Out of Office

Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

10 Tricks to Master Google Hangouts

Video conferencing has rapidly become a preferred communications tool for teams, and Google Hangouts is one of the easiest video conferencing tools to use. It runs straight from your web browser; no need to install special software, just visit Google Hangouts and invite guests to join you.

But there’s more to Hangouts than this simplicity suggests. Lifehacker’s David Nield shares 10 tips for getting the most out of Google Hangouts:

  • Search your conversations from Gmail
  • Make it easier to be found
  • Mute notifications
  • Doodle on your messages
  • Tell your contacts what you’re up to
  • Tell your contacts where you are
  • Use different ringtones for different people
  • Keep chats on top of other windows
  • Format text in conversations
  • Change the background colour

Read about these tips in detail at Lifehacker Australia

Infographic: How to Run Successful Remote Meetings

How to Run a Remote Meeting – An infographic by Hubstaff.com

5 Ways BYOD Can Increase Productivity

Many organisations struggle with letting employees bringing their devices into the workplace. Full-time Out of Office workers don’t have this problem, but it does affect Semi-Commuters (who work from the office some of the time) and even full-time telecommuters who drop in from time to time. As Fred Mouawad points out, BYOD has its advantages:

  • Key to Work-Life Integration
  • A Step Toward Co-Entrepreneurship
  • Attracting and Retaining Creative Talent
  • Emergence of Wearable Technology
  • Reduction in Operating Expenses

Read the full article here.

New Google Docs Features Make Out Of Office Work Easier

Google Docs is an indispensable tool for many Out Of Office workers – and it just got better. Google recently announced a new set of improvements that make Docs more useful and powerful. These include:

  • the Research tool allows you to perform Google searches directly from Docs making it easier to include content from your search results
  • Voice Typing allows you to dictate content into documents
  • See New Changes shows you modifications made to a document by your collaborators
  • new Templates offer a wider range of document designs
  • the Explore feature automatically generates charts from your spreadsheets

And that’s just the start – read Google’s announcement in full.

Use HiTask for managing your ToDo list and much more

I’ve been using HiTask for three weeks and it’s become central to my work flow. It has a simple user interface that allows you to organise all of your tasks in one place that’s accessible from your desktop, tablet and smartphone.

You can organise your tasks by project, date and assignee. I particularly like the ability to break down tasks into separate sub-tasks. HiTask also allows teams to coordinate their work on collaborative projects but I’ve not yet used this feature.

The video below provides an overview of the tool. If you like what you see then try it out.

Video: The Pomodoro Technique

We’re big fans of time-management systems such as the Pomodoro Technique. At their core these techniques involve repeated cycles of focussed work sessions followed by a rest break. This helps boost productivity and avoid fatigue. But there’s even more to it as you’ll see when you watch the promotional video below.

Managing a virtual team: productivity and performance

More than half of Australian small businesses offer at least the ability for employees to work away from the office. Whether you do or not, Dynamic Business magazine offers some tips for making this work more effective – for performance, productivity, and a win-win situation for everybody:

  • Lead from the front: Model this behaviour yourself, especially with use of collaboration technology and other similar tools
  • Build a reciprocal environment of trust: Use technology to build and maintain trust in the team
  • Provide location-based productivity tools: Invest in the right work environment and tools for your team

Read the full article here.

Allowing BYOD For Your Out of Office Workers

Allowing BYOD For Your Out of Office WorkersIf you’re managing a team that includes Semi-Commuters (part-time telecommuters), they might ask for permission to use their portable equipment (laptops, phones or tablets) in the workplace. This is known as “Bring Your Own Device”, or BYOD. It’s not unique to Out of Office work, of course, but it’s more common there for your part-time telecommuters.

This article “4 Ways Startups Can Leverage Employee-Owned Tech” considers some of the pros and cons of BYOD for your organisation. Although its title says it’s directed at startup companies, the ideas apply to everybody.

Read the full article here.

Every organisation is different, of course. So you’ll have to adapt these ideas to your own. As the article itself says:

“It’s important to note that the preferences and cultures of each company are different, so use your own needs as a guideline to developing a BYOD system that works for you.”

Cloud Computing For Out of Office Collaboration

Cloud Computing For Out of Office CollaborationDespite the explosive growth of cloud computing, few organisations are using it effectively for collaboration, especially with their Out of Office workers. In this episode, we share some practical tools to foster online collaboration.

Listen to the episode here:

Additional Resources


Business Documents

Research and Notes

Calendars and Appointments



  • Podio (replacement for internal e-mail)

Collaboration Tools

  • Online meeting tools: Skype, Google Hangout, GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, GoToTraining, WebEx, MS-Lync
  • Support for online meetings: Bubbl.us (mind mapping), Padlet.com (bulletin board)
  • Online Forums: Yammer (like a private Facebook group for business), Ning (like private Facebook)

Productivity Tools

  • Basecamp.com (project management)
  • Support ticket systems like Bugzilla, Trac, JIRA

Our Productivity Platform

Our Productivity PlatformThere 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:

Download the MP3 file here

Subscribe to the podcast

Buy the book here

Links and Resources

Time Management:

Consuming Information:

  • 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

Personal Effectiveness:

  • Noom Coach: A fitness app on my phone, mainly related to healthy eating
  • BeyondPod and Podcast Addict: Podcast apps with some productivity features, like speeding up playback
  • iMindmap and Mindjet: Mind mapping software for recording in a more visual way

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