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Online platforms that make working from home work for you

A quick peak at Twitter will tell you that lots of people are getting to grips with home working these days. As the Coronavirus outbreak grows, more and more of us are adapting bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens into office spaces. Working from home can seem like a massive change, especially if you like the hustle and bustle of a crowded office, or are getting used to having the kids charge in on you every 20 minutes.

Tools of the trade

Here at Ammba we’re a pretty geographically spread bunch, and so we rely on online platforms to help us communicate on a day-to-day basis. 

So we thought we’d share some of our favourite online tools to help you get through these strange and crazy times we’re living in, along with some tips to help you get the best out of them:

  • Slack  – an instant messaging tool to help us have those ‘over the desk’ conversations
  • Whereby – video conferencing for client meetings, catch-ups and quick chats
  • Trello – project management tool to keep us up-to-date on our tasks
  • Google Drive – collaborating and storing our documents in real-time

Slack

By far the best messaging tool on the market is Slack. And guess what, it’s totally free. Slack has been around since 2013, and is an incredibly robust, reliable and well-designed platform.

You can set up different channels and begin messaging each other. You can also direct message individuals if you need to discuss something in private.

Slack works brilliantly on mobile and desktop, and even provides the opportunity to host video conferencing for up to 15 people. With integrations into Google Drive, Dropbox and more, Slack enables you to upload and share documents, images and files with ease.

As you can guess, we love Slack, and use it to communicate with each other all the time. Once you start using Slack you’ll find you can’t do without it and its distinctive alert tone!

Top tip: Integrate your email and calendar with Slack so that you’ve got everything in one handy place.

Whereby

Forget Skype, our favourite video conferencing platform has got to be Whereby. Again, as with Slack, there are some premium plans, but we find the free option works just fine. Whereby is perfect for those quick team standups, catch up calls and client meetings.

Rather than installing some temperamental application, all Whereby needs is a web browser. Simply create your team account to get a unique Whereby URL and share this with your team.

Whereby’s free plan enables up to four users to join, and has all of the usual features you’d expect from a video conferencing platform. For us, the best things about it are its accessibility and reliability – the site has never let us down in all the time we’ve been using it.

Top tip: Do a quick shout out to the team (preferably using Slack!) to make sure that no one is using Whereby when you need it. Stumbling into a colleague’s call is not the best look, although it can be hilarious.

Trello

Giving everyone visibility of their tasks is crucial when managing a project. That’s why we love using Trello. This is a totally flexible, collaborative platform, that enables you to create boards based on your different projects.

Within each board you can create multiple lists, and then add cards (which are your tasks) to the list. Each card has multiple features which enable you to manage them effectively, such as assigning members, creating checklists and setting due dates.

We find Trello is particularly useful for managing projects. Typically we use it to set tasks for each other and move them back and forth until they are complete. 

Top tip: We also use a Trello board to manage our to-do lists. Each member of the team has their own list, and can manage them flexibly. The great thing about this is that we can all each other’s priorities and assign each other cards as we need to.

Google Drive

Whilst Google Drive is not a new product, it’s surprising how many organisations aren’t yet using it. We love it both internally and with our clients. For us we use it to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. This means that we’re all able to develop and review something together, rather than share over email and pull everyone’s comments together.

We also store everything Google Drive, so that all we need is a web browser to access our documents, wherever we are.

Top tip: Use Google Drive File Stream to sync your laptop and files with Google Drive.

Takeaways

So these are some of the tools we love using, and that make our lives so much easier when working remotely.

For us the top takeaways are:

  • Don’t break the bank. As you can see, all of these platforms are free, and will absolutely do the job. So you don’t need to spend a fortune when your team is working from home
  • The right tools for the job. Get to know your platforms, how they work and what they’re best at. This will make your team more efficient and productive
  • Stay in touch. These are difficult, unprecedented times and we all need to talk to each other. Never before have we had some many ways to communicate, and we need these more than ever

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