Technology Hacks for Working From Home

by Katalyst International contributor Jessica Olivo

In a recent post, we discussed tips for streamlining and augmenting your work-from-home experience. Additionally, there are many technological tools to make your home office just as functional as your actual office. By taking advantage of the software and websites available to you, you can stay fully connected to your employees, teammates, and clients.

Remote Desktop
Oftentimes, you will find that there are files or programs on the computer in your work office that you need to access from home. Remote desktop software provides you with access to one computer while using another computer. These programs allow you to view files that are not stored in the cloud as well as transfer files between two computers. From your home, you can  control the mouse and keyboard on your work computer while viewing the screen remotely. 

There are several scenarios where a remote desktop comes in handy. It may just be that you need to access files on your work computer while you’re out of the office, as mentioned above. However, remote desktop software also allows you to provide or receive technical support from someone who is not able to access your computer in person. 

Similarly, if you are unable to meet with clients in person, you can log in to your customer's computer to demonstrate your service or product remotely. There are also special features available to enhance your remote experience including white boards, clip boards, and chat functions. Different programs offer varying levels of security for home and business use to ensure your computers won’t be compromised.

Cloud storage
If you regularly fill up the storage space on your smartphone, then saving files and media to the cloud is likely second nature for you already. You can take advantage of similar cloud storage options for your business as well. There are many different options to choose from depending on the size and needs of your company, but they all offer an easy-to-use alternative to on-site storage.

Because your information is not stored on your work computers or servers, cloud storage provides you with the ability to retrieve files from anywhere in the world. By saving work files to the cloud, you can safely keep your information saved online so that they can be accessed anywhere and at any time. Whether you are traveling for business or working from home, you can retrieve presentations, documents, invoices, or anything else you may need.

Cloud storage also allows you to share documents securely with coworkers for fast and easy collaboration. Rather than spending time emailing items back and forth, you can save and update your work in real time, ensuring that everyone is always working on the most up-to-date version of your file. 

Finally, cloud storage can also serve as an automated backup for your work. Being that it is far less costly than buying and maintaining hardware and servers on site, a good cloud storage program will save you money in the long run, as well as eliminate the frustration of not being able to access your files when you can’t get to your office.  

Real Time Communication
For many years, if you wanted to communicate in real time your only option would be to pick up the phone and call someone. While this remains one of the fastest and easiest ways to communicate, phone calls don't leave an automatic transcript of the conversation or the points discussed. You can’t share files over the phone and involving more than two people can be problematic. Teleconferencing may work well for one speaker talking to a group, but if many people are talking at the same time, it can quickly become confusing.

In general, any communication done instantaneously is considered to be in “real time.”  Many companies use messenger services to link employees together, but more and more are taking advantage of applications like Slack, which offer a multi-faceted way to communicate in real time. With Slack, you can share files, communicate with individual or multiple people at once through direct messages, and create channels to share and save information among discrete groups. Unlike email, Slack channels allow for real time communication and file sharing as well as a wide range of access and privacy.  

Video Conferencing and Telepresence
Video conferencing tools such as SkypeMicrosoft TeamsGotomeeting, and Zoom are currently having a surge of activity, providing coworkers, clients, and even friends and family to come together across great distances. Many platforms offer chats, white boards, and screen sharing as well virtual backgrounds. Video conferencing is a great alternative to teleconferences in that facial cues and body language can be used to eliminate speaking over each other. If all else fails, the conference host can mute the other participants.

The idea of telepresence takes video conferencing and real time communication to the next level. Telepresence makes the user feel like they are actually in the room where the conversation is happening. The field includes a variety of different options from robotics to moving cameras, each providing the user with a broad view point that lets them look around the room and see everyone who is present. Telepresence may also encompass virtual or augmented reality and is still being developed and enhanced for wide use. 

There are many ways that you can take advantage of technology to get the most out of working remotely. Whether you are separated from your office by choice or due to unforeseen circumstances, your business will benefit by employees still feeling connected in a fast and easily accessible way.