By Elvis Eromosele
Remote work was viewed as a fad. While technology enthusiasts have long spoken about the potential of remote working, few individuals listened and fewer firms cared.
During this period, technology firms developed tons of tools and applications to aid remote working. These tools were largely ignored and or considered only useful for staff working on the field.
Today, the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is changing this situation. Covid-19 has led to travel bans, school closures, and directives to curb people gathering in large groups. This is in addition to maintaining appropriate social distancing. It is now precipitating remote working in almost every corner of the globe.
Remote work has now effectively moved from the realm of a fad to must-have. It would not be out of place therefore to say, ‘welcome to the age of remote work’.
But for remote work to work, staff must have connectable devices such as laptops and tablets, access to broadband internet connection and tools to automatically sync and backup files (think Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive).
As Covid-19 rages on and employees are forced to work remotely, here are tools you can use to make the transition:
WhatsApp – WhatsApp is a mobile app most people are familiar with as a group messaging tool. It’s connected to a phone number and has no storage limits. WhatsApp offers a desktop app that you can have running on your computer and sync with your mobile device.
It can also be used as a way to send encrypted mass texts to everyone in a group (up to 250 people). The group feature can be disabled so that only notifications from the admins are allowed. WhatsApp is a simple way to send important messages to staff who want to be also alerted by text beyond email.
Slack – Slack is the collaboration hub that brings the people, information, and tools together to get work done. To optimise your storage space is to connect Slack with file storage services such as Google Drive, Dropbox and One Drive. That way, you simply have to share a link to the file.
To ensure seamless integration with these tools, everyone in the organisation must use the same services as much as possible. Slack has app integration with all three.
Workplace – Workplace by Facebook is a collaboration and communication tool that connects employees via an internal social network. Companies pay by the user to set up a private version of Facebook for their employees.
Organisations can sign up for the Workplace for Good to get free access to all the premium services offered by Workplace. Workplace also offers integration with 3rd party tools similar to Slack. If you’re using Workplace for group chats, you can also use the one-on-one or larger group video meeting feature.
Hangouts – Google Hangouts is a unified communications service that allows members to initiate and participate in text, voice or video chats, either one-on-one or in a group. Hangouts are built into Google+ and Gmail, and mobile Hangouts apps are available for iOS and Android devices.
The good news is that because of the impact of COVID-19, Google is offering free access (until July 1st, 2020) to the advanced features of Hangouts Meet, such as hosting video meetings with up to 250 participants, live streaming with up to 100,000 viewers, as well as recording and saving meetings to Google Drive.
Microsoft Teams – Microsoft Teams is a unified communication and collaboration platform that combines persistent workplace chat, video meetings, file storage (including collaboration on files), and application integration. There is a free and premium service.
Microsoft is currently offering free access to Microsoft Teams with up to 250 video meeting participants and live streams of up to 10,000 viewers, because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Zoom – Zoom is a web-based video conferencing tool with a local, desktop client and a mobile app that allows users to meet online, with or without video. Zoom users can choose to record sessions, collaborate on projects, and share or annotate on one another’s screens, all with one easy-to-use platform. Zoom offers a full-featured Basic Plan for free with unlimited meetings.
You can try Zoom for as long as you like – there is no trial period. The basic plan has a 40-minute time limit on meetings with three or more total participants.
Bonus: Of course, if you need to scan something and send as a PDF, you can do it using apps such as Adobe Scan, CamScanner and Scanbot among others.
The truth is that Covid-19 will end and workers will return to work. But employers and employees alike will then begin to question the wisdom of the daily commute to work. Interesting times are ahead.
For now, since you know the tools and applications you can use. Get to work – Remote Working.
Elvis Eromosele, a Corporate Communication professional and public affairs analyst lives in Lagos.