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How to better collaborate with teammates across locations and time zones

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Since the shift to remote work, more workers deal with burnout. According to Asana’s global “Anatomy of Work” study of 13,000 workers, people spend about 60 percent of their time on “work about work” — those non-strategic, unskilled tasks necessary to move important projects forward. On top of that, workers switch between 10 apps 25 times per day, making communication and workflow feel fragmented.

“The problem with having all of these tools and all of this ‘work about work’ is people are feeling less connected and less effective,” says Paige Costello, Asana’s pillar lead of core product.

With workforces distributed around the world, scattered across different time zones, Paige says teams must install the right infrastructure for effective visual collaboration without contributing to tool fatigue.

In InVision’s Picture the Future video series, Paige chats with InVision’s senior director of product Betty Liao about creating a work environment that supports autonomy and more efficient workflows. They discuss how you can empower cross-functional work using tools like Asana and InVision Freehand, a real-time online whiteboard, to help organize, track, and manage their work.

Here, the pair’s best tips for effective collaboration with teammates across locations and time zones:

Use tools that have a low learning curve

Ultimately, a tool’s success across an organization depends on its accessibility and inclusivity.

“If everyone on the team can’t comfortably leap into the tool, and you can’t work across teams cross-functionally, then it’s just one team’s tool and it silos the information and the imagination,” Paige says. “You want the tools to be team tools.”

For instance, teams can use the easy-to-learn online digital whiteboard Freehand for brainstorming, planning, workshopping, problem solving, and prototyping. With a super low learning curve, anyone can hop right in and immediately share ideas.

Think about your tool kits’ flexibility

People want flexibility in when and where they work. To do that, they need their tools to be flexible, too.

“You really want to look for a tool that enables synchronous, as well as asynchronous collaboration and that holds context so that not everybody needs to actively be in the same room at the same time in order to get things done,” Betty says. Freehand and Asana both work synchronously, but also act as a source of truth to come back to time and time again.

Use tools that allow for seamless workflows

Think about how new tools you introduce can integrate within your team’s existing workflows. Limiting the time you spend jumping between tools can reduce “work about work” and give you more focus time to do what actually matters. In fact, teams that use integrations can save 30 hours a week by avoiding task-switching, meaning more productivity across the board.

Freehand and Asana are seamlessly integrated, letting you open a Freehand right within an Asana board just by pasting the link into a project brief. Jam with your colleagues on project plans and ideas, and then move those ideas into Asana tasks with due dates to make them actionable.

Image of a Freehand board embedded within Asana Project Brief

“We’re excited to make the connection between ideation and creation — between capturing your thoughts and ideas, and putting those in action,” Paige says.

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