The current pandemic has resulted in more companies and individuals than ever before working from home. For some, this is a new concept, and as most offices have high tech technology and infrastructure to enable employees to perform to the best of their abilities, it can be a difficult transition. If you are struggling to work from home, or want new ideas to make the process easier and more productive for your employees, then take a look at the below article as we have compiled a list of 4 technological tools which we feel you may find beneficial.
Microsoft Teams is a wholly powerful tool which allows efficient collaboration and communication amongst companies. It does a lot more than Zoom, which is simply a video conferencing software, as it provides workplace instant chat, file storage and collaboration, as well as video conferencing. It is like taking the best aspects of several different apps on the market and putting it together so that it can meet all your needs successfully. To support people through the pandemic, Microsoft has implemented various initiatives in relation to Teams, to make it more financially accessible to both individuals and businesses. For example, they have lifted their user restrictions on the ‘’freemium’’ version of the account and they are also offering financial assistance to any IT professionals who want to get their companies rolled out on Teams.
Many companies have already started on their Teams journey. According to a survey by RBC Capital Markets, 34% of companies surveyed who were adjusting to working from home said they will use Microsoft Teams to do so, and 24% said that their budget for expenditure on the app will increase. For the individual, the benefits are endless. It allows you to stay connected with your colleagues and organisation, it also allows you to ask questions and get things reviewed at a rapid pace, and provides seamless file search, back-up and collaboration – which can be difficult to manage outside the office.
While Microsoft Teams may be more work-focused, Yammer is like the social networking service of enterprise. Also designed by Microsoft, it aims to further enhance communication and connection between employees and to bring business together. In the extended Yammer communities, conversations expand across the entire organisation, as well as across various teams individually. It serves a different purpose than teams as it is more focused on internal communication, what is going on for the business or team as a whole, and can include such communication mediums as polls, surveys, and videos. When working remotely, one of the major challenges is the feeling of isolation, so it can be beneficial to feel you and your team have the support of the wider business. Yammer can be used to share announcements and knowledge at scale, to provide company updates, to gather valuable information and feedback for HR, and more.
As it is readily available as an app on your mobile device (as is Teams), Yammer is a great and convenient way of keeping informed and staying in touch when working remotely. Yammer can also be used to host live events, which can then be broadcast via the app itself or via Teams. If your organisation provides both Teams and Yammer, then it is worthwhile getting to know how to use them, if not, then maybe it is something which you could flag as options to consider.
Focus Lock is more for the individual who is finding working from home challenging or wants to be more productive, rather than a team or organisation as a whole. Working remotely means you have to hold yourself accountable, and with unlimited access to our smartphones and no fear of being reprimanded, this can prove tough. Focus Lock, which is available on both iPhone and Android, essentially blocks distracting apps so that you can work. Created by the Digital Wellness company Flipd, it allows users to start a session by which the app deletes all their downloaded apps for a time period of their choosing. Therefore they still have access to the essential services on their phone such as making calls and checking the time. Obviously, this isn’t suitable if you need to access your email or apps such as Teams or Yammer from your phone as mentioned above, but if there’s a piece of work you need to complete and you can get it done on your laptop, then Focus Lock can really help you adjust your focus and finish the project successfully.
The original app Flipd is an alternative you can trial if Focus Lock seems a bit extreme. Flipd offers you different modes, one which is more restrictive and then a more ‘’casual lock.’’ The lighter version challenges you to abstain from your phone for a certain length of time, whereas the ‘’full lock’’ actually locks you out of your phone and apps entirely for a selected length of time. The latter is similar but even more restrictive than the service provided by Focus Lock, so it just depends what level of dependency you have with your smartphone, and how much work you need to get done on any given day.
Trello is a project and task management tool which is beneficial for individuals as well as businesses. Think of it as an online To-Do List, where you can organise almost any aspect of your life. When it comes to work, if your organisation uses Trello, then there is plenty of room for collaboration, or you can use it personally to organise your work and projects as they arise. You can use it to organise your working day, as you collect all your tasks into lists, meaning you can easily access all your outstanding ones at any given time. You can then further organise them into time periods (Morning, Afternoon, and Evening) and switch these around as needed throughout the day. If you are responsible for running or contributing to a blog or website, then Trello could be life-changing for you in terms of productivity. Not only does it serve as a hub for your ideas, but it allows you to then transform these ideas into an action plan. Think simple things like streamlining your planned content into lists such as ‘’Ideas, To Do, In Progress, Published, etc.’’
Trello is any number of lists laid out accordingly on the one page, which can then be shared among team members or accessed individually as you see fit. It provides you with checklists, To-Do’s, labels, due dates and sharing capabilities, making it your own virtual online To Do list. If organisation isn’t one of your strong points, and you are struggling without the structure of the office, then this is a simple way to keep on track of your work and adhere to deadlines.
Some other technological tools worth trying:
New to remote working and struggling to adjust? Looking for ways to improve your organisations ‘’work from home’’ experience? Please do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss anything on the above and other remote working related advice.