The rapid outbreak of COVID-19 has forced several countries into lockdown, causing major disruption in the corporate sector, tourism, education, medicine and many other important industries. To safeguard employees from the outbreak, companies have adopted a ‘work from home’ culture as a precautionary measure.
For many, this change is a benefit they’ve always dreamed of. They are celebrating this on social media with captions like Flexible schedule! Home-cooked lunch! Family and kid’s time! No rush hour traffic!
Working from home, I have learned, is a nightmare if you can’t get in touch with your team properly. Virus outbreak or not, the key to working from home is clear communication — and knowing exactly what’s going on. There might be multiple people and even teams that we need to communicate and keep everyone in the loop organised.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of communication tools that will help your team to collaborate and perform more effectively.
Slack – You might have probably heard a lot about slack- a messaging platform that everyone loves. This digital space is mainly used for Instant messaging and collaboration. Remote workers can share ideas and comments in real-time so everyone can see. The app lets you drag and drop files, pin documents for quick reference and bookmark messages. A Slack workspace is made up of channels, where team members can communicate and collaborate together. Separate channels can be created for teams, projects, office locations or anything else that’s relevant to your organisation. Channels can be set as private for conversations or you can use shared channels to work with an organisation outside. Some of the slack’s major integration includes Google Drive, Dropbox, Zendesk and Zapier.
Facebook Workplace – Facebook Workplace is a great idea for companies that are looking for a way to improve collaboration and information sharing. Beyond workplace chat, it’s a rich and powerful space for teams to share ideas, make quick decisions and get work done. The tool includes the best of Facebook, such as News Feed, the ability to create and share in Groups, features like Live, Reactions, Search, Trending posts and Chat so you can communicate with colleagues in real-time. Workplace by Facebook is a separate platform and is not linked to your Facebook account in any way.
WhatsApp – Statistics shows that the open rate for WhatsApp message is 70% making it a powerful platform for business communication. This instant messaging service app works best on matters that require fast response and action. By using the group messaging feature of WhatsApp, departments and teams can exchange information more directly and intuitively. WhatsApp offers a desktop application so you can access it while working on a word document or opening an inbox, without taking your smartphone out of your pocket.
Google Drive – Having too many files and messy folders will prevent your team from being productive. Google Drive lets you gain access to your file on any device you have added to your Google account. You will get up to 15GB of free space where you can organise and access files and folders. You can have slides, PDFs, photos, backup features, videos, audio clips, movies all in one place and create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and survey forms.
OneDrive – this tool is very much helpful in organisations that handle a lot of files and documents online and offline. Using OneDrive, you can store up to 5GB of data. This app allows you to work faster and smarter with office 365. You can boost your team productivity by co-authoring in Word, Excel or PowerPoint. It is easy to access information in your OneDrive from your smartphone, tablet or other mobile devices.
Dropbox – a cloud-based productivity tool designed for individuals and businesses that enable them to save and store documents or files or pictures across the cloud. The same can be shared with others as needed. It provides free storage up to 2 GB on their servers and an option to extend the storage space up to 100GB based on pay cost.
Video Conference Tools
Google Hangouts Meet, which is included in Google’s G Suite, offers the opportunity to conduct webinars and video conferencing. The service allows you to host meetings with up to 100 people at a time for an affordable price. You don’t need plug-ins or specific account types to join a meeting. Whether you are on a mobile device, desktop browser or even a cell phone, you are able to join a meeting by just clicking the link or calling into the meeting on your phone. Other valuable features include screen sharing and recording options.
Microsoft Teams is a collaborative workspace that can effectively unleash the power of your remote team, though it offers great benefits to in-house employees as well. It can host video meetings with up to 250 participants and live streaming with up to 10, 000 viewers. The tool is perfect for increasing productivity, collaboration across the department and getting the job done in a quick and efficient manner. Free plan is available for those who aren’t eligible for premium access.
Zoom brings your team closer together with innovative communication and collaboration services. This solution is mainly recognised for its seamless screen sharing capability, conference recording, ease of use, stability, security, and video & audio quality. Additionally, it can support up to 1,000 participants at the same time and up to 49 videos on a single screen. If you need to host large online meetings, there are paid packages available that increase limits along with more advanced features.
Skype for Business is a collaboration software that allows team members to communicate with people anytime and virtually anywhere. It enables instant messaging, online meetings, audio and video conferencing. Skype for business is available on Windows, Android, iOS or Mac. It has several business features, such as allowing 250 attendees in the meeting, high-quality video and audio, screen sharing, and conference recording.
No matter the industry, the success of every business depends on clear, effective and open communication. Hopefully your concerns over how to communicate and engage with the remote team have been cleared. Never make your remote employees feel being left out of the company dynamic. Keep every member of your team engaged and focused on improving productivity. Remember, working remotely doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on your productivity. In fact, with the right measures, you can make the best out of your ‘work from home’ situation.