Five tips for building a pandemic-proof remote office

Many businesses are moving from open plans to remote offices as COVID-19 wreaks havoc

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Travis Buck
TRAVIS BUCK NW Media Collective

With the coronavirus/COVID-19 wreaking havoc on a global scale, many businesses are moving from open plans to remote offices. The online nature of our business’ industry allows us to adapt to crises like this swiftly. Here are our five favorite tips and tools that will help you survive the coming remote work apocalypse.

1. Boost Your Communication

Communication within a business is the key to success and can quickly go awry if your organization isn’t ready to interact exclusively online. Water cooler chat and impromptu meetings aren’t possible in remote working environments. These are our favorite ways to communicate internally and externally:

Slack – best for internal messaging

Nothing beats Slack when it comes to discussing projects with teams. This software groups discussions by “channels,” keeping conversations organized. But if you really need to share that Baby Yoda meme one more time, you can start a thread within a discussion or send a direct message, which won’t pollute the channel. The entire platform is searchable by keywords too. Nothing gets lost.

Zoom – best for video calls and webinars

From video conferencing to mobile chat, this software offers a wide range of virtual communication tools to keep things humming along while working remotely. If you face a canceled event due to the virus, Zoom’s webinar feature is an excellent “plan B.” It allows for up to 1,000 video participants and 10,000 viewers.

Google – best FREE video conferencing

Google rolled out free access to its advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities to all G Suite customers. At no cost, you can have:

  • 250 participants per call.
  • Live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain.
  • The ability to record meetings.

These free services will be available until July 1, 2020.

Microsoft Visual Studio Live Share – best collaborative coding tool

If you do anything with code, this is the tool for you! Live Share lets you to collaboratively edit and debug with others in real-time, regardless of the programming languages or app types.

2. Strengthen Project Management

For businesses married to the physical office, going remote can conjure fears of plummeting productivity. But it doesn’t have to be the End of Days if you have user-friendly project management platforms. We swear you’ll want to use these two tools post-apocalypse too:

Basecamp – best project management tool ever

This project management software is for individuals and teams of any size that enables real-time communication. With to-do-lists, calendaring, due dates and file-sharing (organized by projects), Basecamp provides a way for teams to keep track of priorities and actionable items.

Everhour – best time and budget tracking software

With Everhour, which integrates seamlessly with Basecamp, time and budget tracking are a breeze. For example, if you’re planning a new product launch, you can create a project with a certain budget and estimated number of hours. Within that project you can build lists like “design” or “marketing”. And under each list you can have multiple “to-dos” assigned to individuals or teams. Tracking time is as easy as pushing a play/pause button. Hours are tallied at the to-do, list, and project level.

3. Enhance Security

With employees working remotely from their bedrooms or cafes, the risk of a security breach grows. Keep your data safe by investing in a VPN. A VPN gives you secure access to your company’s internet while protecting you from hackers, malware, and phishing. These are our two favorite VPNs:

Surfshark – best paid VPN

Affordable, safe and secure, Surfshark VPN offers accounts with an unlimited number of devices. It’s also one of the only VPNs that let you access Netflix from different countries. Plus, torrenting is possible.

TunnelBear – best free VPN

Fast and easy to use, TunnelBear offers 500MB of secure browsing for free. You can get all-day security and peace of mind for modest monthly payments.

4. Support Remote Workstations

Help your team succeed while working remotely by supplying all the necessary technology. Dole out laptops, video cameras, microphones, and cables. You may want to send out “home office etiquette” guidelines. Professional clothing, tidy backdrops, and behind-camera light sources are essential during video calls.

5. Communicate with Customers and Clients

If you haven’t already, now (like RIGHT NOW) is ideal to let clients and customers know how your business is responding to the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak. If you are staying open for business, tell ‘em. Otherwise, people might assume you are closed! Likewise, if your offers change, keep everyone updated. The more in control you appear, the more confident your customers or clients will be.

Travis Buck is the co-founder and CTO of NW Media Collective, a full-service digital agency helping businesses succeed online. If you have questions about working remotely, reach out: https://northwestmediacollective.com/contact/.

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