Tools

Tools and technology to support remote team working.

Technology won’t solve every problem, but getting some basics right can help. If you are joining a (video) call, get yourself set up correctly.

Camera

Most laptops have decent webcams built-in, but if for some reason yours doesn’t, then consider a high-quality USB camera.

Headphones

You want closed headphones, which are designed not to leak sound in or out. In a busy office, you don’t want to annoy your neighbours with unnecessary noise from your conversations.

They could be big, over-the-ear headphones (like the ones you use for DJing on Saturday nights) or little earbuds. Expensive audiophile headphones that are open are NOT suitable for video conferencing when others are nearby. Whatever you use, make sure that they don’t leak noise when they are on/in your head.

Microphone

This is the big one. If you are facilitating group meetings or you are in a location where the ambient noise is controlled (and you don’t want to use a headset), then consider splashing out on a high-quality microphone. A headset with a microphone that dangles a foot from your head on a wire, brushing against your clothing, makes it difficult for others to hear you.

If you are using one of these in-line microphones, be sure to hold on to it (yes, I know this no longer makes it hands-free) to prevent the excess noise. For the best experience, consider getting a headset with a boom mike, preferably a model that includes noise-cancelling microphones.

Recent MacBooks (and presumably other laptops) have pretty decent microphones. While these might be okay for conference calls, they don’t work well when you are trying to type and talk at the same time (pairing, taking notes, etcetera), as the noise from your fingers hammering the keys will be distracting to others. The worst option would be a headset with a microphone built into the earpieces. Sadly, this includes some expensive, very comfortable headphones that seem to have terrible microphones built into them. These headsets (with microphones built into the earpieces) can create a poor experience for others on the call.

Desk Space

Make sure you have plenty of desk space and two (or more) screens. It’s no good to have a video call if the other person is always behind your active window.

Awesome Internet

Obviously, it makes a real difference whether you have good upload/download speeds and low latency, especially for remote screen control and decent video connections.