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With social distancing the new norm, and home the new office, more and more people are adjusting to the challenges and benefits that come with working from home.
In the process they’re relying on a range of technology to simply get the job done. From virtual meetings to team management, there’s a wealth of technology to assist in working remotely.
Importantly, a range of apps are also available to ensure people exercise, relax and look after their mental health, which will become increasingly important as the strain of the coming months sets in.
So to assist, here’s a quick guide to working from home.
The backdrop might be very different, but a range of experts note the importance of maintaining an “ideal week” even when working from home.
This philosophy sees you map out all the tasks you wish to get done, including allocating time for work, relaxation, exercise, and family.
Then you set about sticking to this framework as closely as possible, in the knowledge that due to the fast-changing landscape at present, things might alter slightly and that’s OK.
The benefit of an ideal week is it allows you to set goals and stay focused, even with the inevitable distractions that come with working from home.
In many cases the restrictions brought about by COVID-19 came quickly and with little warning, which may have seen you caught short in the technology or office set-up department.
Now’s the time to get your office organised in terms of a space, equipment and resources. One major challenge is the fact that many households include partners working from home, with children also stuck indoors.
Where possible, set up a quiet workspace somewhere in your house with the resources you need like internet access, a printer, a tablet, laptop or desktop and stationery.
When it comes to parenting young children and working from home, many couples are finding it easier to split the child rearing shifts so one person works in the morning and the other in the afternoon in order to still give the kids the attention required.
The technology facilitating this new work-from-home necessity is both extensive and invaluable, ranging from virtual meeting software to team management apps and instant messaging.
So, let’s break it down and take a quick virtual tour:
There are a wide range of platforms that can ensure your regular meetings still go ahead which also gives you the opportunity to stay connected as a team.
From professional to casual, here are some options:
For many people, Zoom is the tool of choice for team meetings. It’s being used for everything from large office meetings involving multiple parties to private music lessons for children. It’s quick, easy to set-up and suited to a range of devices including tablets.
Skype can also be used effectively for team meetings, with the ability to bring up to 50 people together on a video call at once.
FaceTime is another a viable alternative for smaller meetings, and requires almost no set-up as it directly accesses your contacts.
It’s also proving a great tool for when you need to show someone something. That’s seeing FaceTime deployed by people like real estate agents for things like property walk throughs.
Collaboration is key to most workplaces, but when you’re working from home this can prove more challenging.
The aim of the remote working game is efficiency and clarity. You don’t want to be endlessly emailing each other or sending, then re-sending documents and files.
That’s where team software comes into play, allowing people to effectively work on documents and projects together.
Designed by one of the world’s largest teams for teams, Microsoft Teams is a suite of collaboration software that pretty much covers everything. It includes meeting software, file sharing, group chats and more.
An oldie but a goodie, Google Drive allows people to share documents and other files, while working on them together.
When it comes to team management, email can be really inefficient, so team messaging and task setting often works better.
There are a lot of software players in this space, each with different types of features. Some of the best include:
Available for SmartPhones, tablets, laptops and desktops, Slack is quick and efficient, facilitating direct messaging, task management, and even in-app calling.
Asana’s great for messaging and managing tasks, allowing each user to see what’s allocated to them, when it’s due, and who it needs to go to next.
ClickUp is primarily about task management and workflow. It allows each team member to see their jobs, and also offers boards for a big-picture perspective of what everyone is doing.
Then of course there’s just general chat software that enables teams to communicate effectively. The options here are extensive but include:
This is great for private chats with multiple players, allowing different conversations to occur on the same platform.
Messenger’s a bit of an all-rounder and often more associated with general social media. However, at present it’s another solid option for quick communication, even in groups.
The above software is all about workflow and productivity, but over the coming months mental health and exercise will be equally, if not more, important.
Again, this is a big space, and will often be suited to specific needs but options include:
Mindshift – This app is targeted at anxiety, encouraging users to ride out tough emotions and face challenges.
Happify – Happify is a psychologist-approved mood training program, featuring games and activity suggestions.
What’s Up – A nice play on words, this app is designed to address depression, anxiety, stress and more, and also features 100 questions to help pinpoint exactly what you are feeling.
Exercise apps are generally designed to help you set fitness goals and stay on track even if you can’t get to the gym.
TechRadar has a dedicated post on this but notes some of the best include: Aaptiv, Fitbit Coach, Asana Rebel, Adidas Training and Running by Runtastic, and Nike Training Club.
The new normal that has been brought about by COVID-19 might take a little getting used to. But as we balance working from home, socialising at home and staying home there is a wealth of technology available to assist.
And the truth is right at the moment tech tools that were once non-essential or simply nice to have are proving more invaluable than ever before.