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March 16, 2020

Technology Has Changed the Game for Working Remote

Pivoting for the Pandemic

Last week, our company made the decision to pivot our workplace operations at Shift3 to being fully remote in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve made no secret that our most valuable asset is without a doubt our people, so our leadership decided to prioritize the well-being of our team, as well as our communities, above working in-person at our headquarters. Additionally, we cancelled all work-based travel.

For some companies, this type of adjustment would be a challenge. Luckily for us, our company had the appropriate tools in place to help us go fully remote very quickly and seamlessly.

If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur and you’re thinking that you’d like to explore the option of a remote workplace, here are some things to consider and some tools to have in place before moving forward.

Hardware Essentials

Thanks to technology, working remotely is now much more attainable for most companies. Leveraging powerful, collaborative communication platforms, intuitive CRMs and mobile technology, teams can now work from all over the world and still be one Slack message, Dropbox file or Google Meet away.

There’s tremendous opportunity for business owners to rethink the way work occurs in their businesses as the corporate world converts to virtual spaces, cowork spaces, home offices or just about any place to sit with wifi. It all starts with the basic hardware first.

  • Laptop or portable tablet – CHECK
  • Mobile phone or data-enabled tablet – CHECK
  • Internet Access – CHECK

Depending on the needs of the employee, additional monitors, keyboard, mouse or a printer should be considered, but is not necessary. The mobile frontier has made notebooks more affordable and smartphones a basic life requirement. Additionally, free wifi can be found almost anywhere in the world. Just be sure to purchase a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect your privacy when you’re using public, less-secure wifi.

Chat and Collab

The ability to collaborate and communicate virtually is paramount when it comes to working remotely. Email platforms, such as Gmail, Microsoft Outlook or Yahoo are still widely used, but meetings have been moving towards interactive chat-related forms of communication that happen in real time. Intra-office messaging apps like Slack or Google Handouts are used to garner smoother, instant digital communication between team members.

The top five chatting apps for companies according to Zapier:

  • Slack (chat-powered workplace)
  • Twist (threaded conversation-centric)
  • Microsoft Teams (discussions about docs and meetings)
  • Google Chat (following up on conversations)
  • Flock (making decisions in chat)

Virtual environments like Google Hangouts, Skype or Zoom have also been used for more face-to-face interactions across the city or the globe. According to Zoom, 47% prefer video conferencing when remote.

Digital Trends ranked the top five video-conferencing apps:

And of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the very important business of file sharing. From personal experience, Dropbox and Google Drive are king and queen of that kingdom. Both are incredibly easy to use and features unending.

Projects Don’t Manage Themselves

Let’s face it, managing and coordinating projects in person can be a challenge if the right digital tools aren’t in place. Today, we have a smorgasbord of project management (PM) software to help alleviate those challenges. The good news? It’s mostly all cloud-based, so projects can be coordinated and managed remotely and uniformly; all you need is wifi. Even better news? With PM software, less meetings are required and in some cases, less micromanagement.

Most cloud-based PM software will often integrate into your existing systems or offer a third-party collaborative option. The best PM tools will allow teams to easily assign tasks and goals, track progress, check off completed tasks and hold each other accountable for timeline milestones.

In our experience, the best PM software is:

We’ve found that is perfect for our internal projects; purely team member-facing activities. It’s easy to use and easy to learn. Our development teams use Basecamp for client-facing interactions. They find it’s easy for non-technical users, and its workflows, comments and feedback are simple to track and comprehend. We’ve also used Trello for internal teams; it’s a powerful collaborative platform that is easy to synthesize in one glance.

It’s shocking to share that PM software user adoption remains low. Per a Wellingtone survey, only 22% of organizations use a PM software. (And shockingly enough, 55% weren’t able to appropriately track their key performance indicators [KPIs].)

Working remotely has become a cinch for many companies because they’ve implemented a powerful project management platform.

We See You, CRMs

Another phenomenal tool that could make or break a remote working environment is the use of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Implementing a stellar CRM will help your team track contact tasks, meetings, follow ups, next steps, contracts, KPIs, incoming and planned revenue. Additionally, they can offer remarkable reporting functions, so business owners can get a snapshot of any data set very quickly and intuitively. We’ve got some thorough experience with CRMs at Shift3, but according to PC Magazine, here are their top CRM picks for 2020:

We’ve found the most robust of the systems to be Salesforce. And for those admins or users who have challenges implementing or managing their Salesforce instance, we have a team of experts for that. Pairing a powerhouse CRM with a solid PM software is a magical combination. In tandem, they can help companies garner more transparency into incoming business, completed business and overall revenue. And the best part, they all live in the cloud so, once again, you just need wifi to stay connected.

Not Remotely Ambivalent About Working Remote

Embarking on the remote digital revolution requires the best technologies available today. These platforms often offer automation features, user-friendly interfaces, and seamless integrations with other tools and software your company already uses. Be sure to check every feature of each new technology you explore; you’ll want to make sure it’s a fit for your budget, workflows, existing systems and business model.

Providing employees with the right remote working tools is essential for a remote working strategy to succeed. Making sure each component above is in place will ensure a kickass remote experience.

Give Us a Ring

Want to hear more about Shift3 Technologies? Whether you have a question about our software solutions or custom development in general, give us a call at 559 560 3300 or email us at [email protected].

This post was written by Celeste A. Barron, Content Development Manager. She spends too much time scrolling through Instagram for unconventional ASMR. 

If you’re interested in uncovering the tech possibilities available to your organization or want to find more ways to increase your ROI with technology, click this link to schedule some time with one of our experts.