Five software services to help keep your practice running through the COVID-19 pandemic
As the number of businesses working from home accelerates, workplace software has never been more important. Meetings are being cancelled and face-to-face interactions diminished. How do you ensure that productivity continues in your practice during this enforced period of change?
Whilst grappling with modern technology might seem like a further challenge to overcome, investing a little time in these solutions can actually result in colleagues working faster and smarter in collaboration with each other, ultimately achieving real efficiencies.
Here are five services to keep your practice running through COVID-19.
1.Video conferencing and meeting services
Perhaps most important is the need to create virtual connection, since this limits physical contact between people. Fostering a place where employees can gather, see a friendly face and conduct meetings online will ensure that workload does not stall and, on a humane level, keeps everyone sane. There are many free platforms available that facilitate face-to-face meetings and sharing of Powerpoint presentations or screen sharing with as many as 100 attendees. Some software providers are going as far as to offer free trials and remove time limits on meetings during the coronavirus outbreak to do their bit to keep the world economy moving. In order to ensure the best user experience, headphones with a microphone should be used and a strong internet connection is key to guarantee a great picture quality. Once you have mastered internal meetings with your colleagues it may even be time to start arranging online meetings with your clients!
Digital file management (if not already in place) is essential for the smooth operation of any firm. Whilst employees will be geographically dispersed it is essential that everyone can work smarter by securely sharing files, with only one version in existence, to ensure seamless collaboration in real-time. This will also ensure your documents are backed up and protected should any accidents happen to prevent lost work.
3.Collaboration and real-time communication
It might be that a collaboration tool is required so that everyone is empowered to speak to the right person with ease. Now, more than ever, colleagues will be working in smaller sub-teams and are required to work closely together to deliver on pieces of work. Enabling direct messaging means that deadlines, task management and support can all be provided with ease delivering clear and easy to understand communications immediately. Many solutions now offer the ability to organise conversations into different groups or channels according to specific projects or workload, sharing files with ease. Keeping teams informed and ensuring all lines of communications are open and easily accessible allows team members to post messages and contribute to conversations as well as catch up on anything they might have missed.
4.Team monitoring and management
If you’re not used to working from home, the transition for a team leader or manager, in particular, might be a hard adjustment. How do you ensure that team members are engaged and contributing? Whilst most firms will have timesheets in place, this does not monitor how your colleagues are feeling and whether they might be struggling with the new arrangements that have been implemented at speed. This also might not be an easy conversation to have over the phone so tools that allow you to survey your team (on an anonymous basis if required) on their engagement and how they feel about their work might serve to bridge the gap and identify areas where the team is thriving and where it requires work. There are even tools that can monitor how active your team are by tracking keyboard, mouse, app and other usage metrics. These tools can be used to keep your team motivated and bring your attention to someone that might be struggling.
5.Visual and planning tools
If you usually operate several planning meetings and like brainstorming ideas, discussing workload and clients with your team then visual software might help to boost productivity. Using an application to brainstorm, mind-map and plan with others in real-time on a shareable digital canvas will capture the attention of your team and foster interaction (which is difficult when in isolation!).
Suggestions – Sketchboard