5 Must-Have Tools for Your Remote Teams

5 Must-Have Tools for Your Remote Teams

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Quite a while back, remote working was not considered a full-time career with salaries barely above the minimum wage. Fast forward to 2021, the coronavirus and technological evolution has prompted massive trend changes as businesses try to adapt to the innovation. Before COVID-19, only 7% of US employees worked from home, but today, approximately 59% of employees work remotely and prefer to continue even post-COVID. But how do you keep productivity at acceptable levels while working remotely? These essential tools should keep your business and remote teams functioning effectively.

  1. Google drive

Are you looking to centralize your data in one location? Google Drive is a cloud-based storage tool that keeps every one of your data in a secure and centralized place. This platform allows your teams to remotely share documents and files from one integrated location while permitting weekly metric reporting. Moreover, Google Drive documents can be synced, viewed, and updated across several devices from any site.

  1. Dropbox

Dropbox is a cutting-edge workspace tool with many features to manage your remote employees effectively. Sharing large documents via email can be problematic, and that is where Dropbox comes in. The cloud storage framework has API, which makes it very useful for collaboration between remote staff. Remote teams can easily share huge documents, for example, PowerPoint, Sketch, Photoshop, etc., with anybody. Dropbox has staked a claim as the first smart workplace tool with data access control through an admin access system, link sharing, and user-friendly application.

  1. AccessE11

AccessE11 is a web-based management software that allows access on any web-enabled device. The platform is cloud-based and ideal for local governments in citizen request management, code enforcement, and citizen issue tracking. As a centralized storage solution, your team and department can access data from a single source with ease without requiring any complex training and learning. AccessE11 allows for easy recording of citizen issues, assigning staff for resolving, and access to trend reports for analyses and decision making. This way, you are provided with enhanced visibility for staff management.

  1. Basecamp

If you are looking for a simple, clean, yet functional tool for your project management and remote collaboration, you should consider basecamp. This all-in-one remote toolkit is popular among freelancers, managers, and agencies due to its varying range of features and tools. Despite this, the platform is flawed with no time tracking, subtasks and professional team hierarchy limitations. However, if you have specific needs like project management and effective communication with clients, basecamp can get the work done effortlessly.

  1. Zoom

Since its initial release in 2012, Zoom has grown to become a leading video communication tool for enterprises worldwide. The platform raves in high customer reviews with integration to online marketplaces, next-generation phone systems, video conferencing, and video webinars. In 2017, Zoom reached a $1billion valuation before peaking at 10 million users in 2019. With COVID-19 lockdowns and stay-at-home restriction, the platform saw enormous user stats with over 300 million users in April 2020. Zoom is easy to use and boosts quality videos for your video chatting and meetings, with full-length video recording features.

With businesses trying to keep up with the new trend, effectively managing your remote team has become necessary in achieving business objectives. However, these tools should keep your remote staff productive and focused. 

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5 Work From Home Essentials

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Chances are you already have your home office set up by now, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. You might have a haphazard set up that needs reorganising, or a new idea to make your work from home situation easier and more productive. In this post we look at some of the ways you can do this and how to get started. 

WiFi and Connectivity 

This is a big consideration when setting up your home office. You need a strong Internet connection that won’t let you down during important meetings and conversations. The type of router you choose and Internet deal you buy will determine how reliable it is. 

If you’re working from a studio room or multiple occupancy apartment a single router should be enough to cover the room with a solid connection. If you need to cover more rooms of the house or you have more people using it you may need more bandwidth. 

An Adequate Desk

Although working from home is usually more comfortable and convenient than a stuffy office, you’re not on holiday. It’s good to remind yourself of this by arranging a desk that’s functional and that makes you feel as if you’re at work.

These days there are several options for you to choose from. If you only need a desk for sitting a computer on then a standard one is fine; other jobs, however, might require you to stand or move around. Consider a standing desk or a lap desk for your convenience and productivity, check your computer is in good order with homuten computer repair.

Power Sources 

Working from home means more time in the house with your computer and devices on. Moreover you probably have other family members working from home too, and their devices also need to be charged. This is an issue that needs solved from the start to avoid arguments and lost clients.  

Invest in a powerstrip for your home or home office. This is a unit that has many power outlets and USB ports. It can sit in the front room or hall and act as a hub extension for all your family’s power needs. 

Tea and Coffee

It’s important to stay motivated throughout your working day and there’s no better way to do this than a tea or coffee break. Whether you like to have a hot mug of coffee at your desk or a break in a separate room it’s worth investing in a quality mug and kettle. 

You want a mug that’s large enough to satisfy your tea or coffee capacity, you don’t want to continually leave your job to boil the kettle – it’s wasteful and inefficient. Try to get a mug that also stores heat well. For a kettle it’s best to get one that’s fast boiling and eco friendly. 

Light Levels

One aspect of the home office people tend to overlook is the light levels. The lighting in your home office can affect your mood and productivity, especially in the winter. You may not want a main light on all the time, it can give you a headache over long periods of time, but if you use a lamp you need to make sure it gives you enough essential light to work with.

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3 Pointers on How to Manage a Remote Team Like a Pro

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Before the coronavirus wreaked havoc, many corporate leaders viewed remote work as a temporary arrangement. Even though work-from-home has become more popular thanks to the ever-growing number of freelancers, many still thought that it cannot work for corporate offices, especially for those with more than fifty or a hundred employees.

The assumption is that employees will be less productive at home, but it has been proven wrong this year by employers themselves.

Remote Workers Are Just as Productive as Office Workers

A recent study by HR consulting firm, Mercer revealed that productivity has been mostly unchanged by remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company surveyed 800 employers who said that after solving issues like employees lacking appropriate equipment at home, operations have been the same as usual. Some even noted increases in employee productivity. Finally, 83% of the respondents said they will continue to offer flexible work arrangements even when the pandemic is over.

No doubt many factors contributed to the responding companies’ success in keeping business running. We can safely assume, however, that credit must go to the managers and supervisors for ensuring that their teams stay productive while in quarantine.

How did these managers do it? Here are a few pointers from corporate leaders that managers can adopt as part of their people and project management practices.

  1. Allow employees to work flexible hours.
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Many employers assume that their employees are living the life while working from home. They are wrong. Remote workers may no longer have to contend with traffic, long commutes, or workplace distractions, but now they have to work around pets, children, house chores, and slow home Internet service.

Under these circumstances, it would be very difficult for employees to stay seated before their laptops or desktop computers and work straight from nine to five. It would be better to give them the flexibility to work when they can be most productive within the day.

Employers in the Mercer report gave similar advice. Giving employees flexible work hours helped them work around the distractions at home. It kept not only productivity rates high but also employee satisfaction.

When employees see that their employers support them during difficult times, their respect and loyalty for the company will increase. They will also be encouraged to keep giving their 100% at work and help their teams reach their targets.

  1. Encourage work-life integration.

Digital media expert and president of Goodway Group, Jay Friedman recommended that instead of work-life balance, which promotes separation of work and leisure time, managers should encourage their teams to practice work-life integration. This aligns with the previous section on work flexibility and letting employees work at different times of the day instead of the fixed, regular work hours.

Some employees will try to keep their work-from-home routine as similar to their office schedule as possible, and they should be allowed to. If, however, they find this difficult to do, managers can help employees establish new work routines that also take into account their daily responsibilities at home. These schedules should also allot “personal time” so that employees can still achieve a balance between work and time for family.

  1. Discourage non-paid overtime work.

Work-from-home employees are working an average of three more hours per day, according to the findings of NordVPN. This suggests that employees need to work longer hours to meet their daily deliverables. This can eventually be a problem because working unnecessarily long hours can cause burnout.

Managers, therefore, should encourage team members to finish their work within their allotted time. If they can’t convert the extra hours they worked for OT pay, that’s a sign that they should not bother with it anymore.  

These are just some of the ways that managers can keep their team members involved, engaged, and productive while in quarantine. It’s not easy, but it is achievable. You can start with the three tips in this article.

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Need Windows 10 But Can’t Afford It?

There is no shame in money being tight, but when you need your laptop to work from home and your Windows has crashed out on you, there’s nothing worse than being stuck on a budget. You need to work from home right now more than ever and having a slow operating system is just not ideal. You want to be able to upgrade your windows, but what are you supposed to do?

Most laptops and desktops come with Windows built right in, and the price for that operating system is likely factored into what you paid for the laptop in the first place. So, if you pay for a cheap laptop, you’re going to get a slower, cheaper operating system. Right now, you need to be able to upgrade to Windows 10 so that you can get work done and stop being frustrated by the slowness of your current system. So, let’s take a look at how you can get Windows 10 without breaking into your overdraft!

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  • Run It, But Don’t Activate It! Okay, so it’s not the most honest way to do it, but did you know that you can run Windows and not activate it? It won’t shut off after a month like the notifications promise you that it will, either. The system will keep nagging you about activation, and you can’t personalize your screen the same way. However, it feels worth it to be able to use the system temporarily until you can afford to activate it properly.
  • Go Back In Time. If you can, go back in time to upgrade your system from an older Windows version. When you run Windows as an update on your computer, you can upgrade it for free. So, pop back onto that old laptop and it should stop talking to you about your expired promotion. You can run Windows update on your older laptop, and then use the Update Assistant to run the update properly.
  • Go Back To School. If you’re already a student, great. If you have an alumni account, you could log in and use that. Windows 10 Education is not much different from Windows 10 Enterprise. If you’re a student, you can access it for free and all you need to do is prove it!
  • A Cheaper Key. This one isn’t free, but it’s much cheaper than buying a whole new Windows 10 disc box. You can buy OEM keys for Windows 10 at a lot of places, and companies like ComputerGarage can help you to find the right way about it. Upgrading your system is easier than ever, and you don’t have to be out of pocket to do it.

Try out these methods today, and you’ll be able to get your upgrade you need. Budget should not be a factor if you’re trying to work from home. If you can’t use any of the methods above, contact your IT team at work. They should be able to provide you with a workplace laptop for a while until you can upgrade properly.

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Is Your Business Facing Any Of These IT issues?

The advantages of using modern business technology are well known.  In reality, it is safe to say that the vast number of organizations can benefit from the introduction of new technology. However, notwithstanding all the positive elements, it is important to be aware of the possible issues that technology can cause. These days, these risks are greater than ever before. 

It is important to keep security and usability at the top of your approach when using cloud computing, the Internet of Things and automation technologies. Here, we will looking at some of the possible IT challenges you might face and how you can prevent them.

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Outdated technology

Technology is developing at an unprecedented pace. Even if you think your infrastructure is up to date, before you know it something new will come along and be better and more effective. If you start falling behind technology, you run the risk of falling behind your rivals, and that is not good news for any business, whatever the industry.

Make sure that whenever new update scomes along, you don’t miss it and stay up to date with any new developments.Attending networking events and conferences is an ideal way to not only to network with other people, but also to find out what is going on in the world of technology.  You can also get advice from an expert in IT such as Haval Dosky.

Network and data breaches

It is thought that a breach of data occurs every forty seconds and that almost half of the attacks are on small businesses with less than thousand workers. This is because, broadly speaking, smaller enterprises have fewer strategies in place to deal with these problems and are thus more vulnerable. You must have systems and processes in place to prevent this from happening as a breach of data can destroy your company.

As with everything, prevention is the best form of defence. Make sure your systems are upated as soon as updates are released, make sure that you have the best in anti-virus and anti-malware software. It is also crucial that your staff are all aware of the importance of being careful with data.

Deceleration of productivity

Technology is typically intended to help increase productivity and performance and streamline the business processes. However it does not always operate like that for many businesses. Due to inadequate maintenance or improper use of the technology, it may do the reverse and contribute to a deceleration of productivity. This does not even take into account any disruptions caused by system crashes and failures – and this is always a possibility with technology.

Making sure that your workforce is up to date with current training and understand how to use technology is important if you want to keep your business running. Not only that, you want to make sure that there is continuity across the business as well. Some staff may fear that making the most of technology will put their jobs at risk because they will no longer be needed, but if you can show them the contrary, they are more likely to accept it and use it efficiently.

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Digital Marketing Methods That Will Expand Your Reach Beyond Your Grasp

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In the world of business, you need to make sure people are seeing your work. The effort you put into the job itself matters, but a huge portion of your effort needs to be the outreach. You need to ensure that you’ve done all you can to advertise your work to potential leads and customers. There’s no point in delegating effort and work to certain areas if you’re not going to reap the rewards at the end of it, of course.

In the modern world, digital marketing is key. We’ve dealt with the likes of automation in terms of machinery and manufacturing over the years, but now it needs to be used with regard to computer systems and work across the web. Marketing using only older methods will not work anymore as people are all online in this day and age. The good thing about digital marketing is that it’s all pretty straightforward in terms how to do it – it’s just a case of being unique, finding gaps, and using creativity in order to actually stand out. Here are five methods you can use to expand your reach: 

Social Media

The majority of people on this planet now have social media or have heard of it. The thing about social media is that, even if someone only uses it a little, they’ll still remember enough significant information. So, if you can get your message across on a social platform, then it will manage to make its mark. The likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have all been good in the past, but the likes of Tiktok and LinkedIn are your best bet these days if you want to reach your audience. 

Affiliate Marketing

Getting bloggers and writers to talk about your product, service, or website will allow you to get the exposure you need. Affiliate schemes work like this: they write about you and put a link in the post/article. Whenever a customer then buys something using that link, the writer receives a small commission. Everyone wins as the writer makes money, and you get more exposure. 

SEO Techniques

Making sure you have a website that is fully optimized in terms of Search Engine Optimization is pretty important whether you’re looking to create a business or boost a personal project. You can get SEO help from the likes of https://rsmconnect.com/outsource-seo-services/ – they’ll be able to rank your site higher up on internet searches while teaching you about other techniques that can enhance your score on Google. 

Video Content

People will always be attracted to video content as it’s easy to consume. People are always attracted to the quick cuts, too, as the dopamine derived from it is pretty addicted. You’ll need a balance when it comes to images, words, and videos, but video content will boost your profile hugely. You’ll attract more people, and you’ll score pretty high in terms of your website’s organic rank. 

Email Marketing

When you get people hooked on you a little, it’s your job to make yourself more even attractive to them so that they stick with you and tell others about what you’re doing. Email marketing is a great way of keeping people on side. Simply sending out emails to those who have signed up or subscribed has the power to get leads more than attached as they feel as though they’re being taken care of personally.

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Why Do We Find Computers So Complicated?

In the past 20 years or so, using a computer on a daily basis has become a way of life. Almost no one currently alive has gone without tapping away on a keyboard at least once, and we seem to introduce this kind of technology to our children at younger and younger ages. 

Yet, we still seem to find computers so complicated. They’re hard to protect, we can find it hard to use them, and with the amount of applications out there that feature complex bits of software, it can be hard to get to grips with learning anything outside of Microsoft Office! With that in mind, let’s delve a little more into the complex nature of computer systems. 

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Because They Need to Be

Computers have to be complicated by nature, simply because we ask so much of them! And for most people, yes, that makes them hard to understand. And yet, the way they are built is due to some very simple concepts – the need to be flexible, the need to solve problems while being so, and the need to multitask. All of this adds up to one very sophisticated piece of hardware!

However, even in their complex state, they’re incredibly useful, and there are many ways to learn more about them. For example, you could turn to an IT company to deal with any issues for you, such as Ribbit Business Solutions, because when they’re an expert, they’ll be able to immediately assess your computer needs. And that’s something you might not be capable of yet. 

And Coding Takes Time to Learn

Then we come to the language of coding. They’re quite new to the world of language, and learning one can take anywhere between 4 and 6 months, if you practice as much as possible. For most people, this means taking about an hour every day and dedicating it to programming.

It’s said that Python is the easiest coding language to learn, so if you want to get to know the language of computers a little better, this is a good place to start. Indeed, most children pick it up if they’re used to using computers in day to day life. 

Plus, It’s Easy to Get UX Wrong

And then we come to the fact that a lot of user interfaces, and the ultimate user experience made by them, are incredibly user unfriendly and turn people away at the first look. Indeed, a lot of programming software comes without tutorials. 

So if a person is starting out with them on their own, there’s a lot of beforehand research they’re going to have to do. And one of the worst offenses a UX designer can make is prioritising how something looks over how it works – it’s why a lot of people think Youtube is user unfriendly! 

Computers are complicated because they need to be, but there are plenty of ways to learn more. You can fit in with the world of tech just fine! 

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Setting Up an Online Business

Setting up an online business looks easy. You probably have several friends who are selling their works on Etsy and eBay and you think that’s what an online business is. That’s just part of it.

Many sellers are simply putting up ‘displays’ in online shops, but that would be like a coincidental marketing strategy. It’s a coincidence a buyer would go to the shop, and it would be a coincidence that the buyer would see the seller’s goods. It may earn some, but it could not hold up in the long run. A real online business goes beyond these electronic shops that only act as a middleman.

We have here some tips you could think about before you set up your online business.

Business documents

Many online sellers skip this. That’s because they’re just riding on the electronic shop’s permit to operate. Although you may opt later on to also display some items in these shops, your business is a separate entity. Make sure you’re doing it legally, get the right documents, and pay the appropriate taxes. The only difference between an on-site shop and an online business is the market, the people you are targeting to reach to sell your products.

Your base: a website

Your website will contain everything your target clientele would need to know beyond the items you’re selling. The importance of your website is important for your visibility. It will have content about your company, contact details, and possibly even a feedback mechanism for those who would want to share their experiences about your business.

The most you can show in online shops and social media are parts and portions of your business. You would want to offer answers to questions your clients might have without necessarily having to communicate with all of them individually. You will have all of this information on your website.

Search Engine Optimisation

To make sure your target buyers will find their way to your website, you need to maximise search engines like Google and maybe DuckDuckGo. For this, you could find anSEO company to do the job for you.

As what had been pointed out earlier, buyers seeing your products in online stores depend on chance. But what you need is purposive marketing. Meaning, they would intentionally find you. To compare it to an on-site store, going to an e-store is like going to a department store, they would find your dress because they looked through a rack. On the other hand, making a search engine work for you is like having a personal shopper bring your dress to the client because it fits the descriptions the client wants.

Building Your Team

You might want to just work alone at first, cutting costs. But as your business would expand, so would the work increase. You can hire part-time staff instead.

First, you will need a social media manager. Although it seems to be easy work you can do, doing marketing in social media is not as simple as your personal postings on Facebook and Instagram. You will need to make fresh posts so that you have more chances of getting into the feed of strangers. Remember that you’re not posting for a group of friends who are already following you, but people who may not even be interested in your products at first.

At the start, you might be doing all the logistical work. You monitor the orders, shipping, and stocks. But once your business takes off, it might be too much. You could hire an assistant to oversee parts of these. You could even just get a virtual assistant who will be dealing with inquiries, customer relations, and orders.

The financial records should be handled by you. But if you lack this expertise, get someone who could guide you with it. Hire an accountant to periodically work on your books so when the time for taxes and other matters comes, you wouldn’t have to worry about it. Once you expand, you should hire a financial manager who will ensure you’re not incurring losses.

Finally, you could get an Information Technology expert. Since they tend to cost a lot, you could just get a consultant. Aside from the usual online marketing strategies, you could ask your IT expert to develop specific programs that could benefit your business. For example, your website could be made more navigable, you could have a mobile app, or you might want a comprehensive database that would gather information from all your online engagements to develop better strategies.

Setting up an online business, again, is not simply posting goods and getting orders. Like any business, it needs you to build networks, be part of a business community, and adhere to rules and regulations.

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How To Choose The Best IT Support

When they’re scaling their business, a lot of companies decide to outsource some or all of their IT needs. There are a lot of companies out there offering IT services, but choosing the best one for your business can be hard. Handing over a business-critical function like IT to someone outside of your company can be a daunting idea. How do you know who is reliable/ Is there service good value? What happens if it goes wrong? To get the best IT support, interview each vendor and ask these questions. 

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Where Are You Based?

It doesn’t matter that much where your IT support has their head office, but you should know where their servers are. The location is important if they will be offering you services like cloud hosting, computer networking, or VoIP. Server location can impact on the quality of your services. Local law about GDPR may also have implications on the way your data is stored, especially if your company works in an industry with a high level of regulation.

What Geographical Areas Do You Cover?

You don’t need your IT support vendor to be based in the same city as you these days. However, you do need to know what areas they cover, especially if you might move your premises in the future, or want to expand your business into new areas or different countries. You need to know that your provider can keep supporting you. 

Do You Offer Different Levels Of IT Support?

IT support companies usually offer a few different levels of service, which can suit different budgets, businesses, and requirements. For example, you can choose between:

  • Pay-as-you-go or ad-hoc support
  • Break-fix support
  • Managed service support

Look for a company who can offer the level of support that you need and can afford. 

What Exactly Is Supported In The Contract?

You should be careful with a company who says they support everything, without giving detail about what that actually means and what is included in the agreement with them. It’s not unusual for companies to assume they will get complete coverage, only to find out that they can actually only log a maximum number of support tickets every month, or that some services will be charged as an extra. Get this laid out clearly from the beginning, so you understand exactly what kind of support you will get. Otherwise, you run the risk of signing a contract that doesn’t actually work for your business. 

What Isn’t Covered In The IT Support Contract?

You could assume that this is covered by asking what is included in your support, but it’s still wise to get more detail by asking this question as well. There may be some services which are not covered by your contract. It’s better to know in advance what will be billed separately so you can budget more accurately. If there are any services that are not included in your contract, then you need to know about ad-hoc or hourly pricing. 

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Simple Tips to Transitioning to Working-from-Home

If you’re one of the many office workers who have recently transitioned from working in an office to now working remotely from home, you might be pulling your hair out trying to figure out exactly how to make the environment work best for you. 

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Working from the comfort of your own home has huge pros, and a few cons. The lack of social interaction can be rough, and learning how to navigate meetings and face-to-face discussions via Skype or Zoom can make even the most introverted person wishing to be in the same room as their coworkers. 

One of the ways to reduce that stress though is to make sure that your home office environment is a welcoming place, thoroughly equipped to make your job easier to perform. If you haven’t already, now is the time to consider a dual monitor system. Whether you’re working on spreadsheets, going over a project with coworkers over the phone, or switching between two websites to compare, having two monitors greatly increases productivity. According to a survey performed by Jon Peddie Research, a second monitor increases your average output by 20 to 30 percent. 

Next, let’s talk about docking your laptop. If you’re accustomed to working on a larger monitor, and suddenly only have your laptop, you can consider docking your laptop. This will save on the cost of an entirely new computer, but allow you to use a larger or second monitor, as well as a traditional more ergonomic keyboard and mouse. For short amounts of time, a laptop can be a great machine to work on, but having a docking station is key in making sure your work station is a comfortable place to work. Not all laptop docking stations are made equally, though. If you’d like a thorough breakdown of some of the best options on the market in 2020, check out this review here

Finally, let’s address that persnickety video conference issue. 

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When you set up your video camera and microphone to hold meetings with coworkers or potential clients, take these tips into consideration:

  • Angle the video so that viewers are not looking up at your chin or into your nose. Have a straight-facing camera, or slightly higher than eye level.
  • Even though you’re at home, make sure your area looks professional. That means clear out any clutter from behind you that can be seen.
  • Consider the lighting. Lighting from behind is going to put a shadow on your face, so have your lighting in front or to the side of you. This could be as simple as changing the location of where you sit so that you’re using natural light from a window 
  • Use the mute button. Large conference calls can get noisy. Touch-to-talk can make a meeting much easier to deal with when several people are in attendance. 

If you’re new to working from home, it can be a stretch, but well worth it in the long-run. You may need to remind kids and family members that while you are at home, you do need to focus on work during specific hours. This can greatly decrease interruptions and have you focused and productive throughout your workday.

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