As we all adapt to a new way of living under lockdown, we are increasingly relying on technology to communicate, both in terms of work and leisure time. Even the most committed technophobe is beginning to explore the use of online tools in a bid to stay connected with the outside world.
The legacy of Covid-19 and the unprecedented impact that it is having on us all will permeate across every aspect of our life for some time, and none more so that our use and uptake of technology. As employers become comfortable managing a remote workforce, will this mean an end to the traditional office environment, will flexible working in its truest form become fully integrated into our lives?
Whilst there are early frustrations and hitches and glitches as we try to log on and communicate with each group, the process is becoming simpler as we adapt. Once we have choices to meet in different ways moving forward, will we choose to meet face to face? Will working remotely and online free up considerable amounts of time, enabling us to work quicker, more efficiently and be more productive?
Many of the programmes that we are using have been around for some time, however, it is only during recent weeks that they have started to gather mass momentum.
Whilst some platforms are clearly for business and others for socialising, there is some crossover between the two. Apps such as Zoom are being used to hold meetings but also being used to host social gatherings and the cross over works particularly well. Zoom allows for video and audio calling as well as conference calling, screen sharing and scheduling – there can be a few technical glitches with Zoom but other than that it works incredibly well, is straight forward to use and easy to see why it works for all scenarios.
Microsoft Teams is another popular sharing programme which sits with Office 365. With Teams, all chats, files, meetings, and apps live together in a single shared workspace, and are accessible via any mobile device. The programme is said to help cultivate a strong team spirit through its sharing functions and there have been reports of increased productivity, however, some of the file structures are seen to be confusing and there is limited flexibility.
Take a look at:
Google Hangouts www.google.hangout.com enables you to meet as a group. Its free and allows you toinclude chat as well as video, share screens and work collaboratively. To access this you’ll need a Google account (Gmail)
There are numerous file sharing application such as Office 365 but we find Google Drive works particularly and also offers 30GB of free cloud space. Google Drive allows you to store and share files, allowing everyone who is remote working with an internet connection to gain access and share. Again you’ll need a Google account.
Messaging and calls
Skype www.skype.com is great for messaging and calls and is very similar to Google Hangouts. Again it’s a free application and allows you to make voice calls and video conference as well as share screens
Slack www.slack.com is a useful tool if there are several people involved in a project and facilitates co-working. It is built to offer what essentially is a group email, where individuals can dip in and out of conversations, and at a glance, allows you to see what topics are relevant to you. Slack is a paid for programme.
Project based applications
Trello www.trello.com has been designed to support project based working. Tasks can be assigned on project boards and set into columns with actions against individuals. Members can share comments on tasks and upload files, images, film and more. Trello is a paid for programme.
The above sit within a wider pool of online applications but are ones that we find particularly useful and simple to use. For those of you who still haven’t made the shift, now maybe a good time to begin to make yourself familiar with some of these and discover which work best for you. Moving forward, communicating in this way may well be the norm and it seems that none of us can any longer avoid this new way of meeting and interacting.