5 Tools To Make Remote Working Easier
Due to recent circumstances which has seen a lot of businesses close their doors, and forced businesses to make some considerate changes in the way they operate, many of us have been faced with the challenge of integrating our work into our homes.
For some, this is barely a challenge and some people find themselves actually being more productive working from home. However, for others, it can be extremely challenging to keep up working momentum, as well as dealing with the struggle of keeping home-life and work-life separate; it can be difficult to switch off when your office is also your living room!
There are many areas of your working day that you probably take for granted when you’re sitting in the office with your colleagues day-in, day-out. Walking over to a teammates desk to ask a quick question about a project, or gathering your team for a meeting, are just things you simply can’t do when you’re working from home.
However, it’s 2020 and we’re very fortunate that we have a ton of technology at our fingertips during these times. Just because you can’t be sat in the same room, doesn’t mean it can’t be business as usual; and you still have the full capability to pester your colleagues with questions, updates, and “office bants”.
Here at Ina4, we made sure that our team was fully prepared for the eventuality of working from home during this pandemic; ensuring each and every one of us had the tools and the means of continuing to work as normal from their homes. This has meant that we have been able to continue to communicate and run projects as if we’re all still sat in the same room.
So, let’s take a look at some of the tools that can be used to help make remote working that little bit more manageable, and help your business to keep running smoothly for you and your clients.
Having clear communication with your team is key to ensuring your business can still run as usual from home. Sure, we all have phones these days, but not everyone has the time to be sat on the phone all day, we want to be able to send that question or update and move on with the next task.
This is where a tool like Slack comes in. Slack is basically an instant messaging tool for business teams, which helps to keep lines of communication open with team mates. To make life easier, Slack can also integrate with numerous platforms including Zendesk, Salesforce, and JIRA. Plus, with the use of its Channels you can organise your conversations into different topics or groups.
Slack is ideal for small to large teams who need to keep up communication in an effective way. There’s no need for technical expertise, just an easy install, set up, and chat.
The recently developed Microsoft Teams is, in many ways, an alternative to Slack. In much the same way that Slack does, it provides an open communication platform with all of your team members. The main difference between the two is that Microsoft Teams has the added functionality of integrating internal voice/video calls.
When our team at Ina4 started to work from home, we made the switch from Slack to Microsoft Teams as we wanted to make sure we could communicate effectively via one platform. This gave us the capability to instant message through various group chats, as well as being able to have a morning catch-up via video call.
Microsoft Teams has a free version, which is more than enough for most teams however, if you require the additional functionality they also offer paid packages.
On these types of platforms there can be a worry from business owners and management that it will reduce productivity within their teams. Our experience with these platforms is, once the novelty has worn off, these platforms have worked really well in increasing productivity, as it gives teams more of an opportunity to communicate better and more efficiently. If you’re unsure, give it a go and see how it fits into your team; you may find it’s not for you, or you might even discover that it’s a game-changer.
How are you going to drag your team into meetings 134 times per day if you’re working from home?! Not to worry, with the help of video conferencing tools, this is still very much possible - just make sure to actually change out of your pj’s when your boss tries to dial you into a client meeting!
Zoom is typically the most popular choice when it comes to video conferencing tools; it has a free tier, which is suitable for most and is easy to use. However, make sure you shop around a little to see what other options are available; you may find that some fit your needs better than others. There have recently been some privacy concerns around the Zoom platform, so if you are unsure then there is also a free, open-source alternative such as., Jitsi.
At Ina4, we love open-source tools, and Jitsi is currently one of our favourites. It’s a really great quality video conferencing platform, without all of the hassle. SImply head over to their website, open up a room, send your guests a link, and chat away!
Gone are the days when we need to send Word documents and Excel spreadsheets over an email. If you’re still doing this, I’m afraid you’re living in the dark ages of technology.
Google Drive allows you to create collaborative documents with your team, meaning you don’t have to create a copy and send it over on an email to them, and vice versa; everything can be done in one central document, which is stored in a cloud, and can be shared with the necessary people.
I know what you’re thinking - you don’t want Dave from sales to mess up your really important spreadsheet, right?! Not to fear, every change made to a document in Google Drive is backed up, so you can revert back to a version of your work.
You can even upload all of your existing Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, etc and Google Drive will convert all of these files into Google Doc form. Easy.
Communication between your teams during this time is great, but how do you keep a track of what is actually being produced?! Trello is a simple and effective tool for just this. It allows you to create collaborative lists - think of it like a ‘To Do’ list - in the form of a kanban board.
For example, you can create a board for each of your current projects and have lists for such as To Do, In Progress, Waiting, Done. Each task is then moved across the board as appropriate. However, these boards can be used in whichever way is easiest and most effective for you and your team.
This means that every team member can see exactly where each task of a project is up to, meaning everyone is kept up-to-date, and there are no confusions. Using these types of tools correctly can show huge amounts of improvement in terms of productivity, and can be especially useful when it comes to updating your clients on their projects.
We hope you find some of these tools useful during these uncertain times, and helpful in easing some of the pressures of working from home. They may even be that much of a game-changer that you implement them permanently.
If you have any questions or are struggling in different areas of taking your business digitally, please don’t hesitate to reach out and chat to the team at Ina4.