New Englanders faced yet another major winter storm just days after Quinn left three feet of snow in some areas. As folks in the northeast continue digging cars out of snow drifts, many are still trying to figure out how they can get their work done (or keep their business running) while stuck at home. In fact, most of our Onepath colleagues working out of our Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire offices already had to work remotely last week, and many are stuck at home and away from their physical office again this week.
Fortunately, Onepath has tools in place to keep all our employees connected to each other, to our clients, and to the systems and data they need to stay productive. The evolution of the cloud and the ecosystem of platforms and apps that developed around it, gives organizations the ability to build robust networks that can be utilized anywhere. It’s no longer just email and messaging apps; it’s a complete system allowing people to engage their coworkers and clients in just as meaningful a way as if they were in the office.
When planning our IT infrastructure, we identified areas that are mission critical for our teams to continue working without interruption. For us that was the ability to remotely access client data, use all our software, share files, receive or forward phone calls to our computers or cellular phones, message one another on the fly, and have face-to-face or screen-sharing meetings. While we can’t turn around in our chair or walk down the hall to have a meeting or conversation, we can get pretty close with all our collaborative tools.
Here’s a look at a few of the things that Onepath is using to stay connected during this storm without missing a beat.
Tools We’re Using to Successfully Work From Home
CRM. All of our client data sits in a cloud-based CRM system. It functions as a great deal more than just a database, though. Our clients use the system as well, so we can quickly and easily share information and communicate with each other.
Office365. No remote workforce would be complete without cloud-based office productivity software! We’ve got the full suite of Microsoft’s ubiquitous apps. And everything is backed by OneDrive, which not only keeps our files stored in the cloud, but also allows for easy sharing and collaboration with other users.
SharePoint. We utilize SharePoint as a file server in that we have file versioning, uploads, security groups, and a single place where we can upload, store and share files, templates, and documentation.
VoIP System. Our phone system operates over the Internet, so no one is tied to a physical phone device. Employees can make and receive calls from their laptops and mobile devices, so we are reachable just about everywhere. Helpdesk or support phone calls coming in our main numbers are rerouted to the support teams on their computers or cell phones at home.
Skype for Business. We use Skype primarily as an instant messaging tool, but it also works for video chats. And like our phone system, Skype works on a variety of devices.
WebEx. Skype works well for video chatting with small groups. If we have a lot of people or are doing a presentation, though, we use the web conferencing tool WebEx. We can share PowerPoints or our screens as if our colleagues were looking at a screen over our shoulder.
This is just a handful of the tools we leverage to keep us connected, and there is an ever-growing list of alternatives to each of them, all with various pros/cons and price points. The key for our New England IT team’s ability to temporarily transition from an onsite workforce to an offsite one, was preparedness. When planning for the future of your IT infrastructure, be sure to select flexible and cloud-based technology solutions that allow for at-home workers to be productive and keep your business running — whether your staff is working from home by choice or by storm.