COVID-19: Building a First Class Remote Work Environment – Part 2/6

In the Part One of this six-part series we learned about the technology, hardware, tools, and communication infrastructure necessary to build your own first class Remote Work Environment (RWE). 

Here’s some stats I found just this morning:

  • 53% of remote workers reported that they were likely to work overtime compared to just 23% of in-office workers.
  • Workers with long daily commutes have a 40% higher divorce rate than those with shorter commutes and/or with access to a RWE.

In this Part Two discussion you will learn about the best workflow, teaming, and virtual collaboration tools available to operate more efficiently and productively in your new RWE.  Virtual collaboration and teaming tools are the lifeblood of a successful RWE. These tools are designed to foster communication amongst team members smoothly and seamlessly.  And it does not stop at the chat screen; these technologies have now moved onto the videoconferencing platform. 

Being able to communicate and collaborate in a RWE is absolutely critical to a firm’s success.  If you are not communicating and collaborating on a regular basis with your team you are out of the loop. You will become demoralized and ultimately fail in your job.  In fact, Digital Leadership is now as important as traditional leadership in the board room. 

Retired Army Four-Star General Stanley McChrystal was in charge of the War on Terror after 9/11 and was responsible for military operations at 67 military bases spread across 16 countries.  With the primary mission set being defeating AQI (Al Qaeda-Iraq), he was forced to change the way our military communicated, coordinated, and conducted missions in a decentralized battlefield.  He did this by rolling out a new concept of communicating with his staff level troops via daily videoconferencing.  Never a day and call was missed.  Concepts of operations (CONOPS) complete with maps, analysis, and other visuals were shared over high-bandwidth, encrypted video-conferencing technology.  McChrystal credits this team video-conferencing initiative with maintaining a high level of morale and tactical coordination with his troops on the ground as one of the critical success factors in defeating AQI.  This same technology is now commercially available to you and your teams.

There are a multitude of options, but I will address three of which are now mainstream and gaining the most traction.  I use these on a daily basis to communicate with both my professional and personal network. 

Communication and Collaboration tools can be broken down into three distinct groups: Chat Apps, Video Apps, and File Sharing Apps.  Let’s take a look under the hood:

Best Chat Apps:

  • Slack:  Slack is more than a tool for chatting.  It’s almost a religion.  Slack is a messaging platform that straddles the line between email and instant messaging and makes sending memos and sharing ideas so easy that companies using it see their email traffic drop dramatically.  I have seen a 50% drop in our internal email traffic as well.  I also like Slack because it not only encourages real-time communication amongst the team members, but creates an environment where one can create permission for others to bring up issues that would not ordinarily come up in formal meetings.  It’s also a very timely and efficient way for new staff to ask informal help from others.  At the same time, you can set a “turn off notifications” option that will allow you to work undisturbed, if required.  I love this app.

                Some Slack alternatives include:  Glip, Twist, Fleep, Flock, and Ryver.  Trust me, Slack is the best.

Best Video Conferencing:

  • Zoom Video:  Another one of my favorites for workforce engagement.  Skype is good, but Zoom is great.  Zoom is not only very easy to use, but it is excellent for doing group video chats and sharing documents in real-time during the video call.  It is designed for large interactive video conferences numbering in the 100s.  The free version of this app limits you to 40 minutes per video call with a maximum of 100 participants.  You can also upgrade for a monthly fee of $14.99.
  • WebEx:  A traditional Cisco-based video conference.  Webex is the used Buick that sits in the garage. Zoom is the Cadillac you drive with the top down on a Sunday afternoon.
  • Skype For Business:  This is an enterprise version of the original Skype and is available (with MS Teams described below) as part of the MS Office 365 Premium Bundle which costs $12.95 per month.
  • YouTube Live:  If you want to quickly produce and scale a training video globally to an indiscreet public audience, YouTube is a great option. 

Best File Sharing:

  • Dropbox:  No need to explain Dropbox.  It is the gold standard web-based storage platform.  It just doesn’t have the variety of functionality and ease as the Google Suite.
  • Google Suite/Drive: Utilizing the full suite of Google offerings is a must.  I love the document-sharing Google Docs.  It is password-protected and has a desktop and smartphone app. All my people share docs using this app. They have a wide variety of video conferencing, chat, and productivity apps that can increase your efficiencies. 

In soon to follow, Part Three, I will be reviewing productivity and project management tools and software to add to your RWE.  These include the super-charged Microsoft Teams in association with Office 365.  You won’t want to miss this next installment.

$1,000 Referral Reward for Helping Your Friends Get a Great Job Like Yours!