Advice on remote working - IronTree

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Advice on remote working

As you and your colleagues adjust to working remotely, there’ll be decisions to make on how to keep track of operations and communicate with each other. The first is finding applications to streamline your systems and even help your business to thrive.
Remote working has been gaining popularity for years, and software developers have risen to the challenge of making it easy.

Here are seven areas where apps can make a big difference to your working day, along with popular examples tried and tested by IronTree:

1. For internal collaboration

Microsoft Teams is a comprehensive communication and collaboration platform. It keeps your team conversations, meetings, files and integrated apps such as Microsoft Planner together in one shared workplace.

Slack is another great tool, with plenty of free functionality. Team members have a shared view of everyone’s plans and progress, all communication and tools are in one place, and there’s a live record of what’s been discussed.

$ A free version of MS Teams gives you unlimited chats, audio and video plus limited storage: 10GB of file storage for your team and 2GB of personal storage for each user. You can do a free trial of the full package for up to 6 months, and then decide if you want to continue with a monthly fee per user. Make contact with IronTree to express your interest.
$ Slack offers a basic version free, and two paid subscriptions that have more features and admin control.

2. For live video meetings

Nothing beats a face-to-face meeting for brainstorming, solving a problem and simply connecting. Engaging in a video call gives you assurance that you’re part of a real, live team, and is vital for encouragement while you’re working remotely.

For many years Skype has been the go-to app for video conferencing but Zoom has become popular too. They do the same job and the decision to use either one will be personal. With both tools you can hold video calls and webinars, host meetings, chat and share files. Skype for business is now part of the MicroSoft Office 365 suite.

$ Zoom’s basic free version allows a maximum of 40 minutes and the only other disadvantage is not being able to record your session.
$ Skype’s free version works for a team of up to 20 people. Any bigger than that and you’ll need Microsoft Teams, which includes Skype in the package.

3. For time tracking

Working remotely there are plenty of distractions, and it’s easy to lose productivity. A time tracking tool can help you achieve your daily goals by breaking down your time by tasks, projects and clients. Time tracking also helps with calculating what your time is worth.

Toggl is a simple time tracker with comprehensive reporting that helps you estimate and plan, make budget projections, analyse profitability and calculate client accountability. You can also use it to identify money saving opportunities.

$ The basic version of Toggl is free, as are the first 30 days of the Toggl Premium.

4. For task and project management

A task/project management app is invaluable for team collaboration, holding discussions, posting comments, sharing assignments and keeping up to date with tasks and projects.

Trello gives your team a clear overview of where each task/project is at. When you click into a task/project all the information relating to it is live and visible to each team member. The stages of communication, shared links, uploaded media and time-line are all there.

$ Trello Business and Trello Enterprise is paid for, the basic version is free.

Asana is an equally effective project management tool that offers slightly more workflow functionality than Trello, but essentially does the same job. Taking a trial in each before deciding is the best way to decide which app you prefer.

$ Asana is free for up to 15 people. You can trial the premium and business versions.

MicroSoft planner does the same job as Trello and Asana, and is the obvious choice if you already, or intend to, use Microsoft Teams because it’s designed to integrate with it.

5. For marketing automation

Marketing automation software has made it easy for you to reach out to your customer base and your leads.

HubSpot provides CRM and marketing tools to personalise your social media marketing, make the most of search engine optimisation, optimise conversion rate and measure traffic to your posts and website.

SharpSpring is another cost-effective solution that caters for the technology functions of a modern business. You can send emails, track responses, gather information in the advanced CRM and manage campaigns through its interface. Make contact with Headalight to find out more: fire@headalight.com

$ Hubspot CRM is free for unlimited users and a million contacts. There are three options for Hubspot Marketing, paid for monthly.
$ SharpSpring’s packages, which are offered by Headalight, offer you everything at a set monthly price. No tiers, no hoops. Everything at one price.

6. For webinar hosting

Unlike meetings, where those attending are expected to interact to-and-fro, webinars tend to be one-sided platforms for promoting or informing a large audience. Webinar apps have the functionality for attendees to communicate with the host, but largely it’s the host and co-host who are in control.

Zoom and GoToWebinar are both highly popular webinar apps that allow you to engage face to face, and promote what you have in a personal, lasting way. Both enable you to share content on your screen and stream live via social media. It’s possible to trial both apps.

$ Zoom is free for up to 100 participants for 40 minutes per group; 1 to 1 meetings are unlimited. Pro, Business and Enterprise versions are paid for monthly.
$ GoToWebinar offers a free trial for its four versions, all paid for monthly.

7. For quick business communication

WhatsApp Business is a professional version of the popular smartphone app that has its own dedicated business convenience functionality. It can showcase your product/service catalogue and give you quick communication with your customers on orders and delivery, provide support, and send automated notifications.

$ WhatsApp Business is free to download, and suitable for small businesses.

The IronTree staff are each self-isolating at home, but the team is fully operational, using all or most of these tools. Give us a shout here if you need assistance with your remote working setup.

Reach out to us if you have any questions.

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We are taking all necessary precautions around the COVID-19 situation. Our offices are closed and our team members have each been set up to work remotely in self-isolation at home. As far as possible IronTree will maintain business as usual. All our resources such as server platforms, transactional capacity, telephony and electronic communications, including video meeting facilities, have been configured in the cloud and are 100% operational. Please feel free to contact us if you require our assistance. Stay safe!
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