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Start Screen Shares Directly From Slack Using Screenleap’s New Slack Integration

Slack is a popular tool that lets you chat with your team. If you use Slack, you’ll be excited to learn that our new integration will make Slack even more useful by allowing your team members to start a screen share directly from within Slack by simply typing “/leap” into any Slack channel.

How It Works

Slack offers a number of commands that you can type into the input box to enable additional functionality. Our integration adds a “/leap” command that you can use to start a screen share directly from within Slack.

You can configure the command by adding additional keywords after the command. Our “/leap” command supports the following keywords:

  • /leap – Share your browser window to a private URL.
  • /leap screen – Share your entire screen to a private URL.
  • /leap broadcast browser – Share your browser window to your personal URL.
  • /leap broadcast screen – Share your entire screen to your personal URL.

You’ll need to use the Chrome web browser in order to share your screen, but your screen share is viewable by anyone using a device with a web browser, including smartphones and tablets.

Once your screen is shared, the share link will be automatically inserted into your current Slack channel. Your team members will be able to view your screen by simply clicking on the share link.

Integration

To add the Screenleap integration to your Slack account, simply click on the “Add to Slack” button below:

Add to Slack

That’s it! Now everyone on your team will be able to use the “/leap” command to start a new screen share.

Installation

The first time you use the Screenleap slash command, you’ll be shown a link that you can click on to install the Screenleap browser share extension (if it’s not already installed).

slack_screenleap_installation_link

Click on the link to 1) install the browser extension and 2) create a new account (it’s free!) or sign into your existing Screenleap account. The Free Account gives you 1 hour of free sharing per day (2 hours for people in education). Your screen share will automatically start after the installation completes.

screenleap_browser_extension_share_menu

As part of the installation, a green screen icon will be added to your Chrome address bar. When you’re ready to stop your screen share, simply click on the green screen and then click on the “Stop sharing” button.

Get In Touch

We hope you enjoy the new Slack integration. If you have any questions about the integration or want to learn more about Screenleap, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

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Remote Work Tips – Interview with Len Markidan from Groove

We are big believers in distributed teams at Screenleap. In our previous posts, we wrote about the lessons we learned and the tools we use to stay connected and productive. To gain more insights about how successful remote companies work, we’re launching a series of interviews which is focused on

  • learning how successful remote workers do their jobs (working styles, tools)
  • how distributed teams build their companies (tools, culture)

This is the first interview of the series.

len_markidan

Len Markidan heads up marketing at Groove, where he focuses on helping startups and small businesses build better relationships with their customers. Groove’s entire team works remotely.

In this interview, he elaborates on his remote working style and how Groove’s distributed team works together.

 

Hi Len, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. Please tell us a little about yourself.

I’m the Head of Marketing for Groove, where we work on building the best customer service tools for small businesses. Our whole team is remote: I work from my home office in Baltimore, Maryland.

I also write about home office productivity, work/life balance, and happiness on my blog Home Office Hero.

How long have you been working remotely? Why did you choose to work remotely?

For around five years now. In 2010 I was living in San Francisco, doing marketing for a startup, and taking the bus downtown every day to our office on the 19th floor of a soulless corporate skyscraper. I loved the work, but hated the commute. When the company got acquired and I decided to start my own business, working from home was an easy choice.

How does your typical day look like?

I wake up at around 6am and make coffee while my wife gets ready to leave (she just went back to school to study medicine). She heads out at around 7, and that’s when I tackle my biggest task of the day—usually that’s a blog post or other big content piece. It’s still early enough that I don’t get interrupted by emails or Slack notifications. I’ll typically work through lunch, eating at my desk. Because I start early, I typically run out of creative steam around mid-afternoon, so I take a gym break then before coming back and dealing with more mindless administrative stuff like responding to emails and getting things in order for the next day.

I try not to work past 6pm or so, but I’m far from perfect. We have dinner around then, and then I’ll either read or mindlessly goof off on the Internet, depending on how much impulse control I have that day. I like to take a walk before bed, an awesome head-clearing habit I started doing after reading Joel Gascoigne’s post about it.

What apps do you use? What apps can’t you live without?

For work, I spend the overwhelming majority of my time in just four apps: Google Docs for writing and editing, Slack for chatting with the Groove team, Trello for managing projects and to-do’s, and Mailplane for easy switching between my various Gmail accounts. For non-work stuff, I love Headspace for guided meditation and Simplenote for not having to rely on my less-than-stellar memory.

How does Groove’s team overcome the collaboration challenge (like explaining complex concepts or issues such as the steps for reproducing a bug) while working remotely?

As more and more teams have started to work remotely and more and more tools have been developed for them, that challenge has really diminished. There’s very little that you can’t explain or convey to a remote coworker. Screen-sharing apps (like Screenleap) make that really easy.

What is the biggest benefit of working remotely? What’s the biggest challenge?

The biggest benefit for me is flexibility. I get to work the hours that I’m most productive, I don’t have to waste time commuting and I can work from anywhere I’d like to.

The biggest benefit for our team is recruiting. We can hire the best talent, regardless of where they are

Today, the biggest challenge remote work presents is no longer collaboration or communication, but culture. Being in one place together helps culture develop naturally through the connections and conversations you have day in and day out. You have to work hard to recreate that dynamic online.

So how does Groove develop a culture when everyone is remote?

The most important thing that we do to develop culture is try to replace the social element of a physical office with a “virtual water cooler.”

For us, that virtual water cooler is a room in Slack that’s reserved for non-work-related conversations. There’s a lot of back-and-forth banter, folks post photos of their pets, the music they’re listening to, random links from the Internet—things like that.

Every week, we also have a team poker tournament on ReplayPoker.com. We take an hour off and do a group call on Skype while we play poker. It’s an awesome way to be social and get to know each other while having fun. And of course, there are prizes for winners :)

That’s interesting. How do you think it will scale as the company gets bigger?

It’s challenging to keep culture intact as you grow, but that’s why it’s so important for us to spend time investing in building a strong cultural foundation now.

When the culture becomes deeply ingrained across a small team, it’s easier for each member of that small early team to help keep the culture alive as the company expands.

We also take cultural really seriously when we hire. And that must continue, whether you’re hiring employee number 10, 100 or 1,000.

That’s great, Len. Coming back to your working style, how do you minimize distractions while working from home?

The most important thing for me is to take my own willpower (or lack of it) completely out of the equation. I use StayFocusd, a Chrome extension that blocks any site I tell it to (e.g., Facebook, etc…) during the hours I want to be working. It’s amazing how much more productive this tool makes me.

Any advice you would give to others who are considering working remotely?

Make sure that you’re self-aware enough to know your shortcomings, and put systems in place to overcome them. If you know that you’re easily distracted, remove the distractions. If you know that you have trouble separating work and life and tend to work long hours if left unchecked, set “off-limits” times for your office and tell whoever you live with to keep you accountable for sticking to them.

Oh, and put on some pants.

That’s a great suggestion :D. We would love to see your remote work setup. Could you share it with us?

Sure, here’s my desk, along with my officemate Zoe:

Remote Work Tips - Interview with Len Markidan from Groove

Awesome :). If there were one thing you could change about current remote work scenario, what would you change?

I’m lucky that I’ve been able to pretty much build my work life as I want it to be, so there isn’t anything I can think of that I’d change. With that said, an espresso machine mounted behind my desk would be nice.

And the last question: What app for remote work you’d love to have but doesn’t exist?

I’d pay any amount of money for an app that blasted Nickelback (at an uncomfortably high volume) at Comcast HQ every time the Internet at my house goes down. I suspect connectivity would start looking a bit better around here fast.

It was awesome talking to you, Len. Thank you so much for all the remote work tips and your time. We really appreciate it!

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6 Tools that Screenleap’s Distributed Team Uses to Stay Connected and Productive

At Screenleap, we have a distributed team that is spread across three continents (North America, Europe, and Asia). While we love the benefits of working in a distributed team, it isn’t without its challenges—the biggest of which is being able to communicate effectively. In an office, it’s really easy to walk over to team members to ask questions and get everyone together for discussions. It is more challenging to do the same, however, when your team members are spread around the world across different time zones.

We have come to rely on a number of online tools to help us overcome the challenges of working in a distributed team. Below we highlight our favorite tools that help us to stay connected and productive.

SlackOur Virtual Office

Slack is our virtual office. We use Slack to have discussions, brainstorm ideas, share files, and keep everyone on the same page.

You can organize your discussions in Slack using channels. Messages posted to a channel are viewable and searchable by all channel members. In addition to the public channels that you can create, each team member also has a personal channel that can be used for private one-on-one conversations.

Screenleap Slack Channels Time Zone Friendly

What we love about Slack is that is has all its little touches that help a distributed team to be more productive. We work in different time zones so it’s important to keep track of everyone’s time zone, and this is where Slack helps. Slack automatically shows you the local time for each of your team members so you don’t have to manually calculate it yourself. This makes it really easy to figure out if team members are likely to be available when they are not currently online on Slack.

Screenleap Communication Slack - Time zones

Integrations

Slack supports a large number of integrations. Some integrations allow you to pull in updates from the other tools that you use. We use Slack’s integrations to pull the following information from our other tools:

  • Task updates from Trello (our project management tool)
  • Mentions and updates from Twitter
  • Issues and comments from GitHub (our code repository)

Other Slack integrations allow you to add additional functionality. For example, Appear.in allows you to start video chats from Slack. We will be adding a Screenleap integration soon that will allow you to start screen shares directly from Slack. Stay tuned for more details!

Screenleap – Hassle-Free Screen Sharing

Screenleap is a screen-sharing tool that we built. We use it internally to streamline the onboarding of new team members, explain complex ideas (such as reproduction of steps for bugs), and demo features for our users.

We find Screenleap to be invaluable when onboarding new team members remotely. It is much easier to teach a team member how to use a new tool by sharing your screen with them and giving them a quick demo than by trying to explain it to them over the phone or using chat.

A lot of times text chats and even video calls become ineffective when explaining something complex, such as the steps for reproducing a bug. Screenleap is our go-to tool in such scenarios. Explaining complex processes becomes easy when you can see someone’s screen so you can guide them step-by-step through it.

Screen Sharing using Screenleap

The biggest advantage of using Screenleap is that your viewers do not have to install anything in order to view your screen. They just have to paste the share code or the link that you send to them, and they can see your screen.

Trello – Task and Project Management

Trello is a simple yet a powerful tool that we use to manage our projects. Trello allows you to organize your tasks into boards and lists. You can set up different boards for each department and create private boards for tracking your own tasks. 

Like other project management tools, Trello allows you to add standard information to your tasks, such as team members, due dates, checklists, and attachments.

How Screenleap's distributed team uses Trello

Its polished and responsive drag-and-drop interface is what sets Trello apart from the other project management tools. The interface makes it easy to create workflows and manage tasks that need to go through multiple stages (such as hiring or fundraising). With Trello, updating a task doesn’t seem like a chore.

Google Docs – Document Collaboration

We use Google Docs when we need to collaborate on writing anything, from blog articles to contracts. Google Docs allows you to easily invite other people to view your documents, provide feedback, and even make changes directly to them.

Screenleap--Google DocsYou can check who made which changes and keep track of all the changes. You can even revert to a previous version if you need to.

Streak – CRM and Support

Streak is a CRM tool built on top of Gmail. While Streak is marketed as a CRM tool, you can use it for a bunch of other things as well. We use Streak to provide better support, to manage our hiring pipeline, to schedule demos, and to track potential customers.

Streak has a feature called snippets that we use extensively when we’re providing support. Snippets are email templates that can be inserted into emails. We create snippets for our most common support questions and are religious about creating new snippets when we encounter a support question that we have not seen before and refining existing ones to make them clearer.

Screenleap--Usage of Streak for CRM

We use Streak’s pipeline feature to manage our hiring. The nice thing about using Streak is that it organizes all our discussions with a candidate together so that all relevant information about a candidate is easily accessible (including email, resumes, and comments). Candidates in our hiring pipeline start out at the “Resume” stage and progress through other stages that include “Scheduling Calls”, “Interview”, “Hired”, “Passed”, and “Lost”.

We use Streak’s API to integrate our sign-up system with Gmail. If you request a demo when signing up for a Screenleap account, Streak will automatically create a box for you in our “Demo Requests” pipeline in our Gmail support inbox. Your name will show up at the top of our support box until after we have contacted you and changed your stage to “Contacted”.

Streak does too many other things to list completely. Needless to say, we are pretty big fans!

Dropbox – File Sharing

We use Dropbox to store our company documents. It synchronizes all the files in our shared folder across all of our computers. Dropbox ensures that we always have access to the latest files no matter what computer we are on. Dropbox also removes the problem of forgetting to copy the document you are working on from your work computer to your home computer and not being able to work on the document because of it.

You can add team members, share folders and files with team members, or create a simple link to share a particular file or folder for collaboration.

dropbox_file_sharing
What are your must-have tools?

Having the right online tools is essential to collaborating effectively with a distributed team. They help us to communicate, stay organized, and move the company forward.  I hope this post has given you some insights into the various communication and collaboration tools that we use with our team. We would love to hear more about what tools you find to be most useful for your team.

Share your favorites in the comments!

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