COVID-19 has forced and encouraged many companies to transition their staff to WFH (work from home) with little planning, or time to adjust.
Like many of our other clients we’ve heard from, you might be wondering how to stay connected with your staff. And, how can you maintain communication? We’ve put together a couple tips on tools you can use to help your team rock remote working.
As with any change management, it’s important to communicate any new protocol, and reiterate any existing protocol or policies you have. If remote working is new to you and your staff, this is a great time to reiterate things like work hours, and to communicate expectations for response times, or for connecting with team members. Some companies have set standing check-in meetings every day, while others have implemented status reports. However you decide to adjust, there are a few tools we particularly like that make connecting and collaboration a breeze, without creating additional work or pressure.
Here are some ways you can keep in touch with your team:
Zoom has quickly become the go-to for remote working.
Benefits of using Zoom include different levels of subscriptions, the ability to host multiple people at a time, and allowing people to join with just audio (no camera access necessary).
Best of all, Zoom is super client friendly. One quick download and install later and anyone can seamlessly opt into any meeting they’ve been sent by clicking the invite link.
Once you’ve scheduled your meeting, Zoom will generate a unique link that you can copy and paste into an email or calendar invitation, or export into your calendar of choice.
You can even create a custom web address that you can use as your hosting home base for meetings. We can help you purchase a domain name so you can customize your Zoom URL – for example: https://ZoomwithOHMEDIA.com
It’s best to be cautious and toggle the requirement to have a password for meetings. This will give your meeting added online security and will help protect your meeting from being Zoom bombed.
Once your meeting is up and running administrators can use features that allow you to mute all attendees, or share your screen to show your team members a presentation or slide deck. With a business account, hosts can also access features like recording meetings and tracking time/frequency of meetings hosted by other team members.
Meeting attendees can also make use of features like muting themselves, using the ‘hand up’ feature to request to talk (think of it like a virtual talking stick), chat to the group, or private chat to other attendees.
And, attendees can access less practical but more playful features like using emoji to react and setting virtual backgrounds (people can picture you on a beach, while you’re picturing yourself on a beach!).
Zoom also has a mobile app, so clients and team members can be available or take meetings on their phone in addition to their laptop or home computer.
There are a few common questions we’ve heard from clients about Zoom and video conferencing.
Do I need a paid account?
The free account allows you to host 40 minute group meetings and no-limit one on one meetings. The free account also has limitations on the number guests who can join your meetings, and limitations on administrative controls. The Pro account is the next step up from free, and starts at $14.99/host. You can find the subscription and account level details and pricing here.
How do I keep my meetings secure?
As you know—if it exists on the internet there is a person out there who can hack it. Thankfully, Zoom has features that you can include in your scheduling to keep your meetings more secure. And you can follow this guide on how to make sure your Zoom meetings stay secure: How to keep uninvited Guests Out of Your Zoom Event
Are there alternatives to Zoom?
There are! We’ve had the most luck and consistency with Zoom, but there are other paid options through Google Hangouts, WebEx, and GoToMeeting you might want to take a look at for your remote working needs.
Paid Slack accounts (we talk more about Slack more below) will also allow for video calls with team members.
At OH!/Phoenix we’ve been fans of Slack for quite some time. Slack is a collaboration and messaging tool that helps make communication, file sharing, and personalities shine. It might be a shift for your company to embrace instant messaging, but once it’s incorporated into your process you won’t ever want to go back. Especially with a tool like Slack that’s easy and fun to use.
Slack messaging is instant (no more waiting for that Outlook tone telling you your email is sent), so you can say goodbye to constantly clicking send/receive. Plus, your staff will love the different applications you can include to make your experience even richer. Some things just don’t need to be an email, you know?
Once implemented this tool can be a life-changer! Slack is available in a desktop or mobile app, giving you seamless integration of everything going on at your fingertips, no matter where you’re sitting.
One of the features that is most loved by us and users alike is the file sharing. Slack allows you to attach files to messages and threads that are too large for email. This often replaces the need for third party websites like Dropbox or WeTransfer, especially in the case of something that is in the process of approvals and will likely need to be sent back and forth.
Slack also offers hundreds of apps that can be integrated to make your workspace easier to use. They range from highly practical things like support ticket apps, to fun apps that help keep your corporate culture thriving.
Speaking of fun—Slack keeps your culture going by allowing people the opportunity to play. Your team members can use gifs to react or respond to messages, start polls, design their bitmoji, onboard new staff, and play interactive games. It’s really quite amazing how culture can grow and bonds can deepen via a gif party thread.
We already use email – why and how is this any different?
Ohhh boy, you’re in for a treat. If you like collaboration, connection and instant answers, you’re going to love Slack. Here’s a quick read about how to know when to use Slack instead of email.
Do I need a paid account?
Nope. A free account will give you unlimited private and public channels, file sharing and up to 10 apps (like giphy and doodle). Most companies find the free account adequate for their needs. There are however, a few other paid options with additional features, storage, and support you might want to consider. You can learn more about the pricing here.
How secure is Slack? can my private messages be read?
Slack has a few different places to chat:
- Channel: A channel is a single place for a team to share messages, gifs and files.
- Public Channels - open for all team members to join, and anything posted is searchable by others who are linked to the account.
- Private Channels - for discussions that shouldn’t be open to all members. You must be invited to join to view it in your account.
- Shared Channels – these let two separate organizations work together in a single channel, each from their own Slack workspace. They can be public or private, but they're only available through paid plans. These are good virtual spaces for collaboration if you want to further integrate your team with a client team.
- Direct Messages:
- Direct messages (DMs) - one-to-one conversations between you and another workspace member.
- Group direct messages (group DMs) - smaller discussions, outside of channels, between you and up to eight other members.
Owners of Slack accounts cannot export private chat history without Slack notifying the members of the private chat – in short, your boss can’t spy on you without you knowing (and, as a boss, your staff will be notified if private chat history is exported).
We want to help you succeed during the uncertainty and constant evolution and adjustment during COVID-19. If you want to chat more about options or solutions for your remote working team, give us a call.