Remote working used to be about one lonely person behind a laptop emailing in countless documents. Nowadays, that linear model’s been turned on its head by the arrival of high-speed Wi-Fi and a host of remote working tools that mean entire organisations no longer need to be based in the traditional office mould. Amazingly, the number of people working in a virtual office space increased 80% between 2005-2012 and this is only set to grow even further as the remote working economy becomes more powerful. The benefits are many and varied – you can be totally contactable, keep overheads to a bare minimum, and work in a way that ideally suits your life without sacrificing work achievements. Here are a handful of ways you can make remote working even easier for your team thanks to these must-have remote working tools.
Sending emails cc’ing in all your workmates is so 2000s – now, you can now create a unique office space online, where all your team can communicate in one place. A popular tool for this is Slack, which uses ‘channels’ to organise instant-messaging communication streams. For example, you could create a public #watercooler channel for everyone to talk about last night’s episode of Undercover (hey, you still need to share on the important issues), while making sure that the sensitive client work is protected in a private channel, and make company announcements in the #boardroom channel. Everything you send is archived, you can share documents by dropping them in and you can still talk directly to co-workers using the direct messaging function. It’s a great way to create that community vibe, even if you don’t get the chance to meet in real life.
Before the invention of cloud storage, one of the most irritating things about working remotely was trying to keep track of shared document work, and changes made. Cue countless emails with attachments reading ‘April doc v.57 additions 2.5’. Now, you can invite colleagues to access cloud storage folders, and work across relevant documents, presentations and memos together, without worrying that you’re not on the most up-to-date version as everything syncs automatically between users. There are a few different great tools for this, such as Dropbox and OneDrive, but Google Drive offers the best free storage – up to 15GB per user. It’s easy to use and access, too – if you’ve got a Gmail account, you’ve already got Google Drive, and can use Google search engine to locate your files within your storage. There, isn’t that simple?
Piles of Post-Its, receipts, old memos and old travel tickets is part and parcel of a professional’s life, right? Not if you’ve got Evernote to sort through your stuff and turn it into lovely clutter-free digital data. It’s an app that works across your smartphone and computer, which takes photos of everything you need to keep track of, and neatly files it into individual ‘notebooks’. You can even create shared notebooks to work on with a colleague if needed, write to-do lists and create voice memos. Now there’s no excuse for being disorganised.
Not having an office space used to mean you lost out on having proper interactions with your colleagues, and the benefits of being able to share ideas and bounce off each other. But this isn’t the case anymore – now there are tools which enable your team to get together in a virtual office, whether this is for video or conference calls. If it’s a conference call you need to set up, Powwownow makes it easy, with a one-step sign up, giving you instant access to low-cost meeting calls. You can even share your screen, if you have findings or need to present to your team.
When you’re not sat next to your co-workers and able to lean across for a quick update (and chat over a coffee), it’s not always clear who’s working on what task and where you’re up to. Thankfully, Trello is a beautifully designed, easy-to-navigate project management tool that displays everything you need to know. Fans of this tool describe it best as a digital version of ‘a whiteboard filled with Post-It notes’, which is a great way of getting a handle on it. It uses the Japanese ‘kanban’ system as a base, where ‘boards’ are categories, ‘lists’ are responsibilities allocated to one person, or a time frame, and the moveable ‘cards’ are the Post-It notes representing tasks. Just like all these great tools, it syncs across your smartphone too, meaning you can monitor progress on-the-go.
As you can see, communicating with your team becomes easy with remote working tools. In just a few hours, you can set up a fantastic, easy-to-use system to look after every aspect of your business – and not miss out on the all-important social aspects as well.