All Remote, All The Time

This issue of our monthly newsletter is going to be a bit different than our usual newsletter, mostly because these are unprecedented times we’re going through. COVID-19 (aka the Coronavirus) has affected us all. Our thoughts, hearts and prayers are with business owners and individuals who are struggling through this unprecedented time. Those who are still working (including us) are working almost wholly remotely. This issue is dedicated to providing a bunch of reading material (mostly from outside sources, but many from our own site) on how you can survive working from home and make the most of it using the tools you have at your disposal.

Transitioning from Office to Remote Work

Working exclusively remotely is something some companies have been doing for years (see Ars Technica’s article from a couple months ago on how they’ve been doing it for 20 years). We’ve had work-from-home employees for many years, and have offices in three states, so this wasn’t that big of a deal for us. That being said, it’s a new thing for a lot of business owners and their employees and there are definitely ways to make the transition easier. At the same time, you don’t want to put your company’s information at risk because you’re now accessing it remotely. Make sure you have your remote access security locked down tight (with VPNs and two-factor authentication whenever possible), and follow these other tips from Microsoft to secure your home workspace and network environment to make working from home as secure as working in the office. PC Magazine has 20 Tips to help you get organized working from home to make things more productive for you and your remote team as well.

Communication is Different, But Teams Is Huge

We’ve been using Microsoft Teams since the early days of the program’s existence. Teams is Microsoft’s all-in-one collaboration and communications too, and will eventually fully replace Skype For Business. Now, Microsoft is giving the program and service away for free six months for folks who don’t already have Office 365. When used right, Teams a great way to have smarter conversations with your team, whether they’re remote or not. With more and more folks moving to scattered employees, communication has become more critical, and Teams is being used by more and more folks since it’s already part of their existing Office 365 Subscriptions. For many folks, however, being forced to used Teams all the sudden after just being able to visit someone at their desk is taking some getting used to. Take a few minutes and watch these videos on the basics behind Teams. The five videos are less than an hour, total, and will make your life much easier in Teams if you know the basics.

Once you know the basics, you can really start exploring Teams and the value it can offer your organization. Microsoft has a great bunch of tips on how Teams can help you stay productive and have great meetings and they have a handy remote-work preparedness checklist. And don’t forget to blur your background (especially if you plan on using the bathroom during a conference call, which we don’t recommend).

But There’s More Than Teams

While Teams is great and all, there is far more to the various Office 365 applications to allow you to easily collaborate with your coworkers. This article from OnMSFT has a great collection of tips on what you can do with 365 (other than use Teams) to make your life better. Some of those include (the links below go to more than just the OnMSFT article):

And even if your office is using Slack instead of Teams for some reason, Slack is working on getting a communication channel going with Teams so everybody can call one another.

We’re Here To Help

As we mentioned in our blog post a couple weeks ago, these are unprecedented times. We’re going to be here to make sure our clients are taken care of through all this, and to make sure our employees are taken care of as well. Along the same lines, other software and technology companies are also offering extended free trials of their tools to help everybody get through this mess.

And On A Lighter Note…

We couldn’t put out a newsletter without something fun at the end of it (if you’ve been missing the “Bottom Of The Newsletter”, you need to dig through our archives). But here is some fun, interesting and relevant links:

  • If you have spare computers doing nothing, you can use them to help find a treatment for Covid-19.
  • If you are properly practicing social distancing and staying home, but still want to binge a TV show with somebody, you can use Binge Together to enjoy a movie note with your friends (supports Network, Amazon, YouTube, and Vimeo, at the moment). Netflix Party is a similar service, but it only supports Netflix in Chrome.
  • Since their races have been cancelled, NASCAR and F1 pro racing drivers are competing with video gamers in virtual races.
  • If you’ve been using Zoom (like many college students are for classes this upcoming term), you can install this extension transparently redirect any meeting links to use Zoom’s browser-based web client instead of using the downloaded client. Instead of having to search for the hidden “join from your browser” link, this addon will take you there automatically. For Chrome or Firefox (and coming soon for Edge and Opera).
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