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These are unprecedented times we’re going through. COVID-19 (aka the Coronavirus) has affected us all. Our thoughts, hearts and prayers are with business owners and individuals who are struggling through this difficult time. Those who are still working (including us) are working almost wholly remotely. This article is dedicated to providing a bunch of reading material on how you can survive working from home and make the most of it using the tools you have at your disposal.
Transitioning from Office to Remote Work
Working exclusively remotely is something some companies have been doing for years (see Ars Technica’s article from earlier this year on how they’ve been doing it for 20 years, arstechnica.com). We’ve had work-from-home employees for many years — and have offices in three states — so this type of remote communication wasn’t that big of a transition for us. That being said, it’s a new thing for a lot of business owners and their employees, and there are definitely ways to make the transition easier. At the same time, you don’t want to put your company’s information at risk because you’re now accessing it remotely. Make sure you have your remote access security locked down tight (with VPNs and two-factor authentication whenever possible), and follow tips from Microsoft to secure your home workspace and network environment, to make working from home as secure and productive as working in the office. These tips include ways to:
- Pick a good workspace
- Keeping your data secure
- Keeping in touch with others
PC Magazine has 20 Tips to help you get organized working from home (pcmag.com) to make things more productive for you, and your remote team as well. It basically needs to be treated like you were in the office; with proper scheduling, ground rules, breaks, dedicated spaces, secure technology and more.
Communication is Different, But Microsoft Teams is Making it Easy
We’ve been using Microsoft Teams since the early days of the program’s existence. Teams is Microsoft’s all-in-one collaboration and communications tool, and will eventually fully replace Skype For Business. Now, Microsoft is giving the program and service away for free for six months to folks who don’t already have Office 365.
When used right, Teams is a great way to have smarter conversations with your team, whether they’re remote or not. With more and more folks moving to scattered employees, communication has become more critical, and Teams is being used by more and more folks since it is already part of their existing Office 365 subscriptions. For many, however, being forced to use Teams all of a sudden, after just being able to visit someone at their desk, is taking some getting used to. Our blog has links to more than a few tutorials on Teams to help you get started.
Once you know the basics, you can really start exploring Teams and the value it can offer your organization. Microsoft’s site has a great bunch of tips on how Teams can help you stay productive and have great meetings, and they have a handy remote-work preparedness checklist. And don’t forget to blur your background (especially if you plan on using the bathroom during a conference call, which we don’t recommend).
But There’s More Than Teams
While Teams is great and all, there is far more to the various Office 365 applications to allow you to easily collaborate with your coworkers. Some of those include:
- Sharing your files with OneDrive
- Collaborating on Microsoft Office documents
- Using the Office app on Androidand iOS
- Using Outlook and OneNote together to increase your productivity
- And much more….
And even if your office is using Slack instead of Teams for some reason, Slack is working on getting a communication channel going with Teams so everybody can call one another.
We’re Here to Help
As we mentioned in the beginning of this article, these are unprecedented times. We’re going to be here to make sure our clients are taken care of through all this, and to make sure our employees are taken care of as well. Along the same lines, other software and technology companies are offering extended free trials of their tools to help everybody get through this mess. Still confused on how to use all these tools? That’s OK, that is why we’re here. We’re a Microsoft certified Office 365 cloud partner and have the experience and knowledge to get you going, and your business working remotely. Contact us today to get started.
A more detailed version of this article with hyperlinks to various resources can be found at bit.ly/weston-remote-work.
Jake Ortman is the communications manager, factotum and scapegoat for Weston Technology Solutions. He drinks way too much soda and has a volume level that goes up to 11. Weston Technology Solutions has been serving the Pacific Northwest since 1994, providing people-friendly managed IT services to small and medium-sized businesses with offices in Bend, Anchorage and Spokane. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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