What Tools Do Remote Companies Use in 2019?

Remote teams are on the rise. A a major reason "why" is because of the tech available to lower the friction of virtual comms. But, which tools are the most crucial to remote team operations?

As I pondered that question, I ran across this tweet from Brianne Kimmel. It got some amazing engagement from the remote community and is a treasure trove of data. So let's take a look!

Few Notes

A few caveats before jumping in:

  1. There could be inherent bias in the sample of folks who responded
  2. Mentioning a tool =/= critical to a company
  3. I only did minor scrubbing of replies; i.e. I'd search for both "Zoom" and "@zoom_us" when tabulating total mentions of Zoom

This means I'd miss other uncommon variations and misspellings. This becomes especially important in a broad category like G Suite. It contains a few underlying tools have many variations on their proper names. That creates a lot of room for error.

Phew, okay - let's do it.

The Big Three

Drum roll please...


Ta-da! What stands out from the graph is the dominance of three platforms:

  • Slack
  • Zoom
  • G Suite

On some level this makes intuitive sense. Slack is a chat app. Zoom is a video conferencing app. G Suite is a set of productivity & collaboration tools. No overlap. Each filling a unique need in the "communication stack" of a company.

You could also argue these three would be staples in any company. Not only remote companies. But, there is a different context for their importance at a remote-first co. Imagine not having Google Docs for real-time collaboration. It's a game changer.

Kanban Differentiation (Or Lack Thereof)

Another interesting result from the thread was the variety in project management tools. There's close competition between Trello, Asana, and Jira.

My theory is that these tools are as modular as the Kanbans they tout. If all you need is a board and cards, you could go with any of the three and you'll be fine. At that point, I would believe it comes down to brand recognition on a personal level.

I'd be curious to get the skinny from the actual users on "why" their company chose one over the other.

Throwback Thursday: Skype

Talk about surprising - the number of folks using Skype is way higher than I expected. But, I can't really throw shade on the decision after the recent debacle with Zoom and the phantom web server. I wonder:

  • When was the decision (to go with Skype) made?
  • Do these co's also have Slack?

The first question is to gauge whether it was a legacy decision. If not, it'd be interesting to understand the rationale of Skype > Zoom / Hangouts / Webex / GTM. The second question is to understand if these co's also just lean on Skype messenger or decided to go with Slack to fill their real-time chat gap.

Where the Remote-First Tools At?

One final surprising finding - a lack of tools at the top targeted at remote-first companies. A few qualify (looking at you Notion, Basecamp, & Loom), but nothing on the level of Standups.io for example.

Does this mean that remote companies don't face unique problems? Or is the market for remote-specific tooling still nascent?

Like with most things, time will tell. In all, this is fascinating data. I'd be curious to see how it changes in a year. Please do more of these polls Brianne :)

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