A lot of us got word that our offices would be closing amidst the panic of COVID-19. While it's the right decision to stay safe and avoid exposure, it didn't give many employees a good chance to really prep for the situation, especially if they're new to the world of remote work.
One of the best ways to successfully keep productive while in a brand new work environment is to implement tools that'll keep everyone on the team on the same page. Just keep in mind that it might take some time for everyone to adjust. While working remotely isn't impossible for most of us, it can be challenging for employees who haven't had a shake-up in their work routine for quite some time.
This situation is very unlike anything the world has seen in quite some time. But remember, as humans, we're able to adapt. Here are eight tools to make that transition a lot easier.
There are plenty of good tools to use online if you want to run video meetings, but Zoom is one of the best and most trusted. You can host a meeting or join someone else's meeting, and it's relatively inexpensive. In fact, for very small teams, you can use their basic version for free with a download. While video meetings are a great way to interact with your remote employees and coworkers, it is important to schedule a time that works for everyone. And, you'll want to keep it consistent. Since employees may live in different time zones or might have other obligations at home with their children, it's important to stick to a schedule when it comes to meeting online.
Trello can be used a lot like a shared calendar, but much more fun and direct. It's a Kanban-style app that focuses on list-making. If you have a lot of projects and tasks to manage, it's a great resource that remote employees can use to see what's on other people's plates. Curious about what other people are working on? Trello will let you know without having to bug people individually. You might find yourself using Trello for your own home-based projects as well. If you're planning anything, it's a great way to stay organized.
Remember online chat rooms from back in the day? That's the basis of Slack — except a lot more professional and a lot less questionable. You can create your own channel with people or send them direct messages. You can also use it to have a little fun. Some organizations create Slack channels that employees can use to learn more about their own interests. For example, if you're a pet enthusiast, you can create a channel where you and your coworkers share adorable dog photos. As FastCompany states, “The service has caught on so quickly in large part because it achieves that ever-elusive balance of being easy to use and yet also jam-packed with powerful possibilities.” Remember, work should be fun sometimes — especially now.
Google is wonderful for so many reasons. They offer a great email system and have cut back on spam emails like no other service. However, the true gold is within Google Drive. Not only can you make docs and spreadsheets without the use of another service, but you can easily share them with other people. Need to convert a document into a PDF? Google's got your back. Documents also save automatically, which means you no longer have to panic if your computer crashes. It's hard to believe that not so long ago, we all had to save our work on a floppy disc in order to make sure it was secure.
Whiteboarding is a huge part of meetings, and Vibe makes it easy for remote clients to join in. For any project that involves team collaboration or creativity, Vibe is a great way to make sure everyone's on the same level. The board itself can be purchased and placed right in an office, but even those team members not physically at the meeting will be able to access it. And, you'll be able to identify who made changes on the board, meaning that you can give credit where credit is due when it comes to brainstorming. Vibe also connects to applications like Zoom, making it easier than ever to connect with people.
Founded in 2011, 15Five is all about performance management. If your company is all about hitting targets, this is a good app to make sure everyone's fully aware of how specific projects are going. They'll also let you check in weekly with employees — and not just about business. You can also get a good read on how they're feeling, to be on a better level with them as individuals.
Sometimes, you need to send files that are much longer than email will allow. This is especially true if you're trying to make sure all employees have home access to bigger files that were created in the office. If multiple employees are collaborating on the same file, Dropbox will make it a lot easier for them.
As briefly mentioned above while talking about 15Five, there are more apps out there—like Chimp or Champ—that are focused on how your employees are feeling. And yes, this is important for bosses to know. If you want the best out of your employees, especially during such troubling times, you need to be clued into what they're going through right now. If your employee's spouse worked for a restaurant that had to close down, they might not be as eager as the employee who's still bringing in two paychecks to support their family. At the same time, that employee will stay anonymous, as to not be singled out. According to the company, employees will be able to check in on Thursdays. “Your team will receive a weekly check-in over email with 24h to express how they felt during the week, reflect on the reasons and write actionable feedback,” they state. On Friday, the boss gets a “pulse report” on the team.
Eventually, you and your team will get into a comfortable groove. Just don't be frustrated if it doesn't happen overnight, especially with larger teams. Even the world's best workers will be thrown by COVID-19 and the changes it's made to the world. Try hard to approach this remote set-up with a little understanding. Without a doubt, everyone's doing their best to continue business as usual.