How to work from home

This post differs from those which you can normally find on my blog, because it is not about process management. We are now in a very exceptional period and people and companies all around the world are doing their best to help others. I also want to do what I can from my part.

Since many people had to start working from home I thought it may be useful if I share some tools that I use with success for some time. Some of those tools help me in my work as a consultant at BOC Group, others are very useful for remote work with a team of volunteers in an NGO and the rest help me run this blog.

1. Tools for coordinating the work

It is very difficult to coordinate work on a basis of e-mails only if you do not have face to face contact with others. Of course in a perfect world you would be using some cool BPMS/workflow applications coordinating your processes, apps built using low code solutions which would allow you to work from anywhere or bots doing most of the work for you, but most likely your organization is not there yet and you need something fast.

A) Slack
Slack is an awesome tool which allows you to share messages and files with your team members in a context of channels or threads. This way you can have a quick overview of what is going on and finish projects without hundreds of e-mails. You can also have voice or video calls from Slack.

NGO where I am involved uses free tier of Slack which has a limit of 10 000 messages, so I can confirm that it works perfectly for small to mid-size team and if your team is bigger commercial plans should also work for you.

B) MS Teams
Teams offers very similar functionalities to Slack. You can share messages, files, have voice or video calls. It was available as a freemium for some time already, but in recent days Microsoft kindly increased support for users of free version. You can use Teams at work or at the university for remote classes (there is a special free plan for education).

2. Tools for planning the work

If you need to change the way you work it is a good idea to plan it in such a way that others can see what needs to be done and easily post updates. There are many tools for task and project management, but below you can find my favorites.

C) Trello
This is a brilliant tool for managing tasks and projects, which I use daily. It uses kanban approach and organizes your tasks as cards which can be extended with lots of additional details (responsible people, due dates, links, checklists and many more) and placed on boards to provide better visibility of the status.

Trello is only one of several great tools offered by Atlassian. So if you need something for a small team (up to 10 people) to collaborate with others on documents (Confluence) or track issues or projects (Jira) check their free offer: https://www.atlassian.com/software/free

D) Asana
Asana is also a great tool for managing tasks and projects. It has lots of cool features and I was their happy user for years.

3. Tools for video meetings with others

Sometimes you need to have a meeting with people outside your organization and show them something. If you need something more reliable than Skype, here are my suggestions.

E) GoToMeeting
Whenever I need to make an online session with a customer GoToMeeting is my first choice. I am normally using commercial version, but the free one should be sufficient for a start. GTM is rock-solid and very easy to use.

F) Zoom
When I was doing video interviews for BPM Tips online summit few years ago I used Zoom very often and this was a great choice. It allows you to run small webinars too (up to 100 participants and 40 minutes) apart from unlimited 1 on 1 meetings on a free plan. Zoom also has a very useful feature of switching backgrounds if you do not want to show your messy room 😉

4. Tools for screen recording

If your job, like mine, requires explaining something to others probably you do not enjoy writing long instructions nobody reads. But there is a better way: very often one short video can save you hours of back and forth communication.

G) Loom
For years I was using desktop application for screen recordings and then uploaded the recordings, so that people could watch them. It was slow and cumbersome. With Loom it literally takes seconds from finishing videos to sharing it. You can also cut unnecessary parts or even use animated GIF as a video preview.

5. Tools for measuring time

One of the difficult aspects of working from home is knowing how to divide time between work and other tasks. If you want to make sure you know how much time do you spend on work and how long did you need to finish given tasks time trackers come to the rescue.

H) Toggl
There are lots of various time trackers on the market, but my favorite one is Toggl. It is super easy to use and you can integrate it with many other applications.

Hope some of those tools will help you stay productive and safe during this time! If you have any ideas of what could be helpful for you from my side let me know in comments or via e-mail!

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