The recent and sudden decision for many employers to direct their employees to work exclusively from home, along with the COVID-19 social distancing guidelines that are preventing in-person gatherings and meetings, have created some challenges for many employees and small business owners. Here is a list of some online tools that may help businesses stay better connected to employees and clients and keep workflow moving.
- Communication tools such as Slack—This is an easy to download team chat app that helps team members stay connected, check in, brainstorm and can even act as the company’s virtual water cooler.
- Video Conferencing and Audio tool such as Zoom—for one on one, group meetings and conference calls, Zoom is easy to download and install, very user friendly, and can be used for screen sharing presentations and audio only calls. Meeting information and invitations is easily distributed.
- Customer Support Collaboration tool such as Groove—Groove is a support ticket and project tracking app that allows team members to support clients, assign resources and update the status from anywhere.
- Business Productivity tools such as Trello and Asana—these project management boards allow team members to be assigned tasks and easily update the project status, moving it along in the project timeline in a very visually meaningful interface. Remote work environments can create opportunities where important tasks slip through the cracks. These types of tools help mitigate this while keeping employees clearly directed and productive and supervised efficiently.
- Content Sharing and Document Management such as Google Drive—With the amount and variety of documents involved in running a business, (think emails, blog posts, policies and procedures, technical documentation, customer notices and marketing materials, presentations and reports) it makes sense to have a reliable, available and easy to access repository for your workers. The days of scrolling through endless emails searching for attachments is over when all docs are filed, managed, updated from one location that can be accessed from anywhere.
- Custom Web apps specific to your industry such as Compass Wave—Many small business owners may need to do onsite estimating or assessment in order to win new business but are at a standstill with social distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines. Automating those estimating tasks remotely can allow a small business to continue to reach for new bids and fill their work funnel for when business resumes as normal. An example is Compass Wave software created specifically for the residential cleaning services industry. As a custom web app, Compass Wave collects input data via the business website and issues an automated accurate estimate. Web developers can create similar web-based tools for other industries to save time and in-person interface when either or both of those are not available.
- Digital Marketing, Social Media and Website Improvements such as Mail Chimp, Facebook, and automating Contact Pages or implementing a Blog—Many businesses have had to reprioritize projects and workflow because the changes that the COVID-19 presents, but using this time to reassess tools and your company website (a job that can be done without in person interaction) could be a perfect use of this redirected time. Many customers and consumers are spending more time engaged online so why not ensure your online presence is at its optimum.
- Cloud based accounting software such as Quickbooks—Cash flow, payroll, bills and purchases still need to be made even though workers are not in the office. Quickbooks is an accounting software package geared mainly toward small and medium-sized businesses that has a cloud-based version to accept business payments, manage and pay bills, and take care of payroll functions.
If, as a small business or remote employee, you need help implementing or creating the right tools, reach out to a digital agency that specializes in helping individuals and businesses leverage the power of the web for maintaining and growing their business, even during these challenging circumstances. The more we all can work together to keep businesses, especially small businesses, healthy, and thriving the better our economy will be able to bounce back when this crisis is over.