Remote Working & Tools

The year draws to a close again; at this point, we have come so far in this pandemic, with various rules and regulations put in place and then subsequently lifted. More importantly, the way we work has been revolutionised, with drastic changes made to past ways of working. As offices shift back and forth between hybrid-working and work from home, the importance of the tools we use are incredibly understated, which is precisely what we are going to discuss in this article today. 

Fast Internet 

Everyone hates it when their YouTube video takes a little too long to buffer. Imagine how much worse it would be when a video call constantly gets interrupted, with the screen freezing or the voice breaking up, lagging in a way reminiscent of the dreadful moans of the damned. Or, to be the poor speaker rambling on for 5 minutes straight only to realise that nobody has caught what you just said because only parts of your speech made it through. Slow internet is frustrating for everyone in the call, and only serves to reduce work productivity.  

There are various solutions for ensuring fast internet, such as finding a decent spot in the house with good access to the router, or looking into wifi extenders (if you live in a relatively big house). It might even be time to think wired, by utilising LAN cables or a desktop computer with a wired connection instead of challenging fate with fluctuating strengths of wifi signals. 

Quality Set-up

We are talking about a decent camera, microphone and headphones. Perhaps even a laptop stand for those of us still working on our laptop, elevating the screen to face level such that we can have better posture. All these would serve to improve QOL in terms of “workspace”, adding an even more “legit” feel to whatever we are doing at work. 

Video-calling Subscriptions 

If for some reason your team is still working via “free” video-call services, then this article is a sign for you to quit cheaping out, and just buy that subscription already. Services like Skype, Hangouts and Zoom, while technically “free”, add several restrictions to the type of meetings that can be held. It is false economy to use these services; reducing costs should not come at the expense of severely limiting work efficiency and reducing the quality of calls needed for work to function. The paid version of the services is paid for a good reason, as they have the quality needed for business calls and are a prerequisite for connecting remote teams. 

Messaging Apps 

It is essential for asynchronous communication. It is also all too easy for groups on messaging apps to go out of hand, or have many disorganised channels of communication. Having someone specifically in charge of managing and updating the groups would smoothen communications out much better. Differences in communication styles also means that it is important to establish clear boundaries and guidelines in online workplace conversations. Ultimately, this is still a professional space, and having some form of moderation will prove to be beneficial for everyone. 

Cloud Storage 

Having documents stored in a central online space, accessible to everyone, is much more efficient than constantly emailing each other with file attachments, especially when multiple parties need to access the same files. Programs like Sharepoint, Google Drive and many others are essential for remote workers. 

Remote Whiteboards 

Cloud-based whiteboards can cater to the needs of remote teams or enterprise teams working across several locations and time zones, allowing collaborations across space and time via digital tools.  

Expenses Management System 

There needs to be a centralised and automated place to process invoices, and also approve and manage spending of remote teams.  

Overall, it is important to consider the tools we are using for remote working, that is certain. I would also like to attribute parts of the article to Anastasia Tohmé and Martin Worner, for without their book Work Remotely, this article could not have been written. Beyond the points brought up here, Work Remotely provided insights into what is needed for making the most out of working remotely, including advice such as managing communication and more. This is a must-read, especially during this precarious period.