Remote working can be a new experience for many companies and individuals especially when it’s never been on their career radar.
For some it’s a huge technical and logistical challenge and for those who like the social comfort of the office it’s potentially isolating and lonely.
If you’ve got nowhere specific to work, establishing a base camp with all the documents you brought from the office, is often the first conundrum to solve.
If you’ve got kids to keep occupied, it’s going to be even more of a challenge jumping from child to work and back to child and work, not to mention all the other domestic distractions.
I’ve been working remotely for many years, both in the UK and abroad, and for me it’s now second nature.
In these times this is nothing to gloat about but I do have some experience that might be worth sharing.
I have an office in Oxford but for much of the time remote working is often more productive.
I do this mainly with a colleague who lives in Leeds and another who is based in Basingstoke, as well as numerous clients with whom I have virtual meetings with on a daily basis.
Over the next few weeks this will probably become the new normal for you.
So, get comfortable with being good at remote working. It is important for you and your business.
Remote Working Collaboration Tools
Every business is a little different but here are some of the tools we use to allow us to work remotely but collaboratively.
Remember, that for remote working to be successful you have to prioritise the collaborative part of it.
Google Docs for Remote Working
That’s because it’s much easier to work on documents and spreadsheets as a team and to share your work by sending out a web-link.
To access Google Docs you need to have a Google (Gmail, YouTube) account. This will then give you access to a Google Drive where your Docs are stored as well as other free services.
There are a lot of these How to videos but this one will at least give you the basics.
GoToMeeting for Remote Working
We would be lost without GoToMeeting as we use it on a daily basis for meetings and conference calls as well as the delivery of training sessions for clients.
There are a lot of similar tools such as Webex, Zoom, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams.
If you’ve not used one of these before, use one that others recommend so that they can help you if you need advice.
The advantage for us is that at £16 a month it is extremely affordable as well as easy to set-up and use.
GoToMeeting offer a 14-day Free Trail so there’s not reason for not giving it a go. Most of them do.
Trello for Remote Working
We use Trello to manage multiple projects.
This was the discovery of our Creative Director, Adam Marshall who persuaded us that it was the most effective way to manage all our projects remotely.
Trello is a project management tool and for every project you set-up you just add Task Cards to describe the work to be done, the person or people who will do the task and when it needs to be done by.
Relevant people on your team are added to Trello and then notified when there’s a task for them to do.
You can also add clients to Trello so that all of your tasks are visible as well as the tasks they need to complete.
If you want a visual timeline of your work, a Gantt Chart, you add a plug-in called Elegantt.
Trello only costs $9.99 per month for the Business Package.
Invision for Remote Working
Invision is also a wireframing tool which we use to create black and white wireframes that show how the pages on a websites will appear and function.
Clients join Invision, see our proposed designs and, with the facility that is available, make any comments.
Over time they all become very natural and seamless to use.
Slack for Remote Working
Slack is a popular team collaboration tool in which communication is organised in terms of conversational threads i.e. Marketing, IT, Sales etc and to which members of your team are invited.
We don’t use it but I mention it because many clients do and I am a part of several conversational threads.
In these COVID-19 times, it’s an excellent way of keeping everyone together and having team or project-based communication that avoids complex email threads.
Slack is the most expensive of the tools at £5.25 per month per person, because it also includes groups calls and group sharing and you can integrate it with apps such as Twitter or Dropbox.
5 Tips on Managing Your Time for Remote Working
It can be very strange to suddenly find yourself at home when you usually associate it as the place to switch off and relax.
Here are five tips for remote working:
- If you don’t have an office find a place where you can base yourself and keep to it. This is now your new work space. Don’t start moving about, this is just unsettling.
- Make appointments with yourself by making sure that your calendar (Outlook, iCal or Gmail) is blocked out by the jobs you have to do and the phone calls or meeting you need to be part of
- Avoid the distractions of checking your email every few minutes, watching YouTube or the News. Working from home requires self-imposed discipline otherwise you won’t get any work done
- Treat team calls also as social gatherings, make a cup of coffee or tea and bring it to the meeting. Have some general chit-chat before you get down to business
- Take breaks when you complete a task that you allocated to your calendar. If not, you will feel that you are just stuck in front of the computer all day. Which of course you are! But you want to give your day a kind of rhythm.
If the remote working experience is new to you, I know this is all easier said than done
However, getting better at remote working is going to be essential for the productivity of your company or those you work for.
It’s also going to be essential for us a nation.
Get more comfortable at it and it may also have a positive impact on your happiness and wellbeing.
Help is at Hand – Contact Us
If any of these remote working tools are of interest but you are thinking how on earth do I get started, then contact us.
We will willingly give you some free advice or support.
Don’t struggle with things when there are plenty of people out there with the know-how to keep your business on the move.
You can do it, we all can.
Good insights into the practicalities of working from home in order to be productive.
Probably a little bit more information that you need but pretty good on self-care and morale.
Believe it or not more people like remote working than you possibly imagined. You may get a taste for it!