• Ernie Beck, CTS-D

5 Favorite Teleworking Technologies in an Age of Pandemics

Updated: Mar 11, 2020

What does your business do when a major health crisis strikes and workers need to continue, uninterrupted, with daily collaboration and operations? Companies with teleworking policies and technologies baked into their culture were unknowingly more prepared for the wave of hysteria around certain pandemics. Whether it's overblown hype or cautious preparedness, the old saying "better safe than sorry" seems to be relevant these days. As reported in the Washington Post ,"Twitter is encouraging its 5,000 employees to work from home — already mandatory for staff in East Asia."

Here at CDG, we are technology professionals, not doctors, not human resource professionals, or doomsday prophets. We want to educate our clients on what technologies they should consider when developing a telework strategy. Here's my Top 5 Teleworking Technologies that I couldn't go a day without, virus or no virus.

#1: Zoom Video Conferencing

Applications like Zoom provide high-performance video web conferencing for both internal and external teams. Products like Zoom are great for continuing quality face-to-face meetings with vendors, clients, and business partners. Over the past few weeks, because of my own flu virus, I hosted several "virtual coffee" meetings with clients using Zoom. It allowed us to get introduced face-to-face without having to leave our bubble or spend money on overpriced coffee at Starbucks. Many times I recommend that my clients consider having both an internal UC collaboration tool for production and operations teams (i.e. MS Teams), and an external platform for external and outbound sales folks (i.e. Zoom). At CDG, we have several platforms we use so we can be flexible to our clients needs.

#2: Microsoft Teams

Unified Collaboration Software programs like Microsoft Teams, Webex Teams, and Slack have changed the way internal teams collaborate. When integrated with your company’s Microsoft stack, they provide powerful ways to communicate with specific project teams using voice, video, chat, presence and file sharing integration. Need to collaborate on an Excel document? Upload it into your Teams and you can collaborate with Operations folks without ever having to leave your couch. The powerful chat features allow quick ad-hoc communication without the need for setting up a 30-minute conference call. However, because these programs are part of your companies IT stack, they're best used for internal team communication, and do have some limitations around video conferencing integration.

#3: Apple AirPods

I can't underscore the importance of my AirPods for working remotely. Whether at home, a coffee shop, or a client site, these babies are portable, discrete, and wireless. No USB widget to manage. Strong Bluetooth range for refilling your coffee without missing a beat. The audio quality is great for video or audio conference calls and the microphone sounds great on the far-end. They connect easily to my laptop, iPad or iPhone, of which I have all of the aforementioned applications downloaded and logged in so I can take conference calls whenever/wherever. People, listen. When you are on a conference call using your laptop's built-in speakers and microphone, people can hear you...and your dog, your mailman, your breathing, the rooms echoes, the bathroom flushing, etc. It's not good. Products like AirPods do not have this issue.

#4: Google Mesh Wi-Fi

Working from home means you need constant bandwidth, especially when others are at home consuming that same bandwidth for non-work related tasks. A stable and secure Wi-Fi connection is a must at home when communication with team members, also in quarantine, are depending on your video conference being successful. My Google Wi-Fi system creates a mesh-network of access points that allows me to roam around my home office without fear of dead-zones or drop outs. Very similar to how the Wi-Fi at your office works. I can also setup "QoS", or "Quality of Service", which allows me to prioritize bandwidth to my work devices instead of my kids devices. If bandwidth in my home drops for some reason, my devices get priority. For larger homes, you can connect multiple access points to create a larger "mesh" network in your home (for example, I have a total of 3 access points in a 2,800 sq./ft. home and never have coverage issues).

#5: On Air Sign/Light

I've been working from home for many years on and off. Despite this, I still have family members that like to do everything except QUIET activities while I'm on conference calls. Let your family or other housemates know you mean business in the nicest way possible by hanging an On Air sign outside of your office door. Trust me, you AND the people on the other end of your conference call will appreciate it! At less than $10, it's the cheapest way of avoiding confrontations I can think of.

Now that I've illumined readers on my favorite work-from-home tech, the top 5 habits of successfully working from home are another blog post entirely. I hope this article gives you some ideas on how to continue being productive once you go into self-quarantine.

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