simple by being able to invite colleagues into projects to work together on elements such as aesthetics or written content. It also comes with numerous templates and formats.
Otter.ai is a web-based service that can provide real-time transcription of a meeting or conversation; you can also upload recordings to it and get quick transcriptions returned. “It’s a godsend for stakeholder and customer interviews,” said one member. Another added, “It lets you be present instead of taking notes — and also I love the search feature.”
For Creating Your Own Videos
Lumen5 streamlines the process of creating videos for LinkedIn or other social media, as well as product explainer videos.
Dubb, which makes it easy to record and send personalized videos, “is good for video messages for clients,” one member said.
Loom is another video creation tool, often used for quickly narrating a recorded presentation or screenshare.
For Conducting Interviews or Surveys in New Ways
VideoAsk (pictured at right) lets you do interviews or surveys asynchronously. You record questions, and your interviewees answer them — either by speaking, typing, or recording a video of their own.
Voiceform “is a good new app for surveys,” said one member. “People can answer using audio instead of writing.”
For Sharing Calendar Events with a Group
AddEvent – AddEvent is a way to share upcoming events on a website or in an email so that others can add them to their calendar — even if they use different calendar systems. It also offers analytics to show how many people have added a particular event or meeting to their calendar.
For Upgrading Webcasts, Meetings, and Virtual Events
Slido – Slido lets you boost audience engagement and interaction when hosting live events on Zoom and other meeting platforms. You can pose live polls, Q&A sessions, and quizzes to your online audience and make them active participants in sessions. Includes formats such as “word clouds” which can group answers together and enlarge the most selected choices for unique graphics that helps audiences stay attentive to meetings.
Mentimeter is another tool that lets you add polls, quizzes, and word clouds to your Zoom presentations, to keep participants awake and involved.
WebinarJam – WebinarJam is designed for live virtual events with large audiences. Its cloud-based broadcasting means it can host up to 5,000 people in a single webinar, and allows six people to present at one time. It also enables reminder messages, interactive polls, and session recording for later replay.
ManyCam lets you upgrade the way your webcasts or video meetings look, by overlaying graphics, adding transitions, and letting you be a talking head over slides or even videos.
Mmhmm is a similar tool for dressing up your video feed; like ManyCam, it is compatible with most videoconferencing or streaming systems.
Around (pictured at right) is a videoconferencing platform that’s ideal for one-on-one or small group convos. It lets you sit with others around a virtual campfire, or move the videoconference to other parts of your desktop while you work together on a shared document. You can also choose from various fun filters to look a little bit brighter.