4 years of remote work: the 3-part survival guide


Here is the first part of the 3 part “remote work survival guide” saga in which we provide you with the essential tools for a remote team.

Raphaël, Michaël and I founded The Computer Firm (TCF for close friends) in July 2016. We had met a few months earlier, in the little paradise of Bali. We were then participating in a “Startup Weekend”, a competition during which a multidisciplinary team (developers, marketers, designers) worked non-stop for 54 hours to create a startup.

6 months after the creation of TCF, we paid ourselves salaries. Now 4 years later, we have a full time team of 6 and have created over 70 apps, websites and marketing campaigns for clients on 4 continents.

All… entirely by teleworking (or “remote work” as we say). With the COVID-19 crisis, many businesses are finding themselves forced to transition to teleworking, which can be really intimidating at first.

We have decided to share our experience with you in a 3-part saga:

  • Free tools (or almost) to facilitate teleworking
  • The communication and team building techniques we use
  • Our advice to be effective in teleworking

Part 1: Free tools (or almost) to facilitate teleworking

To start our guide to efficient and pleasant teleworking, we willtell you about the tools we use on a daily basis which allow us to communicate, exchange with our customers, share information, images, and files even more efficiently than if we were together in the same office.

Slack, the essential communication tool for remote teams Link to Slack

Guide survie télétravail slack

If I had to pick just one tool that makes remote working easier, it would be Slack. It allows you to fight the team’s number 1 enemy from a distance: endless email chains. Slack is a collaborative chat tool that allows the whole team to communicate instantly.

Just create channels for the different projects you’re working on and invite your team members to join them. You can exchange information about the project, and share documents and images. The time you save is enormous: no more internal emails, and it’s easy to find information and documents.

On Slack, we

  • Save time by sending less internal emails
  • Find information and documents easily
  • Centralize communication

On Slack, we would like

  • The possibility of marking a message as unread, for post processing
  • The ability to record voice notes

Whereby, free videoconferencing, GDPR compliant without the need to install software Link to Whereby

Guide survie télétravail whereby

We use the Whereby platform for our video conference calls. The big advantage of Whereby over Zoom? No need to download an app. You just have to create a virtual conference room, copy / paste the link, and share it with your interlocutor who then opens it in his/her browser.

On Whereby,

  • There is no need to install anything, just click on the link and everything is done in the browser
  • The data is hosted in the European Union and the platform is GDPR compliant
  • Once the link is created, for example whereby.com/clientname, it is valid ad infinitum: no need to recreate a link each time

On Whereby, we would like

  • The ability to record conferences (paid version only)
  • The possibility of organizing conferences with more than 4 participants (paid version only)

Loom, to create recordings of your presentations

Link to Loom

Ecran loom télétravail

Loom is a tool that lets you record your computer screen, voice, and even your webcam, and then share the video. We often use it, for example, to create demos for our clients, or even to present them with a project proposal that we would have previously presented to them in person.

In a few clicks, we record a video of our screen and give a presentation, and then the program automatically creates a link that we send by email to our customers. Thus, the user can watch the video at his/her convenience, and watch it as many times as (s)he wishes.

Loom is great for its

  • Ease of use: a simple click and you record your screen, sound and video
  • Possible addition of your miniature camera at the bottom of the screenshot
  • Ability for the recipient to view the video at their convenience, endlessly
  • Lack of need for installing an application: everything is done in the browser
  • Ability to edit videos: shorten them and add notes and emojis
  • Ability to download videos in mp4 format

On Loom, we would like

  • Really… no complaints.

Google Drive, the magic of the Cloud

Link to Drive

Ecran numéro google docs télétravail

Our business is almost entirely managed from the cloud. We can access it from anywhere, and without any risk of losing information if something goes wrong with our computers. Our Google Drive is organized as an internal server, with one file for each project.

What about information security on Google? It all depends on the sensitivity of the information you are handling. The most common problem is the security of passwords. Make sure that the passwords your employees use are complex enough not to be easily guessed, and are kept secret. It is also recommended that you set up two-factor authentication.

When in doubt, don’t put your most confidential files in the cloud.

On Google Drive, there is

  • Ease of access to information, ideal for working from anywhere
  • The ability to provide access to files and documents by simply sharing a link
  • The ability to edit documents collaboratively, which avoids having to double check which is the newest version
  • The search function which makes it possible to find documents easily

On Google Drive, we don’t like that

  • Google Sheets does not support all Excel features

Skype number, to use your mobile phone as a landline Link to Skype

Ecran numéro skype télétravail

Skype number, to use your mobile phone as a landline Link to Skype

We like our Skype number because it gives us :

  • The ability to call our customers with our corporate landline numbers from our mobile phones, wherever we are
  • The subscription which includes free calls to most international landlines
  • Incoming calls that ring on all employee phones, so you won’t miss calls even if no one is in the office

We dislike:

  • The Swiss version only allows you to choose 3 possible indicators: Geneva, Thun and Zürich
  • The Skype user experience is not always ideal

It is not always easy to make the transition to a team working effectively from remote locations. After 4 years of research into optimizing our processes, these tools have proven to be essential, and we use them on a daily basis. We hope you find them useful! Do not hesitate to let us know your thoughts or if you have any questions about improving your remote work experience.

Dans le prochain épisode de la saga télétravail, nous vous présenterons nos techniques de communication au quotidien pour une équipe à distance, pour une efficacité maximale et des collaborateurs soudés.