We are entering week-whatever-it-is of the COVID-19 work from home phenomenon. We know at some point, we’ll be able to go back to the office or visit with our loved ones, but for now, here’s how technology can help you work smarter and see those beautiful faces of your families and friends.
Real-Time Communication Apps
Meetings and emails are considered to be among the biggest productivity killers in the workplace. Instant messaging platforms like Slack can save you time and money. Hailed by Inc. magazine as their 2015 Company of the Year, Slack is the answer to All. Those. Emails. Send your team members instant messages, share files, assign tasks and show off your wicked sense of humor by sending your favorite memes to your co-workers while reducing the email in your inbox and putting an end to death by meetings. It will also integrate with many of your other systems like Google Docs and Dropbox.
Microsoft Teams, available through Office365 subscriptions, is also a great option for video chats, group and private messaging. The app works on Apple iOS, Android and Windows operating systems and can be downloaded across devices with your subscription. Easy features like a single click to go from a team chat to a video conference and high participant capacity make Teams a great option.
You’ve probably heard a lot about Zoom, a video chat application that was recently in the news for its ability to be hacked. The company has made cybersecurity a priority and has put measures in place to tighten up security. The professional version costs around $15 per month, which gives you access to longer, larger meetings.
Skype, owned by Microsoft, offers video chats for enterprise and is available as an add on to your Office365 subscription for around $12 a month. Google Hangouts is free within the U.S. and can support up to 25 participants, and like Teams, can be used across Android, iOS and the web.
Keeping track of tasks and projects can be tough when working remotely. Depending on the size of your team and your needs, and your appetite for complexity, options abound.
Asana offers a free version that works for task managing smaller teams, and for a price, can provide more substantive project management features.
Trello is a virtual bulletin board with cool task list assignment features and is one of the simpler of these apps.
Basecamp is an affordable option at around $99 per year with unlimited users, and is great for task management, file sharing, and messaging. And for data geeks, has some reporting features and a universal search function to help find that file you remember seeing somewhere.
Securing your Technology
All of this is great fun and can really boost productivity, but what about security? Since this is our favorite subject, here are our top three tips:
- Strong passwords. Change them regularly and don’t use the same one for every app.
- Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date. We like Trend Micro, but there are other good ones out there.
- Email safety – have a strict policy on how to handle suspicious messages. Don’t click on links that seem dicey to you and have your company email encrypted.
- Have your network monitored by IT professionals and perform regular computer maintenance to look for malware.
As an essential service, information technology specialists are here for you during these trying times. To give you some reassurance, check in with a pro to make sure your networks are safe and your computer is up to the challenge with regular maintenance. You’ll be glad you did.
DeBug Computer has been serving the community for nearly 20 years. With two locations in Carson City and Minden, DeBug provides IT support and consulting services to home users, and dental, medical and business offices.