Collaborating remotely – What tools to use when

Monday 05/11/2020

Many of us have found a daily remote work routine by now, but with so many online tools, it can be hard to know which one to use for communicating when away from the office. When do I use Teams? What about Zoom?

Below is a quick guide to our top three ITS tools for remote teamwork.

Good ol’ email. Use email for those conversations or questions that aren’t pressing, things that don’t need an answer right now, but maybe sometime today. It’s an easy and polite way to get in touch with someone without making them drop everything to answer you.

Remember, you can always access your FSU email by signing in online at or by syncing your email to your phone.

Need to step it up a notch? Microsoft Teams is a fantastic tool for more immediate, internal conversations within your team. Think of Teams as the tool you would use for a quick question for which you would normally pop into someone’s office.

Group chat, file sharing and screen sharing make Teams ideal for collaboration. You can also use “channels” to organize conversations by topic or project—perfect for virtual watercooler and other remote work morale building exercises. And for those times when you have a pressing issue or need a question answered right away, Teams offers a convenient audio call feature that lets you call a team member via the app with one click.

To get Teams, sign in to your Office 365 account (, click the app launcher icon in the top left corner and select Teams. Or, download the Microsoft Teams app for your desktop or mobile device.

Zoom is ideal for video conferences. High definition video and screen sharing make it perfect for anything that would be an in-person meeting if we were all back in the office or for conversations with people outside ITS who may or may not have Teams installed. Since video conferences can be seen as the most intrusive form of reaching out to someone, it’s best to schedule Zoom meetings in advance. Use the Outlook integration to add a Zoom link to your meeting invite or sign in to your FSU Zoom account to schedule a meeting and share the invite with attendees. Zoom is also great for those remote social events like team lunches. Or be creative—maybe your team could go on a virtual field trip.

To get started with Zoom, make sure you use the university’s secure license, not the public version. Go to and sign in to your account or download the desktop or mobile apps for added convenience. And always follow these 10 tips to secure your Zoom meetings.

Check Availability
Whatever tool you use to communicate, make sure to check someone’s availability before you jump in. Nobody wants an awkward meme popping up while they’re sharing their screen in a meeting. In Outlook and Teams, you can see if someone is busy if a red dot appears by their profile picture. If the dot is green, indicating they are available, still be courteous and ask when a good time is to connect.