8 Hidden Features to Get the Most Out of Remote Collaboration Tools

May 20, 2020
Posted in General

8 Hidden Features to Get the Most Out of Remote Collaboration Tools

May 20, 2020 Theorem, LLC

If you’re working remotely, chances are you’re using many new online collaboration and communication platforms. Often, these tools are intuitive and help keep teams engaged and connected—but did you know they also come loaded with hidden features? Whether you want to find things quickly, organize like a pro, or minimize distractions, here are a few of our favorites to make remote work easier.

Take control of alerts and notifications

Sure, coffee helps you focus. Others swear by headstands. But there are ways to use remote work technology to prevent your attention from being hijacked with every email and message.   

  1. Customize notifications
    Being connected is great—except when it’s not. Constant notifications are a drain on your focus. If you use Slack, simply click on the bell icon at the top of your channel bar to activate Do Not Disturb (DND). Either pause notifications or set recurring DND hours to minimize interruptions. Also handy when you need to step away from work as colleagues won’t expect a response straight away.
    Asana has a similar feature in the ‘Hacks’ tab. Select ‘Inbox Snooze’ and you’ve bought yourself an hour to power through without disruption. Over on Microsoft Teams, access ‘Settings’ and ‘Notifications’ to fine-tune what notifications you receive and where. Google Inbox allows you to customize your inbox by bundling related messages together (finance, marketing, or social, for example) and disabling categories that aren’t important. That way you might only receive weekly updates from your social channel.


  2. Create alerts for custom keywords
    Stay in the know by creating keyword notifications on Slack. It might be a project title, customer or account name, or even your name. Be selective—you can add more as you go. 

  3. Turn down the volume
    Also on Slack, access notification preferences and mute channels that aren’t super important but you wish to remain part of. This works in reverse by giving you the option to be notified of every new message for important channels.
    And while we’re on the topic of muting, did you know that simply pressing and holding your space bar quickly will mute and unmute your mic while on Zoom? More on shortcuts in a moment.
  4. Maintain order in meetings
    Moderating who-talks-when during large virtual meetings can be chaotic. That’s where Zoom’s ‘mute all’ feature comes in handy for silencing existing and future attendees who may otherwise forget to turn their mics off.Develop Ninja-like speed
    Efficiency is the secret to getting things done quickly, which can be vital during challenging times. Being organized—having a place for everything and everything in its place—also helps reduce stress levels when adjusting to massive change.
  5. Pin messages
    Have important information at your fingertips by pinning priority Slack messages. You can pin up to 100 but it’s probably more useful to pin messages that reflect the channel’s purpose to give members a good idea of the information they’re likely to find.
  6. Keyboard shortcuts
    Join a meeting, switch to gallery view, screen share—whatever you want to do on Zoom there’s probably a shortcut.In the same way, Slack’s ‘Quick Switcher’ gives you lightning navigation between channels and direct messages, all without the use of a mouse. Simply click Ctrl+K and start typing the name of a channel, teammate, or alternative workspace. Trello also uses keyboard shortcuts to add lists, headers, italics, and more. 
    Using Figma? Designers will benefit from ‘lock and unlock’ keyboard shortcuts that prevent accidental selection and edits. Select the object your wish to lock and hit ⌘Shift ⇧L (Mac) or CtrlShift ⇧L (PC). Want to unlock an element? Ensure it’s selected in ‘Layers’ and repeat the same shortcut.
  7. Turn emails into tasks
    If you’re using Asana, another nifty shortcut is the ability to send an email to ‘x@mail.asana.com’, and hey presto! It will join your ‘My Tasks’. You can also turn emails into cards on Trello by opening the sidebar menu, choosing ‘Email to Board’ settings, and copying and pasting the unique email address into your contacts list.
    Using a Chrome extension, another neat tool is the ability to add tasks to Asana straight from your browser. Asana names the task according to the page name and adds the link as a note. 
  8. Search like a pro
    Evernote lets you sort your notes wherever you created them. Simply click ‘Atlas’ on your sidebar and you’ll be served with a list of different places where you’ve added notes. Perfect for unearthing those little notes you would otherwise struggle to locate. Meanwhile, Slack’s advanced search capability means you can search by username, timeframe, and channel. Pin it to a relevant channel and it’ll be easy to find in a hurry.


Take advantage of extra support

Things are different now we’re all working from home. Boundaries between work and home life are blurred and team communications present a challenge. But there’s no reason why anyone should be logging extra hours. 

For leaders navigating this sudden transition to remote teams, helping workers make the most of the tools available is part of building a supportive remote culture. And for employees, master just a few of these features and you’ll be surprised how much time you save while churning through your workload. The tools are there so use them to get into good habits—and save your mental energy for more important things. 

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