Archive for the ‘Semi-Commuter’ Category
If you’re working in a distributed team, you might already know about some of the more common tools and apps, such as Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, Skype, Buffer, and Hootsuite. These are all wonderful tools, but there are also a whole host of other tools available. We’re going to share some of them today, so you know about them and can consider whether it’s worth integrating them into your workplace.
Listen to the episode here:
- HiTask: A task management tool
- Trello: A workflow management tool
- Gmail Streak: A basic CRM integrated with Gmail
- HipChat: A chatroom application designed to help teams collaborate
- Slack: Competitor to HipChat, with many of the same features
- Sqwiggle: A simple chatroom aimed at distributed teams
- IDoneThis: A simple tool for teams to share what they’ve achieved each day
Connecting with the world:
One of the challenges with a distributed team is that different people might be in different time zones. As we become increasingly global and mobile, that is only going to be more common, so it’s useful to know how to manage this situation.
A recent Fast Company tackled this issue, giving advice like this – particularly for online meetings:
- Declare a “home” time zone, with normal business hours in that time zone – but of course with enough overlap for all your team members in other time zones.
- Minimise the use of videoconferencing, because it inconveniences people who have to attend outside normal hours.
- Minimise the need for follow-up after meetings, because that can cause delays for people in multiple time zones.
Out of Office work, although on the rise, is still relatively new, and there are no agreed best practices on how to make it work most effectively. However, there are a number of case studies and examples we can learn from, and adapt their ideas to your own situation.
Fast Company recently published an article with five such examples:
- Buffer Uses HipChat And Jawbone – for informal online chat
- AgoraPulse Uses Weekdone – to track progress and see status reports
- Zapier Uses Campfire And Sqwiggle – for group chat
- Foursquare Uses Always-On Video Conferencing
- iDoneThis Uses iDoneThis – for productivity tracking
Most meetings are polite and orderly, but occasionally you might be chairing a meeting with hostile participants, conflicting agendas or a controversial topic. Learn how to manage these meetings so you can achieve the meeting’s objectives without losing your cool.
The most important thing is to be sure you don’t let your emotions get in the way of achieving your outcome. Ignore the power plays, put-downs and pettiness and focus on what you want. If you can keep your head when all about are losing theirs, everybody wins!
Of course, that’s easier said than done! I recently wrote a blog post for Citrix about this topic, addressing things you can do before the meeting, at the start of the meeting, and during the meeting itself.
There’s no question that working from home is growing in popularity, and obviously we’re big fans of it. Here’s an interesting infographic showing some statistics about how fast it’s growing:
Working from home gives you great flexibility, but also forces you to create your own systems, processes, and discipline. This can be a challenge for some people, especially because everybody is different. So there’s no one-size-fits-all system you can pull off a shelf and apply to your circumstances.
But this Lifehack checklist 31 Simple Ways to Maximize Efficiency in Your Home Office is a useful starting point. Look through this list and borrow what works for you when setting up your own system.
In this episode, we look at the daily working lives of great artists, writers, philosophers, and other geniuses – and apply them to Out of Office work.
Listen to the episode here:
Collaboration is the key to business success, but if you find yourself wishing for the “good old days” when everybody in your team was based in the same office and your meetings took place in front of a white board, you’ve fallen behind the times. Surprisingly enough, online collaboration is often faster, smoother and more productive than in-person collaboration.
Here are five ways to elevate your team’s collaboration and leverage the advantages of virtual meetings:
- Get the right people on board.
- Include your virtual team members in the team.
- Stop making decisions via email.
- Meet face to face to save time and money.
- Share ideas and insights with other teams.
That’s a summary from a blog post I wrote recently for Citrix, a leader in collaboration technology. For details, read the full post.
Duhigg’s one big idea in the book is that our habits can be broken down into three factors: A cue that triggers the habit, a routine that we subconsciously follow, and a reward that motivates us. He contends that we can’t eliminate a bad habit, but we can change it by inserting a new routine between the cue and the reward. That’s a deceptively simple, but very powerful, idea.
Duhigg also describes the power of “keystone habits”, which can trigger many other habit changes. For example, for many people, getting fitter is a keystone habit, which leads to them adopting other unrelated positive habits as well.
If you’re looking for practical steps to change your habits, jump straight to the Appendix, which is a “how to” of the entire process.
I love that the book is backed by strong scientific research (the references take up a full third of the book). But Duhigg is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, so his writing is compelling and entertaining rather than dry and academic.
There are lots of productivity tools, and in this episode we share our personal favourites. Everybody is different, so you’ll have to discover what works best for you. But we hope that by seeing what we use, you’ll be able to adapt them for your own productivity needs.
Listen to the episode here:
Links and Resources
- Timer app on phone: Helps implement the Pomodoro Technique for doing work sprints.
- Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome: Better than IE and Safari because they have so many great extensions
- Gmail: Much easier to use than, say, Outlook, because it’s in the Cloud.
- Kindle: Easy to download samples; available across all my devices (via the Kindle app)
- Pocket (formerly Read It Later): Allows you to bookmark interesting content for reading later
- Buffer: Automate/schedule the publication of your tweets, posts and status updates on various social media platforms
- Dropbox: Perfect for sharing files across all devices
- Evernote: Similar to Dropbox, but better for tag, sorting and searching; it can also handle “snippets” better (e.g. photos, infographics, handdrawn notes)
- Google Drive: Started life as Google Docs, a Cloud-based productivity suite (word processor, spreadsheet, slide deck, etc.); now a Cloud-based file storage system
- GoToMeeting and Google Hangouts: Use these for audio/video conferencing. Includes screen sharing, one-click recording, and other useful collaboration features
- Skype: Use SkypeOut to call anybody anywhere; easier and more convenient than a landline
- LastPass: Password manager that has a really useful feature to share passwords securely with others
- Google Calendar / Tasks / Contacts: Google’s Cloud-based calendar, to do list and people list
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