I (used to be) in a team which worked mostly remotely, and so collaborated mostly online. We were all techs, all worked pretty independently, but to share information, chat, and keep a team spirit, we keep in touch via an XMPP server (ie. Jabber). It’s pretty much like walking into an office; you start your day at your laptop, the XMPP client automatically boots up, logs in, connects to the conference room, and sits in the background as you work away.
As team members start their own day, they also automatically log in, and pop up. We greet each other. Sometimes chat. Might make a remark as we work. Gripe. Occasionally help each other troubleshoot. Basically, like working in an office.
The important bits of this – compared to any number of collaborative tools – are:
- Secure – confidential company information is discussed
- Automatic opt-in – with the system-tray-dwelling client, we’re logged into the room automatically. No need to remember to do so
- Persistance – the room remains open on the XMPP server, even if no-one’s logged in. Christmas, Sunday midnight, it’s always there, with the conversation history of the last 100 lines