The spread of the corona virus (COVID-19) and the consequent lockdown declared by the government means that most of us at KH Homes have had to adapt to new working habits both as a company and as individuals. For the most part, we’ve all had to make changes to accommodate remote working (aka working from home) and make the most of the tools we have available.
A major downside to remote working, is having to work in relative isolation, away from colleagues with little or no interaction/collaboration with members of your team. This can be quite difficult, especially in a business that requires lots of interaction with colleagues and suppliers to ensure things run smoothly for our guests.
In this blog, we list, in no particular order, the collaborative tools that have become part of the new normal for us at KH Homes – tools that ensure we continue to work efficiently and productively. We’ve even included some tools used outside work.
If you’ve ever thought about getting an online project management software that’s easy to use and absolutely free, chances are you would have come across Trello. The platform has allowed us to organise our different teams, easily set up “to-do” lists, assign tasks to colleagues and manage projects – obviously! The fact that Trello can be accessed via the Web or mobile app, means you are able to view what everyone is working on whilst staying on top of tasks assigned to you. I guess, the huge task board on the wall will no longer be needed when we go back to the office.
Why not give Trello a try – Click here.
Working remotely makes searching, filing and keeping track of documents a bit difficult – especially during a lockdown when you can’t get to the office easily and don’t have access to a filing cabinet. Using SharePoint – a document storage and management system – you have full access to all your important documents with only a few mouse clicks. SharePoint also integrates conveniently with Microsoft Office, meaning you can simply update documents online and keep track of changes and revisions. At an affordable price of as little as £3.80 per month, you can acquire SharePoint as part of the Office 365 Business Essentials (Microsoft 365 Business Basic).
Microsoft’s answer to Google Drive, OneDrive is a cloud storage service that is available for free to all owners of a Microsoft account. It is basically, a zero cost and simple way for users to store up to 15GB worth of different types of files (photos, videos and documents), sync them with other devices, share them with others and even collaborate on open documents in real time with other people. Don’t know how to use OneDrive? Check out the training videos.
Skype is a telecommunications application that provides internet video chat, voice calls and instant messaging functionality across multiple devices – computers, tablets, mobile phones, games consoles and even smartwatches. Skype is free to use and download for anyone with an email account. Calls between Skype accounts are free of charge anywhere in the world. Skype was our go -to tool before we discovered Microsoft Teams.
Ever wondered what Facebook for the workplace would look like? Look no further than Yammer. Yammer is a social networking service designed with workplace communication in mind. The main purpose of the service is to help employees within the same organisation communicate and connect across the company. It can be quite useful in companies with a large workforce, ensuring internal communication reaches a large audience. To use Yammer, you’ll need an Office 365 licence, but you can always check out the interactive demo to get the hang of it.
Slack is actually a great collaborative tool that’s available on both mobile and desktop devices. It allows users to send direct messages as well as files to single or multiple employees within an organisation. The tool is quite smart and even offers users the ability to organise conversations into different topics or groups. The messages are indexed and searchable, meaning nothing ever gets lost or completely forgotten. It also supports video calling, which can be quite handy, and is compatible with a number of cloud storage services. Best of all, there’s a free version available.
Capsule is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that allows businesses to keep track of and manage business relationships between them and their clients. Using Capsule, we’ve been able to capture, organise and analyse leads, track our communication with clients (including customer enquiries and even invoices), allocate client related tasks to members of the team, manage our sales pipeline – from lead generation to client conversion. Capsule is a great tool that integrates with a host of other applications – including Mailchimp, Xero, Outlook and Google Apps. The tool can be easily scaled to accommodate businesses with a client base ranging from as little as 250 to 100,000. The free version has a two user limit, allows for storage of up to 250 contacts and is available on the web or as a mobile application.
In our opinion, Vonage is one of the best Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers available. You don’t need a landline to use Vonage, all you need is a high-speed internet service from any service provider and an existing phone number and you’re good to go. Not only does Vonage provide an excellent, crystal clear phone service the business plans offer businesses unlimited calling to UK landlines, mobile and up to 60 countries. The best part is the mobile app that allows you take your landline anywhere you go. Using the Vonage mobile app, we haven’t missed a single business call since the start of the lockdown.
Seeing that nearly everyone is basically stuck at home during this lockdown, most of us would have been forced to become familiar with (or at least heard of) Google Classroom. This free web service from Google has helped most students, teachers and parents maintain a certain level of engagement with school work during this somewhat stressful period. Students can attend virtual classes, teachers can set assignments and parents have visibility of what their children are doing. If you are not familiar with Google Classroom, click here to find out more or watch the tutorial.
Google Drive is more than just a cloud storage and sync service - it comes with a range of online office applications – word processing, spreadsheet and presentation – that are comparable Microsoft Office applications. Google Drive also allows users to import, export or edit Microsoft Office files and work collaboratively on the files with colleagues in real time. Google Drive (along with the online office applications) is part of Google’s GSuite and is absolutely free to use for individuals – all that is required is a Gmail account. Businesses can always sign up for Drive Enterprise which comes with all the application available in GSuite including shared drives, enterprise level security and integration with a range of third-party tools. Try it for free and let us know what you think.
Officially, Teams is described as a unified communication and collaboration platform that combines persistent workplace chat, video meetings, file storage (including collaboration on files), and application integration. We simply call it one of the best tools ever created by Microsoft. It’s like having Skype, Zoom, SharePoint and Classroom all in one place. Teams is quite secure and is included in Microsoft’s Business 365 packages. Since the lockdown, we’ve been able to stay in touch regularly using Teams – chat, voice calls, video calls and even document sharing – we’ve done it all using Teams. Like every great tool, there’s even a Teams mobile app.
So there you have it, our list of tools that we’ve used both in and outside work, during this lockdown. Bet you’re wondering why a Serviced Accommodation provider needs all these tools to work remotely – check out the sort of service we offer and our collection of apartments and you’ll understand why.
From all of us at KH Homes, remember, stay at home, stay safe, maintain social distancing and support our NHS.