Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category
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…
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
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.
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.
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.
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
If 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.
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.”
Despite 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:
Research and Notes
Calendars and Appointments
- Podio (replacement for internal e-mail)
- 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)
- Basecamp.com (project management)
- Support ticket systems like Bugzilla, Trac, JIRA
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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