The IT Tools You Need to Successfully Work From Home

Apr 20, 2020

Is your IT department working from home during the COVID-19 crisis? Countless employees are working from home, protecting their health and the health of coworkers.

But protecting productivity is a different matter. Tech One IT has been setting up remote working opportunities for companies for many years. We have engaged change management experts to help the transition from offices to remote working. Over the next few weeks, we will offer many tips on building the best work environment for all situations. Today, we’ll talk about tools. Working from home requires a level of trust between employees and employers. To help get through the day, stay on track, not feel overwhelmed, and stay on the right foot with your work, here are the tools we recommend.

Communications

With more and more people staying home to work, effective teleconferencing tools are essential for communication. Microsoft Teams is the perfect companion for the companies that rely on Microsoft Office (it works on all systems so even your iOS colleagues can use it.) It’s easy to start a meeting one-on-one or jump on a mass webinar. Google Hangouts is the Google version of this type of communications. If you are a GSuite company, you’ll have everything you need to run meetings, webinars, or jump on a quick hangout with your boss. Zoom has, well, zoomed to the front of the pack with its robust teleconferencing features. With the free package, you can have 100 people on each call, but only for 40 minutes. It also works for one-on-one calls between individuals, so it’s perfect for helping coworkers through a tech emergency remotely, but if you plan on hosting virtual customer meetings, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid. Slack is the closest virtual option to a full-on brainstorming session. Slack is basically a messenger platform that integrates with most programs, tools, and apps (and using Zapier, you can integrate the tools that aren’t partnering with Slack yet). Using Slack, you can discuss projects in real-time. We find using Slack removes the haziness and miscommunication that can sometimes happen if you rely solely on email. For international companies, you might want to go with a communications platform that most everyone already has installed on their computer or phone: Skype. It’s always an excellent choice, offering free video and phone calls between Skype users. You can also use it to make long-distance calls for free (or a fraction of the price of most phone services if you’re calling a cell phone or landline.)  

Management

The most significant struggle people face when working from home is time management. The workplace provides a structure for the day. There are always tasks to do, management to give feedback, and few distractions in the way of completing work. Not so at home; there’s homeschooling, laundry, cleaning, cooking, and the lure of Facebook, or Netflix in the living room. And then there are the constant news reports. But let’s stay on track… The way to defeat procrastination is through effective time management. There are multiple systems out there, but one that we like is the Pomodoro Technique. This time management method has been studied in great depth, but here’s a brief breakdown. The Pomodoro Technique was developed back in the 80s by an Italian entrepreneur, Francesco Cirillo. It breaks down work sessions into 25-minute intervals, each separated by a short 3-5 minute break. After four Pomodoro sessions, you take a longer 15-30 minute break. Then back to work! Using an app for the Pomodoro Technique, you can build some work structure in your day, keeping you on-track and productive as you do your IT work from home. Here’s our favorite: Focus To-Do  

Project Management

Keeping projects and tasks straight can be difficult, especially when you’re working from home. In IT, you often work as a team, have dozens of different tasks due each day, and most are interdependent, so making sure that you keep track is essential. To do this, you should be using a project management system and a way of communicating quickly and efficiently.  

The Agile Project Management System

Companies that integrated the agile project management system prior to quarantine measures going into effect will notice how much easier it is to keep the teams together, as long as they stick with the agile principles. Unfortunately, when wrenches are throwing into the works, it can be hard to get back on track, so companies that are floundering might want to consider an agile coach. Luckily, Tech One IT can help! If you are interested in integrating the agile project management system into your workforce, we can help – even in this virtual environment. The benefits of doing this would allow your company to move from remote working to the office and back again easier, meaning you’re ready for all possible COVID-19 outcomes. Get in touch: (480) 449-3333   Tech One IT agile coaches help those companies learning the methodology, or those that need to be pulled back on track after quarantine has thrown you off course. If you need more info, contact us: https://techoneit.com/contact-us/  

More Short-Term Project Management Options

For small teams, or for short term options, there are several platforms that can help keep projects on track. First, Asana. It’s probably one of the most popular project management systems out there today. Their free model should offer you pretty much everything you need. With it, you can create and keep track of your tasks and projects. By using Harvest integration, you can also track time on each of them!   For a simpler interface, Trello can make for a compelling project management tool. Trello is good for companies that expect to be back in the office soon. There is a free version, which allows the entire team to access the project boards, making it a reasonable option. However, once multiple projects are on Trello, the interface can be overwhelming. Teamwork offers similar functionality to Asana with an interface similar to Trello.   Each of these project management systems offers a Slack integration, allowing you to chat through Slack and collaborate on projects while miles apart.  

Remote Access Software

With countless employees working from home right now, there is going to be a real need for the installation of remote access software to troubleshoot their problems and facilitate teamwork. As every company uses a different kind of remote access software, they need IT staff who are vendor-agnostic to get it working for them. We can help organizations make this happen, or find the tech professionals they need to make sure their organization continues without a hiccup during the crisis. If you don’t have the IT team you need, or if your IT team needs additional help, we’ve got !  

We Can Help During this Difficult Time

The demand for IT professionals may go up during the COVID-19 crisis. Despite many employees thinking they are “pros” when using their computer, the reality is that they struggle. When employees run into any problems with their technology at home, they won’t have the time, skills, or bandwidth to fix the issues. Let’s face it: we all need professional IT help. That’s where Tech One IT can help. We have the technology experts to create the best remote working situation for your company. We also have tech teams that are already remote working and available to bulk up your current team. Finally, we have apprentices that are ready to help you get back on track after the quarantine is lifted, for a fraction of the cost of full-time employees.   A lot of things are going to be changing over the next few weeks as there are further developments. But the need for experienced technical professionals is going to be higher than ever. Without a robust IT department, it’s going to be difficult (if not impossible) to make sure that entire teams can communicate and work together from their home offices. If you want to get started making sure that you have the talent you need, contact us today! Let’s make sure that your company is thriving when we get to the other side of this crisis!

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