Working Remotely: Technology-Based Tools and Tips To Successfully Work From Home


AllCloud Blog: Cloud Insights and Innovation

With the current global climate, companies all over the world are focused on being responsive and proactive to ensure the safety and health of their employees while maintaining business sustainability and continuity. 

In his recent blog, AllCloud CEO, Eran Gil, shared how AllCloud is cloud native and, by design, our operations are built to continuously respond to our client’s needs even in a remote, ever-changing environment. With a team all over the world, we are able to collaborate virtually, and quickly as we’ve all moved to remote roles. In doing so, all of our employees are able to operate as close to normal as possible with their safety and health at the forefront. AllCloud understands what it means to be a cloud native organization during these challenging times. 

In light of that, we know that virtual collaboration can be quite the curve for organizations moving to remote roles that didn’t previously have that opportunity and internal infrastructure. To assist those working from home, our delivery team came together to enable each other and share some of their top tips and tools for working remotely. Here’s the highlights and pro tips from our power users: 

What online communication tools are available?

ZoomLogo

If you hadn’t heard of Zoom before the last few weeks, you likely have now. Zoom is an extremely powerful tool to use for hosting collaborative video meetings.  Zoom can also be used to record demos and how-to sessions and has a free and paid version. Some of its useful advanced features include muting and unmuting participants, screen sharing and white boarding.

Some Pro Tips when using Zoom:

      • Don’t use your personal links, instead create a new Zoom link for each meeting using the Zoom connector for Google Calendars.
      • Turn on Auto Recording
      • Record in the Cloud
      • Have an alternative Host
      • If you are using a wireless headset, have a backup in case your battery dies
      • For recurring meetings, set an end date!

     

Before your meetings, make sure you test your bandwidth and connectivity. For Zoom, the bandwidth will be optimized for the best experience based on the participants’ network. It will automatically adjust for 3G or WiFi. 

As often as possible, make sure to have your camera on! Be ready for the day as if you were in the office face-to-face with clients. If you are using your computer as a Microphone, test your sound before you go into the meeting. Wireless Bluetooth headsets are your best friend! 

slacklogo

Another useful communication tool to stay connected with customers and co-workers during projects is Slack. With a free and paid version, you can create conversation channels, integrate services and apps you already use and search all your conversations easily.

Some Pro Tips when using Slack:

      • If you use Slack with customers, setup expectations for response times and when Slack will be monitored. Once the project is over, Slack will no longer be monitored!
      • Adjust your notifications based on all your channels. You can change these based on if you want them to come to your mobile or your desktop and what kind of conversations you want to be notified of. 

What are some collaboration tools you can use?

lucidchart logo

LucidChart is a great whiteboard and shared workspace for customers. With LucidChart, you are able to create a visually pleasing workspace , where you can create diagrams, provide data visualizations and integrate LucidChart into programs you already use (like Slack)!

Some of the advanced features that come with a paid version include Smart Containers, Sticky Notes and Organization Charts.

Some Pro Tips when using Slack: 

      • Create a dedicated LucidChart for each customer and use tabs within a Lucidchart to organize work.
      • Share the dedicated LucidChart with customers via emails.
      • Create a personal workspace LucidChart you can jump in at any time for quick collaboration.

googlecloud logo

The free Google Office Suite is a great tool to use internally and with customers who use gmail.

Google documents can be used for shared notes and capturing requirements during a virtual meeting and internally, it is great to use for shareable agendas, meeting notes, and gathering project requirements from multiple sources at a time. Google Deck is great for sharing an agenda for virtual meetings, especially Demos, while Google Sheets is great for reviewing and adding real-time data and creating detailed charts. Google Calendar is great for hosting meetings and invitations. 

Some Pro Tips when using Google Office Suite:

      • Always include an Agenda in the meeting invite description
      • Invite Participants as Required or Optional
      • Allow others to Modify Event
      • Always include a Zoom link if this is an virtual meeting

What ensures a successful virtual working meeting & session? 

When hosting a virtual working session/meeting, it is important to be prepped and ready for the meeting, host and execute a meeting with clear expectations, and ensure you have a plan for post-meeting follow-up. This will ensure you are maximizing your time and avoiding “overdone” virtual meetings.

Step 1: Meeting Preparation

Before you send your meeting invites, make sure you have a plan in place. Consider items like tools you will be using, who is leading the call and who will be monitoring participants for questions.

When sending your meeting invites, make sure you include a detailed agenda and ensure the right people are engaged. Send a Google Calendar invite and include the Agenda, Zoom Link, and include participants (required vs optional). Before the meeting occurs, ensure required attendees have “accepted” the Calendar invite.

Pro tips:

      • Consider if a meeting is really needed or if things can just be handled asynchronously via e.g. Email.
      • Consider the necessary time for covering the meeting agenda. When hosting meetings virtual, it may take longer to cover topics and ensure collaboration using virtual tools.  
      • Plan for breaks during meetings longer than 90-mins.

 

Step 2: Hosting a Virtual Meeting

Arrive early, have your camera on, mic ready, and make sure you are verbally greeting participants as they enter the Zoom meeting. You also want to make sure participants are comfortable with the tools you will be using during the meeting and are able to access tools.  At the beginning of the meeting, address how you will be soliciting feedback throughout the session and how participants should ask questions.

When ready, let everyone know you will be recording the meeting and kick the meeting off with a review of the agenda.  Make sure to take your time and don’t rush; virtual meetings often take longer to accomplish objectives. Pause for questions and measure engagement from participants and If participants are not engaging, take a moment to check-in with them.  

Be comfortable pausing the meeting if you are having technical issues. 

Pro Tips:

      • When sharing on Zoom, ONLY share a specific application or screen. Never share your entire desktop.
      • Mute all notifications, including Slack and Apple Notifications

 

Step 3: Post Meeting Follow Up

Congratulations! You’ve successfully planned and hosted a virtual meeting, now let’s tackle the follow up. Make sure you email your attendees a  meeting recap should be sent for every virtual meeting that includes a recap of the agenda and topics covered, action Items, reference the action log and include Zoom recording link.

 

Content contributed in collaboration from the North America Delivery team.

Kathy Brown

Practice Director, Solution Architects

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