The office can be a very different place when you are working remotely. There’s no water cooler, no lunch break, no desks, no cubicles, and most glaringly of all, no coworkers!

It’s a wonder that great work is being accomplished by diverse and far-flung teams each and every day. That’s in large part thanks to the proliferation of fantastic digital tools that enable great remote work experiences and end products.

Here are a few of the emerging and established tools you should try if you’re looking to collaborate with remote coworkers.

Slack. A rising star and highly valued startup, Slack is the first name on this and many other lists. It is the best version of a fully-contained mobile office that has been created to date. With so much more going for it than its ‘chat’ function, it enables workers from different corners of the globe to collaborate on projects, communicate about them, and track each other’s progress, all in a clean and orderly interface.

Sqwiggle. Once you get past the idea that this is some kind of panopticon app, you’ll be glad the team is using this tool. This app automatically snaps a photo of each logged-in user every 1 to 5 minutes. It’s not about managers policing workers as much as it’s about fostering a sense of presence and togetherness among the team. Just a quick snapshot gives you an idea of who they are, where they are, and how they’re feeling.

Clocks. It’s pretty simple and there are a couple different ways to make sure you’re keeping track of what time it is for yourself and the rest of your team. But suffice it to say, when you’ve got team members in multiple different time zones and potentially in different continents, keeping track of time is a high priority.

Trello. This is a project management tool that allows you to document and track progress on individual projects. Users can comment, vote, and leave attachments on cards within each project’s ‘board.’ It’s a great tool for visualizing and prioritizing what’s done, what needs to be done, and what’s coming up down the road.

Google Hangouts and Calendars. Google provides several useful tools for connecting with other remote workers. Both tools are accessible through Slack which makes the whole experience a bit more streamlined. Hangouts really helps teams get on the same page by enabling team-wide video conferencing while calendars enables workers to see when others are available and when they will be tied up.

Obviously, the number of useful tools available today far exceeds the capacity of this blog. What tools will work best for your situation depends on what kind of work you’re doing and how large your teams are. Have you encountered a new tool that’s working great for you? I’d love to hear about it. Let me know in the comments!

photo credit: Skookumchuk Narrows at slack tide via photopin (license)