Remote work: Top 15 tools for your company
At Fly On The Cloud, we attach great importance to making the entire team feel comfortable and safe in the workplace. Recently, in the face of a sudden increase in the number of employees, we have moved to a bigger and more conveniently located office. To ensure maximize our employees’ comfort, we also gave them the freedom to choose where they want to work. Every employee can choose to work remotely. In response to recent events related to the coronavirus epidemic, Fly On The Cloud’s management decided to go a step further and ordered to switch to 100% remote work on 11.03.2020. The safety and health of the entire team is our priority.
How does Fly On The Cloud organize remote teamwork?
Cloud software allows working from anywhere in the world, and Fly On The Cloud has established efficient frameworks for remote work since its beginnings. The company hires people from different countries in Poland, as well as Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. In this post, I’d like to introduce a few solutions and tools that support the productivity of my team and the entire company.
Tools from the Google Cloud ecosystem
A Google account is the centerpiece of remote work in our company. Thanks to Single Sign On, logging into the account gives us access to all the necessary tools for remote work. Sounds good, right?
G Suite, also known as Gmail for business, is a suite of office applications which supports us in almost every task.
Gmail uses our custom company domain and is the basic tool allowing us to stay in touch with people inside and outside the organization. We use e-mails for communication with clients, colleagues and business partners. Gmail works on every device we use at work, both in the browser and as a mobile application.
Google Drive – working in the marketing department, I find it hard to imagine that some employees could keep essential assets (video, graphics, logos, offers) only on the work computer’s hard drive. With Google Drive, we can access all the files from a shared drive at any time, which is incredibly convenient.
Document editors – collaborating with your colleagues on a document in real time is a game changer. In Docs, Slides, Forms and Sheets, users can view, edit or comment on files no matter where they are and what device they are using. From within each file, you can chat with everyone who is currently editing it. I think this is one of the most important functionalities of the programs we use in the team.
Organizing meetings, video calls and chats
Office work in every industry is typically associated with dozens or even hundreds of meetings held monthly. We use Google Calendar to make sure we don’t miss a single event. We can schedule meetings with colleagues, clients and service providers, i.e. representatives of Google, Facebook or Zendeska.
By sharing calendars with each other, we find out what our colleagues’ day plan looks like. In this way we can schedule meetings on a date that will suit all participants.
Hangouts Meet and Chat are instant messengers that come in handy during remote work. We use them to do weekly videoconference sprints with colleagues. The Google ecosystem is open and integrated with external services, so we can also use Hangouts Meet to discuss offers with the customers who do not use G Suite. The entire Fly On The Cloud crew also remains connected on Hangouts Chat, where we chat to discuss current issues and share files.
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Google and Facebook applications for business – a great match
Workplace by Facebook is a solution for companies that shares the simplicity and familiarity of Facebook, and perfectly complements cloud applications offered by the Mountain View giant.
In the context of remote work, this tool is mainly used for company-wide communication, i.e. publishing posts in various groups. Users can comment and respond to the posts just like they do on social media, which is why each post generates so much engagement within seconds of publication. Workplace is a platform for internal communication, but it also allows to create cross-company groups including employees from a partner organization. Just-in-time communication on the platform has proved beneficial for the functioning of the company, especially improving the work of the board and the HR department.
Customer service and sales
Zendesk is a platform used by technical support and sales staff in Fly On The Cloud. With the Zendesk Support app, our customer service can offer the same quality even when the employees work from home.
Each user can respond to requests and inquiries from both potential and current customers of our company from any internet-enabled device – Zendesk is another tool that works in the cloud.
Importantly, Zendesk is a suite of applications which, in addition to solutions for the technical support department, also include a CRM system called Zendesk Sell. It is mainly used by sales and marketing representatives. It ensures seamless collaboration of the departments regardless of the circumstances. Every employee who has access to the system gains direct insight into all information about potential clients the team has collected.
Equipment under control
To enable remote work, we had to equip employees not only with applications, but also with reliable, portable hardware. At Fly On The Cloud, we use a fleet of Chromebook laptops based on the Chrome OS operating system. Each of these devices is remotely controlled by our administrator through the administration console.
To access all the tools described above, the only thing you need to do is log in to your Google account on your work laptop. If in case the device is stolen or lost outside of the office, the administrator can immediately take action to protect the data stored on it. The first step in this situation is to log out the user, and then wipe the device’s disk – all this can be achieved remotely thanks to our Chrome Enterprise management licenses.
Another important equipment that helps our employees to ensure data security is two-step verification keys. These devices look like pendrives, but we don’t store any data except a digital ID. Logging in to a Google account on a new device is only possible after inserting the security key into the USB port. In order for a user to gain access to a Google account, they must successfully pass the key compliance verification that was previously assigned to the Admin console.
Trello is an application that we use to manage both long-term projects and current projects (not only in marketing). The application interface reflects the kanban methodology: it contains 3 basic cards between which we can transfer tasks depending on their status: To do, In progress, Done. Trello allows us to better manage our work and quickly assign a task to the right person.
Evernote – an application that (just like Google Keep) allows to create notes and display them on any device. Using a special Evernote add-on for Gmail, we can connect the application to G Suite. We can transfer emails or selected fragments from Gmail to Evernote, and then use them to create notes or task lists.
Slack – the communication tools we use are as diverse as our client base. To meet the needs of our business partners, we try to use the applications they are used to. For communication, whether in the office or remotely, we use Slack. Like the messengers described earlier (Hangouts Chat and Workplace Chat), it enables messaging and exchanging files between colleagues.
Toggl – there are people working at Fly On The Cloud whose salary depends on the number of hours worked. You can track your work time in Google Calendar, but it’s certainly not as convenient as keeping records via Toggl. In Toggl, we can assign individual employees or entire teams to a project. Everyone can monitor the time of their work on an ongoing basis, and all the data collected by this tool is later available in the form of readable reports that employees provide to their superiors.
The above list of tools that I have personally tested will certainly meet the needs of small, medium and large organizations that, in the face of the epidemic, have decided or are considering remote work.