Managing a team in a single market can be challenging, but overseeing an entire region such as Asia is difficult, to say the least. Now as teams move online or follow a decentralised structure, being able to collaborate, communicate and work effectively is essential.

For some real work experience, we got James Ang from Dropbox, to share what tools he uses in his day-to-day work. James is currently the Head of Asia of Dropbox, where he oversees Dropbox’s Channel business in key markets including Australia & New Zealand, South East Asia, Korea, Taiwan and India. A technopreneur at heart, James has more than 20 years of sales and leadership experience with leading technology companies including Microsoft.

Ranganathan Balashanmugam from Everest Engineering shares the tools that he uses to make his work easier

Dropbox, as I am sure most of you know, is one of the global leaders in file storage and business tools that has expanded into document signing and more digital tools for the workplace. With more than 700 million registered users across 180 countries, Dropbox has grown into a global brand for tech tools.

Dropbox Vault for secure file storage (paid)

Online security is a moving target that evolves as threats change, but Dropbox Vault ensures that my documents are kept accessible yet secure. 

Vault is a PIN-protected folder in my Dropbox account that I can access at any time and through any device. What is great about this is that documents in the Vault folder can only be accessed using my PIN, and files stored in Vault will not appear anywhere else in my Dropbox account even if someone gets access to my device or Dropbox account. I can also control who will be able to access the files in this folder by adding them as trusted contacts, allowing my team members and me to operate in a fully secure environment. 

Dropbox Vault can be used to store intellectual property, confidential projects, as well as passwords and login details for key documents and accounts. It works as a central depository for team members working across different accounts. 

This extra layer of security is great for business leaders and managers, who are constantly handling highly confidential documents every day. 

Miro for virtual and visual collaboration and brainstorming (paid and free options)

Miro is an online tool that we rely on when it comes to brainstorming for different ideas, especially if we need a platform that allows us to communicate visually on the go.

Functioning as a digital whiteboard, Miro has proved to be useful when it comes to engaging the entire team. With the sticky notes function and the ability to ‘write’ comments on the infinite canvas provided, every team member’s thoughts and ideas can be scribbled down and more importantly, seen. As the Miro platform provides visibility to everyone’s thoughts that can be referred to even after the meeting ends, it prevents anyone’s ideas from getting left behind. This is particularly useful when we have to keep our collaborative sessions short.

Miro also provides a scrum board tool that helps to keep us on track, especially during crunch periods when the turnover times for projects are really tight. We employ the scrum process, where for a period of about two weeks, our team places focus on all the high priority backlogged items that we have yet to complete. Making use of the scrum board, we are able to categorise our high priority tasks into three segments – incomplete, work in progress, and completed, using virtual sticky notes. This gives the whole team a visual on where we’re at, and retains our agility as we aim to move all those sticky notes from the ‘incomplete’ column to the ‘complete’ one!

Dropbox Capture to provide feedback for distributed teams (free)

As I do not get to see my colleagues as much since the pandemic, the new Dropbox Capture feature has been helpful when we’re all working across distributed teams. With the feature, we can provide feedback via videos on documents and files for more collaborative working. I think we are all aware of how visual cues and body language play a huge part in communication. Being able to give feedback where my colleagues can see my face and vice versa allows us to build more rapport even through virtual means.

It also makes working across time zones easier with the global team, since we can now capture ourselves on video and markup our edits on whichever file we are collaborating on. While it does not entirely replace a meeting, it does make staying connected a lot more edifying in the event that we are unable to find a common meeting time. That, and also the GIF function does allow us to inject some humour into our work life and team spirit!

Adobe for completing administrative work quickly (paid and free options)

I go through multiple files in a day, and often need to sign or review many of them. Some of the tools I love using to simplify this process are Adobe Acrobat and Adobe’s Creative Cloud preview.

When it comes to reviewing .pdf documents, Adobe Acrobat has been very useful in allowing me to open documents on the fly, and making edits to them as and when needed. As the Acrobat reader has the option to digitally edit documents, I am able to make the necessary changes within the document, and use my digital signature to sign off. In addition, the platform allows me to leave specific comments for my colleagues within the document and vice versa, providing a single rundown of specific segments that require urgent attention.

This convenience is not just limited to .pdf files. With the Adobe Creative Cloud platform, I can open various image and working files for visual collateral in a single space. This enables me to go through these files more quickly, and allows me to provide more timely feedback to the various teams without having to switch between multiple platforms.

Zoom for virtual meetings and synchronising agendas (paid and free options)

When we record a Zoom Meeting, we are able to save the meeting, along with a transcript, to Dropbox’s platform. Zoom’s transcript feature has definitely been a huge time and effort saver for us and is a way for team members who are unable to attend meetings to catch up on what was discussed. Better yet, because the transcript files are indexed using Dropbox’s full-text search feature, the process of looking for particular items is simplified.

Personally, I find this to be really convenient as I like to recap and review what was previously discussed in meetings or brainstorm sessions.