Tools & Tips for Remote Work
The state of the world has everyone re-evaluating both their businesses and lives. As shelter-at-home orders pop up throughout the nation, human behavior is starting to shift. We recently wrote a blog about how you can market your business during COVID-19, but we realized that a lot of companies may still be in the phase of adapting, specifically to remote work. More clients have been asking us about specific tools they can use when working at home. As a digital marketing agency, the nature of our business allows us to work from anywhere with an Internet connection.
Meeting and Presentation Tools
By now, you’ve heard of or maybe even attended webinars and online meetings. Tools like GoToMeeting and Zoom allow people to attend calls and video conferences and run presentations with screen-sharing capabilities. For those choosing to run webinars, these tools allow you to show a presentation, mute everyone else, and show you (the presenter) if you want. Many of us working from home today may be dressed a little more casual than usual, so video is always optional for attendees.
At WSI, we use GoToMeeting to run virtual meetings with clients. We share our screen for website reviews and to show any data or analytics in our client monthly reviews. We also use this tool for webinars. People click the shared link and they can attend. We then show our presentation and have the option to also turn on our camera to show both presentation and presenter.
Staying in contact with your coworkers is essential. Apart from email, we utilize Skype heavily. This allows us to simply message each other as needed without cluttering each other’s email. Best of all, Skype is free! It offers video and audio capabilities, as well as screensharing capabilities. You can even record your session. Skype works great for internal meetings and presentations since you have to be connected with each contact. For webinars and client communications, we recommend GoToMeeting or Zoom.
Have you ever been stuck in a back-and-forth email with a potential customer? It goes a little something like this:
“Let’s schedule something next week, I’m free Monday-Friday”
“OK how about Monday morning”
“Oh no sorry busy that time”
“OK how about Tuesday morning”
“Nope sorry, all booked up. Tuesday afternoon?”
“Can’t, have another meeting”
And so on… Calendly breaks the chain of the annoying scheduling process and allows you to simply send a link of your calendar to a prospect. They click the link and can choose a time on your calendar. Like booking an appointment in real time. Easy PZ. Calendly also allows you to embed a calendar on your website so people can automatically make an appointment. You can create custom calendars for any amount of time and completely control the process. Calendly syncs to your online calendar, like Google or Outlook Calendar, so anytime you add an event in your calendar, Calendly will block that time.
Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides. Google Drive is an extremely powerful and free tool that you should absolutely take advantage of.
Google Calendar allows you and your team to share your calendars so you can see what everyone is up to. In a traditional office setting, you will know if a team member has a meeting or is out of office. When working remotely, it’s essential to share calendars so you can plan meetings around each other’s availability.
Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are the ultimate collaboration tools. You and your team can work on the same project at the same time. You can see what everyone is typing, and you can ensure no one is doing double the work. There’s nothing worse than working on a project, saving your work, and realizing another team member completed the same part of the project or went in a different direction than expected.
Google Drive’s file sharing capabilities don’t stop there. You can share and create folders with photos, videos, etc. Similar to Dropbox…
Dropbox – File Sharing Tool
While Google Drive is a great file sharing tool, internally at WSI, we use Dropbox. We love Dropbox and all it’s capabilities. When sharing massive amounts of files with thousands of assets, Dropbox keeps us organized and in sync. We use Dropbox for desktop to sync our files and share them seamlessly with our team. We share folders with clients too so they can send us large photos or videos that don’t fit in an email. There is a free plan but when needing a lot of storage, the paid plans are perfect. Can you tell? We love the cloud.
Password Sharing Tool
This is a big one. If you’re working remote and need to share your passwords with team members, please, PLEASE do not email them. At the very least, text the username and then separately text the password – don’t include the name of what it’s for in the same text either.
Today’s world is filled with hackers and bots trying to access websites, social media, accounts, emails, and more. You may ask, “why would they want to hack me? My business doesn’t have any sensitive information?” Well, assuming you don’t sell any products online and therefore don’t have any customer information, hackers may still want to get into your website to use it as a hopping point for “bigger and badder” websites. Your website becomes the “cover” for these bad websites and then you get in trouble because your website was used to mask a bad site. Another reason is to mine cryptocurrency. They use the processing power of your site to mine these online coins. There has also been an increase in social media hostage. You heard that right. Hackers will get into a social media profile, change the password and email, and hold it for ransom. Do you have 40,000 followers? Want to keep them? Pay up.
Tools like LastPass and Keeper allow you to share passwords with teammates (and they don’t actually have to know the password to use it, making it even more secure). LastPass requires users to implement dual authentication, as well as authenticator apps to maximize security.
Project Management & Time Tracking Tools
Perhaps now more than ever, businesses have to be precise, efficient, and accurate in their project management. In order to understand your profits, you have to understand how long it takes to complete a task. And with the current crisis, revenues have been cut down dramatically.
Help your team become more efficient with the use of a project management tool like Monday, EasyProjects, Trello, Zoho, etc. Project management tools allow you to assign tasks to team members, track the time spent on each task, and manage project timelines. Prices and complexities vary – Trello focuses on task completion while Zoho includes everything for managing the project. EasyProjects includes complete reporting and detailed management. Many tools offer views like Gantt charts and Kanban boards, milestones for essential project deadlines, status updates and messages, invoicing, live chat, and more.
A Few Notes about Ergonomics
Make sure to create a setup at home that is body friendly. Keep your computer on a desk or table and adjust the chair height so your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are in line (or slightly lower) with your hips. Or maybe you have a bar countertop in your kitchen – there’s your sit-stand desk. The bar stool can be your chair although make sure your posture is always upright when sitting.
Consider a back/posture brace too to keep your shoulders back. You’ll find plenty of simple strappy ones online that will help you stand up straight. And invest in an ergonomic keyboard or mouse if you start to feel your hands cramping up. If your hand is scrunched up around a tiny mouse, consider buying a larger, more natural shaped one.