At the Future Assistant Conference I was talking to an Assistant who did not work in the same office as any of her Executives. Not a single one. I was a bit flabbergasted to be honest. Why? Because, she wasn’t a Virtual Assistant. She had been hired by the organisation to work with an Executive in the London office, who, after a few years was transferred to another office in Paris. She didn’t want to go and he would commute back to London pretty frequently, so she stayed put and supported him remotely. She became so good at supporting her Executive remotely that she got a reputation for this skill and was asked to then support another Executive in Hong Kong and a further one in Athens. So there you go, three Executives, none of whom are in the same office as her. Tricky, huh? The thing is, she said, she had met quite a few other Assistants who support Executives they very rarely sat, physically in a room with. The times they are a changing folks and technology is making it much, much easier for people to work remotely and for Assistant’s to support their needs from afar. So, today I thought I’d write about some top technology tools for working remotely. Here is my top ten.
Slack is an instant messenger service that allows teams to communicate with each other over a number of platforms (website, phone, tablet etc.) It is a great addition to email (not alternative) in that it can be used to send quick messages and updates to colleagues, Executives and other members of your team. It integrates with lots of other platforms, including social media, marketing, productivity, CRMs and many others. Users can easily search their archives to find past messages and the app can be downloaded onto your phone and tablet. This is a great way for assistants to keep in touch with their Executives while working remotely and it can be a great way to communicate when working on a team project.
Scanbot is a great app for scanning and sending documents, which you will be doing a lot if you support remote workers.
3. Google Apps for Work
Google Apps for Work is the go to application for most remote teams these days. The ability to collaborate in real time on documents is super handy and of course everything is easy to use and backed up on Google Drive, which is basically available everywhere.
Doodle is a website and an app that takes the pain out of finding the right date and time for a group of people to meet. It radically simplifies the process of scheduling events by using a voting process. Whether you want to arrange board or team meetings, dinners with friends, reunions, weekend trips or any other kind event, finding the perfect time is easy. All you have to do is send your colleagues a link to Doodle and ask them to select the dates and times they are available. You can then choose the date most popular with your attendees
Join.me is a really simple video and audio conferencing platform. It has features for individuals, teams and businesses. For video conferencing Join.me is set up with video bubbles – simple, light, floating visual images of you and the people you are meeting. Users can view live video bubbles of one another during video-only meetings or while simultaneously sharing their screens with each other. Screen sharing can also be swapped between presenters on the same call. With all of the extensive features join.me is a brilliant alternative to other audio and video conferencing platforms. It is great for assistants because the software does not need to be downloaded, so if your organisation is a little strict about IT systems and downloading external programme you can still use join.me to make conference calls
6. Figureitout Chrome Extension
Figureitout Chrome Extension is a really simple and beautiful tool that displays up to ten different time zones in your ‘new tab’ screen on Chrome. It makes it really easy to visually see all the different times your team or Executive’s are working in and helps when arranging meetings or just generally trying to catch up.
Trello is a very visual online ‘to do list’. It is an easy, free, flexible, and visual way to manage your projects and organize anything. Trello prides itself on its simplicity. It is an online tool that allows user to organise every aspect of their lives. Users create boards for each project. Each board can be filled with ‘cards’ which can then be shared with others. Users can add comments, upload file attachments, create checklists, add labels and due dates to each card. You can add colleagues, friends and family to view each board. Trello’s notification system will let you know as soon as a task is over due or someone adds a detail to your board. Trello is free to use and there are additional extras such as Trello for Business
iDoneThis is a really easy system that allows remote teams to check in and see what progress has been made on tasks and what everyone else in the team is up to.
Dropbox is the classic cloud storage system for remote workers. It can be downloaded onto a laptop or Mac. It has an app you can download to your phone or tablet and you can access your files online. Basically, there is no getting away from Dropbox if you are on the road! They also have Paper, which works in a similar way to Google Docs, allowing for collaborating on documents in real time.
10. Chimp or Champ
Again, Chimp or Champ is designed for remote teams. This tool allows teams to provide quick feedback on how things are going, their general well being and engagement. Basically, it is like a cool version of a feedback form.
So that’s my top technology tools for working remotely, I hope you find some of them useful. And, if you do support remote workers. Well done to you, it is an absolute art!