How to work from home

March 12, 2020

Working from home until 3 month ago was a dream for most, a luxury for some and good work life balance for a few. Now with Covid-19 crashing around the world it has been pushed from a few progressive companies offering an extra perk to a reality for large portions of the world.

What should you use?

There are a number of tools in this area available and we’ll graze the surface of the main players as an example of just what is available and useful. These areas fall into three broad categories:

  • Communication
  • Sharing Content
  • Collaboration

Communication

Communicating effectively is arguably the most important part of working from halfway around the world. There are plenty of tools out there and we have tried a large portion of them, and here are our picks:

Slack

Of all the tools available, Slack is really useful for getting across ideas in a quick and easy way to large groups at one time. It beats email hands down in this regard and should be sitting open in the background if you are project oriented in any way. Talk with entire teams at once or individuals. Share links and documents quickly and effectively. You can try Slack here


Use Slack in your home office

Teamviewer

Teamviewer is another one of these really useful tools. Although it’s used excessively by scammers, it still has huge benefit to all of us that use it for less nefarious purposes. Having the ability to log into another users computer to help them out or have them log into yours to share a demo quickly.

Try Teamviewer while working from home

Skype

I have had a like-hate relationship with Skype since it’s inception. But when it comes to video conferencing it has provided a reasonably consistent experience. We can all argue the merits of some of the decisions they make around who gets updates, who is supported and who misses out but in the end, the majority of us will have an experience that gets the job done. If you need to talk face to face then this is the option that most devices can agree on.

Content Sharing

Dropbox

Dropbox is a way to share content between customers, colleagues and anyone else that needs content that you have. Whether it’s sharing a document, a zip file full of pics or a video clip, the ability to just drag and drop makes sharing a breeze.

After installing Dropbox, you’ll find an extra folder in your File Explorer. Anyone that you connect with will have a folder inside the Dropbox folder. Think of that folder like a tunnel, put a file in there and it’ll pop out at the recipients end. If they change it, you’ll see the changes too. It’s great for sharing but if you want a way to collaborate on documents, keep reading.

Dropbox installed on my computer
All the customers folders updating

Collaboration

Google Drive / Microsoft Office Online

Sharing content is one thing but working collaboratively on a project is another. If it is documents and spreadsheets you need to work on then look no further than the heavy hitters in the industry. Both Google and Microsoft offer robust services in this area, letting you work on a document at the same time as others that have been given access.

Microsoft Office at work
Using Google Drive

Both Google Drive and Microsoft Office Online have worked hard on their respective offerings and they have both shown to be robust in handling multiple users scrambling through a document before a deadline as I can personally attest to.

Git

Git is Awful !!!! …. Git is wonderful !!!!

They are the two phases every new Git user goes through but if you are working on any software projects then learning Git (or other version control system) is an absolute must. Initially a git experience is the same as any other, you follow the tutorial and it all works as stated, you then move into your first project and that’s when things go wrong. Merge conflicts, missing code, rewrites, frustration and a lot of “F”ing and “Jeff”ing are waiting for you halfway through your project. But with a little patience and some googling, you’ll have to tools to tame the beast.

Two of us working in a git repo

Once under control, you’ll be able to pull up your old code, cherry pick code to add, split off entirely new directions and then come back to the master branch without so much as a damp brow. After my pure hatred of git subsided I found myself thinking that a lot of my side projects needed to be in git repos purely to keep my work accessible and have the ability to roll back changes that may have gone poorly.

In Summary

These are some commercially available products in the market place that arguably lead the charge in their respective areas and make huge changes in the way we can work remotely.

Aside from git, these aren’t the products we use any more, but they are all products we’ve relied heavily on in the past. There are reasons for our shift that I’ll share with you in a subsequent post but for now, drop us a line if you want to discuss these more in depth or if you want a followup post to go into one of these in a more useful way.