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April 23, 2020


5 technologies for more efficient home working


By SpiderGroup

Now that most businesses are relying entirely on remote working, at least for the time being, and the likelihood is that a level of working from home will become the norm as we move past the current situation, it's more important than ever to have the right tools. 

Remote companies like Buffer and Dell, have spent extensive time researching and making sure they equip their employees with the right tools and technologies for better remote working. They point out communication and productivity as key factors for an efficient team.

Having people you can trust to do their jobs no matter where they are is one thing, but giving them what they need to succeed is your job. If you're not using the most efficient software, systems, and processes, you'll be losing time and productivity. 

If working from home hasn't been part of your company culture prior to now, you might not have those processes and systems in place. We've put together a few of the best tools we know of for helping support your teams. 

Collaboration and Efficiency

Office 365 is something we’ve talked a lot on the blog. Any cloud based service is the most important factor for remote working as it allows everyone in the team to have access to projects in real time. It’s the equivalent of an office space but better, as it facilitates efficient and productive work through a series of tools.

The amount of applications it includes makes organising individual and team workloads extremely straightforward. From To Do list and Planner to keep tasks under control, to SharePoint for a central information hub, there's a tonne to keep you efficient and productive, no matter where you're working. 

The fact that everything's in real time means that multiple people can collaborate on a project or a document at the same time, without losing or missing anything. 

Microsoft have got some special offers on at the moment, so if you don't have Office 365 yet, now's the perfect time to get started and see just how powerful a fully-integrated suite of business tools can be. We can help with that. 

Take a look below at the Project Management section for some more tools that can help with collaboration - they're not as broad as Office, but depending on your needs, might just fit the bill. 

Communication

Communication is paramount when it comes to dispersed teams. You want to keep everyone up to date and in regular contact, not only to keep everyone informed, but also to maintain a sense of teamwork.

We have daily team calls (including fun challenges) to make sure we all still feel part of the business, for example. The whole team meets up to say hi, bring up anything important, has a joke, and even shares a drink on the occasional Friday. 

  • Microsoft Teams is the communication tool within Office365. It interlinks with the other tools in Office, so your team chats and video calls can include to do lists, files, and anything else you need. 
  • Zoom is another good option for your morning ‘Stand up’ and any regular meetings you might have. It takes up to 500 participants and up to 10,000 viewers. It can also record meetings for posterity or in case someone missed it! (If you're worried about Zoom, check out our comparison blog to see if Teams or Zoom is best for you)
  • Slack, is used by many companies like Airbnb and IBM for instant messaging and collaboration. Slack offers a free model with some limitations and two different paid versions.

For people who haven't worked fully remotely, this time of enforced remote working can be a challenge - so maintaining regular contact is vital. Combining structured catch ups with instant messaging (and a policy that people are allowed to chat), helps things feel a little more normal. We'd catch up with colleagues over a coffee before, so let people have that chance now - even if they're not in the same space.

We heavily encourage (if not require) video to be on during our team calls. This is to help maintain face-to-face contact, which is extremely important for team building and connecting on a human level, especially when we're all staying at home and not going out to see anyone else either.

We have reassured everyone that we're not checking out their homes, but if people are self-conscious about their backgrounds, Zoom allows you to add a virtual background. We use some branded backgrounds for external chats, but often include funny pictures or travel photos on our team calls for a bit of variety. 

Project Management

Similarly to collaboration, project management requires teams to have all the information they need, quickly and simply, fully up to date. As before, Office 365 has a range of tools to help with this, including Project itself, but other options include:

  • Trello is great for managing projects as a team. One of its strengths is the visual component, especially when organised into columns like ‘ 1st phase’, ‘Development Stage’ and ‘Finalised’, acting like a pipeline for projects.You can use it for anything and everything; a client’s project, from brainstorming to the final product stage or to establish the content creation process. Your choice.
  • Clockify enables you to log and track time, assigning it to different clients, projects, tasks, or teams. You can keep an eye on whether certain projects are taking up too much time, or reassign workload as required. Time tracking gives you visibility of where your team's time is going and helps you identify areas for improvement or productivity efficiencies.  

Managing your teams remotely shouldn't be a hardship - using the right tools will help make everything easier, both for your business and for individual employees.

To find out more about remote desktop and how it can benefit your business, get in touch with the SpiderGroup team by calling us on 0117 933 0570.

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