Chat is the most essential and omnipresent form of communication you have when working remotely.
I’m *always* using iChat to communicate with my coworkers – not because it is the only way to “talk” to them, but because it is generally the most efficient way. Quick questions are answerable on their schedule; snippets of code or a URL (or even an image) can be sent in an instant.
All iChat sessions I have are saved; Spotlight makes them instantly searchable. That’ *cannot* be done with a voice call and the usefulness of the persistent record cannot be overstated. On more than one occasion the saved chat has provided the info needed to solve an immediate problem; once it even held the keys to removing doubt about a personnel issue we had.
Combine the text chat with audio and video, throw in a sprinkling of screen sharing and a distributed team (even a single remote member) will find that their “instant” communication needs are almost always covered by a single application.
I believe remote development represents the future of work. If we have to spend a little time figuring out how this stuff works, and maybe even make some mistakes along the way, it’s worth it. As far as I’m concerned, the future is now. Why wait?
A good followup to my post from last night. Jeff’s post is specifically about distributed software development, but the practices hold true for all sorts of teams.