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Working flexibly - the remote working technology you need

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Working flexibly is today’s norm. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced millions of people around the globe to work from home. And, without the combination of today’s remote working technology and widely available wi-fi, mobile and broadband networks - this would not have been possible.

The Working from Home During Covid-19 Lockdown Project' highlights how working from home has been adopted at least some of the time by 89% of businesses.

So, how do you work flexibly, and do it well? Read on for a closer look at the four essentials in flexible working tech.

1. Live, cloud-based documents

Essentially the backbone of working flexibly, cloud functionality boosts remote productivity by allowing you to work across projects with colleagues and clients online, all at the same time. This is ideal when your team is working across multiple locations. You also avoid the super-annoying hassle of downloading and uploading different versions of files.

But, while the cloud is a fantastic tool, it’s also important to ensure that your business’ remote access is secure so that confidential files, customer lists and presentations don’t end up in the wrong hands.

What do you need? A stable internet connection with enough data to work on the files you need.

Which cloud: Companies like Google and Microsoft offer Google Cloud and Microsoft OneDrive for Business or Azure. The most important decision-making factor when it comes to cloud providers is considering whether you’ll use a public, private or hybrid cloud. Check out our cloud breakdown here.

Why it works: The cloud is more than just a convenient home for your files – it enables effective, efficient dynamic collaboration.

2. Video conferencing

The office was once an essential physical place for work and meetings. That has certainly changed. With advanced video conferencing and online meetings, the need for these physical spaces almost disappears.

What do you need? The four minimum tech requirements you need for video conferencing software to work reliably include:

  • A webcam capable of producing high-quality video
  • A decent microphone and speaker system (to ensure audio is clear)
  • A computer or device with enough RAM to process live video
  • A fast network connection with decent bandwidth (one that will support the video resolution you desire, but in a professional context, more can only be better)

And don’t forget about the number of participants who will be joining your video calls – more participants = more bandwidth.

Choosing platforms: If you’re a sole trader, you could make do with Apple’s FaceTime, but with a specialist conferencing platform, you get access to a suite of extra features and benefits around important areas like digital security. Learn more about innovative products like the popular Zoom, Cisco Webex, Skype for Business or Google Business Hangouts.

Why it works: With the right equipment, video conferencing should be a flawless and effective form of flexible working tech. It lets you host meetings that otherwise wouldn’t be possible when you are restricted from accessing your regular office.

3. Project management tools

While your colleagues might not be able to hand you meeting notes, or pop their head into your office to ask a quick question while you’re working flexibly, there are now an array of digital project management applications available to help you collaborate productively and efficiently.

What do you need? Reliable internet with bandwidth capable of uploading and downloading large files.

Choosing platforms: Trello, owned by Australian tech success story, Atlassian, is a hugely popular project management tool in Australia these days. This seems to be mainly for its flexibility, ease of use and famed ‘kanban’ functionality. But there are other players like Airtable, Asana and Wrike that are definitely worth a look.

Why it works: Project management platforms are powerful and useful for managing a project throughout its lifecycle. They also promote higher visibility and make sharing and collaborating on documents and worklists so much easier with colleagues, clients and anyone else you need to work with.

4. The latest productivity apps

There is a world of apps designed to make specific tasks simpler, faster and more easily trackable. The needs, challenges and problems that your business faces will be unique but you can almost bet there will be a host of apps that are perfect for solving most of them.

What do you need? The equipment you need will depend on the app you’ve downloaded but as a minimum you’ll need the correct device and a decent internet connection to make the most of all the available features.

Which apps: Depending on your business needs, there will be almost an infinite number of app options for you. However, there are definitely some must-haves we recommend for all businesses across two key productivity attributes, including:

  • Great time management
    This is essential for ensuring that the time taken to perform a particular task impacts profitability positively. Atlassian’s Harvest enables you to track your team’s time (against expenses) and offers a handy reporting function that allows you to make sure projects are delivered within scope. It also offers a number of additional integrations with other apps.

    Then there’s the old favourite Slack, which straddles a line between emails and instant messaging. It helps to keep only the important conversations in email or project management platforms.

  • Efficient project management
    For managing the smaller but just as important projects in your business a smaller and more list-based project management app is perfect. Give Notion or Coda a go. Plus, with Milanote and Adobe Spark you can magic-up a mood board for visual projects quickly and easily.

Why they work: More than anything, productivity apps can be a great cost-effective piece of flexible working tech to solve your unique business challenge.

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