Continuing the theme of remote working. Working from home has become a regular part of life for many of us, especially if you run your own small business. There are many adjustments needed, but most changes are made easier if you have the right tools. Here is my take on what's needed for your home office.
A Good Computer with Reliable Internet.
The very basics are a good working computer and a reliable internet connection. Within this there are some variables. A desktop gives you a bigger screen and more raw computing power, but a laptop gives you the option of working on the go. Your regular household Wi-Fi is probably enough for remote working, but you should consider adding as much bandwidth as you can afford. I have chosen a laptop connected to an ultra wide monitor via a USB Hub hardwired to the fastest internet connection available.
Remote working requires some kind of communication tool beyond email to talk to your colleagues and clients. Email gets clunky and hard to manage. Messages pile up on threads. It's especially inconvenient when you have a team of people talking together. A chat platform like Slack or Skype is a much better option. You can talk throughout the day as if you were together at the office. I must admit for my purposes I find messaging from my iPhone and laptop is all I need. Mostly because I can't help thinking a stream of chat would disrupt my day too much.
Another new normal are online meetings. Zoom seems to have become synonymous with the video conferencing software used for virtual meetings. There are however other providers like Microsoft Teams that also you to see all participants and take advantage of other features like screen sharing. Paid or free versions these are must-have solutions that you will need to be comfortable using.
If you're collaborating on projects with other people, you'll need a project management program. If you are part of a bigger organisation you will be told what applications to use. For smaller businesses a freelancer approach may be all you need with collaboration tools like Trello. Again I have to say that I have never progressed farther than combining Evernote, Dropbox and what Microsoft calls 'co-authoring'. The basic message is that you need a secure way to share editable documents and timetables.
Cloud storage allows you to store files in the cloud rather than on a physical device. The advantage is that you can access these files anywhere. It also gives you more storage in addition to what your computer can handle. The simplest and most popular are Google Drive and Dropbox but be careful especially when deleting files. Syncing is great for remote access but it's not the solution for backing up or archiving of files.
Eventually there will be fully functioning cloud computing where the local device is just a terminal to access files stored in remote servers.
If you're going to be taking your work on the road, you may want to consider a stand-alone 'pocket' Wi-Fi device. This is a small device that gives you your own dedicated hotspot. It is a business alternative to using the hotspot capabilities of your mobile phone. It allows you to use Wi-Fi anywhere, you don't have to rely on unsecured public networks and you can control your costs.
Today there is a huge selection of tools and apps that help you stay organised. Working remotely without a boss or office structure can lead to distractions, poor time management which in turn can lead to missed deadlines etc. Tools like online calendars, automated to-do lists, and time trackers can help keep track of your business. Many of these tools come free and are easy to use but you must take the time to learn them, set them up and above all use them.
Hopefully this blog provide some insight into what we offer, provide inspiration for you to build the website you have always wanted and help with developing your business generally.