Handy tools for working well, remotely
The internet is brimming with web-based software. But here are some of the systems that have helped me stay organized.
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If you're working remotely these days, there are a lot of tools available to make it easier to keep up with your tasks and stay connected with your team.
Video meetings with Zoom
Zoom has become enormously popular as everyone has had to retreat indoors. In just the first few months of 2020, their number of new users overtook their total growth throughout 2019. And it's easy to see why: Zoom is simple to set up and is full of handy features. In a few seconds, your whole team can jump into a call. With screen sharing, fairly effortless screen switching between presenters, and its ability to stream live on YouTube and Facebook, it's a great solution for communities who can't meet in person because of current health precautions.
In light of some privacy concerns with Zoom, here are some helpful tips from Mozilla for keeping your Zoom meetings private and secure.
Voice chat throughout the day with Switchboard
If you need a less “in your face” way to keep connected with your team throughout the day, you might enjoy Switchboard. It's like an intercom over the internet. Rather than tying up your phone all day when you need to collaborate, you can open a call over Switchboard and be in hands-free verbal contact.
Or if your team uses Slack, you can connect Switchboard to Slack so that your voice messages and texts are available there, too.
You can even sync your music through the app so that your team can listen to a common music selection throughout the day.
Remote control with TeamViewer when you need to lend a hand directly
If you need something even more hands on, TeamViewer is great for providing support to your team from afar. TeamViewer handles screen sharing as well, but you can take it a step further by allowing a team member to take control of your computer.
I've used this function several times to help a client or an elderly person from my church when their computers were causing them grief. This is a great solution during a time when we need to keep out of each other's space.
Cloud documents to simplify working together
Shared documents and shared calendars are ubiquitous on the web these days, but they are still worth mentioning. With tools like Google Drive or Office 365, you can move your office work online and allow your team to work on the same documents at the same time.
When a document needs to pass through various stages of review and approval, cloud documents mop up the sloppy trail left by email attachments, and eliminates all-too-familiar interactions like, “I don't see that paragraph in my copy…” Cloud documents will allow you to work from the “authoritative” copy so that nothing is lost in transfer or translation.
I bet you won't even miss your office's internal file server.
OpenPhone for centralizing your customer care
Port your office number to OpenPhone, and you can enable any number of people to answer your incoming calls. And now equipped with a fully-fledged web app, you can keep on top of your calls and texts in the browser.
Handle several numbers from a single account, forward calls to other numbers, set up business hours and custom messages – OpenPhone is nimble and ready for this strange age of obligatory remote work.
Digitize your paper world with Evernote
With a team spread out amongst kitchen tables and home offices, you'll need a way to get your paper documents into the hands that need them. Evernote is a great way to make all your paper documents available to everyone. Connect Evernote to a mobile app like Adobe Scan or Scanner Pro, and you can get your whole paper world digitized in no time.
You can take notes in Evernote as well, but I find Evernote's writing tools to be a pain. (I use Bear.) But Evernote makes an excellent file drawer.
Adobe Sign for securing signatures from afar
If you need to secure signatures while stuck in quarantine, Adobe Sign makes the process simple. Just open your PDF in the Adobe Sign app, insert your signature fields, and Adobe will take care of sending it around to all the signatories, and will report back to you as each signature is secured.
Clubhouse to keep track of all you need to do
If you have a lot of work to manage, you might consider using a project management tool like Clubhouse. Clubhouse is free for small teams, and offers a lot of organizational layers to help you quantify a huge volume of work. Create projects, tasks, major achievements or checkpoints (called “Epics”), and get a wider view of your work with Milestones.
Clubhouse's tasks use the popular kanban workflow (cards in columns), somewhat similar to Trello, but with a lot more layers and views to help keep complicated projects organized.
That's just the tip of the ice berg.
The internet is brimming with web-based software. But those are some of the systems that have helped me stay organized.
If you are looking to set yourself up for success on the personal side of remote work, I recently shared “Ten Healthy Habits for Digital Hermits”.
If you or your company is in need of help setting up your team for remote work, I'd be glad to help.