Previously in our Collaboration Drives Innovation series, we asked our staff to share their advice about working from home. Since many professionals now find themselves continuing to conduct business virtually for longer than they may have originally planned, we thought we’d expand on this topic by sharing some of our favorite tools for getting the most out of our remote workday.
Devin Trezise | Project Finance Coordinator
I’ve had some personal success using Trello on a recommendation from a former colleague. It’s an organizational app.
Things I like about Trello:
- The basic version is free!
- It’s easy to use on a laptop or smart phone.
- I enjoy the customizable options (backgrounds for different workboards, “power ups” like calendars, colored labels for different projects or categories of work, attaching pictures or email screenshots to tasks, etc.)
- It’s nice to be able to create checklists to tick off, and very satisfying to move things into my “done” list
- Consolidating individual assignments broken out by project and task is a great way to keep myself organized and not forget about details buried in emails.
Jane Kramer | IT Product Manager
In my work as a product manager, with multiple projects and multiple IT products on each, there are a lot of variables and details flying around. Below are two tools that help me corral the particulars. The first is an old favorite I personally can’t live without and the second is a new addition to the virtual collaboration toolbox.
- Microsoft OneNote: If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist. And even if it somehow does exist, I need to write out project details, ideas, thoughts, and plans to help the deliverables take shape and fall into line. I use OneNote as a one-stop shop for my daily to-do list, meeting notes, feature planning, and anything else I can possibly write down. It’s also where I keep random things like Shruggie: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ who I can never recreate with my keyboard, but love to paste into IMs. I love the free-form nature of OneNote (just put your cursor on the page and start typing!), the color coding I can do with notebook sections, and the ability to access my notebooks across time and space (aka across devices, wherever I am).
- Microsoft Teams: This one is new for us, and we’re in the early adoption phase — but so far the individual and group messaging capabilities are winning my heart. I love being able to easily and quickly search IM history (across Teams) for details I didn’t write down at the time (ooof, see above) and the way the IMs and group (aka team) conversations are always close by in the app, which is never really closed on my machine. Meetings in Teams seem easier than in other cloud platforms, call quality has been great, and we’re slowly adopting other promising features (like a Team wiki). I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but I feel like collaboration is somehow just that much easier and cleaner in Teams, and the dancing turkey emoji really seals the deal.
Jenn Fortnash | Digital Marketing Coordinator
One of the most crucial things about working remotely is having an efficient system for collaborating on projects as a team. This is something I’ve learned firsthand in my role tracking many moving digital marketing pieces as they work their way through different hands and stages from start to finish. How do you communicate a clear project pipeline and manage all the various components when your clients, partners, and internal team are located all over the country? We use Asana to help keep everyone on the same page for our more complex marketing projects.
Asana is a great team-based productivity tool because you can easily map out, organize, and review all the details of a project in one place. It enables everyone involved in a project to stay informed on who owns each task, the status of deliverables, and timeline expectations. Each task includes its own comments section where you can share files and tag teammates to bring them into the conversation for their input. Asana makes it simple to review progress and monitor results, taking most of the effort out of wrangling updates so your team can fully focus on the tasks at hand. Not only does productivity increase when your team is aligned, but critical decisions can be made more quickly. During a time where things are constantly changing, this is of utmost importance.
What other tools or programs do you use to maximize productivity while working from home? Please share them with us!